I recently came across an excellent book on popular mathematics by Martin Gardner. The book is such an intellectual stimulation and Martin does a great job in explaining and simplifying seemingly complicated theories in Mathematics. It can be mistaken as one of those “Dummies” book, but definitely much more than a mere introduction to mathematical theory and puzzles. Gardner arouses in the reader a passion for math and makes it really fun. I quote Keith Devlin of Stanford University and he had this to say on Gardner:
“Newton said that his many mathematical accomplishments came because he stood on the shoulders of giants. For those of us who have tried to make mathematics accessible to a wider audience, there is one giant who towers well above anyone else: Martin Gardner.”
In the chapter on Palindromes, Gardner talks about so many interesting facts on Palindromes and the interesting research carried out in this field of number theory. Palindrome is usually defined as a word, sentence or a set of sentences that spell the same backward and forward. The term is also applicable to integers that are unchanged when they are reversed. Palindromes have their analogues in other fields: melodies that are the same backward, paintings and designs with mirror reflection symmetry, the bilateral symmetry of animals and men.
But one thing really caught my eye. When Gardner published his article on Palindromes in Scientific American there was a response from George L. Hart who was one of the reader of Gardner’s article. Dr. Hart’s letter (which was published in Scientific American, 1970), offered a classical palindrome in Sanskrit, a poem of 32 syllables called Sarvatobhadra – ‘perfect in every direction.’ It goes something like this:
Such beauty and symmetry in the poem and in the language of Sanskrit. By the way check a limited preview of Martin Gardners book here. Also George Hart himself is an authority himself in the languages of Sanskrit and Tamil having obtained his PhD from Harvard University and an Emeritus Professor at UC Berkeley.