Our Human Computer – Shakuntala Devi

I am wondering why is that I am reading bad news every day, is it a sign of something larger to happen in the near future? I hope not.

Let’s observe the recent past. Earthquake in China leaving many dead & hundreds injured, rare donors withdrawing at the last moment in critical transplants (read my earlier blog) and today I am informed again by the morning news paper that our Maths Prodigy- Shakuntala Devi has passed away due to cardiac arrest.. 🙁

May be today’s youngsters might not know the extent of Shankuntala Devi’s mathematical prowess. I remember how while growing up in the early ninety’s, all us youngsters used to get mesmerized with her amazing ability to do mathematical calculations at the speed of light. In fact in 1977 in Dallas (USA) she competed with a computer to see who would get the cube of 188132517 faster and she won!

She surpassed the same feat with an even bigger mind boggling achievement when she succeeded in getting the
23rd cube root of 16748676920039158098660927585380162483106680144308622407126516427934657040867096593279205767480806790022783016354924852380335745316935111903596577547340075681688305620821016129132845564805780158806771 in flat….50 seconds. The UNIVAC 1108 computer competing against her took a full minute to just confirm she was the right.

This was by all means is a sheer example of how fast the human mind can comprehend, process information and finally execute decision making when applied to it full extent. We do it every day, every second, just that we don’t appreciate it enough.

But what I really like and admire of Shankuntala Devi, is that I believe she used her natural numerical skills for good and in her life time used her lighting fast computing ability for good causes. She holds the Guinness book of world record for multiplying two 13 digit numbers in 10 seconds, let’s pause a moment can you and me even multiply two 4 digit numbers in that given time frame? No right.

Shakuntala Devi

Shakuntala Devi – Human Computer

I feel inspired now and kind of agree to what my college professor had meant; that there is divine intervention is some people, which make them capable of doing feats with their minds which puts them in the category of being extraordinary beings.

On a polite note, Thank You madam for the joy and inspiration you gave us by showing your prowess with numbers. I am hoping and praying that your ability is seen again in someone else, hopefully in India who will again shine on the global stage and make our country proud.

Goddess Saraswati blessed you with the gift of numbers, and I am sure you made her proud by using it to the utmost potential.

Thank you,
An ardent admirer

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