All four Schools on the Amritapuri Campus came together today, in enthusiastic celebrations of National Science Day. Educational institutions all over India commemorate this anniversary of the discovery in physics that won India its first ever Nobel Prize in Sciences, some eight decades ago. On February 28, 1928, through his experiments, Sir C V Raman discovered the Raman Effect — the inelastic scattering of a photon — discovered in liquids. For this, he was honored with the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.
Over a hundred students from the Schools of Arts and Sciences, Ayurveda, Biotechnology and Engineering worked for several weeks to put up a grand exhibition with scientific experimental setups, posters, displays, a herbal garden, even a partially dissected corpse in the Ayurveda section. “Overall, students have done an excellent job with explaining complex scientific concepts in a simple manner, such that even laypersons may understand,” noted Dr. Bipin Nair, Dean of the School of Biotechnology, an early visitor to the exhibition.
Over the course of the day, hundreds more saw the exhibition as high school and college students from around the district made field trips to our Amritapuri Campus. They stopped at the stalls and asked questions, they participated in quizzes and games designed to impart scientific knowledge, they watched video shows. They toured the dark room where they saw laser-based experiments and the star-studded night sky as it appeared from Amritapuri. A mobile planetarium was also set up in an inflatable igloo-like structure of rubber sheeting that treated them to more wonders of the night sky.
As part of the celebrations, students attended a talk by Dr. Aravindakshan, Retd. Director of Sramik Vidyapeeth. Asatoma Sadgamayah, Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya — from unreal lead me to the real, from darkness lead me to light — he quoted this ancient Upanishadic verse. “What is science?” he rhetorically asked the audience. “Finding what is real, finding the truth — science can be described in that manner.” He also briefly spoke about marvelous materials and their chemical properties that make them valuable for applications in space technology, nanotechnology and the like.
“I have been involved with guiding students for events such as this one at the University of Notre Dame in the US where I worked as a post-doc,” shared Dr. Zeena S. Pillai, PhD in photo-chemistry from Florida State University who recently joined Amrita. “And I can say that our students did a great job, certainly comparable to the best anywhere else.” “It was a team effort,” stated Gayatri U, a 3rd year student of the Integrated MSc program in Math and Physics. Gayatri is the student president of Synergos, the Science Forum at Amrita that took the initiative to organize the event.
“The celebrations were a stupendous success,” proudly remarked the Director of the Amritapuri Campus, Br. Sudeep. “The best thing was the coming together of all four Schools on this campus. We are happy that students from neighboring schools and colleges also chose to participate in large numbers. India has a scientific heritage that we are proud of; in future years we will want to showcase that as well.”
February 28, 2009