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Indian American Physics professor Abhay Ashtekar to be honoured with prestigious Einstein Prize

Think Change India
17th Oct 2018
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Indian American Professor of Physics, Abhay Ashtekar will be awarded the Einstein Prize for 2018 for his contribution to the field of Gravitational Physics.

The prize, awarded by the American Physical Society carries an award of $10,000 and will be announced on October 23. The citation states,

"For numerous and seminal contributions to general relativity, including the theory of black holes, canonical quantum gravity, and quantum cosmology.”

Abhay Ashtekar, Source First Post

Hailing from Kolhapur district in Maharashtra, Abhay is Holder, Eberly Chair and a director of the Institute for Gravitational Physics and Geometry at the Pennsylvania State University, USA, according to The Better India.

In an e-mail interview with IANS, Abhay said,

"The prize is special because it is the highest honour 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 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.”

Source The Wire

In 1974, Abhay received his PhD.from the University of Chicago. Since then, he has served as a prominent member in various universities in France, Canada, and India, says News 18.

His biography on the National Academy of Science, of which he was elected member in 2016 describes him as,

“A theoretical physicist specialising in general relativity, cosmology, and quantum gravity. He is best known for initiating the Loop Quantum Gravity programme by introducing new variables to simplify Einstein’s equations, for analysing the very early universe using Loop Quantum Cosmology, and for his contributions to the study of the asymptotic structure of space-time and gravitational waves in full non-linear general relativity".

Ashtekar explored Fundamental Physics during his university days. He termed it to be the purest and deepest way to understand the nature (the external world). For his graduation, he chose to study General Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Physics as these were the nature of time, space and physical universe are discussed, says The Financial Express.

He further discovered that gravity is the weakest force among the four forces of nature. He said,

“Gravity has two key features that other forces do not share. Unlike the weak and strong force, it is long-range and therefore key to the large-scale structures and phenomena. The electromagnetic force is also long-range. But because electric charge comes with both signs, the force can be both attractive and repulsive.”

He added,

"Large bodies like the sun and planets are all electrically neutral and so they don't exert any electromagnetic force on one another. The dominant force between such bodies is therefore gravitational."

When asked what his thoughts on Indian Physicists are, he said,

“There are extremely talented physicists in India who are making first-rate contributions to pure physics in areas I have first-hand acquaintance with. I am particularly pleased by the ‘LIGO-India' project that is now placing India firmly in the front ranks of international efforts. The Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune, in particular, will play an important role in major discoveries that will be made with the international network of gravitational wave observatories between 5 and 10 years from now. In this area. India is ahead of China, for example.”

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