Thursday, April 19, 2012

Divine Pi - Installment 2

Divine Pi - Installment 1

picture found at

When he started hunting through Pi, supercomputers were only owned by people with unlimited funds, mainly government institutions.  Of course, there were the Chudnovskys and their homemade supercomputer which cost considerably less but proved difficult to maintain.  In any event, my point is that Ziven didn't have a supercomputer when he started, nor did he have access to one.  Most organizations that owned supercomputers were no longer interested in pursuing Pi.  Pi tends to crash systems after a time.  But he persisted.  He read countless books and papers from top mathematicians.  He studied early scholars for clues from the past.  He had proof book after proof book brimming with his scrawl - brilliant work.  I had never seen the likes of it.  Of all the other mathematicians who wandered in and out of that apartment looking in on him, none could fully comprehend the deepness and beauty in his work, though they recognized it.
After a time however, as with most technologies, supercomputing became accessible through a new phenomenon called cloud computing and that opened the sky of calculation to the average Joe, or in this case, odd Russian mathematician.  He spread terminals throughout his living room in the apartment.  Anyone walking in would assume he had a business running in there with several employees.  There were work tables with two to three screens on each and most were always scrolling away on data.  He would skip back and forth between the stations, checking computations.  It may have looked haphazard, but everything he did had a perfect logic to it.  Even eating took a very regimented ritual.
He would prepare his food exactly at 8:00 am, 1:00 pm and 7:00 pm.  These were his mealtimes and he allowed nothing to waylay them.  At the specified time, he would sit at his small dining table suitable for one, the only surface not piled with something.  He would eat slowly, contemplatively with opera music saturating the air around him.  He seemed to be masticating mechanically more than actually consuming a meal.  These were the only times I observed him calm and still, other than in sleep.  Sleeping was another ritual for him.  He only took five hours a night.  He lay down exactly at 1:00 am and awoke exactly at 6:00 am.  Before retiring, he brushed his teeth, showered and combed his hair.  He had two pairs of pajamas, soft buckskin slippers and his favorite smoking jacket that he donned after his shower.  He would sit in his bed and read for an hour before lying down.  He had no need for an alarm clock.
Despite his affinity for opera music while eating, he had rather different taste when working.  Most often he blasted alternative rock and roll music.  A young man named Benny came to the apartment each week with his groceries.  Benny loved Ziven.  He was in awe of him.  Benny is not a mathematician or a scientific mind.  He writes.  However, like me he holds a great appreciation for genius.  Benny delighted in bringing Ziven the latest music.  He found it amusing that this elderly man, who preferred classical opera at mealtimes, wanted to hear the latest punk funk ripping music, I believe that's how Benny calls it.  I think it energized Ziven, or at least it matched his energy, giving it a heady rhythm.  Ziven even sang some of the tunes from time to time.  He did not sing on key.  I got used to that too.
It took him a long time to make any kind of breakthrough.  I almost waned in interest myself, except for the fact that he, the man I came to admire, maintained such a belief.  I suppose in reality I didn't care if he ever made progress, I just really loved living with him and studying him daily.  If only we'd been able to have conversations.  Ah the things we could have thrown around.
On the day of the discovery, I was being lazy, not doing much of anything.  I'd recently finished digesting a book of great interest to me and decided to take life easy for a bit.  If I remember correctly, yes, I lay between two stacks of notebooks, just where the fan blew the air past me.  The day sweltered to a record high.  There I was taking in what cool relief I could, thinking of nothing in particular when I heard him whooping in the other room.  I jolted up, startled, then quickly scuttered in to where he was dancing.  Yes that grown man was hopping around like someone with a hot ember in his pants.  He laughed and hollered to wake the neighborhood.  In fact, the neighbor began banging on the wall.  Apparently Ziven had interrupted his favorite TV show.

1 comment:

De said...

on the day of the discovery...


another week, another installment?