Saturday, June 28, 2014

From here to the stars

What connection does this school quadrangle - that is what it is, obviously - have to the NASA's Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF)? The answer is quite short: Chandra. This is where the Nobel Laureate Subramanyan Chandrasekhar went to a formal school for the first time. Until his father was transferred to Madras (from Lahore), and for a little while after as well, Chandra was privately tutored. It was in 1922 that he was enrolled at the Hindu High School, Triplicane.

The school buildings are just the way they were in Chandra's time. And well before that, too. The buildings were inaugurated in 1898, even though the school, in different forms, had been functioning from much earlier. Chandra finished his schooling in 1925 and then went to college a short distance away - the Presidency College. In those days, college meant 5 years; in the final two years, Chandra "formed a friendship" with a Lalitha Doraiswamy, a college-mate one year his junior. She became his wife in 1936 and remained so throughout her life, being the "central facts" of Chandra's life - something he spoke about in his biographical on the Nobel Prize website

In 1998, three years after his passing away, NASA named its AXAF the "Chandra X-ray Observatory" in his honour. And that is how this quadrangle - where generations since have played, and then gone on to shine in their chosen fields - connects with something out there amidst the stars!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is a cool building!

I am amazed that Chandra's wife -- a Chennaiite preferred to stay on in cold, cold Chicago after he was gone.