I Feel Vindicated: B G Sidharth
I Feel Vindicated: B G Sidharth, Institute for Theoretical Physics and Advanced Mathematics. “There is a perception developing countries do not do good in science. Indian scientists are victims of this perception. We have a wrong name and address.”
“There is a perception developing countries do not do good in science. Indian scientists are victims of this perception. We have a wrong name and address.”
A day after receiving the Institute for Theoretical Physics and Advanced Mathematics, Einstein-Galilei (IFM) award 2013, Dr B G Sidharth, well-known astro-physicist and Director, B M Birla Science Centre, Hyderabad, spoke to The Hans India on what the award means to him and how he kept working in spite of lack of acknowledgement initially by the science fraternity and on a host of issues.
What does the Institute for Theoretical Physics and Advanced Mathematics, Einstein-Galilei (IFM) Award 2013, mean to you considering the fact that many in the scientific community criticised you initially?
It feels very good. I had predicted that the universe is expanding much before the Nobel Prize in Physics was given to three astronomers in 2011 in a paper in 1997 in Jerusalem. I was the first to point out the new shift in paradigm on solid theoretical grounds. I said that driven by dark energy, the universe would be accelerating. However, any theory needs observational and experimental verification. The model proposed by Nobel winners was based on observational findings.
It was an accidental discovery. They were observing the supernova and found something strange. Until 1997, all thought that the universe was slowing down and was filled with dark matter. I proved it theoretically with calculation. Stephen Hawking too who was once a critic of the theory now agrees.
I feel vindicated and I see this award comes as a recognition and also approval of my peers worldwide.
Don’t you feel bad that your name was not mentioned when the Nobel Prize was given in 2011 to the astronomers Saul Perlmutter, Brain P Schmidt and Adam Riess? Also is there a bias towards scientists of the developing world?
I definitely feel that my work should have been acknowledged. Even Nobel laureate Antony Leggett said that my work should have been mentioned. There is a perception that developing countries do not do good in science and is true to an extent but to generalise is bad.
Another issue is we do not market ourselves well. An American scientist once told me, “You have the wrong name and the wrong address.” We are victims of this perception.
So the theory that the universe would come to a halt can be laid to rest?
It is like being worried about how my great grandson would be. This idea is mindless. Films such as 2012 are just pure fiction. The Da Vinci Code too is just fiction. People should not take these things seriously.
India is doing well in space?
Space is an exception. India is right up there among the top five space faring nations. We should be proud of our scientists at ISRO.
There is a criticism from certain quarters that India can do without space missions and invest in sanitation and elevating poverty
If you consider the Rs 460 crore spent on Mangalyan, it is peanuts. When we compare the amount of money we spend on elections and films, the budget for space science is negligible.
What are you working on now and what keeps you going?
Contrary to popular belief that matter and anti-matter are identical to electric charge, I say that there is a minute difference. I am not bothered what others think. I only go by what I see and by the equation. Scientific enquiry needs to go on and I just go about my duty.
How is this study going to help mankind?
A lady once asked the English scientist Michael Faraday how his research would help human beings. All scientific enquiry should have a social implication. To which he replied, “What use is a new born baby.” Only time will tell how an idea will evolve and what can happen.
Do you think the education system at present is developing scientific temper?
The obsession for marks and rote learning is killing education. There should be more scope for enquiry, discovery, questioning and participation.