Prof. Freeman Dyson on Srinivasa Ramanujam and Hardy

By • Dec 22nd, 2011
Category: Books and Authors, Interviews, People

I have never done this before, but am doing this since so many of you have asked on the backstory of my interviews. Here is the backstory of how this interview with Prof. Freeman Dyson happened.

About 6 years ago there was a lecture on Srinivasan Ramanujan, the brilliant mathematician from Madras at Columbia University. Prof. Dyson was one of the featured speakers. I made plans to listen to the lecture, but was very reluctant to go and interview Prof. Dyson given his stunning research credentials. He was a well-known theoretical physicist and mathematician. He studied under Prof. Hardy and worked on Ramanujan’s mathematical findings and then there was the fact that Prof. Dyson had once gone on a road trip across the US with Richard Feynman, who went on to win a Nobel prize in Physics. How can you ever be prepared to interview a Renaissance man like Prof. Dsyon? Had it not been for my husband’s encouragement I probably would have developed cold feet and not asked Prof. Dyson for that interview.

To my utter delight I discovered Prof. Dyson to be a wonderful, patient teacher and readily accessible. There was no such thing as a dumb question in his world. I suspect he appreciates a sense of curiosity even if you are not a whiz in the subject, which I certainly was not. We spent about 25-30 minutes tucked away in a empty classroom to record the interview.

Here is the audio interview with Prof. Freeman Dyson, where he talks about Ramanujan, Prof. Hardy and Ramanujan’s contribution to mathematics. And oh, if you hear me trip over Ramanujan’s name it’s because I had a nasty fall, split my lip and broke my tooth and had about 6 stiches on my mouth and was having a tough time enunciating Ramanujan’s name. I do know how to pronounce Ramanujan’s name since I speak Tamil. Hope that answers the question from many people on why I could not pronounce Ramanujan.

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