Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nobel laureate Prof Kroto infects youth with passion

It was a treat for the youth at Science Conclave 2008, at IIIT-A, when they heard a Nobel laureate mix passion, humour and concepts of science, on Tuesday morning. Prof Harold Kroto asked them to enjoy science.

CJ: Arindam Roy , 16 Dec 2008 Views:1270 Comments:0

PROFESSOR HAROLD (Harry) Walter Kroto, Nobel Prize winner 1996 in Chemistry delivered a lecture here in the Indian Institute of Information Technology-Allahabad (IIIT-A). A huge crowd could be seen in the pandal, about 1800 students probably, sitting there with cent percent absorption, to see the man who has discovered Fullerene.

He inspired and infected the youth for taking fundamental science with his passion and humour.

One of them said, in a state of disbelief “Is this the man who developed C-60, which I have been reading about in my books from 7th grade?” And yes, he was there before them, in flesh and blood.

Prof Kroto who started off his speech with a blasting sound, to which he said, “This was just to wake you up, I myself sleep in some lectures.” It was a pretty surprise to the audience, which was in peels of laughter. Can a Noble Prize winner be so amusing, so funny? And yet how intellectual and innovative he has been throughout his life!

The Noble laureate throughout his lecture made sure that everybody was attentive by cracking jokes and by showing various humorous things. Many felt all this was least expected from a man of his wisdom. It was like a treat for the audience, because it helped them really well to get a hang of what the professor was talking about.

Prof Kroto, started of his presentation by showing his drawings, pictures of games he played in the university, the magazines he was involved in, etc. And then he said, “Just don’t do science, do everything else too.” Then as the lecture proceeded, he showed some of his friends during the university days, where to the surprise to all he showed the picture of Magneto from X-Men and Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings. He said, “Enjoy your work while you can”.

Prof Kroto started with some chemistry of how stars blow up. Humor could be seen in his slides and his presentation of the lecture. It was so amusing to see the students laugh and enjoy a lecture of a Nobel laureate.

He then moved to his discovery Fullerenes. His area of interest happens to be one of the hottest areas today, nanotechnology, where he talked about nano-tubes and nano-wires. He talked about the significance of Nanotechnology and how it will prove to be one of the most influential molecular devices.

Although in the midst of this chemistry jargon he didn’t’ forget to mention about his life, by showing the photographs of various colleagues and friends from throughout the globe.

He said, “Science is international in a way that nothing is!” He stressed upon how science above all religion and demographics unite the people across the globe. It doesn’t matter what language they speak, what they beliefs they have, he said “Science community is one community, which speaks one language,” and he also said, “As you work in this community you will make friends forever.”

Moving forward, he talked little more about Fullerenes like Ion Mobility Experiment, which he carried out to discover Fullerenes. He also talked more about the nanotubes, the birth of nanotubes and where the nanotechnology is going.

About nanotechnology, Professor Kroto said, “It’s not new at all it exists within you, within your body”. He showed how nanotech will be used to bundle together 10^15 nanotubes sticking together with the Vander-wall forces to make a structure 100 times stronger but yet lightweight.

He also talked about how molecules can be dynamic, they can move. He showed this with a very funny example of dog shaped molecule and how it moves because it drank a lot of Indian beer.

He also showed an example where zinc lattice was fused together with oxygen and ammonium and how the nitrogen atom moved, this concept of molecules being dynamic was one of the major things that he wanted to point out.

Concluding his lecture, he showed some of the programs he is running to help science. He guided students to take the help of the internet by showing some valuable programs like GEOSET. He urged students attending his lecture to use the internet to do research.

He said, “The crowd here has a huge capability of learning, so you go and ask your professor to get you this kind of facility to do research.” Overall the crowd seemed to enjoy his lecture. The professor mixed intelligence with humor and science, to explain to the gathering tough concepts.

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