Ancient Indian discoveries merit better light: Scientists


New Delhi, Dec 4: The younger generation must know more about the history of science and India’s contribution to its growth over the millennia even as their activities around the subject should continue to be vigorously futuristic, the India International Science Festival (IISF) noted today.

Like most parts of the world, the Indian subcontinent too had its phases of ups and downs in scientific discoveries. Even so, a consistent progress the West made in the field from the 17th century should not overshadow the strides by pioneering figures in the Orient, speakers said at a Scientists-Students Interaction (SSI) held here.

The five-day IISF, is being organised by the Union Ministries of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences in collaboration with Vijnana Bharati, the country’s largest science movement, with TIFAC as the nodal agency. It is also hosting the country’s biggest-ever Science & Technology and Industrial Expo, which was inaugurated today.

As students from various schools of the city popped questions and jostled to see the final results of certain experiments that were carried out by two scientists at the 90-minute SSI session in IIT Delhi, Prof. Ajay Ghatak and Prof. V.P.N. Nampoori reminded the gathering of certain achievements that have been credited to Europe when the attributes should have gone to titans of India and West Asia.

Prof. Ajay Ghatak of IIT-D recalled that Arab physicist-mathematician Alhazen was the first in the world to write a book on optics. Born in Basra in 965 AD, he was the earliest to discover that a hypothesis has the necessity to be experimented through confirmable procedures, thus developing a scientific method two centuries before it was approved by Europe’s scientists of the Renaissance period (14th to 17th century), the speaker pointed out amid his talk on light-based technologies.

Hailing the role of Indian astronomer Aryabhatta (476-550 AD) and mathematician Bhaskara (600-680 AD), Prof Ghatak noted that Nalanda, off Patna, was the world’s pioneering university that flourished over 700 years from the 5th century AD.

Prof. Nampoori, a photonics expert at Cochin University of Science and Technology in Kerala, quoted verses from ancient Indian texts such as the Rig Veda and the Vishnu Puran to reaffirm their validity vis-a-vis the experiments carried out from the time of British physicist Isaac Newton (1642-1726).

Not different was the case with the findings of the 6th century astronomer Varahamihira and Kerala mathematician Sangamagrama Madhavan (1350-1425), he added in his talk on ‘Rereading the History of Optics’.

Prof Nampoori subsequently displayed certain simple experiments related to the subject, much to the interest of the crowd at Dogra Hall.

Similar sessions will also be held on Saturday and Sunday.

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