The latest Google Doodle pays tribute to Shakuntala Devi, India’s now-deceased ‘human calculator,’ who once broke a world record by multiplying 7,686,369,774,870 x 2,465,099,745,779 in 28 seconds.
Google has made many a work morning with its fun and innovative “doodle” series, but none will make you feel quite as unimpressive as Nov. 4th’s offering, an image honoring the “human computer” Shakuntala Devi, who would have turned 84 on Monday.
Shakuntala Devi: Child Prodigy
Shakuntala didn’t gain her abilities from years of studying calculus and trig; born to a circus acrobat in Bangalore, India on Nov. 4, 1929, she was, as Lady Gaga would say, born this way. Her father noticed her extreme talent when she was only three years old, and began taking her on roadshows to show off her unusual talents. At six, she performed at India’s esteemed University of Mysore, and by the time she reached college age, she was touring through Europe and the U.S., turning tricks of the mind for all the world to see.
Shakuntala Devi: Smarter Than Your Computer
Shakuntala continued her history-making work throughout her adult life, eventually wowing the folks at Southern Methodist University when she extracted the 23rd root of a 201-digit number 12 seconds faster than the Univac computer, her “rival”. Before her death last April, the pioneer Devi broke several records — including the aforementioned multiplication feat in 1980 — and published about a dozen books, with one pioneering gay rights in her native, conservative India. Now let’s all get back to work, so we can maybe be 1/7,686,369,774,870 as impressive as Shakuntala.
— Shaunna Murphy