I want to talk about real heroes today à not the kind we elevate to the status of demi-gods too easily and unthinkingly.
“There’s a secret society of geniuses who weave and shape the fabric of our culture,” somebody had said about Subrahmanian Chandrasekhar (he was known among his colleagues as ‘Chandra’) on the occasion of awarding a medal to Chandra.
Yes. Chandra was such a genius and so was Srinivasa Ramanujan.
It is not widely known that one of NASA’s space telescopes (‘Great Observatories’) is named after him? à the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. The most well-known of the space telescopes is of course the Hubble Space Telescope which has revealed so much about the wonders of our universe in its 20 year long lifetime.
Every educated person must consider it his or her bounden duty to be acquainted with the images and the results of these great space projects.
To give just a bit of a primer about Chandra, some of his areas of work included these
· stellar structure,
· theory of white dwarfs,
· stellar dynamics, theory of radiative transfer,
· quantum theory of the negative ion of Hydrogen,
· hydrodynamic and hydromagnetic stability,
· equilibrium and the stability of ellipsoidal figures of equilibrium,
· general relativity. mathematical theory of black holes and theory of colliding gravitational waves.
Just reflect for a moment – if you will – about the greatness of the scientific endeavor which has given us mere humans the tools – mathematical – which we can manipulate to understand the interiors and evolution of stars or when a star will turn into a black hole and when it will end up as a white dwarf or a neutron star.