'Scope for joint venture with U.S. scientists'

KOZHIKODE, JAN. 20. New vistas could be opened between India and the United States of America in the areas of fundamental research in physics, according to Rajendra Raja, a senior scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Illinois, USA.

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu here today, Dr. Rajendra Raja, who is on a personal visit to the State, hinted at the possibility of a joint collaboration between the scientists of these two countries in the near future.

An expert in the research of particle physics, Dr. Raja said that he would like to take steps to promote some venture programmes in the changed scenario of good relationship between the two nations. ``Now it is the best time to improve and revive the situations,'' said Raja, one of the scientists who discovered the `top' quark, one of the six sub-structures of the proton. The others are being termed as the `up,' `down,' `charm,' `strange' and `bottom.'

``I would not mind being a vehicle for the purpose of a floating a new Indo-US Science Forum,'' said, Dr. Raja, who is currently the spokesperson on the Main Injector Particle Projection (MIPP) Experiment at the Fermilab.

The Fermilab had joint ventures with the some Indian universities like the Punjab University and Delhi University as well as the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. It was for a particular programme on the de-zero experiment.

The sanctions against the country saw an abrupt end to collective efforts in research. ``After the US lifted the sanctions, we are pursuing some programmes with the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. We would like to expand the frontiers of research with other institutions.''

He said that India had a bright future especially with the new generation of scientists focussing on different areas of research. ``The authorities should give more emphasis on the hardware along with the software researches besides promoting the culture of research in association with other centres around the world'' he added.

``Here the standard of research is poor in the universities. Professors should not only teach but also conduct research in their respective fields. This should be supported by the University Grants Commission. Further efforts in this regard should be taken at the grassroots and politics should not be entertained at all costs.''

Regarding demands for safer technologies and the need for increasing the production in energy, Dr. Raja said India should not commit the mistakes of the West. Good, cheap and clean industries should be considered. ``Nuclear power should not be ruled out and aspects of solar power should be looked into. Less reliance on coal and more on bio-gas should be explored,'' he said.

``Setting up nuclear power stations can be studied. But it should be done in a safe manner. Now research is going on to convert nuclear wastes into shorter-lived nuclear wastes. In course of time, the dumping problem can be solved.''

Speaking on his research activities, he said the MIPP was a study on accelerating muons. However, that research as a whole on particle physics was at the crossroads. ``The scientists are yet to ascertain about the future of linear research. Around 8 billion dollars are needed to establish a linear collider. New alternate technologies should be worked upon to bring down the costs.''

He felt that the scientists in India could consider these options on these low-cost alternatives. Pure research had always helped in bettering the lives of mankind, he said.

Dr. Raja, son of late P. K. S. Raja of the Zamorin family in Kozhikode did his elementary education at Guruvayur and completed his secondary education in Nairobi, Kenya. He had his higher education at the Trinity College, Cambridge. He passed his B.A. (Hons.) in 1970 and completed his Ph.D. in 1975. He was also elected fellow at the Trinity College. Later, he went to the USA. Over the years, he was closely associated with the top scientists of the world including Otto Fish, creator of the term nuclear fission.

His contribution includes 250 research papers and edited several books of repute in the scientific world. He is married to a German.

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