Abhay Ashtekar to be honored by the American Physical Society on October 23 for his commendable work.
The American Professor with the Indian origin, Abhay Ashtekar is going to be honored with the illustrious Einstein Prize along with $10,000 as an award on October 23, 2018, by American Physical Society, APS. After nearly four decades of outstanding accomplishment in his scientific engagement with gravitational science and owing to his commendable work, Abhay Ashtekar is all set to receive the Einstein Prize.
Speaking about his achievement, Abhay Ashtekar told IANS, “The prize is special because it is the highest honor bestowed by APS in the broad area of gravitational science. The first Einstein prize was awarded jointly to Peter Bergmann and John Wheeler, who introduced general relativity to the American universities by creating research groups. Perhaps because the first award often sets the tone, subsequent prizes have come to recognize ‘lifetime achievements. So the news was deeply satisfying.”
Ashtekar pursued his higher studies in India when his passion for physics began. He said, “At first I knew only Marathi literature –that is my mother tongue and was the medium of instruction until I was 11. Then was exposed to Hindi and English literature and realized how deeply literature is tied to specific cultures. What is considered great in one language or context could well be mediocre in another. At the same time, I learned Newton’s laws and universality of gravity — what makes the apple fall on earth also makes the planets go around the sun. This was stunning by itself.”
The most remarkable thing what he found was that, unlike art and literature, which are totally tied to human conditions, Newton’s laws transcend both. It was striking to him that the same Newton’s laws were taught and adored in India as in China, Japan, and the West.
Thereafter, in college fundamental physics seemed to him to be the deepest and purest way to pursue an understanding of Nature (the external world). In graduate school, he chose to work in general relativity, cosmology and quantum physics because he thought that is where the most fundamental questions about space, time and the nature of the physical universe were discussed.
When Ashtekar was asked if physicists in India are producing world-class research, he proudly answered that there are extremely talented physicists in India who are making first-rate contributions to pure physics in areas he has had first-hand acquaintance with. He even said that he is particularly pleased by the ‘LIGO-India’ project that is now placing India firmly in the front ranks of international efforts.
According to Ashtekar, between 5 and 10 years from now; the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune, in particular, will play an important role in the major discoveries that will be made with the international network of gravitational wave observatories. He says India is ahead of China in this area, as for an instance he said that at times, his colleagues in other areas of physics, tell him that this is not the case in their field; that there is a lot of good research but not enough ‘great’ research that gets published in most of the visible journals.