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Earth 'n' beyond

  • CATHERINE RHEA ROY
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People Astrophysician Alain Doressoundiram believes in the possibility of extra-terrestrial life

We are not alone are Says Alain Doressoundiram photo: Sampath Kumar g.p.
We are not alone are Says Alain Doressoundiram photo: Sampath Kumar g.p.

I cannot manipulate symbols and nor do I understand the quantum mysteries behind alpha, beta and gamma. But while I thought I had my basic science in order, where water was H2O and the planets were nine in number, Alain Doressoundiram, an astrophysician, from the Observatory of Paris says there are eight planets, the world will not end in 2012 and believes in the possibility of extra-terrestrial life.

The astronomer, who was born in France although his roots lie in the French colony of Pondicherry spoke of Pluto's removal from planet status in 2006. “Pluto falls in the Kuiper belt and a whole new population of matter was observed in 1992 – Pluto was not alone in its orbit and hence cannot be defined as a planet, according to the new definition of a planet,” explains Alain.

Alain who is the author of the book, “The Edge Of The Solar System” was in Bangalore to interact with students of different schools and do workshops with them. He has interacted with students from the National Public School and the Delhi Public School and busted myths and even taught them mnemonic devices to help them learn. “My very educated mother just served us noodles,” sang the children in chorus and followed it with, “Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune.”

Alain rubbishes the rumours of Armageddon in 2012. “This is a rumour that was started and propagated on the Internet. You don't need to worry about the world ending, what you should worry about is global warming,” says Alain.

Alain enjoys working with the children and conducts regular workshops for children and teachers to help break any myths that have been created about science. “It is important to teach students and train teachers in Science. This is also a method to strengthen the link between India and France through scientific teaching and collaboration between the two countries.” Alain has also written several books for children helping them understand the mysteries of the universe better.

And what about extra terrestrial life? “The short answer to that is so far there has been no proof, but I strongly believe that we are not alone. It is just fortunate for us that the Earth is at the right place at the right time. Maybe not now, but in the next century, we may find another habitable planet. This requires a collaborated effort of intelligence by all the countries, if we need to find something.”

CATHERINE RHEA ROY

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