THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: ECG Sudarshan was an Indian physicist par excellence and considered an authority on many fields of physics. In a stellar career spanning five decades, Sudarshan was nominated for the Nobel Prize for physics on nine occasions, but was overlooked every single time.
He was in the news in 2005, when a group of scientists wrote to the Swedish Academy saying that he should have been given the Nobel along with Roy J Glauber, who was honoured for the Sudarshan-Glauber representation. Later, Sudarshan himself had said in an interview that the 1979 Nobel awarded to Steven Weinberg, Sheldon Glashow and Abdus Salam was built on a work that he had done as a student.
“I don’t think the Swedish Academy had deliberately overlooked his contributions even when it acknowledged the contribution of Glauber in the Sudarshan-Glauber representation. Since the finding of Glauber was only limited to a particular area of the subject, it was easy for them to recognise his contributions,” said Anil Shaji, an associate professor at School of Physics, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Thiruvananthapuram, who did his PhD under the guidance of Sudarshan at the University of Texas.
Recognising the contributions of Sudarshan was a difficult task for the Academy since his domain knowledge was very vast and he was truly an expert in many fields such as the universal theory of weak interaction, quantum optical coherence, quantum optics, quantum zeno effect, quantum mechanics of open systems and many more.
Sudarshan’s findings about the open quantum system also deserved a Nobel Prize, said Shaji, adding that his many peers in the US had also shared the same opinion that it was difficult task for the Swedish Academy to recognise his contributions spanning across various fields. Shaji, the son of noted filmmaker Shaji N Karun, said Sudarshan pursued his love for physics even in his twilight years.M C Dathan, former director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and scientific adviser to the Chief Minister, said though Sudarshan had made invaluable contributions to the nation and world, he did not receive due recognition.