|(quoted from Hickory Dickory Shock! The Tale of Techies)|
‘Every country has something or the other to boast,’ Vishnu said. ‘What is so great about inventions from ancient India?’
‘Between the years 4000 BC and 1000 AD, India made amazing development in the field of art, science, astronomy, astrology and spirituality,’ 210 said, ‘for example, in math . . .’
‘Ah yes,’ Vishnu interrupted, ‘zero was invented in India.’
210 nodded and continued, ‘the current number system originated in India around the ninth century; from India this knowledge travelled to Arabia, and from the Arabic world it travelled to Europe. This number system replaced the Roman numerals by the thirteenth century, thanks to Fibonacci.’
‘Fibonacci?’ Vishnu said, knitting his brows.
‘Fibonacci, the great Italian scientist,’ 210 said. ‘Fibonacci learnt the Hindu numbers when he was posted in Algeria. While in Algeria, he wrote the book Liber Abaci in which he elaborated the concept of the numbers from zero to nine, and acknowledged his learning from India. Incidentally, it was in this book he elucidated the famous Fibonacci sequence, illustrating this with the birth of rabbits.’
‘Fibonacci sequence?’ Vishnu raised his brows.
‘Yes, the Fibonacci sequence; 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 …, is a very powerful sequence in which every number, except the first two, is a sum of the previous two numbers. The ratio of two large Fibonacci numbers, called the golden ratio, finds its manifestation in many of god’s creation - leaves of a stem, the length of one human fingers to another, the proportions of the human face, rings of a shell, reproduction sequence of a honey bee, among many others.’
‘Fibonacci invented that sequence,’ Dr Sarin said softly, without elaborating. ‘I read the Da Vinci Code.’
‘Fibonacci did not invent the Fibonacci sequence,’ 210 replied.
‘Is that so?’ Dr Sarin looked surprised.
‘The concept of Fibonacci sequence evolved in India from the second to the eleventh century under the auspices of the scientists Pingala in 200 BC, Virahanka in sixth century AD, Gopala in 1135 AD, and Hemachandra in 1150 AD. Fibonacci introduced this sequence in Europe half a century later.’
‘You seem to know a good deal about the history of math,’ Dr Sarin said, glancing at his watch. ‘Let me see if you can get this last one – in the game of roulette there are numbers from 1 to 36. When the wheel spins, the ball races to find a place in one of the thirty-six slots. Legend has it that Francois Blanc, a leading owner of casinos in Monaco, bargained with the devil to learn this game. Why is the roulette called the game of the beast?’
‘Sum of numbers from 1 to 36 is equal to . . .’ 210 mumbled as he applied the formula for adding consecutive numbers, ‘. . . 666. As mentioned in the revelation of John, 666 is the number of the beast.’
Dr Sarin smiled. ‘I will give you a chance despite your grades.’ He glanced at his watch again. ‘See you at our campus in Bangalore soon.’