The Scientific Indian

Taxi cab number 1729

“I remember once going to see him when he was lying ill at Putney. I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one, and that I hoped it was not an unfavorable omen. “No,” he replied, “it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.” – G H Hardy on Ramanujan.

Let me leave you with a brief note on Hardy. Hardy was an ardent atheist that he once made a new year resolution to prove the nonexistence of God (and to murder Mussolini). His collaboration with Ramanujan and Littlewood are legendary. His book A Mathematician’s Apology is one of most sublime and sad books I’ve read about the Creative Process and Age. Every time I re-read it, a great lump reaches my throat. C P Snow in his long and poignant preface says, “A Mathematician’s Apology is, if read with the textual attention it deserves, a book of haunting sadness”.