Raman’s Nephews

28th Feb of every year is celebrated as National Science Day in India. I have previously written about the science behind the National Science Day. This day is associated with the discovery of Raman effect. Raman had a great legacy and influence on Indian science. In addition to being a great scientist, CV Raman encouraged the pursuit of science (with exceptions).

One of his legacies was the impression and influence he had on some close members of his family. Below is a small list of his illustrious nephews who made significant contributions in science.

Raman’s  younger sister,  Sitalakshmi, had 5 sons.

3 bros
3 brothers : Pancharatnam, Ramseshan, Chandrasekhar. Image courtesy : Indian Academy of Sciences

Among them 3 were scientists :

Sivaraj Ramseshan (10 October 1923 – 29 December 2003)

  • A renowned crystallographer
  • played a key role in fostering institutions such as IISc and Indian Academy of science.
  • INSA has a nice biographical note on Ramseshan

Sivaramakrishna Chandrasekhar  (6 August 1930 – 8 March 2004)

  • Made outstanding contributions to the science of liquid crystals
  • Was elected as Fellow of Royal Society for his work on liquid crystals
  • A biographical note , compiled by Royal Society, is a worthy read.
  • He is the other Chandrasekhar  🙂

Shivaramakrishnan Pancharatnam (1934–1969)

  • The Pancharatnam of the fame of Panchratnam-Berry phase
  • Made ground-breaking contributions in optics
  • Unfortunately, died very young (35 yrs)
  • Prof. Rajaram Nityananda has compiled an excellent biographical article on him.

Raman’s brother was C.S. Iyer, He  had a son:

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. Image courtesy : University of Chicago

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar  (19 October 1910 – 21 August 1995)

  • Perhaps the most celebrated of the lot
  • S. Chandrasekhar was an astrophysicist who went to win the Nobel Prize in Physics

The real impact of science and technology, is not only in the materialistic gains of a society but also in the way it elevates the thought process of a society. Science as a pursuit of human knowledge influences thinking of human beings, and hence plays a vital role in shaping the character and culture of any individual, family, community,  country and the world.

We should also remind ourselves that “impact of a scientist” cannot be judged  merely by counting the number of papers/patents they publish nor by the high-office they hold in corridors of (scientific and political) power.  If anything, such a judgment of impact should be left to the posterity.

On a related  note, Kameshwar Wali, physicist and biographer of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar writes :

Chandra often quoted from a letter of his friend Edward A Milne during his Cambridge years:

“Posterity, in time will give us our true measure and assign to each of us our due measure and humble place; and in the end it is the judgement of posterity that really matters. He really succeeds who preserves accordingly to his lights, unaffected by fortune, good or bad. And it is well to remember there is no correlation between posterity and the judgement of contemporaries.”

Science zindabad !

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