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Roddam Narasimha – Leading Aerospace Scientist & Padma Bhushan Awardee – Part 2

29 March 2010 3 Comments

Continuing our discussion with Prof. Roddam Narasimha (Part 1 can be found here), please find the part 2 of the interview.

Question: Could you say a few words about Dr.C.N.R.Rao ? He is yet another great academician who has been recognized worldwide for his research work, but not many in India are aware of his contributions.

RN: It is amazing what he has done! He has set up advanced lab in nano technology & material sciences. In fact what he has shown is, if you know what you want to do, you can do great things out of India!

Question: What do you feel about working on fluid mechanics? What is the key to understand and appreciate the beauty of fluid flow, rather than just treat it as a bunch of complex equations?

RN: I really like & enjoy the subject. One of the great appeals about the subject is that the things which you can see with your eyes.. Turn out to be very difficult problems. We all see turbulence of river.. water flowing out of tap.. It comes as a surprise to many people that although these things are mundane and can be seen with our eyes.. They are actually very difficult problems and nobody has been able to solve them.. That is really because.. Kino dynamics is an extraordinarily unusual situation.. We know that the equations governing in the subject was invented nearly 150-180 years ago. Never the less, we do not know to solve those equations. From fundamental point of view, it is a problem of mathematics. That is why we deal with so many equations. We do a lot actually. We can’t deduce everything from the equations. That essentially is what makes it a beautiful subject. Of course the subject has wide applications everywhere. From aerospace, which is where I started.. to climate change.. to whatever.. it touches many aspects of our lives.

Question: A quick question on a very broad topic – Albert Einstein once said “God Does not play dice” – what is your view on that?

RN: You see the context in which the statement was made was different! Einstein made this before the subject of non-linear dynamics, dynamical system & chaos were in action.. When he answered that question, he had quantum mechanics in mind and quantum mechanics is essentially probabilistic. And Einstein was very bothered with the view that the subject was probabilistic. He did not believe, that fundamentally things could be statistical.. But now the distinction between what is deterministic & what is stochastic is lot clearer!

Question: From you experience, could you talk more about the difference between working in Indian labs Vs labs abroad in terms of bureaucracy, facilities & nature of research etc.

Working in India Lab is different from working from labs abroad! That is true! Even when you are given grants for the project, there are some times bureaucratic problems. Many Indian scientists also complain about lack of flexibility. But you know bureaucracy is not limited to India. My colleagues abroad also complain about it. In terms of facilities, India suffers from infrastructural woes – power, water supply etc. So there are these basic problems which affect us in India. But we now have some really well equipped state of the art labs in India. We need many more like them. But remember that it takes time to build such labs. We need to invest time & money before see such good facilities.

I also think that the community of people working in basic science research is very small. The population of India is very huge, but the faction of people involved in research is still very small. The contacts & the communities doing research have to increase. There are a few forums, but they are not very widespread. The solution to that is to look for global contacts. Science & research in India is globalizing and by sitting in front of computer, you contact other researchers.

I am one of those people who thinks that it is a good thing to know what is going on in the rest of the world.. But at the same time, we have to invest in solving problems around you. By that I am not talking about problems bothering you. I am talking about scientific problems.. One thing that comes to my mind is India is a huge nation which depends on land & water.. They are its biggest assets.. I dont think they are studied enough.. Another is the health problems in India. If you look at the countries around the tropics, I think is India is one of the biggest, we have a bit of Brazil, Australia.. Why are we not the biggest country in the world which looks at problems which affects tropics? I think there are deep underlying problems & exciting areas of research yet to explored..

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3 Comments »

  • Vatsala said:

    Mr Kapil Sibal should probably try and work on establishing education oriented infrastructure in terms of labs, university buildings, university faculty, rather than be hell bent on diluting the 12th standard syllabus.

  • Vatsala said:

    Time and again, our scientists have reiterated the need for better laboratory facilities. This is the context of the comment above.

  • Sundar Rajan G S (author) said:

    @Vatsala: It is so true.. Although reforms in primary education is necessary.. it shouldnt be at the expense of high education