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Light and life

Zewail, Ahmed (2003) Light and life. Current Science, 84 (1). pp. 29-33. ISSN 0011-3891.

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In this country there is a tradition of prime ministers appreciating and supporting science and technology. From Pandit (‘teacher’) Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi and to Rajiv Gandhi all have shown a commitment to scientific research and its critical role in developing the mind, the society, and the nation. Abdul Kalam, a prominent technologist, is the current President. Rajiv Gandhi believed in extending the science base and not to limit it to a privileged few. In one of his speeches he said, scientific research ‘must be supported by a very broad base of people who have scientific learning from which we can draw and reach out to the best people available. We have got pillars that reach to great heights, but they remain pillars – we have to turn them into pyramids’. Incidentally, by mentioning the word pyramids in his speech in Delhi, he anticipated by 16 years that an Egyptian, who also believes in building pyramids, would be invited to give the lecture honouring his contributions! Scientific research is the subject of this lecture, but I wish to focus here on one of its pillars – the value of curiosity-driven research and its impact on our life, the life of the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. For this scientific endeavour, I will demonstrate my point from the study of one phenomenon that has occupied the thinking of humans throughout history – it is the phenomenon of light. What is light?

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Additional Information:© 2003 Indian Academy of Sciences. Received 25 November 2002; accepted 28 November 2002. Based on the Rajiv Gandhi Science Lecture delivered on 17 October 2002 at Bangalore.
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ID Code:2119
Deposited By: Archive Administrator
Deposited On:09 Mar 2006
Last Modified:02 Oct 2019 22:50

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