Astronomy can prevent devastation: Padma Vibhushan astrophysicist Dr Jayant Narlikar

Padma Vibhushan astrophysicist Dr Jayant Narlikar tried to dispel the notion that astronomy is irrelevant to the needs of the common man on earth, while addressing about 1,500 students from across the states of India at the National Space Conference (Astronomy) held at Tagore Theatre on Thursday.

He spoke on two subjects, 'The Amazing World of Astronomy' and 'A Search For Micro-life in the Earth's Atmosphere'. Emphasizing on the need for astronomy for human survival, he said, "Astronomy research has shown that the comet, Swift Tuttle could strike earth on August 14, 2126, and cause devastation. However space science can prevent the collision by causing a nuclear explosion near the comet. Sky-watch programmes are there to protect mankind from such incidents. Hence, astronomy has been and will continue to be an important part of human life."

Dr Narlikar spoke about the 'Space-Based Solar Energy' project which will use space technology to harness energy from space.

"The 'Space-Based Solar Energy' project will have an advantage over traditional solar plants. The former will produce energy on a large scale as an entire city can be lit up with it, unlike the energy being garnered today at a small level," Dr Jayant said.

Talking about the current scenario of discoveries, he said, "Presently, the most important discovery is to find out a new planet around another star within our galaxy. If we can find this, then it will be a major discovery."

Nearly 1,500 students from more than 30 schools from states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh attended the first day of the event. Prof HP Singh of Delhi University, Prof Sandeep Sahijpal from Panjab University and Prof Ranjan Gupta of IUCAA, Pune delivered lectures on various topics.

The second day of the conference will have a quiz on astronomy, and career opportunities in astronomy, among other things.

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