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Life outside earth? Myth or reality; Experts throw light

Life possible outside earth, need to be optimistic and patient with the search’ says Prof. Jayant Narlikar at Jamia Millia Islamia

Sounding optimistic about the possibility of life beyond the Earth, renowned Astrophysicist, Padmavibhushan Prof. Jayant V. Narlikar said “there was circumstantial evidence” to support the idea but a lot of research work needs to be put in before a final conclusion can be drawn.

Delivering the inaugural lecture at the newly set-up Multidisciplinary Centre for Advance Research and Studies (MCARS), Jamia Millia Islamia, Prof. Narlikar yesterday said that it was important to stretch inquiry to the question of —Is there anything beyond super clusters? And more significantly, is the Sun alone in hosting life on one of its planets?

Citing the eminent English astronomer, Fred Hoyle’s, famous work, The Black Cloud, which did not find easy acceptance earlier, he said that scientific research requires patience, optimism and time.

He was speaking on the topic ‘Searches for Life outside the Earth’, a function presided over by JMI Vice Chancellor, Prof Talat Ahmad at the university’s Dr. M.A. Ansari Auditorium before a keen audience comprising of a large number of Science students.

He said that some scientists might want to do a theoretical exercise to find out how many extra-terrestrial super civilizations exist in the galaxy.

Prof. Narlikar known for his path-breaking contribution in the field of cosmology and theoretical Astrophysics apprised the students of the various methods that have been used to ascertain the possibility of life outside Earth like sending radio messages for communication with ETs or by sending unmanned probes with information that were available.

He said that scientists need to keep sending out feelers hoping that someday some ETs will understand and respond. Underlying the varying ways of broaching the same question from different disciplinary methods, he said that in the question of the possibility of life outside the Earth, the biologists appear to be sceptics as against astronomers who are optimists.

The biologists, Prof Narlikar said begin with the complex structure of the DNA to suggest that they don’t expect life so easily.

He, however, urged the students to be patient in taking up ambitious program like this, reminding them that average communication time required between Earth and Alpha Centauri was 8.5 years. It was important to ask “whether cells, bacteria and other micro organisms can be detected outside the Earth’s atmosphere” he added.

“We have become technologically advanced but have also devised means for our own destruction. We have acquired knowledge but need wisdom”, Prof Narlikar said.

Setting up MCARS is one of the several steps taken by JMI towards improving the level of research and global research collaboration in the JMI.

MCARS aims to create a platform for young researchers to explore diverse scientific problems for the advancement of socioeconomic conditions of the country, by integrating all disciplines. Six international scholars who are presently working in USA, UK, Singapore will soon be a part of MCARS to carry its research agenda forward across disciplines including Science, Engineering, Social Science, Medicine, Engineering and Management.

Prof Talat Ahmad, Vice Chancellor, JMI giving his Presidential remarks said that the university was honoured to have somebody of the stature of Prof. Narlikar and that too on the occasion of the launch of an important centre like MCARS which envisages advancing, nurturing and promoting multidisciplinary research.

Prof Ahmad expressing his satisfaction at the progress that the Centre has already registered since its inception said that the two faculty one each from U.S. and Singapore members have joined the Centre and grants worth Rs 3 crores has already been mobilised . Informing that the university is availing highly skilled and best trained scientists to guide its already mobilised students without spending any money as they have come from DST and other fellowships.

Prof. Sushant G. Ghosh , Hony. Director, MCARS, thanked the Vice Chancellor for his personal initiative to ensure that the Centre becomes a pioneer in the country in undertaking cutting edge research and a forum for interaction among scientists, researchers, teachers and scholars.

Prof. Sharfuddin Ahmad, OSD to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Tasneem Meenai, DSW, Prof Sami, Centre for Theoretical Physics, Dean Dept of Dentistry, Prof. Saranjit Singh Bhasin, Heads of Departments, Directors of Centres, faculty members and a large number of students were present on the occasion of the inaugural lecture. Dr. Syed Naqui Kazim, Hony. Dy. Director, MCARS delivered the vote of thanks.

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