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International Symposium on Experimental Gravitation in Kochi

An international symposium to discuss new ideas on the experimental and observational aspects of the 'physics of gravity' is being organised by Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) at Kochi from Monday.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2009 10:08 IST

An international symposium to discuss new ideas on the experimental and observational aspects of the 'physics of gravity' is being organised by Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) at Kochi from Monday (Jan 5, 2009).

The scientists will discuss a wealth of recent data pertaining to the gravitational interaction at the five-day symposium, said C S Unnikrishnan of the TIFR.

With modern technology, gravitational measurements have become much more precise, and have real life applications in Global Positioning System, Space physics and Astronomy, said Unnikrishnan, one of the symposium directors.

Ninety years ago, Albert Einstein's new theory of gravity, called the General Theory of Relativity, passed its first crucial test of the prediction of the bending of light from stars by the sun, in an expedition by astronomers during total solar eclipse.

Today, modern technologies on the earth and in space have opened up many more possibilities to study gravitation, providing new results, Unnikrishnan told PTI.

These new results include dragging of space-time by rotating massive planets, operation of detectors of waves of gravity, unexplained gravitational forces on artificial satellites that have gone out of the solar system and possibility of more than three space dimensions, Unnikrishnan said.

The conference will also discuss intensely the possibility of Indian collaboration and involvement in a kilometer-long instrument for detecting and measuring gravitational waves from outer space. This is co-ordinated by TIFR, Mumbai, Raman Research Institute, Bangalore and IUCAA, Pune.

Explaining that the Gravitational waves are similar to electromagnetic waves, but emitted by massive astronomical objects like black holes very far away, Unnikrishnan said these are extremely difficult to detect and an idea of a world-wide network of laser-based detectors have been proposed.

There is already significant and leading Indian expertise in this field, focusing on the strategy for analysis of the complex and vast signals from the outer space.

TIFR, Mumbai is the only research institute in India at present involved in precision measurements of gravity, relativity and related aspects, in its laboratory.

The first two days will see overview talks on recent experiments as well as discussions on gravitational anomalies that seem to require new ideas on gravity.

Several sessions are dedicated to the discussion on Indian involvement in gravity wave detectors and their global network, said Prof. Munawar Karim from St. John Fisher College, USA, the second director of the symposium.

The symposium will also focus on cosmological observations, new ideas and future experiments, especially space-based experiments, in the field of experimental gravitation, Karim said.