Bright Stars

Bright Sparks, a publication of the Indian National Science Academy, chronicles the lives and contributions of 40 inspiring Indian scientists of the past.

The word ‘scientist’ often conjures an image of an isolated man in a lab, surrounded by books, expensive instruments, test tubes, and beakers belching out strange fumes. But actually, scientists have many facets to their character. Some of the scientists in this book wrote stories and poems; others had a passion for art - while a few loved speeding around on motor bikes! Many scientists passionately engaged with the society outside their labs and worked hard to make the world a better place. Apart from their life sketches interesting personal anecdotes have been added to lend depth to their character. What made them take up science? Did a childhood experience inspire them? Was it a kindred teacher or a loving parent? What odds did the men, and particularly the women have to face and overcome? Hopefully, their lives will inspire the young.
The book is authored by Arvind Gupta, known throughout India as a science populariser and toymaker. He has conducted thousands of workshops in India and abroad, and made numerous TV shows on making science toys from ‘junk’. He writes, translates, and shares his passion for books and toys through his popular website arvindguptatoys.com. Arvind obtained a BTech from IIT Kanpur in 1975. He opted out of a lucrative career to devote his life to science popularisation. Currently, he works at the Muktangan Science Centre for Children located at the Inter- University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune. He has been conferred numerous awards for his work, including the inaugural National Award for Science Popularisation amongst children (1988) and the Distinguished Alumnus Award by IIT / Kanpur (2000).

Adding no small value to the book are the wonderful illustrations by Karen Haydock who has lived in India for the past 20 or so years. In addition to her work as an artist, she has been teaching, training teachers, developing teaching methods, and writing books. She was originally trained as a biophysicist, having completed her PhD and post-doctoral research in USA.

The one quible I have is with the title. These men and women are not sparks by any stretch of the imagination. These are our major stars- the ones who have made a career in science seem worth the while.

The book is well produced, a pleasure to read. Of course, the publicity it has got so far is less than minimal, but one hopes that this will change. In paperback, Rs 150, 164 pages. Here.

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