Sunday, December 31, 2006

Indian member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

Saturday's TOI has a very brief interview with K Kasturirangan (former chairman of ISRO and a current member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India's Parliament), who was recently appointed to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
What is the work and mission of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences?

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences promotes work in the field of mathematical, physical and natural sciences; stimulates inter-disciplinary approach to scientific knowledge; promotes the public understanding of science and provides authoritative advice on scientific and technological matters. Candidates are nominated by established academicians and proposed by an academic body, after which they are shortlisted from among the most eminent scientists and scholars of the mathematical and experi-mental sciences listed under every country of the world. The final recommendations are then submitted to the Pope for appointment.

Is it easy for a man of pure science to work with the same Church that condemned Galileo?

Well! That was a different age and day. Modern science has evolved from those times and those events. We now live in an age where talking of science and religion is fashionable among the learned and the scholarly. I think this is also because we are now in a position to use our knowledge of science to gain deeper insights into matters of religion.
I had no idea that there have been four members of the Academy from India. [Incidentally, there's a member of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences who's also of Indian origin, Dr. Partha Dasgupta, an economist at Cambridge U. And also a family friend.]

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