Guiness Record Holder Shakuntala Devi | Human Calculator
About Shakuntala Devi
Shakuntala Devi (4 November 1929 – 21 April 2013) was an Indian writer and mental calculator, popularly known as the “Human Computer”. Shakuntala Devi strove to simplify mathematics for students Her talent earned her a place in the 1982 edition of The Guinness Book of world Records. Devi was a precocious child and she demonstrated her arithmetic abilities at the University of Mysore without any formal education.
Shakuntala Devi wrote a number of books in her later years, including novels as well as texts about mathematics, puzzles, and astrology. She wrote the book The world of Homosexuals, which is considered the first study of homosexuality in India. She treated homosexuality in a positive light and is considered a pioneer in the field.
Shakuntala Devi travelled to several countries around the world demonstrating her arithmetic talents, though not to Russia (then USSR) and China because they were communist countries and she believed that her talent is god gifted and that she is spreading the message of god throughout the world. She was on a tour of Europe in 1950 and New York City in 1976.
In 1988, she travelled to US to have her abilities studied by Arthur Jensen, a professor of educational psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Jensen tested her performance at several tasks, including the calculation of large numbers. Examples of the problems presented to Devi included calculating the cube root of 61,629,875 and the seventh root of 170,859,375. Jensen reported that Shakuntala Devi provided the solution to the above mentioned problems (395 and 15, respectively) before Jensen could copy them down in his notebook. Jensen published his findings in the academic journal Intelligence in 1990.
In 1977, at Southern Methodist University, she gave the 23rd root of a 201-digit number in 50 seconds. Her answer 546,372,891 was confirmed by calculations done at the US Bureau of Standards by the UNIVAC 1101 computer, for which a special program had to be written to perform such a large calculation, which took longer time than her to do the same.
. She correctly answered in 28 seconds, which was the time taken by her to speak the answer. This event was recorded in the 1982 Guinness Book of Records. Writer Steven Smith said, “the result is so far superior to anything previously reported that it can only be described as unbelievable.”
Shakuntala Devi explained many of the methods she used to do mental calculations in her book Figuring: The Joy of Numbers, which is still in print.
Book on homosexuality
In 1977, she wrote The world of Homosexuals, the first study of homosexuality in India. for which, she was criticized. In the documentary For Straights Only, she said that her interest in the topic was because of her marriage to a homosexual man and her desire to look at homosexuality more closely to understand it.
The book, considered “pioneering”, features interviews with two young Indian homosexual men, a male couple in Canada seeking legal marriage. . It ends with a call for decriminalization of homosexuality, and “full and complete acceptance—not tolerance and sympathy”. The book, however, went mostly unnoticed at that time.
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