Jayant V. Narlikar

Jayanti V. Narlikar

Jayanti V. Narlikar

Jayant V. Narlikar

Who is faster: You or light?

There wasa young lady named Miss Bright, who travelled much faster than light. She departed one day, in an Einsteinian way, and came back the previous night.

This limerick by Arthur Buller, published in Punch in 1923, reflects the interest of the man had in time travel when the concepts behind Einstein’s theory of relativity began to percolate down to the lay world.

Arithmetic of nostalgia

What is Vedic mathematics? Norma-lly, the phrase should mean “mathematics of Vedic origin”. Indeed there are mathematical results that can be traced back to the Vedic times.

Taxila aglow, but Nalanda in shadow

A few years ago, a regional conference in Islamabad gave some of us Indian scientists an opportunity of a visit across the border.

Frontiers of free inquiry

Although science claims to be a human endeavour entirely guided by rationality and objectivity, history tells us otherwise. At an individual level, a scientist may entertain a firm belief in the correctness of some idea or theory, even though he or she may lack an irrefutable proof in its favour.

Cosmic catastrophes

The Crab Nebula is arguably the most spectacular event in the cosmos. A colour photograph taken in modern times shows its highly disturbed state with filaments curving across a cloudlike structure and evidence of fast-moving particles. When French astronomer Charles Messier began his catalogue of cosmic objects in 1771, not surprisingly, he began the list with the Crab Nebula.

The great illusion in twilight zone

While travelling on a jet plane from London to Chicago, I was rewarded with a very unexpected sight. I saw the sun rise in the west. No, this was not a daydream but a real experience. The time was close to twilight hour when our jet was crossing Greenland, above the 60 degree latitude. The sun had just gone below the western horizon and most passengers were getting ready for a pre-dinner shut-eye… when it happened.

Monkeys, morals, mathematics

Many of us have read stories from the Indian classic Panchatantra, know also how that collection originated. A rich man had sons who refused to be taught the usual way. No method of classroom teaching made any impression on their brain. So how could they be educated into becoming responsible citizens? His problem was finally solved by Vishnu Sharma, a learned but practical minded teacher.

Shani & mangal of futurology

Broadly speaking, futurology is an exercise in making predictions of the future states of a society, given its present condition and past history. As such it is an interdisciplinary exercise involving the arts, the sciences and technology, social conditions, and many other parameters that characterise the culture of a society.

Don’t blind kids with science

In the higher secondary school, I happened to come across E.T. Bell’s book Men of Mathematics. Written in 1937, it starts with Zeno in the 5th century BC and brings the reader to Cantor in the middle of the 19th century. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, although in retrospect I wish the author

Deemed unfit

We seem to be in for vibrant times in the academia. The growing realisation that India needs a lot more educated human resources than presently available, has prompted moves for a rapid expansion of the higher education sector. Traditionally, this has been dominated by the university system, with the University Grants Commission (UGC) at its apex. There are two types of universities, the more advantageous of the two being the Central universities, while their poorer cousins come under their respective states.

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I want to begin with a little story that was told to me by a leading executive at Aptech. He was exercising in a gym with a lot of younger people.

Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen didn’t make the cut. Neither did Shaji Karun’s Piravi, which bagged 31 international awards.