### In Story

#### The Math Dunce

That year, in the local school, there was a new Math teacher, as well as some new pupils. One of the new kids was the stupidest child anyone had ever seen. It made no difference how quickly or how slowly they tried explaining numbers to him; he would always end up saying something enormously dumb. Like two plus two was five, seven times three was twenty-seven, or a triangle had thirty corners...

Before this boy arrived, Maths lessons had been the most boring of all. Now they were great fun. Encouraged by the new teacher, the children would listen to the pieces of nonsense spouted by the new kid, and they would have to correct his mistakes.

They all wanted to be the first to find his mistakes, and then think up the most original ways to explain them. To do this they used all kinds of stuff: sweets, playing cards, oranges, paper planes...

It didn't seem like any of this bothered the new kid.

However, little Lewis was sure that it was bound to make him feel sad inside.

So, one day, he decided to follow the new kid home after school; Lewis was sure he would see him crying.

On leaving school, the new kid walked a few minutes to a local park, and there he waited for a while, until someone came along to meet him...

It was the new teacher!

The teacher gave the new kid a hug, and off they went, hand in hand. Following from a distance, Lewis could hear they were talking about Math.

And that stupid new kid knew everything about it, much more than anyone in the class!

**By:Pedro Pablo Sacristan**

#### UNSUNG HEROS

#### Radhanath Sikdar

**'Sir, I have discovered the highest mountain of the world'.**

These were the words spoken by Radhanath Sikdar, a professional mathematician who was the first person to calculate the height of Mount Everest.

**Radhanath** (October 1813 - 17 May 1870) was an Indian Bengali mathematician who is best known for calculating the height of Mount Everest.

In 1831 a 19 year old Sikdar joined the Great Trignometric Survey as a 'Computer' under the Surveyor General of India George Everest who was searching for a brilliant young mathematician with particular proficiency in spherical trigonometry. (the term "computer", in use from the early 17th meant "one who computes": a person performing mathematical calculations)

It was in 1851 that Radhanath started measuring the snow-capped mountains in Darjeeling. In 1852 on a fine morning Sikdar discovered that the mountain peak then known as Peak XV was higher than Kanchenjunga, (28,169 ft/ 8,586m) which was considered to be the tallest in the world till then.

Sikdar had calculated the height of peak XV at exactly 29,000 ft. It was officially announced in March 1856, and this remained the height of Mount Everest till an Indian survey re-calculated it to be 29,029 ft (8,848 m) in 1955.

This peak XV was then named as Mount Everest in honour of George Everest the first Surveyor General of India.

In recognition of Sikdar's mathematical genius, the German Philosophical Society made him a Corresponding Member in 1864, a very rare honour of that time. The Department of Posts, Government of India, launched a postal stamp on 27 June 2004, commemorating the establishment of the Great Trigonometric Survey in Chennai, India on 10 April 1802, featuring Radhanath Sikdar.

Radhanath Sikdar passed away in May 1870, and his name gradually faded into oblivion. It is an honour to remember this great Indian mathematician.