Saturday, January 8, 2011

Autobiography of an unusual chemist

In an article titled, "Autobiography of an unusual chemist", K. S. Jayaraman reviews the book "Climbing the Limitless Ladder – A Life in Chemistry" by Prof. C.N.R. Rao.

CNR has nearly 1450 papers with over 40000 citations and h-index of 89. He has graduated over 100 Ph.Ds, written/edited 42 books and has 48 honorary doctorates. When ones meets him, ones gets infected by his enthusiasm and gets an overwhelming thrust to work. I first met him in 2006 and when I was introduced to him, he simply said "I have heard about you. Do not be afraid of publish."

Later during the same year, I had cited his 1958 paper on experimental growth of titania in my single author work on the theoretical mechanism of growth of a phase of titania. I then saw him when he was taking his morning walk and he was curious to know how I got hold of his old paper published 10 years before I was born, what other experimental data I had looked at and how good was the model to fit growth of other materials. I was surprised that he had actually read my paper so thoroughly when it was not even in his current area of research !

Some snippets

Among the various offers he got, CNR preferred to join the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore because of "the extraordinary academic freedom" it provided.

I have worked seven days a week all through the years eating lunch at home only on Sundays.... the modest success that I may have had in research is mainly due to hard work. 
Science is not about getting awards or writing papers; it is a way of life. It involves the climbing the limitless ladder of excellence.

1 comment:

Vignesh said...

Dr. Giri,

"Science is a way of life" - I agree. But is it always necessary that one has to be doing research to live life in the scientific way and be called a Scientist? Wouldn't someone who applies the principles and rules that (s)he learn in Science - Inquiry and evidence-based reasoning - in his/her daily life be also a Scientist?

I have been pondering over this for a while and would like to know your opinion.

Vignesh (A graduate student)