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Lack of interest in cosmos worries top astronomer

india Updated: Jan 09, 2007 13:14 IST
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Lord Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society of London and one of the world's leading astronomer, on Monday expressed concern that not many science students were taking to the exciting field of astronomy and astrophysics.

Head of the Department of Physics, IIT-Delhi, Dr DK Pandya, said that Rees, who who visited IIT and had an informal interaction with the faculty, pointed out that students taking interest in the exciting 'nano' world should also take interest in the cosmos and its future.

IIT Director Surendra Prasad said Rees appreciated the quality of graduates coming out of IIT and showed keenness for greater collaboration between UK universities and IITs, particularly IIT-Delhi.

The professor gave a courtesy call later on President APJ Abdul Kalam and was with him for about half an hour. He is likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday.

Holding the honorary title of Astronomer Royal, Professor Rees is the professor of cosmology and astrophyiscs, and Master of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge.

Rees, who was appointed to the House of Lords in 2005, is author of more than 500 research papers on astrophysics and cosmology.

Rees and honorary member of the Indian National Science Academy will be delivering on Monday the Blackett Memorial Lecture - 2007 on 'Our Final Century: Will Civilisation Survive the 21st Century'.

The point, according to an abstract of the lecture which he will deliver, is that science is advancing faster than ever and in ways that are even less predictable than in earlier centuries.

But our greater empowerment by technology opens up new 'downsides' too: humans are collectively having a potentially devastating impact on the entire biosphere' and there are risks that powerful technologies will be misused in ways that are dangerous or ethically problematic.

The scientific community, worldwide, has immense opportunities. But it also has special obligations to ensure that effort is channeled in ways that maximise the benefits of science and minimise the risks.

Title of one of his popular books is Our Final Hour: A Scientist's Warning: How Terror, Error, and Environmental Disaster Threaten Humankind's Future In This Century - On Earth and Beyond.

Rees is to go to Bangalore from Delhi, where he is scheduled to deliver the Rajiv Gandhi Public Science Lecture '21st Century Science: Cosmic Perspectives and Terrestrial Challenges' at the Indian Institute of Science.

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