The Indian-American Professor of Physics, Dr. Abhay Ashtekar who is best known for initiating the Loop Quantum Gravity programme, will be awarded the Einstein Prize, 2018. He has been conferred with this award for his outstanding contributions in the field of Gravitational Physics.
The accolade declared by the American Physical Society bears a reward of $10,000 and was announced on October 23. This honor is in regard with his generous and influential contributions in the fields of general relativity, including the theory of black holes, canonical quantum gravity, and quantum cosmology.
Hailing from the Kolhapur district in Maharashtra, Dr. Ashtekar is associated with, Eberly Chair and is also the director of the esteemed Institute for Gravitational Physics and Geometry at the Pennsylvania State University, USA. He studied in his mother tongue Marathi until he was 11 years old and was introduced to the other two languages (i.e. Hindi and English) only after this.
The award has made him the talk of the town as it is the highest honor conferred by APS in the broad area of Gravitational Science. Peter Bergmann and John Wheeler, who jointly introduced the concept of General Relativity to American universities by creating research groups, were the first ones to be bestowed with the prestigious Einstein award. As we all know that the first award always sets the tone, consecutive awards are now recognized as ‘lifetime achievements.’
At the beginning when his school lessons began including various concepts of Physics, he slowly understood how physics is constant but on the other hand art as well as literature is subjective to places, cultures, and people.
During his interaction with Edex Live, Ashtekar shared, “What is deliberated to be great in one context or language could easily be average in another. During the same time, I learned concepts like Newton’s Laws and Universality of Gravity—the force that makes the apple fall on earth is the same that makes the planets go around the sun. This was remarkable in itself… It was bizarre to me that the same Newton’s laws are taught and adored in India as in other countries like China, Japan, and the West.”
Dr. Ashtekar completed his undergraduate education in India, and then registered himself for a graduate program on gravitation, at the University of Texas at Austin.
In the year 1974, from the University of Chicago, Dr. Ashtekar received his Ph.D. Since then, he has served as an eminent member at various universities in France, Canada, as well as India.
Dr. Ashtekar probed into Fundamental Physics concepts during his initial university days. He termed the study of ‘Physics’ to be the purest and deepest method to understand nature (i.e. the external world). For his graduation, he chose to study General Relativity, Cosmology as well as Quantum Physics because these talked about the nature of time, space and physical universe.
He is certain that the other Indian scientists as well as researchers, like him, are on the path of making revolutionary explorations in the coming future. Dr. Ashtekar also quoted that there are extremely gifted physicists in our country who are creating first-rate discoveries to pure physics in areas he has first-hand acquaintance with. He particularly commended the ‘LIGO-India’ project that is ready to take India firmly in the front ranks of international efforts. The Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune, particularly, would play the utmost important aspect in the major explorations that will be made with the international connection with Gravitational Wave Observatories in the next 5 to 10 years from now.