The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius, Ramanujan Short Essay - Answer Key

Robert Kanigel
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1. Describe Ramanujan's place of birth.

Ramanujan was born in Kumbakonam near the Cauvery river in South India, although his mother sometimes took him back to her ancestral home in Erode, which is 250km southwest of Madras. The area had a lot of poverty, and childhood disease and death were not uncommon.

2. How was Ramanujan's health as a child?

Ramanujan was pockmarked for life as a result of his bout of smallpox as a child, and he had caught a mosquito-borne illness that made some activities uncomfortable, so he became overweight.

3. How did Ramanujan's temperament reveal itself when he was a child?

Ramanujan did not speak till he was three, but he quickly picked up the Tamil language of his birthplace. According to Kanigel, he was self-directed and willful as a child, and he disliked school and teachers--he neglected his studies, but he excelled in math.

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