Wednesday, December 07, 2005

An elusive Nobel

I am not an expert, but whatever I have read so far tells me that this one is unfair.

Quite a few physicists have written to the Nobel Committee that decided the Physics Prize that the contribution of E.C.G. Sudarshan, a physicist of Indian origin and currently at the University of Texas, Austin, has not been given due recognition in its decision to award one half of this year's Prize to Roy Glauber of Harvard University. The half that went for the theory of quantum optics, they have contended, should at least have been shared by both Roy Glauber (who got it) and Sudarshan (who didn't). The other half was shared by two experimental physicists.

Here is a little connection between IISc and Prof. Sudarshan: he was the founder chairman of IISc's Centre for Theoretical Physics, which has recently morphed into the Centre for High Energy Physics.

The details are set out in these two pieces by R. Ramachandran: Frontline and Hindu.

The version in the Hindu gives a long list of names of people who have signed that letter to the Committee. This story has made it to some of the outlets in the US as well: Inside Higher Ed, and the Harvard Crimson. The story in Inside Higher Ed (by David Epstein) also gives a short (and probably not exhaustive) list of similar occurrences in the history of the Nobel Prize.