Google celebrated Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar's 107th birthday on Thursday, with a Google Doodle. While many were expecting a Diwali doodle for Thursday, the search engine surprised us all with the honorable mention for the late astrophysicist.
If one looks into the details of Subramaniyan's life, they will find the how his work has helped science in many ways. His research has guided many other scientists and innovators to study and understand various phenomenon.
A Pioneer in Making
Chandrasekhar was born on October 19, 1910, in Lahore to C Subrahmanyan Ayyar. His uncle was the Noble Prize winner CV Raman. From an early age, Chandrasekhar was headstrong about becoming a scientist. He studied Bachelors in Physics from Madras and by 1933 he finished his Ph.D. from Cambridge. He was often called a 'child prodigy'.
The Nobel Prize
In the year 1983, Chandrasekhar won the Nobel Prize along with William A. Fowler for his research on the physical processes which are required for the structure and the evolution of the stars. He became famous in the world of science and discovery with his work on the radiation of energy from the stars that are dying.
He was an innovator, but along with it, he challenged the ideas of men of his age. He refuted that the stars would break down to white dwarves after the conversion of hydrogen and helium they stored.
He expanded on the fact that the stars don't just stop shrinking. He found that stars have a mass more than 1.44 times than our sub. The number 1.44, later became to be known as the Chandrasekhar Limit.
His understanding helped in finding out on how neutron stars come into existence.
Chandrasekhar limit is what got him the Nobel Prize and he became the first astrophysicist to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
The Hurdles Chandrasekhar Faced
Though Chandrasekhar's discovery was later recognized, initially his co-workers were dubious about his work. They even tried to discredit him. This one Sir Arthur Eddington, an astronomer convinced the astrophysicist to showcase his discoveries at Royal Astronomical Society, London.
The same astronomer gave a lecture, discrediting Chandrasekhar's work and dismissed it. Later in the 60s and the 70s, Chandrasekhar's innovation was identified as it helped understanding black holes, neutron stars, and supernovas.
Works during World War II
Chandrasekhar was working with the Ballistic Research Laboratory in Maryland, at the Aberdeen Proving Ground. During the second world war, his focus was on working on the Ballistics. As he was an expert in the hydrodynamics, he was invited to join the Manhattan Project. The process was delayed as the security clearance prevented him.
A Good Teacher to the Students
Chandrasekhar has been known to have been very close to his students. He made sure that his students call him Chandrasekhar. And once they receive their Ph.D. degree, they were to call him Chandra.
He used to travel 150 miles, to and fro on weekends to give lectures on a course at the University of Chicago. Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen-Ning Yang were two of the many students who attended these classes and received Nobel Prize in their respective works.
A Powerful Legacy
Chandrasekhar was remembered and celebrated in the field of science. NASA named their third of the four 'Great Observations' after Chandrasekhar. The Chandra X-Ray Observatory was inaugurated and launched by Space Shuttle Columbia in the year 1999. An important dimensionless number form magnetohydrodynamics, the Chandrasekhar number, is named after him.
After his demise in the year 1995, his wife Lalitha Chandrasekhar contributed the prize money from the Nobel Prize to the University of Chicago. This contribution was used to create the Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar Memorial Fellowship. It is awarded to an exceptional applicant from the graduate school in any Ph.D. programmes in the Department of Physics or the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
There is no wonder as to why the man was honored and celebrated. He pushed himself and the rest of the world, a step forward in terms advancement of science and technology. He helped in creating a space for fellow Indians who dream of reaching new heights.
We wish Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar a very Happy Birthday!