Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen things to know about Mr. Subramanyan Chandrasekhar

Image courtesy: Google Doodle – Oct 18-19 2017

1. He was the first astrophysicist to win the Nobel Prize for Physics. He won the Nobel Prize in 1983 along with William Fowler on their theory of the evolution of stars.
2. His was the second Nobel Prize in his family – his uncle, Sir. C. V. Raman won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930.
3. The Chandrasekhar limit is named after him (it is the maximum mass of a white dwarf star)
4. NASA named one of it’s four ‘Great Observatories’ after him – the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. The other three are the Hubble Space Telescope, the Comptom Gamma Ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope.
5. American astronomer Carl Sagan studied mathematics under him at the University of Chicago.
6. The Government of India awarded a scholarship so he could pursue studies at the University of Cambridge. The Chandrasekhar Limit was born during his journey from India to Cambridge!
7. He was admitted to the prestigious Born’s Institute in Gottingen, Germany (where other famous physicists such as Niels Bohr, Heisenberg have studied).
8. His range of fields is wide and his love for learning and teaching led him to everything from study stellar structure to white dwarf stars. 
9. Chandrasekhar wrote a readable and condensed version of Isaac Newton’s Principia to make it accessible to common readers
10. Systematization – Chandrasekhar’s underlying prime motive for his work was systematization and his desire to participate in the progress of different fields of science to the best of his ability. About this, he wrote – “What a scientist tries to do essentially is to select a certain domain, a certain aspect, or a certain detail, and see if that takes its appropriate place in a general scheme which has form and coherence; and, if not, to seek further information which would help him to do that.”
According to the freedictionary – Systematize means – To put into a system; arrange according to a plan or scheme: “The aim of science is surely to amass and systematize knowledge” (V. Gordon Childe)
11. He was invited to join the Manhattan Project that built the atom bomb but delays from FBI to give him security clearance  for the same stalled his inclusion.
12. Family – He was one of ten children, his family pursued learning and encouraged him to follow his dreams. His mother, for example, translated into Tamil, Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House.
13. The Google doodle is honoring him on the occasion of his 107th birthday on the 19th of October 2017 with an illustration of him and the Chandrasekhar Limit  in 28 countries. – image above

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