The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project has finally detected the gravitational waves Albert Einstein had hypothesised about, but that didn't take Pune-based scientist Sanjeev Dhurandhar by surprise at all. That's because he had predicted the very same thing decades back.
Dhurandhar, a scientist with the Inter-University Centre of Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) has now come into the limelight because it is being claimed that was the one who had detected the gravitational waves almost 30 years before the international scientific community.
"I started my career by studying general relativity and was very interested in the thermodynamics of blackholes. My research interest since 1987 has been in the detection/observation of gravitational waves, their data analysis and the modelling of gravitational wave detectors," says Dhurandhar who is passionate about music and gardening.
"I used to be crazy about cricket. I played the game many years ago. I gave up when the ball started hitting me, instead of me hitting the ball," he says.
A group of IUCAA scientists led by Dhurandhar had been working on developing techniques for detection of weak signals which would eventually lead to the detection of gravitational waves. In fact, he led the only Indian group in the 'initial era of the LIGO' for a decade, according toThe Indian Express.
Eminent astrophysicist and the first head of the IUCCA Jayant Narlikar tried explaining to a layman the complexity involved in detecting the gravitational wave.
"Imagine a fly sitting on an elephant. The weight of fly is added to his body but the elephant will not feel it. What LIGO (the detector used in the discovery) detected was much smaller than the perceived impact of the fly sitting on the elephant," Narlikar said, according to PTI.
Narlikar also told IE, “In the 1980s, Dhurandhar was told by senior colleagues that he had no credibility when this remarkable individual had proposed a model with a theoretical backup to explore gravitational waves.”
But now, things have changed. Professor Somak Raychaudhury, the current director of IUCAA said, “Today 90 per cent of the researchers abroad working on gravitation waves have been his students and now heading their teams that has led to this pathbreaking discovery.”
Historic detection of gravitational waves opens up new frontier for understanding of universe!— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 11, 2016
Immensely proud that Indian scientists played an important role in this challenging quest.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 11, 2016
Hope to move forward to make even bigger contribution with an advanced gravitational wave detector in the country.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 11, 2016
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