After installing new RAM on motherboard and starting the computer, their was this 'electronic burining' smell and the computer switched off automatically. Upon inspection, the "south bridge" was a little warm to the touch and the RAM had been installed the wrong way around. After correcting this, the computer would start (LEDs and fans were working), didn't produce that smell anymore and also didn't turn itself off. But other then that, the computer appeared dead; there was no signal to the screen or the keyboard or the mouse. Would the motherboard be permanently damaged?
Possibly. Grab some new ram and see. From reading about ram installed the wrong way the motherboard may or may not be dead. I've heard reports both ways. Usually its ok but don't be surprised if it is.