Thanu Padmanabhan

(1957 – 2021)

Professor Thanu Padmanabhan was an Indian theoretical physicist and cosmologist. He was one of the leading world scientists in the field of Astrophysics and Cosmology. He was a brilliant student, he published his first research paper on general relativity when he was still a B.Sc. student, at the age of 20. He joined the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai in 1979 for his Ph.D. and became a faculty member there in 1980. He moved to Pune to work at the Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in 1992 and served as its Dean, Core Academic Programmes, for 18 years. He was one of the pillars of IUCAA who played a decisive role in the making of this great institution.

Professor Padmanabhan has made fundamental contributions in widely varied areas in Gravitation, Structure formation in the universe, and Quantum Gravity. In the last two decades, he made substantial contributions to understanding Gravity as an Emergent Phenomenon. His “emergent approach” provides a novel way of studying cosmology and has implications for the cosmological constant problem.

 He had a large number of recognitions, honors, and awards to his credit. He was a J. C. Bose fellow and a fellow of all three academies of science in the country. In 1969, he received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award, the G.D. Birla Award for Scientific Research, in 2003, and the Miegunyah Fellowship Award, University of Melbourne, Australia, in 2004. For his outstanding contributions to gravity and cosmology, he was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007. He also received the Infosys Science Prize in Physical Sciences, in 2009. He has published 13 books and monographs from Cambridge University Press, World Scientific Singapore, and Springer, Heidelberg. He was the chairman and member of important national and international scientific committees and commissions.

Professor T. Padmanabhan was one of the pioneers of Indian Theoretical Physics, who played an important role in training young researchers through his lectures, research reviews, and excellent books. His students occupy important positions in research institutes, universities, and IITs and carry his academic legacy to new heights.

In the Indian context, he was the ultimate person to consult if there was confusion about the general theory of relativity and cosmology. He has left a rich research and academic legacy in terms of his research contributions, lectures, reviews, books he published, and students he trained.

Share by: