Science without borders

Updated: May 09, 2019, 07:29 IST | Snigdha Hassan

In a first, The Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Science and Technology join hands for a travelling exhibition that showcases India's participation in major international science projects. It's first stop: Mumbai

Science without borders
Pics/Suresh Karkera

The exhibition arena of the Nehru Science Centre in Worli is a transformed space. For the next two months, a small step into the arena might just feel like a giant leap into the future, for displayed there are interactive prototypes of major science projects from around the world that hold the promise of ground-breaking solutions for a greener earth and a more sophisticated understanding of the universe. And what ties these international endeavours together is India's contribution to them at various levels — accomplishments that are recognised and celebrated within the community, but remain largely unknown to the common man. Vigyan Samagam — a travelling exhibition jointly organised by The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) together with the National Council of Science Museums, Ministry of Culture — aims to change that.

It was inaugurated in the city yesterday by Dr VK Saraswat, member, NITI Aayog, who was joined by Prof K Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific advisor, Government of India, Arun Srivastava, head, Institutional Collaboration and Program Division, DAE and other members of the science community. "Though we are participating in mega science projects and several other international collaborations, [the information] remains limited to few research institutes and laboratories. Even those driving these projects may not always talk among themselves. The idea is to reach a wider audience, especially the student community, to spark their interest in fundamental science and research, which could well be a career option for them," says Ranajit Kumar, head of Nuclear Control and Planning Wing, DAE, and chairman of the apex committee that put together the exhibition that has been in the works for a year. After the Mumbai leg, it will travel to Bengaluru and Kolkata, before being permanently stationed in New Delhi.

We bring you four projects from the exhibition.

Large Hadron Collider, CERN

Guide

An interactive exhibit on the world's largest and most powerful particle collider built by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) to help answer some fundamental open questions in physics is one of the key highlights of the show; one that also took the longest time to materialise considering the MoUs and permissions required.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), near Geneva, is where The Higgs boson was discovered in 2012 by the ATLAS and CMS Experiments. The collider's construction saw participation from scientists and scientific bodies around the world when it was built between 1998 and 2008. India, too, has played an important role here. "When particles collide at such high speed, it is the precision motion positioning system jacks built in India that maintain their alignment precisely," informs Dr Vikas Jain from Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, adding that it the superconducting magnets for the collider were built in India, too.

Laser Interferometer Gravitational - Wave Observatory

Guide

While gravitational waves were theoretically predited by Albert Einstein in 1916, it took another 100 years to detect the extremely weak waves. And it was Pune-born Pune-born Sanjeev Dhurandhar who was one of the 1,000 key scientists involved in detecting gravitational waves, even as the subject had become a part of his research way back in the 1980s.

Two Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatories, which use multi-kilometre-scale detectors to measure the minute ripples in space-time caused by passing gravitational waves from cataclysmic cosmic events, are located in the US. And fittingly enough, the third observatory is coming up in India, with Aundha in the Hingoli district in Maharashtra being the preferred site.

Thirty Meter Telescope

Guide

The top of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii, is the construction site of The Thirty Meter Telescope, a new class of extremely large telescopes that will enable scientists to see deeper into space and observe cosmic objects with unprecedented sensitivity. "Thirty meter refers to the diameter of the primary mirror of the telescope. To put things in perspective, the largest existing model's diameter is that of 10 metres," a volunteer explains us patiently, as we try to recall science lessons from school.

"The mirror is made of 492 smaller mirrors, of which 84 have been made in India. You also need actuators to tilt, tip and twist the mirrors, another project being accomplished here," he adds.

International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor

Guide

Road, 23-year-old singer-songwriter Kavish Seth strums a guitar and rehearses the lines of an original composition, Farzi Marzi. They go, 'Farzi marzi hai yeh kaisi farzi marzi, pareshaan ho gaya hoon main khabar bhi tujhe nahi…' On cue, Roshan Worlikar blows on a trumpet while Slyvester Koli plays the saxophone. For Hindi Bolein, another original composition by Seth, Vrushab Koli and Prasad Warage join in on the keyboard and dholak respectively. The festival will also witness a 12-song set by a team of Hip-Hop artistes, who are part of the Swadesi Crew, known for performing 'Conjarati and Shreeji Nair (a.k.a Mayavi) who raps in Malayalam. "Mumbai Crew five years back,
Road, 23-year-old singer-songwriter Kavish Seth strums a guitar and rehearses the lines of an original composition, Farzi Marzi. They go, 'Farzi marzi hai yeh kaisi farzi marzi, pareshaan ho gaya hoon main khabar bhi tujhe nahi…' On cue

The Indian at CERN

Guide

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TILL July 7, 10 am to 6 pm
AT Nehru Science Centre, Worli

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