Formulas can be just a few letters and weird symbols twisted together to form an alien looking string that has no significant purpose in one’s life ones they are out of high school. But for mathematicians, mathematical formulas are like Beethoven’s symphony. Each character of the formula is linked to a specific feeling for them. Srinivasa Ramanujan used to treat numbers as his personal friends, they were there in every aspect of his life, Janaki, Ramanujan’s wife once confided to her friend. It won’t be an overstatement to say that what beauty is to us, formulas is to the mathematicians.
To elaborate the hypothesis, mathematicians were shown a formula while their brain were mapped or scanned. After seeing the formula, the same part of the brain got active which is linked to appreciating something beautiful i.e. the right side of the brain which is linked to perception of feelings was active. In the study, 15 mathematicians were shown 60 famous formulas and their brain activities were recorded. More they liked a formula stronger were the signals recorded during the MRI scans. And thus, the ugliest and the most beautiful of the formula were voted.
The mathematicians rated Euler’s Identity the prettiest of them all. “It creates a surge of symphony in the body whenever you see it; it has a rhythm to it. It cannot get better than this”, said one mathematician.
It is very simple when you first see it, but slowly you realize its incredibility. It has the same feelings when you listen to a piece of music the nth time and suddenly fall in love with it all over again.
They voted Srinivasa Ramanujan’s infinite series and the Riemann’s functional equation as the ugliest of them all. “Ramanujan’s series is a particularly interesting formula which I am specifically fond of but it is not the least alluring in nature”, said Professor Turing, one of the participants.