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On 11/16/2016 at 0:38 PM, DonRocks said:

Our numbering system uses Base 10 because we have 10 fingers; yet, because of that, we end up with numbers such as "Pi," which is irrational (infinite and non-repeating) - irrational literally means, "unable to be put into a ratio."

I haven't checked this, but the possibility dawned on me that there is a more universe-based numbering system that conforms with physics instead of our own human bodies. I cannot possibly be the first person to think of this, but has it ever been discovered? Maybe something like "Pi" would end up being a nice, round number in this "Universal Base" numbering system, like 10.

I'm sure we'll always have irrational numbers, but maybe things could be a little "neater" than with our self-centered, Base 10 system. Who knows? Maybe this theoretical "Universal Base" is itself an irrational number, if it even exists.

On 11/17/2016 at 5:45 AM, porcupine said:

No answer to your query but perhaps you'd be interested in watching The Man Who Knew Infinity.

I watched "The Man Who Knew Infinity" yesterday, and liked it very much (without loving it). 

I knew of Srinivasa Ramanujan, because he kept popping up on these listicles of 'Uneducated Minds That Changed the World' - I knew him as 'some uneducated genius from India with an IQ through the ceiling, and a gift for math that was nearly savant-like,' but that's all I knew of him. For the education alone, I have to give this film personal points.

Two films that came to mind - very quickly - when I first started watching this were (surprisingly *not* "Good Will Hunting," even though Ramanujan is mentioned in that film, and not "A Beautiful Mind") ... anyway, they were "The English Patient" and "Shine."

Why these two films, instead of the others, popped into my head, I have no idea, but they did. "The English Patient," as David Foster Wallace once emphasized, is "a slick, commercial product," and that's how I felt about "The Man Who Knew Infinity." "Shine" was released in the same year as "The English Patient" (1996), and both of these films were - remarkably and tragically - nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture (incredibly, "The English Patient" actually won). 

I thought this film was *much* better than "Shine," maybe because I'm a better pianist than I am a mathematician, and I thought "Shine" was just impossibly stupid; this at least taught me something (I had no idea, for example, of Ramanujan's role in Combinatorics, a field I was very interested in during graduate school).

While the overall execution of "The Man Who Knew Infinity" resulted in a film clearly for the masses, I enjoyed it, and I learned from it (and at the end of the day, aren't those the two chief ends of literature: to instruct and delight?)

Linking this post back to the discussion we were having above about a universal base, I can't help remembering the line in the movie that went something like, 'every single positive integer is Ramanujan's personal friend.' It's interesting that "positive integers" are only "positive integers" because we use a human-based, Base-10 numbering system; in the universe-based, Base-X system I was proposing, these wouldn't even be integers. I suppose you picked up on that when you mentioned the film? Ramanujan (and really, *every* mathematician) unearthing these "universal truths" is really doing nothing more than "unearthing universal truths based on an entirely man-made product," as Base 10 is a completely arbitrary construct.

Anyway, "recommendation" (if it was a recommendation) much appreciated, and I'm glad I saw the film, even if it did cost me a whopping $5.99 on Amazon Prime.

(For those who haven't seen it, Dev Patel was also the star of "Slumdog Millionaire," which I suppose makes him the most famous Indian movie star in America right now.)

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I recently watched this film and I liked it, but I did not love it, either. Several times I found my mind wandering, and I had to rewind to see what I missed. My overall impression was the film was too "Hollywood." It felt slick, overproduced and a little bit dull. I think the moviemakers wanted to make a complicated subject more accessible to the masses, and consequently watered down what should have been a more interesting tale.

I have never seen "Shine" or the "English Patient," so I cannot compare them to this film. I have, however, been a fan of Dev Patel ever since I saw him in "Slumdog Millionaire," and I think he gave a fine performance as Ramanujan in this film. 

I am glad I saw "The Man Who Knew Infinity" because I knew nothing beforehand about this incredible human being who, despite nearly impossible odds, made a major contribution to mathematics and the world.

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