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Beyond the history of Time

Coming out with his second book, "The Eleven Pictures of Time" this week, physicist C.K. Raju declares that it traverses beyond Stephen Hawking's work. SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY gives a glimpse

QUESTINONING SCIENCE luminaries like Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Augustine's credibility is no easy undertaking. Not that C.K. Raju is unaccompanied in the world arena in this venture but this home-grown scientist would well be remembered by posterity for arguing on the issue in book length. Being conditioned from one's school studies that what stalwarts like Einstein propagated is absolute and indisputable, Raju's arguments might need one to do a lot of unlearning. But, his uninhibited inferences in his latest labour of love, "The Eleven Pictures of Time", published this week in New Delhi, are a series of rich, wide-ranging logical deductions encompassing arguments of early scholars including Augustine, Proclus, through Anri Poenkare, Einstein, Newton to Stephen Hawking "and beyond."

Beginning with a critical elucidation of various time beliefs, the SAGE Publication rollout, released by former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, reasons "the need to de-theologise time". And in the process, Raju, one of the few minds behind the country's first supercomputer, Param, puts a question mark on Einstein's understanding of relativity theory.

"Many scholars before me have questioned Einstein's understanding of the theory of relativity and I would also say that whether Einstein copied the idea from somebody else belonging to that era is a serious probability," says Raju. Though Einstein might get the benefit of doubt that he was a prominent man of his age and great minds think alike but the author insists: "I would add that there is a difference between the original idea and a copied version. Einstein falters in his understanding of the theory of relativity, especially the many body problems."

Relaxing at his favourite joint, the Triveni Kala Sangam canteen, the Head of Centre for Computer Science, MCRP University, Bhopal, calls Einstein "a habitual plagiarist," often accompanied by a fervent turning of pages to exact paragraphs that hold his arguments. He suggests that a `tilt in the arrow of time' or a small tendency towards cycles will help mend the prevalent confusion about time.

Unruffled by what he calls a "tiff with a Cambridge scholar" over Newton's papers, he shifts to the man behind the gravitational force: "Very few people know that Newton was obsessed with religion. He thought the early church distorted the Bible and he immersed himself in researching the facts. So, obviously, a man so obsessed with something will definitely reflect on his scientific notions. But most scholars on Newton refuse to accept that." He claims that most of Newton's papers are still unpublished. The first paper of Newton, the author says, came out publicly in 1970 and in 1998, the Imperial College put up a website.

Raju also accuses Augustine of "causing a dichotomy between linear and cyclic time."

Though Raju had dealt with his time thoughts in his maiden venture, "Times Towards Consistent Theory", this book took him seven years to delve deep into research on physics, the history of science, comparative religions and sociology. He exhibits an abundance of nifty wit to drive home his point, so much so that, at one point, he persists that the book has gone beyond Stephen Hawking's bestseller, "A Brief History of Time".

"The notion of time is central to several theories. Time shapes human value system and mediates the interaction between science and religion, both of which rest fundamentally on assumptions about the nature of time," states the Editorial Fellow of the Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture at Delhi's Centre for Studies in Civilisations. The 592-page tome ends with a vision of Man as Creator, surprising God.

"True spontaneity and freedom leads to creativity which is not pre-determined by God and hence the inference," he explains.

Even if the volume, one would understandably deduce by now, is meant only for those with special interest, Raju, labels it as equally aimed at laypersons - it could intrigue anyone and will educate its readers to question the unquestionable.

Well at this point, one would like to leave it to the readers to decide about this and reason why.

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