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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My FIL likes to send us books about science, physics and math. Currently I'm reading The Man who Knew Infinity, about a mathematician who came from a poor background in India, and ended up as a prodigy in Cambridge in the early 1900s.

It's a lot to take in, since I'm stereotypically weak when it comes to numbers. Listening to a documentary about him now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUnmAhXe9bg but it's still a bit lost on me.

I'm sure at least one of you moreons knows more about him and could elaborate. I'll have to watch the movie sometime.
 

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If you get bored with it, go find "The Starship and the Canoe", Kenneth Brower.

True story about Princeton mathematician Freeman Dyson and his son George.

Older Freeman invents stuff like space ships that dump nuclear bombs out the back end to propel themselves thru space (Project Orion), while son George invents 60 ft. fiberglass and aluminum kayaks to sail the inland waterways of the Pacific coast of British Columbia.

Great read.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks! I'm almost done with the book in any case. FIL gave me a second one, The Big Bang Theory, with instructions to read this one first (not sure why.)

I might have to get my hands on the new Wright brothers book so I can compare it to the one I read, and to give my brain a rest, before Big Bang.

Starship and Canoe sounds like fun, though! Maybe I'll check YouTube in the meantime, and see if I can listen to something about it while working.
 

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Thanks! I'm almost done with the book in any case. FIL gave me a second one, The Big Bang Theory, with instructions to read this one first (not sure why.)

I might have to get my hands on the new Wright brothers book so I can compare it to the one I read, and to give my brain a rest, before Big Bang.

Starship and Canoe sounds like fun, though! Maybe I'll check YouTube in the meantime, and see if I can listen to something about it while working.
I thought the Big Bang Theory was just a P-Funk song?
 

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I have heard of him. Since you've read a book, you probably know much more about him than I ever did. I think he died pretty young, but made big contributions in several areas of math.

Stories like his make me wonder how many great minds there have been throughout history who never had a chance to contribute to human learning, because they lived in poor and remote places, without access to learning and education, and with no way to communicate with the larger academic world. One of my utopian hopes for this new information age is that the ubiquity of the internet will enable far more of those extraordinary minds to be "discovered" and to contribute to humanity's knowledge, benefitting all of us.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It is fascinating how culture also influences science. Part of what makes his story so interesting, is how he had to adjust to English life.

As a Brahmin, for example, he was a strict vegetarian, and couldn't travel overseas w/o losing his caste. His mother was in charge of the household, where his teenage wife also lived, and his mother would interfere with their correspondence. It didn't help his mental state to think that his wife was ignoring his letters.

He came down with tuberculosis, and his stubborn adherence to his vegetarian diet didn't help- he was practically starving to death rather than eating anything that they were offering.

Even while healthy, there wasn't anything in the food hall he could/would eat, and rather than prepare elaborate Indian meals for himself, he'd stick with rice seasoned with lemon juice. Eating alone also affected his social life, and he may have lost opportunities as a result.

He was know for odd but important mathematical breakthroughs in his short life- think he had only six years of academic life after leaving India.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I thought the Big Bang Theory was just a P-Funk song?

If my 80-something-year-old FIL is listening to anything but Sousa or opera, it would be news to me. :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks! We need to get Netflix and get caught up to the rest of the world. Glad I slogged through the book first (got another 30 pages or so left.)
 
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