A Beautiful Mind

Chandra- as many people called him- was a brilliant writer, both for the style with which he wrote, as for the content of what he wrote. Famously, he worked in one or the other aspect of astrophysics (or some other branch of physics) for something like a decade after which he wrote his view of the field in a masterly and usually definitive book, and then turned his attention to another field... This approach resulted in a number of important and influential books, including Truth and Beauty: Aesthetics and Motivations in Science, a superb collection of essays that caused Sir Hermann Bondi to remark, in a review in Nature, "What a splendid book! Reading it is a joy, and for me, at least, continuing reading it became compulsive. . . . Chandrasekhar is a distinguished astrophysicist and every one of the lectures bears the hallmark of all his work: precision, thoroughness, lucidity."

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910–95) was only 19 when he discovered what is hailed as one of the most important discoveries in astrophysics – the Chandrasekhar limit – This paved the way for the unearthing of neutron stars and black holes, and in a career that spanned six decades, Chandra’s research resulted in a large number of papers and monographs, which have had a huge influence on astronomy and astrophysics. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1968 and the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983. His neice Radhika Ramnath, the daughter of Chandrasekhar’s youngest brother, has recently brought out S. Chandrasekhar: A man of science from Harper Collins.

The world knows S. Chandrasekhar as a Nobel laureate and an outstanding astrophysicist. But he was, at the same time, a caring uncle, a devoted husband and a compassionate brother, who made it a point to reach out to everyone around him despite his legendary status. This compilation brings out the various facets of the man and the scientist. It includes some of his more general essays and lectures in which he lucidly presents his thoughts on the pursuit of science, creativity, his work, and his abiding love for his motherland.

There are also reminiscences by family members who interacted with him and grew to adore the man who, they remember, had as beautiful a heart as his handwriting. This collection strives to bring to the fore the person that was Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and the life he led: from his engagement with science to the little anecdotes that illuminated the lives of those around him.

In our Biography section, in hardcover, 268 pages, Rs 499, ISBN: 9789350290293

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