Monday, December 24, 2007

Accident with mathematics

It was Saturday, albeit an unusual one in that, I decided not be at my office to accompany the deserted cubicles. I decided to visit my uncle's family. His is a ?ollywood family. Four members, energetic dad, caring mom, elder daughter who defines the words "cute" and "sweet" and a younger son who cares more about defining "naughty" and "mischievous".

My uncle is a thinker! He has a take on almost everything. He has questions, often unanswerable if you are not allowed to guess. He also discovers facts that a normal man probably wouldn't. He has an excellent feel for "landmark-dates" in the past. Wedding anniversaries? No problem! Who died in the family, when and before who? Piece of cake! He remembers almost everyone's birthdays of course! Hence he is very good at finding out the age of anyone among our relatives.

"You are 27 now right?" This is how it started on the saturday!
"Yea!", I said.
"Age 28 is unique for you because, next year you will celebrate your birthday on the exact same day of the week, that you were born!"
I started calculating..when he interrupted!.

"If you observe holidays year after year, if Diwali falls on a monday this year, it will fall on a tuesday next year. But if it is a leap year, it will fall on a wednesday. So, if you add one for every year after 28 years you would add 28 days! Now in 28 years there are 7 leap years! So, 28+7=35 and 35 is divisible by 7!"

I said "Coooooooool!"

His eyes lit up when he said, "Its simple LCM!" and smiled!

My aunt, busy preparing the day's breakfast and hence oblivious to our discoveries, called out from the kitchen. "Do you hear me? The cooking gas is empty!

Can you please replace it?" He got up and pulled the new gas cylinder into the kitchen. I followed him into the kitchen for no apparent reason. I was looking for more. As he worked on replacing the cylinder, he seemed to be thoughtful and run out of things to say!

After a few minutes emerged out of his thoughts and said "We have been talking about mathematics and incidentally, today is December 22, 2007 and Sarvajit year according to the Tamil Calender. Do you know what is special today?"

I blurted out foolishly, "Tsunami in 2002?"

"That was on December 26. Remember? It was boxing day test match between Sri Lanka and Australia and Sri Lankan team came back. So no your answer is not correct!" He smiled again.

"Tamil Calender has a 60 year cycle. As I said earlier, this is Sarvajit year. So was 1947 (60 yrs ago), the year we got independence. And today in 1887 (120 yrs ago), a sarvajit year again, the mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan was born! Incidentally we are talking about mathematics!".

Then he called out to my aunt. "I have fixed it!"