Ramanujan's cryptic formula that can explain behaviour of black holes finally proved

Almost a century after his death, Indian maths genius Srinivasa Ramanujan's cryptic deathbed theory has been proven correct and scientists say it could explain the behaviour of black holes.

While on his death-bed, Ramanujan wrote a letter to his mentor, English mathematician G H Hardy in 1920, outlining several new mathematical functions never before heard of, along with a hunch about how they worked.

American researchers now say Ramanujan's formula could explain the behaviour of black holes, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

"We have solved the problems from his last mysterious letters. For people who work in this area of math, the problem has been open for 90 years" Emory University mathematician Ken Ono said.

A black hole is a region of spacetime from which gravity prevents anything, including light, from escaping.

Born in a rural village in Tamil Nadu, Ramanujan, a self-taught mathematician, spent much of his time thinking about mathematics that he flunked out of college twice, Ono said.

The maths genius's letter described several new functions that behaved differently from known theta functions, or modular forms, and yet closely mimicked them.

Functions are equations that can be drawn as graphs on an axis, like a sine wave, and produce an output when computed for any chosen input or value, the report said.

Ramanujan conjectured that his mock modular forms corresponded to the ordinary modular forms earlier identified by Carl Jacobi, and that both would wind up with similar outputs for roots of 1.

"It wasn't until 2002, through the work of Sander Zwegers, that we had a description of the functions that Ramanujan was writing about in 1920," Ono said.

Ono and colleagues drew on modern mathematical tools that had not been developed before Ramanujan's death to prove this theory was correct.

"We proved that Ramanujan was right. We found the formula explaining one of the visions that he believed came from his goddess," Ono said.

... contd.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on indianexpress.com are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, indianexpress.com reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.