It was not an ordinary class in the Zilla Parishad High School in Miyapur on Thursday. The usual cackle of students was absent and air of expectancy hung around. When Eric A. Cornell, wearing a light blue shirt and grey trousers walked into the science lab, silence enveloped the class.

The lab, attended by 64 schoolchildren in ninth class, was not aware of the greatness of the visitor who had come to teach them. Dr. Cornell, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics along with two others in 2001, cleared his throat and shot a question. “How does the Wheatstone Bridge function?” His heavily American accented English was above the comprehension of children and the school headmaster G. Kistaiah had to translate the query into Telugu.

Rapt attention

Waiting for an answer for a brief moment, the Nobel laureate launched himself into a lecture, as wide-eyed students listened in rapt attention. The teacher in Dr. Cornell surfaced, as he grabbed a piece of chalk and began explaining the functioning of Wheatstone Bridge. In simple terms, Wheatstone Bridge is an equipment used to measure resistances.

“It's really great to learn something about physics from him,” gushed K. Pavani, one of the students.

The Nobel laureate wanted to know why the children liked science. Pavani sprang to her feet and told him in Telugu. “Because there is wide scope for inventions and innovations.” As her answer was translated into English, the scientist appeared impressed.

He spent some more time with children explaining various aspects of physics and what had enabled him to get the Nobel Prize.

Dr. Cornell, who worked on Bose-Einstein Condensation, won the Nobel Prize along with Carl E. Wieman and Wolfgang Ketterle.

His visit to the school was to roll out a composite school adoption program of an IT company, Honeywell Technology Solutions. He distributed study material to 145 students of ninth class. He later visited another government school at Lingampally and interacted with students.