Scientific Reminiscences

Trials and tribulations of playing the devil’s advocate

Jayant V. Narlikar


Abstract Beginning with his student days at school and college, the author describes his training at Cambridge with special emphasis on his mentor Fred Hoyle. His early experience of participating in a controversy at Cambridge played a major role in giving him the confidence to defend his scientific ideas. All through his later life he chose areas that were not part of mainstream research. These included the steady state theory and later the quasi steady state cosmology, action at a distance, noncosmological redshifts, quantum conformal cosmology, etc. After being a founding member of the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy (IOTA) at Cambridge, the author joined the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai and later moved to Pune to set up the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA). He briefly reviews his own work and ends by pointing out the difficulties a non-conformist scientist faces in his professional life. In the conclusion, he mentions his interests in science popularization and science fiction for which he has won awards and appreciation, including UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize.


Keywords autobiography — cosmology — sociology of astronomy

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