India's Contribution to Science & Technology

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Paul » 19 Mar 2014 18:32

[youtube]7z9NUV_YrOo&feature=relmfu[/youtube]

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Paul » 19 Mar 2014 18:33

[youtube]GuUK1_85U80&feature=relmfu[/youtube]

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby ramana » 05 Apr 2014 01:24

From Pioneer

http://www.dailypioneer.com/nation/indi ... email.html


Indian boy who invented email
Monday, 24 March 2014 | Kumar Chellappan | CHENNAI
12345 14
Even the best brains in computer and software engineering may not be able to answer if you ask them who invented email. This was illustrated on Sunday when this writer checked the same with Prof Achuthsankar S Nair, Director, State Inter-University Centre of Excellence in Bioinformatics, Government of Kerala and Dr Iyemperumal, Executive Director, Tamil Nadu State Science and Technology Centre. Both of them expressed their helplessness even though both of them handle hundreds of email messages per day.

It is a 14-year-old boy from India and that too with roots in Tamil Nadu who invented email as well as the five-letter word which has become synonymous with communication. VA Shiva Ayyadurai, hardly out of school in New Jersey, ushered in the paperless era into this world. It was in response to a challenge thrown at him by Dr Leslie P Michelson, Director, High Performance Computing Lab, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), in Newark, New Jersey, which made little Shiva create the world's first email system in November 1978.

“The UMDNJ was a big campus connected by a wide area computer network. The computer was in its initial stages of being used in the office environment. Dr Michelson wanted me to create an electronic version of the interoffice mail system so that the entire staff of doctors, secretaries, students and staff could communicate faster.

At that time, secretaries and staff were performing drafting, typing, copying, hand delivering of the entire paper-based mail. By observing the interoffice mail system, I created a parts list: Inbox, Outbox, Memo, Folders, Address Book, Attachments, and then created a computer programme of nearly 50,000 lines of computer code which replicated this entire system. I called my innovation ‘email’, a term that had never been used before. The world’s first email I sent was to Dr Michelson in November 1978,” Dr Ayyadurai told The Pioneer on Sunday.

Dr Ayyadurai developed email as a software programme. “Software itself was a new concept then. In 1978, it was not even covered under the Intellectual Property Rights. The US Copyright Law of 1976 was amended, however, in 1980 to allow for the protection of software. In 1982, I was awarded the first US Copyright for ‘Email’, recognising me as the inventor of email by the US Government,” said Dr Ayyadurai, who holds four different Post Graduate degrees including a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“What you see in any email system today, the Inbox, Outbox, Address Book, the Memo (From, To, Date, Subject, Body, CC and BCC), Attachments, etc are based on my observations to replicate the interoffice mail system. In November 1978, as a 14-year-old school boy, I addressed the doctors of the University on what I invented and demonstrated the use of this entire system,” reminiscences Dr Ayyadurai, son of Vellayappa Ayyadurai, a chemical engineer hailing from Rajapalayam in Tamil Nadu and Meenakshi, a mathematics teacher who went on to become the head of the elite Don Bosco Public School in Mumbai.

The Ayyadurais migrated to the USA in 1970 in search of greater challenges so that little Shiva could get better education and exposure. He did not let his parents down. By the age of 13 he had mastered all known computer programming languages in vogue and went on to create email, which revolutionised the world of communication.

Dr Ayyadurai has come out with a book The Email Revolution: Unleashing The Power of Connect which has foreword by Dr Leslie Michelson and an introduction by none other than Prof Noam Chomsky. He is in India as part of his mission to identify more “Shivas” who have much better innovations to offer to the world.

“Young people of all colors, hungry to make this world a better place, are going to innovate things we’ve never imagined. We have to provide more global images to young people, in India, for example, with icons, beyond just white skinned and white haired, bearded scientists,” said Dr Ayyadurai.

And how many of us are aware of the fact that radio was invented by Prof Jagdish Chandra Bose? It was his failure to get it patented that cost Dr Bose the title. Marconi, who had seen Dr Bose’s public demonstration of the radio, had approached him with an irresistible offer to market the same. But Dr Bose wanted the radio to be used for the welfare of the humanity. The night he held the public demonstration, his equipment was robbed from his hotel room. The rest is history,” Prof Ranjit Nair, leading physicist, had told this writer. So, today we all think Marconi, an Italian, invented Radio.

But, when it comes to email, it's time to set the record straight, once and for all — it was a boy, a 14-year-old Indian boy, who invented email. The facts are black and white.


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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Raja Bose » 05 Apr 2014 03:56

^^^I think my dad knows him from his stint at CSIR (have to ask him today)...I recall him mentioning some years ago about an incident where the then-DG of CSIR Samir Brahmachari fired this Indian origin guy from MIT for not indulging in ji-huzoori.

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby ArmenT » 05 Apr 2014 12:26

ramana wrote:From Pioneer

http://www.dailypioneer.com/nation/indi ... email.html

Indian boy who invented email
Monday, 24 March 2014 | Kumar Chellappan | CHENNAI
12345 14
Even the best brains in computer and software engineering may not be able to answer if you ask them who invented email. This was
<snip>

There is some controversy to his claims, as there were mail messaging systems available since the late 60s/early 70s. Hell, RFC-733 ("STANDARD FOR THE FORMAT OF ARPA NETWORK TEXT MESSAGES") was publicly published a full year before his claim to sending the first email. His best claim to fame is that he actually named his program "EMAIL", but that doesn't mean he invented the concept.

See this link for more about the controversies.

@RajaBose: The man claims "he was banned from further communiques, promptly fired, evicted from his government housing, and urged to flee the country, lest his life and family be harmed", all for writing some dissenting letter to CSIR head honchos. Dunno if he's telling the truth or embellishing it a bit.

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Yayavar » 06 Apr 2014 03:07

Did he write a mail client with some of the concepts that became popular? and that is the basis for his claims rather than any contribution to actual messaging mechanisms and protocol.

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Amber G. » 06 Apr 2014 04:01

I don't know if that was April fool joke, or ddm just being ddm's .. but the news item is beyond silly, IMO.

In some form I, myself have been using "email" about 10 years prior to " November 1978". Actually around 1978 when many of the profs, graduate students, and undergrads were routinely using bitnet's (which joined MIT, Princeton, CUNY, Yale etc) instant messaging and email.. This was developed by students and Faculty (even I contributed some in the development), its uses grew pretty fast. (We called it bitnet - BIT stood for "Because Its There" ... we already had a communication line joining many universities computer system - we introduced directory (email address given to whoever wanted it .. there were thousands given .) and standard way to send/store email/documents/or instant messages .. etc .... The system was actually donated to IBM who called it Profs (Professional Office system) which had email, calendar, schedule etc..

Probably commercial version (IBM Profs) came a few years later..but it became famous because of white house used it and it became house-hold word post Iran-Contra scandal (1986).. but this mail system was there in production mode in beginning of 1980's... White House, IBM, and *many* institutions used it..
(Added later: IBM Profs, officially debuted in 1981, but it was based on its semi-official version.. PRPQ (customized program) which was there for many years prior..as said before it was used by
a group of universities)

Of course, "mail" command was there in the first version of Unix (1971).. (Even I have used it many times in early 70's)
(Added later: Indeed - according to Janet Abbate’s history book about internet, email was a "killer apps" in 1971!!)

(It, or similar command, was there also in many of the other operating systems of 1970's ... even in 1960's ...

IBM's VM operating system (released in 1972 - and which became very popular in MIT, Yale, Princeton, CUNY . in 1970's.. on which bitnet's email was used), if I recall correctly, had "nickname" file - essentially a directory - which integrated with its RSCS (service machine which was basically the network part) in those early days...I certainly used it rather routinely in mid/late 70's..
(Students submitted their "home work" electronically, for example )
Something even the ddm's can check using wiki.. :roll:

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby ArmenT » 06 Apr 2014 05:54

viv wrote:Did he write a mail client with some of the concepts that became popular? and that is the basis for his claims rather than any contribution to actual messaging mechanisms and protocol.

Ray Tomlinson wrote a mail client that used From:, To:, Subject:, CC: and BCC: fields back in late 60s/early 70s. Interestingly, he arbitrarily chose the "@" character to separate the username and the domain name in his mail client, a feature we still use today. And his wasn't the first mail client either, there were at least 5 or 6 others in use before he even wrote his (Tomlinson had based his program on an existing program called SNDMSG). MIT had a mail feature in their CTSS (Compatible Time Sharing System) OS by 1962 and UNIX had the command line mail command (which is how I used to send/read mail for many years) since 1972!

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Amber G. » 06 Apr 2014 06:01

Okay, got a little curious so did some checking.. apparently it's not just some minor ddm's.. even Washington Post, Time, US post office, got similar story. Some retracted the story and realized that they had egg on their face of being duped by wikipedia entry which was, edited by Shiva Ayyadurai :shock: :rotfl: ... and not realizing that some patent for "email" does not equal to inventing email.. :eek:

But while there are lot of admirers, there are a few skeptics..

Tech blog Gizmodo summed the whole thing up tidily, running a picture of Shiva’s face with a one-word question plastered across it: “Imposter?” (It also quotes many of Shiva's fellow MIT professors describing SA in very unflattering words ).. MIT wanted to know why Shiva is promoting himself on his website as the head of the MIT EMAIL Lab ... or Why Institute affiliating itself with someone of such questionable character ... Within days, MIT told Shiva that it no longer wanted to be associated with the EMAIL Lab. ...

Here is one article with other side of the story from Boston Magazine:

Return to Sender 8)
Some excerpts:
V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai — the MIT lecturer who invented e-mail — had spent years blasting the struggling United States Postal Service for its failure to embrace the revenue potential of his creation. So when he was recruited to help save the U.S. Mail earlier this year, Ayyadurai made headlines and was suddenly a star. That’s when the trouble started.

“Did you know that email was invented in 1978 by a 14-year-old called V.A.Shiva Ayyadura [sic]?,” a sarcastic Haigh wrote. “The shocking news was broken recently by the Washington Post.” Haigh then laid out a point-by-point takedown of Shiva’s claims. E-mail was created in 1978? “Mail features became common on the timesharing computers of the late 1960s,” the professor scolded. “MIT is a strong contender for the first place where this happened.” He went on to note that the first computer-to-computer message exchange took place over the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, or ARPANET—the Pentagon-funded underpinning of the modern Internet that enabled hundreds of computer programming students to access government-owned supercomputers from satellite sites across the country in the ’60s and ’70s. Citing Janet Abbate’s 1999 book Inventing the Internet, Haigh reminded the group that network mail was a “killer application” … in 1971.

Haigh lamented that the Post had been duped into believing that Shiva’s copyright for a program called “EMAIL” equated to the actual invention of e-mail. And he wasn’t the only skeptic. David Crocker, an early ARPANET user and the author of some of its most highly regarded messaging protocols, was forwarded the story by a friend, who warned: “This will ruin your day.” John Vittal, credited with creating the ARPANET’s MSG program, one of its most admired and heavily used messaging tools, was notified of the story by worked-up former colleagues.

From there they uncovered heated conversations involving Shiva and Wikipedia editors, who’d charged that Shiva’s edits were self-promotional, and thereby invalid. “Why are you blocking me??!” Shiva had asked the editors.

The Smithsonian eventually backpedaled, issuing a clarification on February 24 stating that it had accepted Shiva’s EMAIL documentation not because he was the “inventor of email,” but because of his role in “computer education,” and of EMAIL’s use in “medical research.” That same day, Patrick Pexton, the Post’s ombudsman, shot off a blog post responding to the criticism the paper’s story was generating. “Who invented e-mail?” he wrote. “Crikey, I don’t know. Maybe Al Gore.” :rotfl:

Adds John Vittal: “There was a sense of anger at the reporter and the [Smithsonian] for allowing this nonsense to be promulgated. We wanted to get at the truth.” Haigh, for his part, penned a letter to the editor that eviscerated Pexton’s blog. “There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of people who could plausibly claim to have achieved some kind of significant incremental ‘first’ in the development of email,” he wrote. “On the other hand there are billions of people who clearly didn’t invent email …. Unfortunately for Pexton and the Washington Post, V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai is one of the billions …. ”

published a follow-up blog post a few days later disavowing his earlier defense of the reporter’s work, apologizing for his own errors, and noting that, upon further investigation, Shiva “should not have been called ‘inventor of e-mail’ in the headline.” A lengthy and rather convoluted correction was added to the online version of the piece.


Read the whole article.. I just pasted a few comments..Haigh BTW is a computer historian and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin...

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Yayavar » 06 Apr 2014 06:58

Interesting. I read the Gizmodo article in the meantime. The max I was being charitable is if we added some feature to email client that became used after his use but dont see anything spelt out specifically. Ayyadurai does say the concept of folders...but with its focus on files that would be the first thing a unix based solution would use to keep different mail threads.


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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Amber G. » 06 Apr 2014 10:11

Viv, sv, Ramana et al -

It seems SA has become quite well known (at least in MIT circles) to register many domain name like dremail.com, inventerofemail.com etc... (see the previous story).

What I find truly amazing that Pioneer article posted by Ramana appeared much later than WP and other articles have already been found out as fake.... even some minimal checking by Pioneer's author/editor would have prevented such a " He went to IIT Banglore in Kerla" type silly story to be published... but again I ought not to be surprised as these papers have such a low standard.

I wonder how people are so gullible..

I was surprised that Ramana posted this without any comments...

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Vayutuvan » 06 Apr 2014 10:52

And the guy nested Fran Drescher. Hope he can stand her laugh. Otherwise she is not a bad actress.

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Anyone knows of the Aircraft supposedly made in Calcutta?

Postby member_28452 » 07 Apr 2014 13:04

I saw a Youtube speech of Rajiv Dixit, who mentioned that a guy in Calcutta made the first plane and he was cheated by a British tobacco company who passed on the details to Wright brothers.Any info on this topic?

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Yayavar » 07 Apr 2014 20:08

^^Let us not put the above kind of items/queries in this thread.

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Vayutuvan » 16 Apr 2014 21:29

I would like to see Indian Supercomputer in the Top Graph 500 list. These are new benchmarks that are more representative of real life science and engg. problems which, in most (even majority) of the situations, give rise to sparse matrices. Solving of these require good reordering which usually are algorithms/heuristics on the sparse graph associated with the problem. So de-referencing of pointers and list processing become important. When unsymmetric matrices are involved one has to process directed graphs (not necessarily DAGs which are easier to handle). There is some criticism leveled at these new benchmarks saying that these change the rules for the listing which not supportable if one goes by what is involved in computational modeling of real life physics/chemistry/biology/mathematics.

Russia, India Take Aim at China’s FLOPS Lead April 9, 2014

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby JE Menon » 17 Apr 2014 10:37

Guys this is not the thread to link to frauds... back to topic.

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Yogi_G » 17 Apr 2014 10:51

There was a time when a Indian supercomputer was second only to the American one in a competition of supercomputers. The Japanese supercomputer even failed to work properly. This in spite of all the problems the Indians had in transporting the super computer to the site.

We have fallen significantly behind.

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby arshyam » 20 Apr 2014 04:54

^^ Are you referring to the Param 10000?

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Vipul » 12 Jun 2014 06:57

India may contribute 25 per cent nanotechnology professionals by 2025: Assocham-TechSci Research.

Nearly one in every four nanotechnology professionals in the world is likely to be an Indian for the decade ending 2025, according to an Assocham-TechSci Research joint study.

From 2015 onwards, global nanotechnology industry would require about twenty lakh professionals and India is expected to contribute about five lakh professionals in the coming years, noted the study.

India's contribution in development and application of nanotechnology is expected to increase significantly due to growing investments, strong funding and increasing government initiatives to encourage growth in nanotechnology market, it said.

"Incentives for research and development, specifying manufacturing standards, infrastructure, cost and financing and weak industry-academia link are certain key barriers in commercialisation of nanotechnology in India, said Chief of Integrated Defence Staff Lt Gen Anil Chait while inaugurating a national summit on 'Nano India: Policy & Regulations' here.

In 2011, India's share in global nanotechnology research publications had reached six per cent from a mere two per cent in the year 2000, the study found.

"With its major contributions in applied physics, material science and macromolecules, India has outpaced several countries like Brazil, Taiwan, the UK and France in terms of research publication," it said.

The study cited lack of appropriate infrastructure, absence of proper skill set and expert workforce, lack of standardizations, lack of knowledge and significant brain drain as the key weaknesses of nanotechnology market in India.

However, the nanotechnology market in India is likely to witness strong growth on account of increasing government focus on developing and enhancing nanotechnology, it said.

The future of nanotechnology in India is largely dependent on the scale of investment spendingand ability to introduce revolutionary products in the market, the study pointed out.

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby kenop » 15 Jun 2014 09:35

Yogi_G wrote:There was a time when a Indian supercomputer was second only to the American one in a competition of supercomputers. The Japanese supercomputer even failed to work properly. This in spite of all the problems the Indians had in transporting the super computer to the site.

We have fallen significantly behind.

The game has changed. These are the days of commodity processors connected with a high speed networks (Network/Cluster of processors now/cow as people said about 10 years ago in the times of PARAM post-8600 series). PARAM 8000 and 8600 used transputers and involved considerable hardware design skills. In the present circumstances network/switch is the most one would design (if at all). So, practically the computing power of a present parallel supercomputer scales directly with the hardware used (which means in direct proportion to the budget).

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby vsunder » 22 Jun 2014 02:31

The Birth Centennial Year of a Great Indian Mathematician


This is the birth centennial year of a great Indian Mathematician. His work has in many ways influenced me and my own work in profound ways. His work continues to influence large parts of Geometry and the Geometry of the Spectrum in deep ways and arguably lead to many deep theorems in modern Mathematics, The Atiyah Singer Index theorem, and other landmark results. Sadly his birth centennial has been completely forgotten in all mathematical establishments in India and hardly any Indian and shamefully the younger generation know of this person and his important contributions. The purpose of this post is to set the record straight, and give you a very brief idea in layman's language of what he accomplished. My view is based on my own research experiences and the several conversations I have had with colleagues at the TIFR who knew Subbaramaiah Minakshisundaram or Minakshi as I will refer to to and what he was known to his colleagues and my own perspective of the subject and circle of ideas in the work of Minakshisundaram and his collaborators.

Brief Life of Minakshisundaram

Though there is a wiki link:

Minakshisundaram

I want to add to the wiki link. Minakshisundaram was born in Thrissur in October 1913. His family originally came from Andhra Pradesh. It is fortituous that he went to study at Loyola College at Chennai and came into contact with Father Racine, a French Jesuit father who had been trained in Mathematics by such luminaries as Elie Cartan and Hadamard in Paris. Racine is credited with the early training and nurturing of a whole galaxy of Indian mathematicians who rose to international prominence post-independence. Minakshisundaram was the first in this list. Some other luminaries were, M. S. Narasimhan, C. S. Seshadri, M. S. Raghunathan and the brilliant mathematician C.P. Ramanujam who like his famous namesake S. Ramanujan, also died young by committing suicide at the age of 38.

C.P.Ramanujam

M.S.Narasimhan

M. S. Raghunathan

C. S. Seshadri

Some of the history of Father Racine and the hand he had in developing a school of Indian Mathematics post independence and also a little about Minakshi can be gathered by Raghunathan's article in Current Science a few years ago:

Ivory Tower Sophisticates

The early work of Minakshi was good but not particularly stellar. But perhaps I can say in defence that the research in Tauberian theorems that Minakshi was doing, though dated already might have been helpful when he did his best work for which he is most known. This is a personal observation. In 1948, Marshall Stone an eminent U. S. mathematician visited India and wished to take some promising local mathematicians to the U.S. Minakshi thus got a chance to visit the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton. There he came into contact with one of the outstanding German mathematicians of that time Hermann Weyl. I surmise Weyl introduced him to the questions that would bring everlasting fame to Minakshi. Also at the IAS was a young Swede, Ake Pleijel and together Minakshisundaram and Pleijel proved in two papers the famous expansion which plays a profound part in many areas of mathematics.

Minakshisundaram-Pleijel Heat Kernel Expansion

On Minakshisundaram's return to India, he was offered a job in the newly created TIFR in Mumbai.
But after a few years he had a falling out with K. Chandrashekaran. Chandrashekaran was the head of Mathematics and appointed by Bhabha. He appears in the link above in the article by Raghunathan in Current Science. Chandrashekaran also appears in Perkovich's book on India's Nuclear Bomb. Chandrashekaran seemed to have had differences with Bhabha just before Bhabha died, and in fact Chandrashekaran resigned his position at the TIFR in 1966 and left for the ETH in Zurich.

In the case of Minakshi it was worse. His work was not understood or appreciated in India and he managed finally a position at the Andhra University in Waltair. Here he lived a life of total obscurity and descended into alcoholism and bitterness. He died in 1968 at the young age of 55. In a conversation with me a few months ago, M. S. Narasimhan told me that, once a visitor to Andhra University told the vice chancellor or some high functionary about the eminent faculty member Minakshisundaram they had on their staff. At which the senior functionary of Andhra University is said to have retorted, "That alcoholic, all he does is drink whisky in the bar with a German". It is truly shameful that such a great mathematician whose work is of fundamental importance is not honored in his birth centennial year by a single conference, seminar etc. by any mathematical organization, or scientific body in India. Of course in his lifetime, Minakshi never was awarded any prize or recognition by the Indian Government. It is exactly for such reasons that Mathematics will never progress in India and no country has ever achieved super power status without paying attention to this subject. I wanted to explain in simple language a personal perspective on what Minakshi and Pleijel accomplished, but it may be taxing to some and so I am desisting since there is a volume of papers that arose from the heat kernel ideas of Minakshi and Pleijel, for those who do not wish to delve into the details, there is an article in the magazine Resonance ( published by the Indian Academy of Science, Bangalore) a few years ago by S. Thangavelu for lay people. For me, the Minakshisundaram-Pleijel work draws on two important areas of Mathematics, Analysis and Geometry and historically may be the first theorem which is the meeting ground for the two areas. Thus in many ways it is a landmark result. It is also important to understand that Minakshisundaram was the first of the Indian mathematicians who achieved an international status post independence. The last before him was S. Ramanujan who had passed away in 1920 and that was before independence.

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby ramana » 06 Apr 2015 19:57

X-Post...

pankajs wrote:
Narendra Modi ‏@narendramodi 3m3 minutes ago

Launched the book, “Pre-Modern Kutchi Navigation Techniques and Voyages”, a transcription of “Malam Ni Pothis”
Image

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Falijee » 21 Jul 2015 01:27

India blocks Colgate patents for spices

India has successfully blocked two patent claims of US consumer goods major Colgate-Palmolive, which wanted intellectual property right (IPR) cover on two oral compositions made from Indian spices and other herbs.


India opposed the claim using the traditional knowledge digital library (TKDL) database, created in the last decade to fight biopiracy.


The digital database, containing Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha formulations, and known medicinal properties of Indian herbs, was created following India’s successful IPR battles on haldi (turmeric), neem and Basmati rice.


Besides Colgate, the other big players who bit the TKDL bullets are Nestle, L’Oreal, Avasthagen, Ranbaxy and Unilever.

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Bade » 16 Sep 2015 20:34

Peerless trail-blazer

In conversation with B.V. Sreekantan, cosmic ray physicist and astronomer. By R. RAMACHANDRAN

NANJANGUD, a small town near Mysore in Karnataka, is more famous for its pink-coloured tooth powder than for producing the great cosmic ray physicist and astronomer Badanaval Venkatasubba Sreekantan, who was a student of Homi J. Bhabha. Sreekantan was born into a scholarly family of Nanjangud and his father, B.V. Pandit, who was an Ayurvedic doctor, was the originator of the famous herbal tooth powder.

Sreekantan completed high school in Nanjangud and obtained a two-year intermediate degree from Mysore. He then moved to Central College, Bangalore, where he obtained his BSc Physics (Hons.) degree in 1946 and MSc (Physics) in 1947, with a specialisation in wireless. He then joined the Communication Engineering Department of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, as a research scholar. In 1948, Bhabha, who had carried out theoretical studies on cosmic rays in Cambridge and had decided on cosmic rays as one of the areas of research at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai, selected Sreekantan as one of his first students to carry out research in experimental cosmic ray physics. As the cosmic ray scientist P.C. Agrawal points out in a recent article in Current Science, Sreekantan is that rare scientist whose work ranges from experiments a few kilometres deep underground in a mine—the Kolar Gold Fields (KGF)—on cosmic ray particles and proton decay to altitudes up to several hundred kilometres with balloon and rocket-borne detectors to study X-ray emissions from neutron stars and black holes.

He was part of the team that first detected atmospheric neutrinos at the KGF. The planned launch by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) of Astrosat, a multi-wavelength X-ray astronomy spacecraft, in September, and the proposed India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) in Theni district of Tamil Nadu are milestones in the programmes that Sreekantan initiated at the TIFR.

During his 39 years at the TIFR, he put India on the world map of high-energy physics and built up a vibrant school of experimental high-energy cosmic rays, which carries forward his legacy in experimental cosmic rays and astrophysics using a variety of detectors and techniques.

After serving as the TIFR’s Director from 1975, he superannuated in 1987 but continued until 1992 as the Indian National Science Academy Srinivasa Ramanujan Professor. In 1992, he moved to the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, as the Dr S. Radhakrishnan Visiting Professor, a position he continues to hold. He is also Chairman of the Gandhi Centre of Science and Human Values, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bangalore. Interestingly, he is also chairman of the board of Sadvaidyasala, the company founded by his father for making Ayurvedic products, including the pink tooth powder.

On June 30, Sreekantan turned 90. His fitness, alertness, amazing memory and continuing awareness of current developments in physics and his current research interest in philosophy and metaphysics hardly betray his age. On July 10, the TIFR felicitated him to mark his 90th birthday. Frontline caught up with him on this occasion and had a wide-ranging interview with him (in two parts). Excerpts:

You hail from a small town. How did you get interested in physics?

Essentially because my eldest brother was always interested in physics. He was a medical man and he was interested in both physics and philosophy. That influenced me. In Central College, Bangalore, I did Physics (Honours). That was the motivation. We come from a very orthodox and scholarly family. Therefore, there was this influence of the Bhagvad Gita and other scriptures because every Saturday my father used to arrange a lecture on these by some scholar or the other from Mysore. Since my father was fairly rich, he would invite these scholars. We had a very big hall where 30-40 people used to gather. Even as a young boy, I was exposed to the Bhagvad Gita and Vedanta philosophy. These Gita sessions continued for several years. So, whenever I had a chance, I would sit and listen to those lectures, partly understanding and partly not. When I came to Central College, there was one professor of physics by name Subbaraman who had worked with C.V. Raman. And he was a follower of [the] Sringeri [mutt]. He influenced me quite a bit in my interest in theoretical physics and its relationship to philosophy and also in my decision to do research in nuclear physics. When I left Central College, I had a good grounding in theoretical physics and I wanted to do theoretical physics with [Homi] Bhabha.

When I was a student in Bangalore during 1943-47, Bhabha was at the Indian Institute of Science, and he was there till 1945. Occasionally, he would come to Central College and give lectures on nuclear physics and related topics. At that time, nuclear physics was just beginning and it interested me and then, of course, elementary particles. I came here to the TIFR after spending a year in the Communication Engineering Department at the IISc. I had done MSc in wireless because the theoretical physics option was not there; [you could do] wireless or X-rays. I preferred wireless. I did not know much about the TIFR at that time, so I joined communication engineering. I was there with Professor Chatterjee, who was an electronics expert. During that year I learnt quite a bit of electronics. At that time, in colleges, electronics was mostly radio physics. When I went to him he started me on ultra high frequency (UHF) waves. I started doing this but my eyes were still on physics. And Chatterjee encouraged me. He said, “You are more suited to do research in physics. If you continue here you will end up as an engineer in All India Radio or somewhere.” He encouraged me to apply to the TIFR and also the PRL [Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad].

When you were at the IISc, and Bhabha was also there, did you have any chance of interacting with him?

Not very much. But I listened to Bhabha’s lectures. I must mention one thing that happened which brought me to cosmic rays. There was a Mexican physicist by name [Manuel] Vallarta who came and gave two lectures on cosmic rays in January 1948. He gave very beautiful lectures. On the second day, as we were coming out of the hall, we heard about the unfortunate death of Mahatma Gandhi. Vallarta’s lectures were presided over by Bhabha. Somehow, after those lectures I got interested in cosmic rays. So, when I had gone for the interview [at the TIFR] he asked me what I would like to do. I was interviewed thrice that day; the first [was] on experimental physics. Bhabha chaired the interviews. When I entered the second time for the theoretical interview, Bhabha told the others: “I have examined him in physics. He is quite good. Now you examine him in mathematics.” When I was called in for the third time, Bhabha asked me: “What do you want to do?” Though my mind was on theoretical physics, I said: “You have interviewed me. I will go by your decision.”

But you had made up your mind to come to the TIFR even though the IISc had an established school of physics and Raman was already there. What attracted you to the TIFR?

Yes. The TIFR was then a small set-up. There were only six people in it. IISc physics was very poor at that time. There was this quarrel between Raman and others, and Raman was trying to build his Raman Research Institute. He was practically sent out of the IISc. Therefore, nobody encouraged me to go to Raman. The obvious thing at that stage would have been to join Raman. I hesitated and my brothers also told me not to go to Raman. Then the choice was between the TIFR and the PRL. And I was interviewed by Vikram Sarabhai too.

One week before [the TIFR interview] I came to Madras [Chennai] and the interview was held at Ammu Swaminadhan’s house and he also selected me. Ammu Swaminadhan, his mother-in-law, was a member of the Legislative Assembly in the Madras government. But next week I was selected by Bhabha and I decided to join the TIFR.

You did not have any trepidation about joining a new field like cosmic rays that was yet to develop fully.

When you are entering research, at first, there would be anxiety about any field.

But you had to choose experimental physics, building instruments and electronics for the particle detectors, despite your primary interest being theoretical physics…

That’s what Bhabha wanted me to do. He said I had experience in electronics and so would be ideal for starting work in the field of cosmic rays. And that proved true. That is when electronics too was becoming more and more complicated and it was in a developmental stage. Pulse electronics was not known in India. There used to be a magazine called Nucleonics that would carry some circuits and we would copy them. We all—[Raja] Ramanna, who joined a year later, and others—worked together. We used to get a lot of electronic parts [discarded from Second World War equipment] from Chor Bazaar.

And Professor [D.Y.] Phadke was there. He was a little more knowledgeable in electronics. I think it was in Germany that he had done a semester in electronics. A.S. Rao came, but he was not directly doing any electronics. He became more of a manager of the experiments.

You have mentioned in one of your reminiscences about a “missed opportunity” to meet Bhabha in 1947 itself. What was that incident?

Immediately after I joined the IISc, Bhabha came to Bangalore and he was staying at the West End Hotel. Professor Chatterjee told me to contact him if I was interested and seek an interview. I rang him up. He asked me to meet him at 9 a.m. I went there around 8:30 a.m. But he came down only at 11:30 a.m. and then said, “Oh! I am sorry. I have to have my breakfast.” Then he went into the breakfast hall. There was one other person waiting. I don’t remember who it was but probably for the same purpose.

But Bhabha did not come back at all. Probably, he completely forgot. So I was very upset and I just went away. I went and told Chatterjee that he basically doesn’t seem to be interested. That became quite an aborted interview.

Then you formally applied next year.

Yes. I formally applied the next year. Actually, he remembered and sent me an application form. I did not revert to him. After confirming the appointment but failing to meet that morning, I had kind of rejected him. He asked me to send in the application form and come.

And immediately after joining you had to give a colloquium…

After a week or two he called me and said that I had to work on the ‘mu-meson’ [now called muon]. At that time the only other particle that had been discovered then was the mu-meson. The pi-meson [now called pion] had been discovered, but we did not know about it. In fact, Bhabha went to England and got the news of its discovery and when he came back he told us and also showed us some photographs of its production in cosmic rays. But the mu-meson was of particular interest to him as he was working on scattering properties of elementary particles and the mu-meson was supposed to be a spin-½ particle and was a lepton. The anomaly was its mass was much higher than that of the electron; about 200 times. And also there was this problem. There were both positive and negative mu-mesons and when negative mu-mesons entered an absorber, absorption and decay would compete with each other and, therefore, its lifetime was difficult to determine. So that’s the experiment he wanted me to do; to separate out the positive and negative muons and see if the lifetimes of positive and negative mu-mesons were different. I started on that experiment but very soon a person from the United States—I forget the name—published the results from such an experiment.

In December 1950, Bhabha organised the First International Conference on Elementary Particles. That was the first elementary particle conference anywhere in the world. Many very important people—[P.M.S.] Blackett, [Gregor] Wentzel, [Rudolf] Peierls, [Leon] Rosenfeld, [Peter] Fowler, [Pierre] Auger, [Eduaordo] Amaldi, etc.,—came. One night, as I was getting the papers for the conference ready and sitting and typing something, he called me. “Look, there appears to be some discovery of a new particle. Why don’t you take your mu-meson detector underground and check whether there are any new types of particles in cosmic rays which cannot be explained in terms of mu-meson type of penetrating particles?” That year [January 1951], he was the President of the Indian Science Congress, which was held in Bangalore at the IISc campus. I had gone to the Science Congress with some others. Ramanna had also come. After the conference I went to KGF and saw various places there; Ramanna also came with me. By October we got all our equipment ready and went there to first measure the cosmic ray intensity. [S.] Naranan also came with me. Before starting any experiment we had to know the intensity in the mines.

Had the TIFR already started producing Geiger-Mueller (GM) counters by then?

No. We started in parallel. When I started work on the mu-meson, the problem was you had to measure the lifetime of a particle within microseconds. One of the problems in the Geiger counters was “after pulsing”—the main pulse followed by the secondary pulse—and that was in the microsecond region. So, I had to work hard on finding out a suitable quenching gas that would not give rise to this problem.

That developmental work we did for about six months. R.V.S. Sitharam, who later on became the Director of SAMEER, Mumbai, also helped us that time. It was he who developed all the radiation detectors for the survey of uranium and other [atomic] minerals. With his help I was able to make alcohol the quenching gas and then it worked.

H.L.N. Murthy was another person who was a glass technician. Bhabha had known about him. When he created the TIFR he took him along and gave him a job. Poor chap had a heart problem and Bhabha came to know about it, sent him to England on the pretext of getting trained at the Harwell (atomic) establishment, and then sent him to MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] from there. There he learnt quite a lot of technologies. And he got him operated. That gave him another 15-20 years of life. He had a very bad heart condition. That’s the kind of person Bhabha was.

After this experiment of variation in the intensity of muons with depth [down to about 300 metres] that you carried out, you had to, in a manner of speaking, give up that research.

What happened was I measured the intensity [of muons] as a function of depth, the angular distribution, etc., and on that basis I wrote up my thesis. Then Bhabha asked me to spend some time in various other laboratories… three months here, three months there, like that. During that period first I went to Jungfraujoch [in the Alps in Switzerland at an altitude of 3,460 m] where they [Cecil Powell’s group from University of Bristol] had started experiments on K-mesons, etc.

Then I spent some time with Amaldi’s group, which was originally concentrating on detectors [for cosmic rays]. Then I spent nearly one year at MIT. First I was supposed to be there only for three months. But then [Bruno] Rossi said three months is not enough, and Bhabha agreed. I was there during 1954-56 and in 1956 I came back. During that period, MIT had started Extensive Air Shower [EAS] studies and also scintillation counters. So when I came back here I started work on scintillation counters. I also got Prof Phadke interested in making these counters. And also A.B. Sahiar, one of my seniors, had moved the cloud chamber that he had built [in Mumbai] to Ooty [Udhagamandalam].

When I came back, I changed the detectors by replacing GM counters with scintillation counters. In 1960, we started various air shower experiments, underwater experiments, emulsion photographs, etc. Then one Japanese professor by name [Saburo] Miyake visited the TIFR. He was an expert in building cloud chambers.

With his help we built the world’s largest multiplate cloud chamber. When I was at MIT, I also learnt milli-microsecond pulsing techniques. Using that technique we started experiments and were able to measure the relative arrival times of air shower particles.

We established that there were delayed particles in air showers compared with electrons and photons, and these delayed particles are nucleons [protons and neutrons]. That is what actually formed [S.C.] Tonwar’s thesis later.

The surprising thing was that the nucleon-antinucleon production cross-section in high-energy interactions was supposed to be small. But our experiments showed that it was much more—about 12-15 times higher—before the CERN experiments did. We published that and the CERN people confirmed it much later. That led to a different line of work. Then we started [work on] the differences in the characteristics of interactions between pions and protons.

When you completed your thesis work in 1954 based on your underground muon studies, you may have already got the idea that one could do neutrino experiments underground.

No. What happened was when we finished the first phase of our underground experiments, the KGF people said that they are going to close down the mines. That happened very early. Also, Naranan’s work was on interaction of mu-mesons. So we did that in a tunnel in Khandala. It was his thesis programme.

When I came back, three years later and in 1958 started Ooty air shower experiments and all that, we came to know that the mines had not closed down and they were going to expand it. Then we started the second series of experiments. By this time the Durham group and the Japanese group [from Osaka University] were also interested. That is how we went in for neutrino interaction experiments.

But before that what happened was we first started doing measurements further deep. We had done experiments—lifetime measurements—only up to 1,000 feet below. We could go up to 8,000 ft.

We started deeper and deeper level experiments. At the deepest level [2.76 km], in three months of operation, not a single muon was found. That told us that this was the place where we could look for neutrino interactions.

Soon after that you had to go back to MIT for the second time...

That was for X-ray astronomy studies.

That was the time when neutrino astronomy began in our country and though you were involved in its initial phase, particularly in the first-ever discovery of the cosmic ray neutrino, you did not continue neutrino studies underground…

In fact, [M.G.K.] Menon must have reported our work [on the discovery of the first atmospheric neutrino] at the London Conference in 1965.

I had an eye operation at that time and with the bandage on I wrote the paper. I was on my way to MIT.

There was an incident that you have also mentioned in your reminiscences somewhere that [Frederick] Reines [who won the 1995 Nobel Prize for discovering the neutrino in 1956] showed interest in coming to KGF…

When we wrote this paper on the possibility of underground experiments for neutrino detection, he bypassed us completely. He went to the IISc, met Professor Satish Dhawan and then went to KGF and worked out an in-principle collaboration with the IISc—there was one Venkatasubrahmanya, who was perhaps a research fellow at that time and had done some work in radioactivity and did not know much about cosmic rays.

Reines was very unfair to us; he knew us but wanted to take all the credit. He went and told the KGF people that he was going to bring a lot of money and set up a huge experiment and what we were doing was on a small scale, and so on.

And they signed the agreement. At that time there was a rule which Bhabha had got passed in Parliament that anything connected with nuclear science should get the clearance of the Department of Atomic Energy. When the KGF people saw that it had something to do with nuclear interactions, they referred it to Bhabha.

We did not know that Reines was doing this in parallel. Then Bhabha called us and told us: “What is this? You people have closed your eyes. Reines is going there and doing all this.” Then that was stopped. Then Reines explored the possibility of collaborating with us. But by then we had already established collaboration with the Japanese group and the Durham group. So then he went to [gold mines in] South Africa. We had visible detectors, neon flash tubes, and he had only scintillators. Our detection results were published a couple of weeks earlier and then he also found the same thing. This was in May and both of us presented the results at the London Conference, which was in August.

Then when you went back to MIT, you got involved in X-ray astronomy.

Yes. I got involved in X-ray astronomy and when I came back I started X-ray astronomy here.

Bade
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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Bade » 16 Sep 2015 22:55

This one is also worth posting in full as it has a lot of details on the satellite (ASTROSAT), which by all means can be called the most advanced and complicated payload yet to be developed in India.
India’s eye in the sky
ISRO is all set to launch Astrosat, a dedicated astronomy satellite. It is unique because, unlike similar missions in Europe and the U.S., it is a multi-wavelength platform which affords a simultaneous observation of celestial objects across different wavelengths, giving a total perspective. By R. RAMACHANDRAN

ON September 28, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), the workhorse launch vehicle of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), will deliver, in its PSLV-XL configuration, a dedicated astronomy satellite, Astrosat, weighing about 1.5 tonne, in a 650-km-high near-equatorial orbit with a 6° inclination. Nearly 20 years in the making from the day the idea of such a satellite was put forward (see box), and about 15 years since the idea was given a concrete shape, the final realisation of what promises to be a true astronomical observatory in the sky may appear to have been unduly delayed, but Astrosat will still be unique in its concept and is expected to make a significant and niche contribution to the important field of X-ray astronomy and the study of the X-ray universe.

Astrosat is a truly multi-institutional project, including collaborations with foreign institutions and agencies. The institutions involved in the mission include the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai; the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru; the Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bengaluru; the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune; the ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC); the Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems (LEOS), Bengaluru; the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC); the ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (IISU), Thiruvananthapuram; the Canadian Space Agency (CSA); and the University of Leicester, the United Kingdom.

In the mid-1990s it was conceived as just a broadband X-ray astronomy satellite, covering both soft and hard X-ray regions, which itself would have made it state-of-the-art given the nature of other contemporary X-ray satellites. But its final design has evolved to extend the satellite’s reach to higher wavelengths by including the near ultraviolet (NUV), the far ultraviolet (FUV) and the visible as well (Figure 1). And that is where its uniqueness lies, which renders it a potential world-class observatory. More importantly, the performance characteristics of the slew of instruments and detectors that the satellite carries—in terms of angular, energy and timing resolutions—are competitive with, and in some respects better than, not just the currently operating X-ray satellites but some of the planned ones as well. Such a multi-wavelength platform would enable simultaneous observations on a given celestial object and the associated astrophysical phenomena across different wavelengths to gain a total perspective of the dynamics involved.

Astrosat cannot definitely match the excellent performance characteristics of the big (11-12 tonne class) X-ray observatories like NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory (CXO) or the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton in terms of angular and energy resolution. However, most of the other X-ray satellite missions, except XMM-Newton and Swift, have limited wavelength coverage. While Swift is mainly a gamma-ray mission with an X-ray telescope as well, Astrosat’s uniqueness comes from its simultaneous observations over a broad wavelength band, very high resolution UV observations, and high resolution timing studies by one of its instruments which none of these observatories has. And there is no other planned mission in the near future that will cover the entire X-ray spectral band from 0.3 kiloelectronvolt (keV) to 100 keV and UV bands from 130 nm to 300 nm.

“In a modest way, in the 1.5 tonne class of X-ray satellites, Astrosat is unique,” said Suryanarayana Sarma of ISAC, the current project director of Astrosat. “To correlate observations from the existing satellites over broad wavelength regions to get a complete picture has been a real challenge. It requires coordination of data taken with different instruments at different places and at different times. It is like the elephant story. With Astrosat’s multi-wavelength capabilities, we are looking at the elephant more comprehensively,” he said.

“Right at the initial stage of conceptualisation, it was decided that if at all we are doing something [in X-ray astronomy] we must do multi-wavelength,” said Koteswara Rao, former project director of Astrosat. “All instruments and their specifications were defined with this sole objective” (Figure 2).

Astrosat carries five experimental payloads: (i) three Large Area X-Ray Proportional Counters (LAXPCs) for X-ray timing studies, which, together, have the largest area proportional counters ever, and with an unprecedented 10 microsecond timing resolution and high photon counting rate; (ii) the Soft X-Ray Telescope (SXT), which has imaging capability from 10 keV right down to 0.3 keV; (iii) two Ultraviolet Imaging Telescopes (UVITs), one for visible and NUV and the other for FUV, with very high angular resolution of 1.8 arc-seconds in UV; (iv) hard X-ray new technology imaging detector called Cadmium-Zinc-Telluride Imager (CZTI); and, (v) the Scanning Sky Monitor (SSM) to monitor and detect bright objects, particularly transients, up to 10 keV X-ray energy.

The most important aspect of the satellite from an observational perspective is that they are all co-aligned. That is, the Fields of View (FOVs) of all the instruments will be looking at the same object within a narrow specified window. For instance, the three LAXPCs themselves will have to be aligned within 5 arc-sec, pointed out Suryanarayana Sarma. The pointing accuracy of the satellite is 0.03 degrees in all the axes and the pointing stability is 5x10 deg/sec. This is how the simultaneous observation over multiple wavelengths from a common platform is achieved. With the suite of the above instruments performing in a coordinated manner, Astrosat will be able to address a host of outstanding questions in X-ray and UV astronomy.

Complex thermal design

“Thermally, this satellite is very challenging,” said Suryanarayana Sarma. “Because you have to point to one source and then move on to another and then to another, the constant reorientation of the satellite keeps altering the thermal condition of the satellite due to the changing solar radiation and earth’s albedo, depending on the pointing direction. So, the thermal design of the satellite becomes complex. Initially, we had thought of adding a multilayer insulation, an optical solar reflector, etc. for solving the problem. But, finally, when we tested it in thermovac, we realised that these were not needed and we saved about 30-40 kg in thermal material for the main satellite frame. The payloads themselves, which account for 780 kg, were able to meet the mass specifications. This resulted in the overall satellite mass reduction from 1,560 kg to 1,515 kg,” he said.

Notably, the PSLV, for which a polar launch is the norm, is being used to deliver Astrosat in an equatorial orbit. For astronomical observations, an equatorial orbit is ideal because sources in both the northern and the southern sky can be observed. Actually, according to Koteswara Rao, when the configuration was being optimised, the committee had contemplated two options: a Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) launch or a PSLV launch. But, given the original estimated satellite mass of about 1,560 kg, it would have been too small for a GSLV launch.

The orbit has been defined on the basis of the following considerations: The satellite should have a reasonably long life of at least five years without requiring orbit manoeuvres. The higher the orbit, the more its lifetime. The solar cells in the panel should not deteriorate over the lifetime. “Above 500 km altitude is better because there will not be any drag on the satellite,” pointed out Suryanarayana Sarma. “In this mission, I do not see anything that limits the life actually. It should be able to survive even for 10 years,” he said. “With the originally estimated mass, we were getting a 600-km orbit with about 8° inclination. Now, with the reduced satellite mass, we are comfortable with 650-km orbit and 6 inclination,” pointed out Koteswara Rao.

With an equatorial low-earth orbit (LEO), one is, however, faced with the problem of the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA). The SAA refers to an area near the equator region above South America where the inner surface of the van Allen radiation belt—the doughnut shaped region around the earth which traps highly energetic charged particles from the solar wind—dips down to an altitude of 200-800 km as against 1,200-1,300 km in the north. These high-energy charged particles (energies greater than 10 MeV) can affect the on-board electronic system and cause glitches in the astronomical data. That is why an inclined orbit at 6° was chosen. At this angle the satellite path only tangentially grazes the SAA without actually entering it (Figure 3). Also, at less than 6° inclination, the elevation will not be appropriate for the satellite visibility from the ground support station at Bangalore. At least a clear 3-4 minutes of the pass of the satellite during every orbit is needed to download the data stored on-board, pointed out Suryanarayana Sarma.

“The delay [of about 6 years] is essentially because all the instruments are complex, some of which are state-of-the-art, and have been technologically challenging,” said Suryanarayana Sarma. “Of the five instruments, we did not have any previous experience with four. We have built them from scratch. We had estimated that we may be able to complete it in four to five years, but we really could not do it because the concept had to be first converted into a model, then into an engineering model, its performance evaluated and then its design fine-tuned and finally a space-worthy instrument built which had to go through all kinds of rigorous tests. A couple of them failed at different stages, which we had to redo, leading to delays,” he said. For instance, an imported component of the detector assembly in the UVIT failed in the vibration tests as late as January 2014 and nearly a year and a half was lost in rectifying it. Even with the proven LAXPC, problems with its hardware surfaced in 2012 when the instrument was being tested.

“Also, we had very small teams of skilled people. Such missions abroad have much larger teams and they all would have had some prior experience in similar missions. Even at the TIFR, where three of the five instruments were built, each team had only three to four engineers. Smaller teams, building from scratch, with much of the learning going on in parallel with building the instrument is the cause of the delay. So we ended up underestimating the time. But if we had to build a similar instrument again, we will not take so much time,” Suryanarayana Sarma said.

For instance, the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), which carried a much smaller area proportional counter array detector compared to Astrosat’s LAXPC, and no other instrument, took 10 years from concept to realisation. According to a leading scientist of Pennsylvania State University, which was responsible for making, in collaboration with others in the United Kingdom and Italy, the currently operating Swift X-ray satellite, there were about 100 people involved in making its instruments and it took about five years to build the satellite. Swift has three instruments compared to five of Astrosat, and none of them was actually built from scratch. Much of the electronics had also been outsourced.

The UVITs and the SXT are all large telescopes; about three metres long. According to Suryanarayana Sarma, in terms of satellite structure, the major challenge was how to place and align the telescopes, and how to mount them, with each one having a clear FOV and each one needing to be mounted with a specified accuracy so that all are co-aligned. “We needed to do some kind of spacecraft interface and holding brackets and then we had to use special techniques for alignment and make measurements to ensure that it will be sustained even after vibrations and qualifying that these levels were not much disturbed.” According to Koteswara Rao, during the early configuration studies, one of the issues was whether to mount the telescopes outside or inside. “But luckily there is a large space on the central deck of the IRS bus structure which is very stable and which could accommodate two telescopes inside. Though three telescopes for the three channels would have been ideal, there is not enough space in an IRS bus to accommodate three,” he said.

Special Challenges

Each of the instruments presented special challenges. Consider, for example, the LAXPC, which is an established system with a smaller size having been used earlier in the Indian X-ray Astronomy Experiment (IXAE) in 1996 (See box). “The big challenge in LAXPC,” said P.C. Agrawal, the former TIFR scientist who built the detector, “was that the detector is 15 cm deep and it is filled with xenon gas at about 2 atmosphere pressure, unlike RXTE which had xenon at 1 atm pressure. The inside has to withstand the 1 atm pressure differential and also it is 1.2 m long. So the cavity was made by milling from a single forged aluminium alloy block, which had to be procured. All the milling work for the three detectors was done at the TIFR workshop on two CNC milling machines operating day and night and all the LAXPC parts too were fabricated there. Each LAXPC had to be within 130 kg. Making the collimator housing, which is 45 cm long, was also a big challenge because here too it has to withstand the pressure differential. Made of 50 micrometre thick tin, with copper layer on it, the collimator design was unique.”

“At some point of time we realised that even the walls over such a large area can contaminate the gas over the five-year lifetime,” said Koteswara Rao. Xenon is very sensitive and even 10 ppm (parts per million) contamination can degrade the resolution. So it was decided to purify it on-board itself using adsorbers. “Each LAXPC has a separate purifier built by the IISU. It is a 0.5 kg bellow-based compressor mounted on the sides by which the gas will be recycled periodically. The contamination build-up is slow and each purification cycle takes about an hour or so. Qualification of these took some more time. We did one purification cycle on ground itself and saw the improvement,” Koteswara Rao said.

Fabricating an X-ray telescope is extremely difficult because of the complex nature of X-ray optics. Because the refractive index for X-rays is less than one, the normal reflecting or refracting optics of visible light does not work. However, X-rays can be reflected at grazing angles, from 10 arc-mins to 2°, from certain surfaces like nickel, gold, platinum and iridium arranged in a certain geometry consisting of co-axial and confocal shells of paraboloid and hyperboloid mirrors (Figure 4). X-rays are first internally reflected off the paraboloidal shells on to the hyperboloidal shells from where they are reflected and focussed to a point. However, at grazing angles, the light collecting area becomes small. This is, however, increased by nesting arrangements of these mirror shells.

Astrosat’s SXT uses shells of conical mirrors approximating paraboloidal and hyperboloidal shapes and the telescope is made of 40 complete shells of such mirrors assembled quadrant-wise (a total of 320 mirrors). “Initially,” according to Koteswara Rao, “use of glass or plastic with appropriate coating to make these shells was thought of but that would have made the telescope very heavy. K.P. Singh had gone to Japan and had studied the method used for the Suzaku X-ray telescope.” Suzaku used gold-coated thin (0.2 mm) aluminum foils pressed into appropriate shapes. While there is a considerable saving in weight, only arc-min angular resolution is achievable. “But the real challenge was to make a large number of such mirrors with only a small unit in TIFR,” pointed out Koteswara Rao. “Besides the space-qualified telescope that is mounted on the satellite, a flight spare telescope and the engineering model of one quadrant had to be made and flight-tested, which meant about 700 mirrors! This really took a lot of time.”

The imaging focal plane assembly in SXT is a CCD array-based detector cooled to –80° C. The CCDs used were made by a British company, E2V, for XMM-Newton. Since the company made only customised CCDs, buying just three for SXT’s use was estimated at Rs.20-25 crore. But, fortunately, a win-win collaboration with the University of Leicester, which was involved in the making of soft X-ray focal plane CCD array for the Swift telescope, could be worked out. The Leicester group had a few leftover CCDs after the Swift work, which were used for the SXT assembly. The CCD signal processing electronics was, however, done by K.P. Singh’s team at TIFR. “For the first time in the world, this was done using Field Programmable Gate Arrays [FPGA] electronics,” said Singh. The required on-board cooling is achieved in two stages: a passive cooling by a radiator plate to which heat is migrated via heat pipes. This cools the CCD array down to -40° C. Then there is an active thermoelectric cooler, which cools it down further to –80° C. Also, since SXT is a long telescope, thermal control could be difficult if the telescope had a normal metal housing. So a CFRP structure was built for SXT by the VSSC.

The CZTI too is a state-of-the-art detector. The Europeans and Americans have flown them in space. But space-qualified CCDs are not readily available. Commercially available ones are usually used for dental X-rays. Large arrays were required for the imager, and detectors meant for medical applications were procured from an Israeli company. “The suppliers had done some improvement in their quality, but still we had to qualify a large number to weed out those that were not of not space-quality,” said Koteswara Rao. According to him, the original plan was to cool the devices down to –20° C but the detector quality was found to be good enough even at 0° C, meeting the specifications. Originally, when it was planned to cool the devices down to –20° C and some detectors were tested, interestingly, the yield was found to be poor. “As we cool down, of course, the thermal noise goes down. But engineering noise begins to dominate,” Koteswara Rao explained.

At zero degrees itself, the performance was found to be optimum. The on-board cooling to 0° C is achieved passively by migrating the heat away by heat pipes to a radiator plate which radiates it away into space. Unlike the SXT CCDs, here there is no need for active cooling with a thermoelectric cooler because it is only 0° C.

“When the developmental work on instruments for LAXPC began, CZTI was not part of the Astrosat payloads,” said P.C. Agrawal. “A.R. Rao [of TIFR] said that he wanted to develop a new technology detector based on the emerging imaging technology based on cadmium-zinc-telluride [CZT] CCDs. I wholeheartedly supported it. The proposal for CZTI was also presented to the configuration committee [see box]. The original proposal had four LAXPCs. To accommodate CZTI, I dropped one LAXPC. If it had been included, the area would have been 30 per cent more,” Agrawal said. The final configuration of Astrosat is based on an IRS bus with four instruments accommodated in the central deck to point at sources in a co-aligned way. “K. Thyagarajan, who was the then director for the IRS mission, played a very crucial role in evolving the Astrosat mission,” said Agrawal.

In the original proposal for the UVIT, there was no visible channel, according to Koteswara Rao. “The discussion with regard to the configuration of the UVIT was mainly on whether there should be a single telescope or two telescopes, one for FUV and another for NUV,” said Koteswara Rao. “Subsequently, what happened was that we enhanced the performance specification of the UVIT to a two arc-sec angular resolution. But with that resolution, even a minute jitter on the spacecraft can spoil the image. Then it was decided to include a visible telescope to monitor the jitter and correct the image by appropriate integration. Actually there is no great science expected from the visible telescope because there are many instruments looking at that region. The main purpose of the visible channel even today is to correct for the spacecraft jitter,” said Koteswara Rao.

There are two UVITs catering to the three channels, with one for FUV and the other for NUV and the visible channel together. “But it is a little complex design,” said Koteswara Rao. “The second telescope has a dichroic filter inside to split the incoming photon beam into two channels. So the two telescopes are not identical in the focal plane. While the CCD arrays are the same, the other components of the assembly, namely the Photomultiplier Tube [PMT] and Micro-channel Plate [MCP], are different. Besides the fabrication of the mirrors themselves, the real technology is in the detector.”

LEOS developed the super-polished mirrors for UVIT, which involved developing new technologies for FUV coatings. According to Koteswara Rao, the specification was 60 per cent reflection of the incident light. But finally what was achieved was 76 per cent reflection. Also, there is a class difference between the surface finish of the visible channel and FUV. “A surface finish of 1.2-1.3 nm surface finish was targeted for the UV mirrors by super-polishing, which we never did for remote sensing payloads. Also, to avoid any stray light scattering effects which could degrade the UV mirrors, a special high absorption (0.98) inorganic coating was developed by ISAC with which the inside baffle is fully coated,” said Koteswara Rao.

According to P.C. Agrawal, the tubes in the housings of the UVIT are made of Invar, the iron-nickel alloy material with low thermal expansion, and were made by the Indo-Russian company BrahMos Aerospace. “There is also an interface cone which is made from titanium, which we could not make in India. This had to be got from the United States. Forging of a single big piece of titanium was required for this purpose,” he said.

One of the complexities involved in the detector system is the critical separation between the PMTs and the MCP located below. Across the two, a high voltage of 6,000 volts has to be applied. If the separation is too much, the image resolution becomes poorer. The two cannot be too near to each other also because of the risk of the two, with high voltage across them, coming into contact with each other. This is exactly what happened during a vibration test and the problem was resolved by the British company Photek, which had provided the basic design for the complex detector assembly, by working closely with ISRO. “While MCP is available commercially, the technology challenge was in adjusting the gap appropriately,” pointed out Koteswara Rao.

The other critical aspect in the design of the UVIT detector assembly is a mismatch in the format of the photon detector and the CCD array. While the PMT system is circular, the CCD array, which is made by the Canadian Space Agency, is square or rectangular. Photek solved the problem by using a precisely tapering optical fibre bundle, which was then glued to the CCD (Figure 5). Sorting out these two problems in the UVIT itself caused a delay of more than three years, said Koteswara Rao.

Having conquered the complex technological challenges on the ground, and having successfully developed the above suite of state-of-the-art instruments, it is to be now hoped that Astrosat would deliver good science given its strength. As mentioned earlier, there is no other mission with this kind of multi-wavelength capability, which even today, despite many upcoming missions, remains the unique strength of Astrosat.

For the first time, you will have the full wavelength coverage from UV to soft X-ray to hard X-ray up to 100 keV. Also, for timing studies, like millisecond variability and Quasi-Periodic Oscillations (QPOs) in black holes, Astrosat’s LAXPC will be important because only a large collecting area can give large counting rates. So, in all likelihood, Astrosat will deliver.

As Koteswara Rao put it: “There still remains a gap in multi-wavelength observatories. We were thinking that by 2012-13, new missions may come up to fill that gap, and that we would be outdated. But surprisingly, that did not happen. Even today, Astrosat has got much relevance. And when our scientists go abroad, they see a lot of interest in the mission. People are waiting in the wings to use its data.”

SBajwa
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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby SBajwa » 16 Sep 2015 23:30

I use to communicate with other people on IBM Mainframe 3270 (It was not called EMAIL). Dr. Ayyadurai coined the name EMAIL and created the program that came with INBOX, OUTBOX, etc. Just like Mr. Narinder Singh Kapani coined the term Fiber Optics for it was his work that later was responsible for having Fiber.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narinder_Singh_Kapany

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Amber G. » 17 Sep 2015 00:06

SBajwa wrote:I use to communicate with other people on IBM Mainframe 3270 (It was not called EMAIL). Dr. Ayyadurai coined the name EMAIL and created the program that came with INBOX, OUTBOX, etc. ..


^^^ SBajwa Youare giving more credit to Ayyadurai than he deserves..- I posted (Link http://forums.bharat-rakshak.com/viewtopic.php?p=1622372#p1622372) about this before.
(Many of the programs - including concepts of inbox/outbox/to/cc:/bcc:/ existed in late 60's ...I and many others have used email VERY heavily even in late 70's or early eighties)

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby SBajwa » 17 Sep 2015 00:15

thanks!! For me email was created when the standards were set

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simple_Ma ... r_Protocol (defined in 1982)
and
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sendmail (1979-1980)

Then you can send email everywhere!

BTW!! Attempts to get this type of cheap publicity actually hurts the whole Indian diaspora!

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Amber G. » 17 Sep 2015 00:28

SBajwa - SMTP is just ONE protocol (unix systems which were in 1982 really were not that popular-- most of the universities/industry had IBM mainframes..with SNA/RSCS etc..)
As said before 1982.. I was already using ROUTINELY (few emails a day) email ..in fact generation of yours truly in MIT/Princeton/Yale/CUNY were connected with BITNET using IBM's VM/CMS system for instant messaging and email..

In fact IIRC some time in 1981, IBM was already offering PROFS to many places.. which was used by White House..and in Iran-contra affair (Regan era).. Profs - email/Calendar etc..became quite well known in news-papers because Oliver North "erased" emails were all recovered (not unlike Hillary's emails) and it was front page news everywhere...
Last edited by Amber G. on 17 Sep 2015 02:42, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby SBajwa » 17 Sep 2015 01:26

Thanks Amber G. I learn something new everyday!

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Bade » 23 Sep 2015 12:26

Nature has an article on Astrosat...

http://www.nature.com/news/indian-astro ... om-1.18406

For some researchers, the satellite’s X-ray detection capability will fill the gap left when NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer satellite died in 2012, after 16 years of operations. Like Rossi, ASTROSAT will look regularly at large areas of the sky, enabling it to track simultaneously a large number of X-ray sources that change with time, says Randall Smith, an astronomer at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. By contrast, the X-ray telescopes currently in space generally focus on studying individual objects in great detail.

ASTROSAT’s X-ray detectors can also cope with very bright objects that would saturate those on other satellites such as NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory or ESA’s X-ray Multi-Mirror (XXM-Newton) mission. According to Andrew Fabian at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy in the United Kingdom, this capability will make ASTROSAT “invaluable” for alerting the international community to short-lived bursts of X-rays — a key indicator that something new is happening in space.

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Amber G. » 27 Sep 2015 19:59

Join us in congratulating Professor YM Joshi, (Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Kanpur) for getting Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize( SSB Award) by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research(CSIR).
(IIT Kanpur Researchers have been awarded a total of 13 Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize in last 15 years.)

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby hanumadu » 29 Sep 2015 08:26

Via twitter.

Great BBC discussion on Indian mathematics contribution from ancient time. Pretty much everybody in the discussion accepts unequivocally that the number system, zero, pythogoras theorem, Pi were first discovered in India. Also, acknowledgement that the europeans preferred to give credit to the greeks because their culture was derived from it while denying Indians the same.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0038xb0

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Varoon Shekhar » 29 Sep 2015 17:00

"Via twitter.

Great BBC discussion on Indian mathematics contribution from ancient time. Pretty much everybody in the discussion accepts unequivocally that the number system, zero, pythogoras theorem, Pi were first discovered in India. Also, acknowledgement that the europeans preferred to give credit to the greeks because their culture was derived from it while denying Indians the same."

Very good, this is the kind of tone, content and direction we need to see all media in the West take with respect to India. Acknowledge, first of all, their lack of acknowledgement, then proceed from there. But it's not just history or ancient history, important as that is. It's also the present, including the last 70 years. The international media really struggles with recognising any Indian achievement, political, economic, technological, social, you name it. It takes a real effort, like a household chore that has to be done. That willful ignorance spills over into other countries as well, particularly the East Asian ones. To give just one example, related to the cultural sphere, I met a Filipino woman who had never even heard of the Bhagavad-Gita. She's not atypical at all.

Indian achievements are not household words, at the tips of people's tongues. Unless it's something really huge, like the Mars satellite.

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby RoyG » 29 Nov 2015 11:38

There are no true black holes: Scientist Abhas Mitra

Priyanka Dasgupta,TNN | Nov 29, 2015, 07.09 AM IST

Astrophysicist Abhas Mitra's theory on black holes is again the news after NASA announced that two of its space telescopes have caught a massive burst of X-ray from a super-massive black hole. Excerpts from an interview with TOI.

Some reports say NASA has confirmed your idea that the so-called black holes are balls of fire. But you say that's not exactly ...

Yes. The NASA report does not mention my research and admits that `Black Holes are not Black Holes'. But the NASA research certainly bolsters my findings because eruption of corona from a black hole is not understood, as admitted in the NASA report. On the other hand, it gets most naturally explained by the MECO paradigm by which the socalled black holes are balls of ultra-magnetized fire (plasma) -something like the Sun.

What is a black hole?

An ideal black hole is just a "point mass'' and then it's all vacuum. Yet it has an imaginary boundary, called 'Event Horizon' from which, by definition, even light cannot escape.

Have astronomers discovered thousands of black holes in the cosmos?

Astronomers have certainly discovered thousands of massive compact objects, which are considered as black hole candidates. In a strict sense, no one can detect a black hole as "not even light can escape" from it.

Then what is your take on such objects which are called black holes?

They are at the best quasi-black holes. My research (Journal Mathematical Physics, 2009) has shown that true black holes have zero (gravitational mass) which means their positive mass-energy is neutralized by negative gravitational interaction energy . Thus no massive body can be a true black hole. In addition, my parallel research has independently corroborated this fact that true black holes have M=0! And such M=0 black holes can form only asymptotically, implying they never quite form. And only approximate and quasi-black holes can be formed.



What does your research say about the NASA observation?

My research has shown that there cannot be any true black hole. It is just a point and all vacuum with an imaginary boundary Event Horizon from which even light cannot escape. So if the corona (charged particles) have been inferred to be ejected from Black Hole, it means it is not a true Black Hole as claimed in 15 peer reviewed papers by me and collaborators. We also showed that as a star would get hotter and hotter during Black Hole formation, there will be a stage when the radiation pressure of the star material would counter the pull of gravity.

This is a quasi-static state and the hot star material would be plasma.

Please say something about your collaborators...

Along with American collaborators Darryl Leiter (University of Virgina, now deceased), Stanley Robertson (South Okalohoma State University), Norman Glendenning (Lawrence Berkeley Labo ratory) and Rudy Schild (Harvard University), we have shown that these so-called black holes are not exactly black holes.

What's your take on Stephen Hawking?

Hawking has been trying to resolve Black Hole Information Paradox (created by himself in 1976).

Failing to do so, from 2004, he has been making noises that "there may not be exact EH" (2004), and "there cannot be any true black hole " (2014) from some vague Quantum Gravity argument which nobody understands, not even those who believe in black holes . In contrast, my proof is exact, comple te and supported by observations, and based on simple general relativity, no unspecified quantum gravity nonsense.

Why do you think so many want to keep the black-hole theory alive?

Many Nobel laureates too have been struggling to resolve this paradox, but they want to keep black holes alive. Nobody wants to kill the goose, which has been laying golden eggs. In contrast, only my research resolves it meaningfully , by showing there is no black hole, no EH. Hence, there is no paradox in the first place. You see, black hole is one of the biggest physics paradigms for almost 100 years with thousands of celebrity professors, researchers, Nobel Laureates having personal stake. Who would like to set their own Lanka on fire?

Are you upsetting the applecart?

Exactly, if my papers were wrong, they would have torn me apart and feasted like vultures on me.

Many Indian academicians desire that may be some day somebody from the West would do that and they would be relieved of their moral guilt of ignoring me. :evil:

Have you got any support from Kolkata?

Not really. I had gone to show my work to leading Indian physicist Prof P C Vaidya. I still have a letter from him about my work. Science is global.

Several American astrophysicists have closely interacted with me since 2000. There was even Harvard University Press Release confirming my prediction that so-call BH in a quasar might be MECO (2006). Very rarely, an absolutely home-grown Indian research in Science has become topic for press release abroad. So Kolkata or Bengal cannot be a parameter for my research.

You seem upset that you haven't got your due.

I feel we have becomes intellectual slaves after Independence. This is a sociological problem. We are still scared of thinking big. We always want to tag our work with other foreign scholars without giving our own people the due!


What a disgusting state of affairs. Even the hard sciences aren't spared from mental slavery.


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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby RoyG » 30 Nov 2015 21:19



Wow. I'm speechless. I'm also reminded of Dr. Nambi Narayanan.

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby Varoon Shekhar » 30 Nov 2015 22:18

^

Or what about the Indian scientist, Bengali fellow( Chatterjee?) who was one of the pioneers in artificial insemination or 'test tube' babies, died an unacknowledged and broken man. Thanks largely to him, India was the second country in the world, after the UK, to develop the know-how.

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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Postby gakakkad » 01 Dec 2015 04:50

Varoon Shekhar wrote:^

Or what about the Indian scientist, Bengali fellow( Chatterjee?) who was one of the pioneers in artificial insemination or 'test tube' babies, died an unacknowledged and broken man. Thanks largely to him, India was the second country in the world, after the UK, to develop the know-how.



the guy had nearly got there before the brits...


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