This Ignored Indian Scientist Played A Crucial Role In Finding Gravitational Waves

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11:46 am 12 Feb, 2016

Yes, gravitational waves have been discovered. And it is a discovery that will have the greatest bearing on space science this century.

But while the achievement of the scientists behind this discovery is being lauded globally, there is a special reason for us Indians to celebrate – Sanjeev Dhurandhar.

You may not have heard of him, but some 30 years ago Sanjeev Dhurandhar was the one who had urged the scientific community to explore gravitational waves via a model he created. Sadly, his proposal was rejected by his own superiors.


The Guardian

The Guardian

Perhaps because Indians themselves failed to appreciate the talent in other Indians, respect for India’s scientific acumen at the world level in those days was not what it is today.

Not the one to be disheartened Dhurandhar continued pursuing his theory and train students interested in the same. The result is that 90 per cent of researchers working around the world in the field of gravitation waves are his students.

Dhurandhar was ignored and told that he had no credibility, but today he is one of the proud 1000 scientists behind this universe-altering discovery.


Sanjeev Dhurandhar. Indian Express

Sanjeev Dhurandhar. Indian Express

Dhurandhar, who works with the Inter-University Centre of Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune, wrote on his official website what his contribution to the discovery has been:

“The major component of my work is in the data analysis of gravitational wave signals embedded in the noise of the detector. The aim is to extract the signal from the noise.”

He has been working on the project since 1987, detecting and observing the waves and analysing them.

He worked on “the algebraic approach to time-delay interferometry for Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) which made use of the module of syzygies – which is a module over the polynomial ring of time-delay operators”.

Dhurandhar led the solo Indian group in the initial decade of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) – the lab that discovered the waves.

India has played a very important role in this discovery. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, acknowledged the contribution of Indian researchers.




Sixty Indian scientists from nine Indian institutes were part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration involved in research and analysis of data generated from the detector.


Large optic inspection of the LIGO equipment. LIGO

Large optic inspection of the LIGO equipment. LIGO

The Government of India has offered Rs.1,200 crore for a collaborative project between a consortium of Indian research institutions, the LIGO Lab in the US and its other international partners.

Dhurandhar has scripted a success story of his own and thousands of Indians have been at the forefront of scientific revolutions in the last few decades. It is a far cry from the day when Subhash Mukhopadhyay, a brilliant physicist from Kolkata, who created India’s first IVF baby was forced to commit suicide because of a state government that was living in the dark ages.

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