I’m Govind Swarup.
I’m a scientist and an astronomer. I particularly specialize
in the field of radio astronomy. My mother, she wanted me
to be a civil engineer, but my mama (uncle) said,
no, no…. Let him do science.’ So I joined Ewing Christian College,
Allahabad to do science. Why do we study radio astronomy? Through astronomy we want to know
what the universe is. It’s a different part
of human enterprise… human search for truth. Over 150 molecules were found
by radio astronomers in our galaxy. But the big question is:
How did life originate on Earth? Did it grow on the surface of the Earth?
Or did it come from outer space? How does the Ooty
Radio Telescope work? Homi Bhabha had written to me
when I was in Stanford, if you were to join us
we can have much bigger equipment. So that gave me a challenge,
I should think of something truly
outstanding. Sitting in the a library of TIFR I said,
the advantage of India is being, we are close
to Earth’s equator. So I did not build a dish, I made
what is called a parabolic cylinder. Stars move in the sky
because Earth rotates. So if I counter the rotation of the
earth, I can move the cylinder and I can continue following the star. So that was the concept
of the Ooty Radio Telescope. 500 meters long, 30 meters wide,
15,000 square meters. There was no other radio telescope
in the world with that much area. What is it like living
with a radio astronomer? At times, I mean it’s not easy
to live with a scientist. He works 24 hours a day. He’s extremely forgetful. Ours is an arranged marriage. My father found him through
a newspaper advertisement. Coming from an economist family,
all I knew was science is very hard. After I came back to India,
I did B.Ed. (bachelor of education) and then taught in schools
– in Mumbai Cathedral. And for me, he’s Govind. That’s all. How do you build one of the
world’s biggest radio telescopes? Now the challenge came how to build
large dishes at low cost. So I conceived of what is known now as
‘Stretch Mesh Attached to Rope Trusses’ Meshes stretched below to make a parabolic shape.
Stretched 3-4 points below. By ’89, we had the design of the antennas
and by ’96 all 30 antennas were done. Once a challenge is there, solutions come. I think world over
he’s regarded as a person who was never shy of picking up challenges. He was very aware of what is happening in the world of astronomy, in the world of radio astronomy, and overall physics of astronomy. Why are radio telescopes so big? A radio telescope is like a lens. Radio waves have much larger wavelengths,
thousands of millions of times larger. So you require lenses
a million times bigger. But parabolic dishes
have a small diameter. To get a very high resolution,
we put antennas at large distances. We have 30 antennas
located over 25 kilometers. Now from each antenna, there is
a parabolic dish which focuses it. It collects light coming from radio waves
from the stars or galaxies. Using modern electronics, we’re able
to correlate them and make beautiful pictures. So, one of the most important areas in which GMRT
has contributed is in the study of galaxy clusters. These are extremely faint and therefore
you need a very large telescope, like the GMRT, to observe them. You also need sufficiently high
resolution, which the GMRT provides. which the GMRT provides. What advice do you have for young people? You have to have innovation.
Innovation doesn’t come alone but with the engineering training.
It has to be in combination with scientific training. I think basic education is important
and one has to have ambition. A lot of great people who have succeeded
are not Einsteins.

4 thoughts on “Meet Govind Swarup, pioneer of radio astronomy”

  1. The captions have a lot of [INAUDIBLE] but it was probably hard for whoever or whatever wrote the captions to understand what Dr Swarup was saying.

  2. Glad to hear Prof. Swarup – he truly represents the best of the Scientific Spirit. Thank you for recording this video.

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