Ms. Shakuntala Devi, Google’s Person of the Day

Today I opened a new page intending to go to WordPress and make up a new post (mocking Adams or whatever, I guess?) when I saw this on my home page (which happens to be Google).

Google Homepage - 04 Nov 2013

Yes, I use Chrome. Chrome > Firefox, IMHO.

Now normally, I notice the special Google thing, think “oh, okay,” and go on with my day. What made me stop was when I hovered over the macro and it said “Shakuntala Devi’s 84th Birthday”.

“Shakuntala’s Devi? I don’t know who she is.”

Exactly. I didn’t know who she was either.

*click* went the mouse, and boom!

“Child prodigy”, “Human Computer”, and holy<bleep>sheissomuchsmarterthanme.

Really. Ms. Devi is known as the “Human Computer” because she was able to do mathematics in her head — akin to Matilda in Roald Dahl’s children’s book Matilda. And not just the multiple of 14 and 16, of course.

From Wikipedia (I left the citation notes on purpose):

In 1977 at the Southern Methodist University she was asked to give the 23rd root of a 201-digit number; she answered in 50 seconds.[1][4] Her answer—546,372,891—was confirmed by calculations done at the U.S. Bureau of Standards by the UNIVAC 1101 computer, for which a special program had to be written to perform such a large calculation.[11]

(Evidence on whether Ms. Devi was able to levitate chalk and push over water glasses with brainpower through her eyeballs has yet to surface.)

In addition, she was pro-LGBTQ, and wrote a book called The World of Homosexuals. This book called for the decriminalization of homosexuality in India and full acceptance of homosexuals within society.

Now why don’t I hear about women like her in history class?

Happy Birthday, Ms. Devi. And thank you Google for bringing her up to my attention.


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