The father of India's nuclear fusion reactor research programme, Padma Shri Professor Predhiman Krishan Kaw, passed away on Sunday, 18th June, 2017. He was the founder director of Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar, an institute that catapulted India to being one among the seven member entities that is building the world's largest fusion experiment -the US $ 14 billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). Prof. Kaw was the first chairman of the ITER Council Science and Technology Advisory Commit tee and led the committee's deliberations from 2007 to 2009.
Professor Kaw, born in Kashmir, had an unusual childhood. He was an extraordinary student and was home schooled by his uncles and grandfather. Prof. Kaw passed his MSc at the age 16 from MMH College in Ghaziabad. He then joined IIT-Delhi and was awarded the premier institute's first PhD at the age of 18. Prof. Kaw always remembered his professors at MMH college Ghaziabad - especially by Dr. Chandra Bhushan, Dr. P. K. Agarwal, and Dr. Singh who inspired him to study physics. At IIT, he was a researcher under Prof, M. S. Sodha, who introduced him to plasma physics, while Prof. Kaw's initial interest lay in high-energy physics.
Professor Kaw was a researcher at the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad in its new plasma division in 1982, after working under Prof. John Dawson of Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory , USA. In 1986, Prof. Kaw began a full-fledged institute that spearheaded the establishment of a national magnetic fusion program in Ahmedabad, founding the Institute for Plasma Research and playing a leading role in gaining international recognition for the national program. He began building India's first Tokamak machine `Aditya' which continued into the Steady State Tokamak machine (SST-1). His colleagues at IPR remember how he used to spent 10 to 12 hours a day managing the institute and in the evening dedicated his time for plasma physics.
Recently, he was named the 2015 laureate of the Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar Prize for “Outstanding contributions in the field of plasma physics”. He has authored more than 308 research papers. Among the 15 awards and fellowships he had won in his lifetime, Prof. Kaw cherished the SS Bhatnagar award he received in 1986 and the Indian National Science Academy's Young Scientists Award of 1974, which was conferred on him by the late Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi. As a true scientist, his advice to students would always be “As young physicists of this country, you should think very seriously about taking an opportunity to develop some areas of science for your country.“
He was one of the founder members of PSSI.
Professor Predhiman Krishan Kaw (1948-2017)
Professor Ram Kumar Varma
(March 31, 1935-May 14, 2014)
Professor Ram Kumar Varma, former Director, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, suddenly passed away on May 14, 2005. He was 79.
Prof. Varma, was born on March 31, 1935 in Sardhana, Meerut, U.P. He obtained his B.Sc. (1953) from Agra Univeristy and M. Sc. (1956) from Lucknow University. He then joined Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bombay, in 1956 as a Research Assistant. Subsequently, in 1961, he moved to University of California at La Jolla as a Ph.D. student to work under the supervision of Marshal Rosenbluth. After obtaining his Ph. D. degree in 1965, he spent a year at the NASA Langley Research Center, USA, as NRC-NASA Resident Research Associate. Thereafter, he returned back to TIFR in 1966.
Prof. Varma joined Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, in 1968 and initiated plasma physics activity that later led to provide the nucleus for the formation of Institute of Plasma Research (IPR). He served as the Director of PRL from 1987 to 1995. During this period, he initiated numerous new activities, and carried out reorganization of research areas which laid the foundation of a long lasting vision for PRL. After his superannuation from PRL, he continued to remain active as an Emeritus Scientist and Honorary Fellow.
Prof. Varma was a scientist par excellence. He worked in the areas of plasma physics, astrophysics, and quantum-classical relationships. He is well recognized and internationally acclaimed for his work in plasma physics. His most quoted work pertains to plasmas in the mirror machines with the equations given by him known in the literature as the "Varma equations" and the mode (branch) predicted, and subsequently observed, named as the "Varma mode/branch". Another equation, the Rosenbluth-Varma equation relating to the same problem has also been so quoted. He worked out a new coupled mode, the "Alfven-Varma mode". His work on the tokamak plasma has led to the "Varma pinch", while another work on dusty plasmas has led to the "Varma kinetic equation".
His most significant work pertains to the dynamics of charged particles in a magnetic field. He postulated through both theoretical and experimental work the existence of a new quantum entity designated as transition amplitude wave (TAW). It has predicted some very unusual and unexpected phenomena and opened the possibility of fundamentally new class of matter-wave phenomena occurring at a macroscopic level. It gives a new perspective on the division of physical phenomena into macro-classical and micro-classical domains, and the emergence of a new class of quantum phenomena; the macro-quantum dynamics.
Prof. Varma earned recognition for his work from many quarters. He was elected as the fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences, Indian National Science Academy and National Academy of Sciences. He was awarded the H.C. Shah Gold Medal in 1977. He was Founder-President of the Plasma Society of India (1978-92), and Chairman of National Committee for Space Research. He served as Co-Director of the Plasma Physics College at International Center of Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy, from 1979 to 1985.
He was an exceptionally humane and kind-hearted person with rare grace and poise in dealing with colleagues and subordinates. As a person, Prof. Varma was a multi-dimensional, multi faceted talent. Besides being a erudite thinker and a scientist, he was a singer par excellence, a Tabla exponent, an artist and a painter, a carpenter and a person with a fine sense of humor. All of these rolled into a single persona, made him a rare individual who touched all who he met.
He will be sorely missed not only by his immediate family members and friends, but by the scientific community at large.
He was a Life member of PSSI.
Dr. Parvez Guzdar
July 29, 1950 - July 15, 2011
Dr. Parvez N. Guzdar, of Columbia MD, USA, passed away on July 15, 2011.
Born in Calcutta, India, Dr. Guzdar emigrated to the U.S. in 1976 to pursue post-doctoral work at Princeton University. In 1979, he moved to Maryland, beginning a 30+ year career at the Institute for Plasma Research at the University of Maryland as a Research Scientist.
He was a Life member of PSSI.
Link to Dr. Parvez Guzdar's page
Prof. Padma Kant Shukla
July 07, 1950 - January 26, 2013
Prof. Padma Kant Shukla, distinguished Professor and first International Chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department of Ruhr-University Bochum (RUB) Germany, passed away on 26th January 2013 in New Delhi where he had come to receive the "Hind Rattan Award" bestowed upon him by the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, in cooperation with the NRI Welfare Society of India.
Born in village Tulapur (UP) and was educated in Varanasi. After his Ph.D. in Physics from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi, India at the age of 22, he moved to Umeň University (UmU), Sweden in January 1972, and obtained his second doctorate degree in Theoretical Plasma Physics from UmU in 1975. He has lived in Bochum and worked at Ruhr University Bochum, Germany since January 1973, becoming a German Citizen in 1993.
He was a Life member of PSSI.
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