Scientist behind Hoyle-Narlikar Theory of Gravity: Dr. Jayant Narlikar

Dr. Jayant Narlikar

Even a few moments taken from this awe-inspiring man’s time was so overwhelming, we wonder how much more progress he could make in those few minutes! Meeting this man of action showed us the embodiment of modesty and greatness. His door read – “The Big Bang is an exploding myth” and his office screamed about his success and achievements, but in him we found a man who utters great words with simplicity. Such an irony that the man who is so down-to-EARTH has spent all his life dedicated to reaching the STARS. The man who has been awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the Padma Bhushan, the Rashtra Bhushan, the Maharashtra Bhushan, the Bhatnagar Award, the M.P. Birla Award, the Prix Jules Janssen of the French Astronomical Society, the Kalinga award and many many more. He has been the President of the Cosmology Commission of the International Astronomical Union from 1994 to 1997. Presenting to you the Indian astrophysicist, the global Science figure, Jayant Vishnu Narlikar (Read Dr. Jayant Vishnu Narlikar Biography).Jayanth Narlikar

Childhood inspiration

Everybody grows with a ‘Hero’ image. My Hero was my father. I wanted to be like him without knowing what he really did. In class three, I found myself liking mathematics. During a class, my teacher asked everyone what their fathers did. When I was asked, I said I didn’t know. The teacher told me that my father was a Professor in Mathematics. I was very happy to know that my father is best at the thing that I love too. I’m saying this because I had no pressure to study maths. People sometimes tend to think that I might have got into it because of the expectations of my parents.

My Second idol was Fred Hoyle who I met when I went to Cambridge. There were many inspiring people in my life but since I got to spend a lot of time with him, I admired him the most.

Work and philosophy of life

It was customary for the teacher to work with their students jointly. Hoyle’s work had been more of the path-breaking kind. Others had not thought of it. Instead of following a public highway, he preferred taking a route around, so that he might find something that the others would have missed on. Although it was very controversial and resulted in many encounters with other scientists, he had been proven to be right in many cases.

So I followed this philosophy too. It is a difficult task. For instance, if I wanted to publish a paper, it was difficult for me to get past the peer review because the other scientists believed in something else and said it wouldn’t work. I would have to keep arguing, go back and forth for several months, before it would get accepted. On the other hand, some of my colleagues were working on the conventional theories, and their paper would get accepted in a much easier way. So following the unconventional path can be very difficult. You have to be prepared and live with this if you want to follow this kind of a philosophy.

Awards and recognition

Any awards that I get, I feel happy. It’s not the amount of money, or the range of recognition. But it’s about getting appreciation especially while following a path that is so difficult. While following a path where getting appreciation is difficult, it feels great to be acknowledged and hence it encouraged me to continue doing what I had been.

Sanskrit, Science and Literature

There can be a connection between Sanskrit and Science because of the systematic grammar of Sanskrit. That makes it closer to science. At the same time Sanskrit has a tricky aspect. The same sentence in Sanskrit can mean several different things. This ambiguity is not good for computers which need clear-cut instructions.

I like to read and write in Sanskrit myself. I like to sometimes take a famous verse by renowned scholars and put some of my own words and twist its meaning. It’s what we call Vidambhan. I have written some parodies for Panchatantra. I’ve also written some 4-5 stories around my grandchildren. After I write, I send it to some professors for correction and it always comes back with red marks! (laughs)

I like reading books. When I write Science fiction, in a way I’m keeping in touch with my work, but it also gives me the relaxation I need. Stories are like sugar-coated bitter pills. That way laymen can have an idea about scientific things in a way they understand and find interesting.

Ideas: Ideals: India

My present challenge which I’m trying to work on is against the superstitions that are prevalent in India. People believe in things without trying to know the reasons behind it. And sadly this is increasing. It’s very essential to cultivate a scientific temperament among the masses. The new technologies shouldn’t be a carrier of these messages, that’s the irony!

In many aspects the youth of this generation are better because they have more opportunities. There are more entrepreneurs today and more people are doing what they are good at. What I dislike is that the regional dialects are not getting readership from the younger generation. You cannot force them to read, but I wish they developed interest in these languages apart from English. Along with progress, we should also try to keep our cultural roots and heritage alive.

People usually quote 2020 for India to be a super power. But that might not be it. I think it might be within a decade after that. There is a lot of skepticism in the minds of people. There is a need for a change in the mind-set of Indians. Skepticism stops people from putting faith in the country. There are a lot of NRIs coming back to India to help progress.

One should do whatever he/she is doing wholeheartedly. Half-hearted efforts do not bear the right fruits. It’s what you are doing and not what you have decided to do that really matters.

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