BANGALORE: Following Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s comments about spending more on scientific research by at least two per cent of the GDP in his inaugural address at the Indian Science Congress, Director of Raman Research Institute (RRI) Prof Ravi Balasubrahmanyan said that the 12th Five Year plan was generous towards science.
Speaking at the inauguration of Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) on Tuesday at Indian Academy Degree College, he said, “I do not share the view that the 12th Five Year Plan has ignored science and research. In fact, the government had invited me and others heading prominent institutions to come up with suggestions and propose ideas of scientific research.”
As part of the $1.5 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an international collaboration with United States, Australia, New Zealand and India (RRI being one of the players) for a radio telescope that will have a total collecting area of approximately one square kilometre, the RRI is contributing with critical electronic hardware required for the project. “The RRI has already written to the Centre about our contribution to the SKA. We have stated the financial requirements in the letter, and this is a part of the 12th plan. So, I can say that the government has been generous towards the science sector,” he said. The SKA is all set to be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. Addressing the students, he said, “The universe mostly consists of gases, and we have not been able to look beyond these gases to discover more galaxies. We have to shift the focus from optical to radio telescopes. In the next 20 years, astronomers will focus on SKA and Radio Astronomy,” he said.
Explaining how time works in the universe, Prof Subrahmanyan said that the visible part of the universe is in reality the past, due to the constant change happening called ‘Big Bang Universe’.
“What we can see is the past of those cosmic bodies. For instance, if we discover a new galaxy, it means that the galaxy was there some light years ago. This is because of what physics tells us. Light from far away cosmic bodies reach us only after travelling the appropriate distance. Any new planet that we discover means that it was there in that physical position the corresponding light years ago. Therefore, our understanding of the universe is based on its past,” he said.