Abstract: Global Warming is considered as a threat to current living patterns of humans and some persons predict that cities like Thiruvanathapurum will be wiped out. Yet the good measurement of the phenomenon and the extrapolation to the future has wide margins of errors. For example the day-night temperature difference can be as much as 10 deg.C, whereas one is talking of a warming by 2-3 deg.C per century ! In geological time scales of 10 - 100 Million Years, the Earth has seen periods of cold (ice ages) and warm climate. The human history spans only 3 MY, of which settled agriculture based living is only 10,000 years old. The Industrial Revolution, responsible for the increase of the carbon-di-oxide in the atmosphere, is just 200 years old. Good measurements of atmospheric chemistry, about 40 years ago, had a striking success linked to the OZONE HOLE problem. The greenhouse gases are needed for human habitation, a fact not recognized by most people. The uncontrolled rapid increase of these gases in the atmosphere is creating the possibility of a man-made disaster, exploited in the popular press and discussions. The current international scenario in tackling the problems will be discussed.
About the Speaker: Prof. Erode Subramanian Raja Gopal obtained his MA (Physics) in 1956, and MSc (by research) in 1958, both from the University of Madras, the PhD (1961) from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore and DSc (hc) (1999) from Burdwan University. He spent three years (1961-64) in postdoctoral research at the Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford. Thereafter, he held various positions at IISc becoming Assistant Professor (1965), Professor (1969), Dean of the Faculty of Science (1976), Chairman of the Department of Physics (1977), Chairman, Instrumentation & Services Unit/Regional Instrumentation Center (1983) and MSIL Professor (1990). In 1991, he was appointed Director of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), New Delhi. After superannuating from NPL (1997), he was CSIR Emeritus Scientist (1997-2001), first at NPL and then in the Department of Physics at IISC; INSA Scientist (2001-06); and INSA Honorary Scientist (2006- ).
Academic and Research Achievements: Professor Gopal's research interests have been in precision measurements and the study of condensed matter, especially phase transitions in liquid systems and disordered materials. These studies use techniques of ultrasonics, thermal instrumentation, low temperature physics, high-pressure physics and electronics/computer instrumentation. The first observation of the particle-hole asymmetry in the liquid-gas critical phenomena in binary liquid mixtures and the observation of the percolation threshold in covalently bonded chalcogenide glasses are examples of the outcome of precision measurements. Besides experimental investigations, associated theoretical studies have also been pursued by him. He has written 2 books, edited 2 books and authored more than 250 research papers. He has guided more than 60 students for their PhD/MSc (Engineering).
Other Contributions: Since 1973, Professor Gopal has been involved with the editing and publishing of Pramana -- Journal of Physics, being its Chief Editor also during 1984-89. He has been Chief Editor of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of India (1982-87) and involved with the editorial work of several other journals. From 2004, he has become Editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Instrument Society of India. He is also Life Member of the Indian Physics Association, and the Instruments Society of India. He was Member of the Council of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, Paris (1993-2003).
Awards and Honours: Professor Gopal was awarded the SS Bhatnagar Award for Physical Sciences (1978), Sir CV Raman Award of the Acoustical Society of India (1978-80), NRDC Inventions Promotions Award (1984), ASI Dr S Bhagavantam Award (1993-94), INSA Homi Jehangir Bhabha Medal (1994), BRSI Life Time Achievement Medal (2005) and ISOI Annual Award (2005). He has got the UGC National Lectureship (1974-75), Lord Rippon Memorial Lectureship (IACS, 1987), Professor PA Pandya Memorial Lectureship (IPA, 1991), Golden Jubilee Lectureship in Physical Sciences (ISCA, 1992), Professor BN Singh Memorial Lectureship (Delhi University, 1992), Dr S Bhagavantam Memorial Lectureship (APAS, 1994), and Golden Jubilee Lectureship (IISc, 1998). He served as President of various societies, notably the Indian Cryogenics Council (1986-88), Acoustical Society of India (1990-92), Indian Society for Mass Spectrometry (1992-95), Ultrasonics Society of India (1993-98), Instrument Society of India (1993-97), Metrology Society of India (1994-98), and Vice President of the Indian Physics Association. He was elected Fellow of the Institute of Physics, UK, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad, Indian Cryogenics Council, Acoustical Society of India, Metrology Society of India, and Ultrasonics Society of India.