26. Trinocular View of Science

When I come across any book, I do two things : first, I take a glimpse at table of contents, and second, I read the preface/foreword to the book. The second part is generally revealing in its own way, as I get to learn not only about the content of the book, but also about the human side of the topic under study. Recently, I was reading a technical book. In there, I came across a foreword written by Jacques Friedel, in which he quotes his grandfather Georges Friedel, and a part of the quoted text is reproduced below :

…none of the three approaches – the naturalist, the physicist, and the mathematician – should be neglected and that a healthy balance must be preserved amongst them !……

The text in bold is my emphasis. This quote resonates with what I think is a good way of doing science. Let me elaborate a bit on this “trinocular” view of science.

Photo Of Hands

Image courtesy : Pexels – Creative Commons License

  • Naturalist: In this approach, one can cater to the curiosity of the self by absorbing and observing nature. In a way, this approach helps you to connect with a phenomenon at a personal level with a touch of imagination of ones own. The feeling of wonder is what plays a critical role to be a naturalist, and a naturalist approach is to take this grasp seriously, and wonder about why nature behaves the way it does. In a way, most of the children are naturalist. Also, this approach, in my view, is one of the fundamental aspect of what makes us human : the ability to wonder and question.
  • Physicist (scientist to be more general) : Once you observe a phenomenon or intrigued by a fact, the questions to ask are: why and how such a thing happens? To answer these questions, you need to bring in the existing knowledge of science and look into the problem at hand through this metaphorical lens. You will have to ask to what framework of concepts does your observation belong to, and try to cast your naturalist observation in this light. This helps you to identify the scientific parameters of the problem, i.e., the dependent and independent variables. With this knowledge about parameters, you can not only probe the system under study, but also control it in a systematic way (first step to engineering). Such a control gives us an intellectual platform to construct hierarchical structures, which can further serve as foundation to new phenomena and structures.
  • Mathematician : This viewpoint brings in the analytical framework to the observations at hand. From the scientific thought – via hypothesis, experiments and models, we would have obtained some insight into a problem. These building blocks can be further refined and articulated in a precise language, such that we can generalize the problem to a larger set of questions which can go beyond the system under study. This transfer of real to abstract picture is what make mathematics so powerful. It catches the essentials of the problem, and facilitates a framework for generalization, which can be further applied to a new problem.

What I have discussed above is a way (not the only way) to approach research in natural science. Interestingly, the above 3 approaches need not be considered in chronological order. The inspiration to study a natural phenomenon or anything for that matter can be initiated from any of the 3 approaches. A question or an observation in any one framework can be cast as a query in any other framework, and that is what makes pursuit of science so wonderful.

Perhaps, the most important lesson from the Friedel’s quote is to keep a healthy balance of all the three approaches while studying a natural process. Importantly, this triangulation and extrapolation of approaches is how you build knowledge : be it engineering, medicine, public policy or any facet of epistemology. At the heart of all these approaches is to look at a problem from multiple viewpoints and be open to adaptation, criticism, and revision.

After all, depth in view needs more than one cue !

25. Ants@IISER as Active Matter

Nowadays, collective motion in active matter is one of the happening topics in the science of condensed matter, with a motivation in understanding biology at scales spanning from molecules to flock of birds. There is also a lot of contemporary research in active and driven natural systems and soft-robots at various length scales. Of my own interest is to understand how light can drive collective motion in synthetic colloids and other soft-systems in a fluid, and how they can lead to emergence of new assemblies.


Today, when I was walking in the IISER Pune campus, I came across a group of ants carrying food (see video above). It is amazing to see how coordinated is the movement of ants when carrying an object which is much larger than their individual weight (see video). One of the observations you can make is that how ants change their collective direction with minimum communication. How they do it is a fascinating question to explore. Undoubtedly studying such collective motion can lead to deeper understanding of not only the behaviour of ants and non-equilibrium systems, but also in designing adaptable soft-robots for various environments.

IISER Pune campus is quite rich in flora and fauna, and there is a lot to learn just by looking around the natural resources on campus. I hope to explore this rich environment in the context of soft matter systems, and report to you in this blog.


24. Bubbles in nimboo soda

Bubble assembly at a curved lemon-soda interface

One of the fascinating things about liquid-solid interface is that it gives a platform for fluids to assemble in a variety of geometries that can be tailored by changing the properties of the interface. Among the formations, bubble generation and assembly are intriguing aspects. If you observe the bubbles at the interface of a lemon slice dipped in soda(image above), they are almost spherical in shape, indicating a large contact angle.

How fluids interact on a solid surface depends on an important concept called as wetting. Associated with this wettability is the contact angle between a droplet/bubble and the solid beneath it. Based on the measure of this contact angle, one can classify how well or otherwise a drop/bubble can wet on a solid.

For a water droplet resting on a solid surface, larger contact angles, close to 90 degree, indicates that the surface is hydrophobic in nature. A lotus leaf is an excellent example of a hydrophobic surface. If the angle happens to be, say around 10 degrees, then the liquid spreads very easily on the surface and hence it is called as hydrophilic surface.

This kind of classification of surfaces based on wetting has a huge implication in studying liquid-solid interfaces including blood flow, capillary phenomena in plants, and of course in paint and printing industry, and many more.

Recently, I came across a research paper-highlight which connects the formation of bubbles to the energy problem. It always amazes me how simple concepts in science can inspire research problems and lead to fundamental questions and applications.

Let the bubbles rise..

ps: thanks to wordpress app, I have been able to write and post this blog directly from my mobile phone. That makes it quick and easy 😬

Continue reading “24. Bubbles in nimboo soda”

23. Falling droplets….

Below is a video I took on falling water droplets from a tap at my home. Observe how a large drop detaches itself from the tap and falls down, not as a single drop, but as a series of droplets with certain degree of periodicity associated with it. The video was shot at around 960 frames per second.

Why does this happen ? A simple answer is : to minimize surface energy. Interestingly, the transition of a large drop to smaller droplets is mediated via formation of a liquid tread, which further breaks up into smaller droplets. This tread (not evident in my video) takes the form of an instability, and facilitates the process of minimizing the free energy. The nature of this breakup depends on parameters such as surface tension, viscosity, density and geometry of the liquid thread. The initial conditions, such as the opening of the tap and pressure of the flow, too play a critical role in determining the droplet formation.

Actually, the problem of falling droplets has a rich history, which dates back to the times of Leonardo da Vinci (who else Hot smile), who made innumerable observations on the fluid flow (see some comments from his notebook here). There are many other people who have contributed towards our understanding of this problem. In the current literature, this instability problem is generally know as Plateau-Rayleigh instability, name after the two who played a vital role in quantifying this phenomenon and generalizing it to fluid jets.

In recent times, thanks to high speed photography, our visualization and hence deeper understanding of this instability problem has enormously increased. This understanding is fantastically communicated in a public lecture titled “The life and death of a drop” (see embedded video below) given by Sidney Nagel. This video has some spectacular movies captured by high speed camera ( > 10,000 frames per second) and looks at the falling droplet problem from the viewpoint of basic physics. 

Why is this interesting problem ? Apart from the aesthetic and curiosity, the problem of fluid jets and their evolution is of great relevance in understanding fundamental processes of fluid dynamics, including astrophysical situations.  Also, the problem of fluid droplets, their instability and splashing is of huge relevance in applications such as ink jet printing, wall painting, water reservoir management, blood flow analysis and many other problems in physiology and biomedicine. 

What strikes me about the falling droplets is its simplicity and universality. It reminds me of a poem by Emily Dickinson:


How happy is the little stone
That rambles in the road alone,
And doesn’t care about careers,
And exigencies never fears;
Whose coat of elemental brown
A passing universe put on;
And independent as the sun,
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute decree
In casual simplicity.

Colloids in Choreographic Time Crystals

Christmas, Christmas Ornament, Concept, Snowflake

Image courtesy: Pixabay – creative commons license

Crystal to time crystal : Periodic arrangement of atoms in the form of a crystal is well known to us. The periodicity in conventional crystal is  with respect to its spatial co-ordinates. An interesting question is : what if  the periodicity of a crystal is also considered in temporal co-ordinates, that is with respect to time ? Such crystals, in which  atoms (or their equivalents) repeat both in space and time are called time-crystals (specifically space-time crystals).

Origins : Although the term “time crystal” was used in biological context in 1970s, it was a research paper by Alfred Shapere and Frank Wilczek in 2012 which brought this interesting concept into mainstream physics. Wilczek, a Nobel laureate, also postulated the concept of quantum time crystal, which has added great impetus to this exploration. These theoretical concepts were experimentally probed and verified by Zhang’s group at UC Berkeley using ions in a cylindrical arrangement. Since then, there is a lot of research activity in this area. My colleagues at IISER-Pune – Sreejith and Mahesh, have created a new variety of time crystals by subjecting periodic NMR pulses to spins in star-shaped molecules .  

    I should also mentioned that after Wilczek’s results were published, Patric Bruno criticized the quantum counterpart based on No-Go theorem argument. There are some interesting debates which are still going on regarding the thermodynamic aspects of these crystals. Also many new applications have been proposed and tested based on the initial predications. To know more about the history and current trends in time-crystals, I suggest a recent, comprehensive review article.

Choreographic (time) crystals : Dance is something inherent to humans, and may be to other living beings. As per google dictionary, the term choreography means the sequence of steps and movements in dance or figure skating, especially in a ballet or other staged dance. In a choreographic time crystal, the movement of atoms (or their equivalent) are in a sequence of steps and co-ordinated, just as in a dance sequence. This means the spatial and temporal co-ordinates of this crystal varies in a predictable way, and hence represents a space-time crystal.  Such a concept was proposed in a paper in 2016. An interesting issue discussed in this theoretical paper is how Bragg’s diffraction law can be modified and adapted to probe such choreographic crystals. Modification of this law in necessary as atoms in a dancing lattice are in constant motion, and to obtain snapshots of the moving atoms one needs a capture protocol (diffraction in this case).

Colloidal dance : Atoms are tiny objects. If we need to probe the spatial and temporal evolution of atoms in a crystals, then we require sophisticated imaging tools (such as scanning tunneling microscope) to track atoms in space and time in an ultra-high vacuum condition. Is there any alternative, cheaper method to this approach? The answer is yes (with some caveats). One way is to utilize colloids (micron-scale objects floating in a fluid)  and treat them as big atoms. This is of course  an approximation, as colloids are classical objects, but many of the physical concepts that are applicable to atoms may be scaled up to colloidal size, and this scaling has been verified and harnessed to mimic and study collective behavior of atoms.

   Coming back to choreographic time crystal, the obvious question to ask is: can we use colloids to visualize the dance of this crystal ? A recent paper in PRL (arxiv version) addresses this question with numerical simulations. The authors first propose an experimental scheme to create a choreographic optical lattice using light as a tool. They hypothesize optical potential wells that can evolve both in space and time, and numerically study the evolution of colloids in such a choreographic time crystal. An important finding from their study is that they identify three phases of dynamics, in which the interaction between the potential-well  and the colloids is weak, medium and strong. In these three phases, they observe chiral looping of colloids, liquid-like behavior and colloidal choreography. I strongly recommend to have a look at the amazing simulation videos for the three simulated regimes of interaction : weak , strong , medium.

Summary : What I have described above is a metaphorical snapshot of how concepts in physics such as time crystals, optical lattice and colloids can come together on a single platform to collectively give something, which is not feasible to obtain by any of the individual entity. The concept of crystal itself is a manifestation of this ‘emergence’ philosophy. In an essence these ideas are both a tribute to, and reinforcement of, the concept:  “More is Different”…..  adieu Anderson….

Science + Poetry –> Quo Vadis ?

Image: Pixabay (creative common license)

Recently, I read an article titled The Quantum Poet. It is about Amy Catanzano, an academic poet amalgamating poetry with quantum physics. What is impressive is that she is trying to create a platform to communicate emerging trends in quantum world through poetry. She thinks poetry can bring something unique in terms of presentation which may help us understand science in a better way.  In her own words she describes the power of poetic presentation :

“Poetry is a nuanced and complex form of language that goes beyond simple dictionary definitions of individual words. Poems use rhythm, visual structure, line breaks, word order, and other devices to explore invisible worlds, alter the flow of time, and depict the otherwise unimaginable”

Attempts to bring science and poetry together is an active effort now, as evidenced by projects such as “The Universe in Verse”, which is an emerging platform where scientist and poets not only exchange ideas but also get together to create something new. An early proponent of this philosophy is the poet Ursula K. Le Guin, who describes  beautifully why science and poetry are necessary to understand the world that is overloaded with information :

“Science describes accurately from outside, poetry describes accurately from inside. Science explicates, poetry implicates. Both celebrate what they describe. We need the languages of both science and poetry to save us from merely stockpiling endless “information” that fails to inform our ignorance or our irresponsibility.”

Whereas the above examples show how poets are embracing science, I should mention that scientist too have been active in this endeavor. Roald Hoffmann, the Nobel prize winning chemist is one of the great examples of this.

The combination of science and poetry  has interesting connection in ancient Indian tradition too. Specifically, many of the Sanskrit surtras essentially do this as evidenced in some old Indian texts. If you want to know more, I suggest you read this article by Roddam Narasimha. His work, in my opinion, is a reliable source on topics related to science in ancient India. Interestingly, many languages in India do combine poetry with puzzles. One example that immediately comes to my mind is a lyrical puzzle in Kannada by Purandara Dasa called Mullu koneya mele.

A famous essay by C.P. Snow titled “Two Cultures” observed that arts and science, which are two endeavors of human activities, have to come together for a richer intellectual human experience. A lot has been debated on this topic.  Perhaps, the above examples show that the two cultures indeed can inspire each other to create something neither of them can create individually. Of course, there is still a lot to achieve in this direction.

Science, arts and sports are three pursuits of human beings which are integral parts of our lives. Personally, I cannot imagine a world devoid of them. Let me conclude with a small poem I wrote sometime ago (this is a modified version that I had posted on facebook) :

Cycles of thought set question into motion,

it pours meaning into life as a cerebral conception.

Fathering an idea: a borrowed perception;

no endeavor is original, everything an inception.

Science, Arts and Sports are facets of inspiration;

after all, what is life without their juxtaposition.

ps : Disheartening to know the passing away of Indian actors Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor. A lot of people are sad… reinforces the importance of art and artists in human society.


Letter to My Undergrad Students

This semester I was teaching an advanced physics lab course (4th year BS-MS). Below is an email I sent to them. You may find it interesting :


Image of a plasma discharge experiment in the UG physics lab at IISER-Pune

Dear Students of PHY430,

I hope all of you are doing fine and staying safe where ever you are. Given that we are part of an advanced lab course, compensating for the lost time via internet is not feasible. To fill in the gap, I am writing to you about something you may find interesting and useful. So here it is:

  • Ventilators : By now you may be very familiar with this terminology. Essentially, it is a medical device that helps you to mechanically breathe, and has turned out be a vital component in fighting the extreme medical cases of COVID epidemic. In this regard, I want to inform about the efforts of my colleagues Sunil Nair and Umakant Rapol, who are actively involved in design and development of low-cost ventilators. As you may recognize, both of them are experimental physicists, and their knowledge and intuition has been put to excellent use during the pandemic. In an essence, their involvement in this venture shows how a strong foundation in physics can not only solve deep queries in fundamental aspects of science, but also can cater to an emergency situation. This is one of the important lesson of this course : the skills and knowledge that you gain as part of experimentation in a lab can be transferred and implemented to solve problems outside a lab.
  • A Book recommendation: Talking about experimental skills, I thought of recommending an excellent book by Matthew Crawford titled “Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work”. This is a kind of an autobiographical exposition by the author, who majored in Physics, obtained a Ph.D. in political philosophy, and worked in policy circles of Washington D.C. for a brief period, and quit this job to become a motorcycle mechanic and an academic author. This book dives deep into the philosophy of why working with hands (and brains) is a deeply satisfying venture as a career and life-style. If you are not able to read the book, here is an excellent excerpt by the author himself.
  • Lab reports: Do send me the report of the experiments that are due to be evaluated. I know some of you may or may not have good access to internet, so timelines can be flexible (2 weeks from today). Also, you may not have access to research material. In that case, do co-ordinate with your lab partners, and let me know if I can be of some help in this regard.

Finally, keep your experimental spirits high. After all, everything at home is a kind of lab equipment to explore


Stay safe,


Updates – COVID times

First of all, my condolences to all people who have lost someone directly or indirectly due to pandemic. Second, my salutations to all the health and essential workers who are striving hard to keep the world breathing. Third, my sympathies to all the free-willing minds who have been locked down. This outbreak has indeed changed our lives and life-style, and has confined most of the humankind spatially, and has metaphorically frozen us in time. Also, it has given us some time for self-introspection on what it is to be an individual in a society, and how actions of individuals and local community can affect the globe. In an essence, what we may be witnessing is a classic case of butterfly effect.

So, what am I up to in the past month or so ?

  • Research work: Now that all my research-group members are away from the institute, it has had an effect on our research. Although online platforms have kept us connected, and we are making slow progress in writing some papers and performing some computer simulations, it can never substitute two important things: experimental work in a lab, and the in-person interaction during research. On personal research front, I have been studying some interesting concepts on liquid crystals, and their related meso-photonics effects. That will be a topic of another blog in future.
  • COVID-related research: For the past year of so, I have been informally interacting with some researchers at Bharat Electronics Limited, Pune on topics related to nanphotonics and optofluidics. Thanks to the recent developments, we have initiated collaboration on research related to COVID. We will be exploring some on-chip optical microscopy and plasmonic methods to detect and interrogate pathogens in our local environment (including virus and virus-like particles). I will update you as we make some progress.
  • An interesting book: Over the past fortnight or so, I have been reading an interesting book titled : Fizzics – The Science of Bubbles, Droplets and Foams. It is a semi-technical/popular science book written by F. Roland Young, who has done considerable research on bubble cavitation and sonoluminescence. This book has some fascinating discussion on questions such as:
  • What is the origin of the sound when we crack our knuckles ?
  • Why and how do bubbles rise in a bottle of champagne ?
  • How to compute a math puzzle using a soap film ?
  • and many more…
  • My posts going further – Henceforth, I wish to post short blogs more frequently. Once in a while, I will post longer essays.

cheers and stay safe !

References : mai yaha tu kaha

Endless it were to sing the powers of all,
Their names, their numbers; how they rise and fall:
Like baneful herbs the gazer’s eye they seize,
Rush to the head, and poison where they please:
Like idle flies, a busy, buzzing train,
They drop their maggots in the trifler’s brain:
That genial soil receives the fruitful store,
And there they grow, and breed a thousand more.

—– a stanza from The Newspaper by George Crabbe

Question mark
Source: Wikiclipart

Social media, such as Facebook, twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, e-news platforms, blogs etc., are great tools to share information. It has been harnessed by humanity to not only “spread the word”, but also to share opinions, experiences, expressions and new ideas at an amazing pace across the globe.

On the social media, we generally consume information by three different means: read an article, listen to an audio clip or watch a photograph or a video. They have indeed elevated our experiences and are now an important part of our daily lives. As with all technological tools, social media too has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the main disadvantages of the social media is the authentication of an information. The problem of authentication becomes increasingly important when the news that we are consuming is related a vital situation (example: information on coronavirus epidemic). Therefore, it is critical that we identify the source of information that we are consuming.

In this blog let me give a brief outline on the kinds of source any information is based on.

I will be directly quoting from an excellent book titled – The Craft of Research (now in 4th edition)

There are 3 kinds of sources from which we consume our information:

To quote the authors of  The Craft of Research (page 87, 4th edition) :

1.Primary Sources

Primary sources are “original” materials that provide you with the “raw data”

or evidence you will use to develop, test, and ultimately justify your

hypothesis or claim. What kinds of materials count as primary sources vary

significantly by field. In history, primary sources are artifacts or documents

that come directly from the period or event you are studying: letters, diaries,

objects, maps, even clothing. In literature or philosophy, your main primary

source is usually the text you are analyzing, and your data are the words on

the page. In arts criticism, your primary source would be the work of art you

are interpreting. In social sciences, such as sociology or political science,

census or survey data would also count as primary sources. In the natural

sciences, reports of original research are sometimes characterized as primary

sources (although scientists themselves rarely use that term).

2. Secondary sources

“Secondary sources are books, articles, or reports that are based on primary

sources and are intended for scholarly or professional audiences. The body of

secondary sources in a field is sometimes called that field’s “literature.” The

best secondary sources are books from reputable university presses and

articles or reports that have been “peer-reviewed,” meaning that they were

vetted by experts in the field before they were published. Researchers read

secondary sources to keep up with developments in their fields and, in this

way, to stimulate their own thinking…….”

3.Tertiary source

These are books and articles that synthesize and report on secondary sources

for general readers, such as textbooks, articles in encyclopedias (including

Wikipedia), and articles in mass-circulation publications like Psychology

Today. In the early stages of research, you can use tertiary sources to get a

feel for a topic. But if you are making a scholarly argument, you should rely

on secondary sources, because these make up the “conversation” in which

you are seeking to participate. If you cite tertiary sources in a scholarly

argument, you will mark yourself as either a novice or an outsider, and many

readers won’t take you—or your argument—seriously.

This response may seem unfair, but it’s not. Tertiary sources aren’t

necessarily wrong—many are in fact written by distinguished scholars—but

they are limited. Because they are intended for broad audiences who are

unfamiliar with the topics that they address, they can sometimes oversimplify

the research on which they are based, and they are susceptible to becoming

outdated. But if you keep these limitations in mind, tertiary sources can be

valuable resources: they can inform you about topics that are new to you, and

if they have bibliographies, they can sometimes lead you to valuable

secondary sources.

A majority of the information that we consume in social media is a tertiary source. When we consume information, we need to always ask questions such as:

On what kind of source is the information based on ?
Does this information cite appropriate source (primary, secondary or tertiary) ?

These are vital questions because it helps the reader to make a judgement on the information that they are consuming. For example, if you are reading an opinion piece or watching a video on e-news platform, the authors or the speakers will be making an argument as part of their opinion. Generally, this argument will be based on the three kinds of sources that I have quoted above. An important task of a serious reader/watcher is to seek the reference behind these sources, and identify the category of the source on which the opinion is based upon.

In the above quoted text on tertiary source, I have boldened the sentence related to bibliography to emphasize the importance of referencing. Given that hyperlinking is easy on social media, we should expect the author or the speaker to furnish their sources as part of their write-up or presentation.

Doing research should not be seen as an esoteric endeavor of human species. In fact, in this time and age of social media, it is not only our responsibility but also a necessity to do research on what we consume. So how should we do research ? To answer this, let me conclude by quoting the preface of the book again (page 13, 4th edition):

“…..Most current guides acknowledge that researchers rarely move in a straight line

from finding a topic to stating a thesis to filling in note cards to drafting and

revision. Experienced researchers loop back and forth, move forward a step

or two before going back in order to move ahead again, change directions, all

the while anticipating stages not yet begun. But so far as we know, no other

guide tries to explain how each part of the process influences all the others—

how developing a project prepares the researcher for drafting, how drafting

can reveal problems in an argument, how writing an introduction can prompt

you to do more research.

To know more about how to do research, I strongly recommend you to read “The Craft of Research”. It is a rare combination of primary, secondary and tertiary source for this age.


Raman’s Nephews

28th Feb of every year is celebrated as National Science Day in India. I have previously written about the science behind the National Science Day. This day is associated with the discovery of Raman effect. Raman had a great legacy and influence on Indian science. In addition to being a great scientist, CV Raman encouraged the pursuit of science (with exceptions).

One of his legacies was the impression and influence he had on some close members of his family. Below is a small list of his illustrious nephews who made significant contributions in science.

Raman’s  younger sister,  Sitalakshmi, had 5 sons.

3 bros
3 brothers : Pancharatnam, Ramseshan, Chandrasekhar. Image courtesy : Indian Academy of Sciences

Among them 3 were scientists :

Sivaraj Ramseshan (10 October 1923 – 29 December 2003)

  • A renowned crystallographer
  • played a key role in fostering institutions such as IISc and Indian Academy of science.
  • INSA has a nice biographical note on Ramseshan

Sivaramakrishna Chandrasekhar  (6 August 1930 – 8 March 2004)

  • Made outstanding contributions to the science of liquid crystals
  • Was elected as Fellow of Royal Society for his work on liquid crystals
  • A biographical note , compiled by Royal Society, is a worthy read.
  • He is the other Chandrasekhar  🙂

Shivaramakrishnan Pancharatnam (1934–1969)

  • The Pancharatnam of the fame of Panchratnam-Berry phase
  • Made ground-breaking contributions in optics
  • Unfortunately, died very young (35 yrs)
  • Prof. Rajaram Nityananda has compiled an excellent biographical article on him.

Raman’s brother was C.S. Iyer, He  had a son:

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. Image courtesy : University of Chicago

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar  (19 October 1910 – 21 August 1995)

  • Perhaps the most celebrated of the lot
  • S. Chandrasekhar was an astrophysicist who went to win the Nobel Prize in Physics

The real impact of science and technology, is not only in the materialistic gains of a society but also in the way it elevates the thought process of a society. Science as a pursuit of human knowledge influences thinking of human beings, and hence plays a vital role in shaping the character and culture of any individual, family, community,  country and the world.

We should also remind ourselves that “impact of a scientist” cannot be judged  merely by counting the number of papers/patents they publish nor by the high-office they hold in corridors of (scientific and political) power.  If anything, such a judgment of impact should be left to the posterity.

On a related  note, Kameshwar Wali, physicist and biographer of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar writes :

Chandra often quoted from a letter of his friend Edward A Milne during his Cambridge years:

“Posterity, in time will give us our true measure and assign to each of us our due measure and humble place; and in the end it is the judgement of posterity that really matters. He really succeeds who preserves accordingly to his lights, unaffected by fortune, good or bad. And it is well to remember there is no correlation between posterity and the judgement of contemporaries.”

Science zindabad !