‘Diamond’ scientist feels India has space for astronomy

  • Vanita Srivastava, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Oct 14, 2012 23:06 IST

Indian scientist at Yale University, Dr Nikku Madhusudhan, who recently led a team of scientists which suggested that a rocky planet orbiting a nearby star is a diamond planet, feels that astronomical science in  India is vibrant and has sufficient scope for youngsters.

“India is very actively participating in several large collaborations in astronomy. So there is ample scope for young people to participate in these new ventures in India,” he said.

On the other hand, there are some areas in astronomy where India is yet to catch up, such as extrasolar planets” Madhusudhan told HT.

Explaining his finding, he said: “This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from earth. The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite.”

The planet — called 55 Cancri e — has a radius twice earth's, and a mass eight times greater, making it a “super-Earth.”

The 32-year-old former mining engineer from IIT-BHU said he always wanted to become a scientist. “Astronomy may not have been in my mind, but I have always wanted to be a scientist.”

After completing his engineering, he did his MS at the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT  followed by a PhD in physics at MIT.  Following this, he pursued two one-year post doctoral positions at MIT and Princeton University before moving to the Yale University where he is working as a post-doctoral fellow.

Observing that there was a  somewhat higher level of societal acceptance and more active efforts by the government and media in promoting science in some Western countries Madhusudhan said : “Young people in India tend to be highly motivated to pursue professional degrees such as engineering, medicine, and business rather than basic sciences due to societal pressure.  I think the government, corporations, and media can play a greater role in changing this scene.”


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