Eminent physicist G. Rajasekaran passes away

He was passionate about the India-based Neutrino Observatory project and has written books on science in Tamil besides having penned his autobiography

May 29, 2023 11:07 pm | Updated May 30, 2023 11:56 am IST - CHENNAI

G. Rajasekaran

G. Rajasekaran | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

G. Rajasekaran, renowned particle physicist and emeritus professor at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences died on Monday at the age of 87. 

He is survived by his wife Suthandradevi, 75, and daughters Poongothai, a cardiologist and Uma, an architect by training, who is now into computer science. 

Born as the eldest of 10 siblings in Kamuthi in Ramanathapuram district in 1936, Guruswamy Rajasekaran began assisting his father in his shop that sold brass vessels. 

His performance in school caught his teachers’ attention and he entered the American College in Madurai for an intermediate course. 

He did his B.Sc. in Madras Christian College and was among the few who listened to a lecture by Nobel Laureate C.V. Raman. He was among the first batch of students who trained under Homi Bhaba in the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. 

He later completed his Ph.D from Chicago University in 1962.

Prof. Rajasekaran joined the University of Madras and later moved to the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in the early 1980s.

Until his retirement in 2001 he was its joint director. He has since been emeritus professor. 

Prof. Rajasekaran, fondly known as Rajaji to his associates and students, has trained many in the field of particle physics and nuclear physics. 

“In the last 10-15 years he was going to colleges in every nook and corner of Tamil Nadu to promote physics,” said one of his students who wished to remain anonymous.

Prof. Rajasekaran was involved in the India-based Neutrino Observatory. “It was his dream and ambition to establish the project,” the student recalled. 

Prof. Rajasekaran has written books on science in Tamil and has also penned his autobiography. 

M. Sivakumar, retired professor from the University of Hyderabad, recalled that it was his mentor Prof. Rajasekaran’s initiative to train students in physics. 

“GR was not only an eminent particle theorist, but also a passionate educationist. He was instrumental in putting some of us together to start the Physics Training and Talent Search (PTTS) programme, similar to the one in mathematics that has been running successfully. He has been a great source of encouragement and support for us,” he said.

Prof. Rajasekaran’s students have deep respect for him. “He was a physicist who was highly respected and one who cared deeply about the community. He was highly approachable and many younger colleagues benefitted from his advice and encouragement,” Mr. Sivakumar said.

The cremation will be held on Wednesday as his daughters, who are in the U.S., are on their way home, said V. Ravindran, director of the Institute.

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