“ALL PROBLEMS currently faced by humanity have a solution through science. Hence, it is important for children and people of India to be friendly with maths and science.”
So said Serge Haroche, a French physicist and 2012 Nobel laureate in Physics, who was in Mohali on Wednesday to attend the Nobel Prize Series India 2019. The theme of the 2019 series is “Teaching and Learning”.
Underlining the importance of teaching science to students, Haroche told Newsline, “Currently truth and science are the most ravaging issues for all of the world. There is a wave of nonsensical information going around the world. Scientific temper is needed to separate the truth from lies. Principles of science build an observant mind and encourages fact above hearsay.’’
Haroche lamented that “today ideologies and opinions are being misrepresented as science. Such a trend has to stop”. On ways to make science interesting for students in India, he said, “The change has to start with the teachers. They are the ones who make a subject interesting or monotonous.
Views on Chandrayaan -2
Elaborating on the spirit of science, Haroche said, “In sciences you have surprises as well as failures. Chandrayaan 2 mission of India shows this. The mission gave an unexpected bad surprise. But such failures are part of science.”
Commenting on the ISRO mission, he said, “Though I don’t exactly know what went wrong, it might be the excessive expectations from the mission and the strong media attention. It might have led to ISRO taking some risks which didn’t turn out well.”
On the inability of Indian universities to match the standards of research in Europe or the USA, he said, “In today’s world, brilliant students can always reach top institutions. Students from India can also reach such institutes. What is even more important for this country is that students going to top institutes in US or Europe. They should return to India and contribute to the country. India has had a strong tradition of mathematics and astrophysics.” The government should invest more in building quality schools and focus on basic science. It will help the government in poverty eradication and other global challenges”.
As Haroche brought up the issue of global challenges, a reporter asked him about US President Donald Trump changing his mind on climate change, to which he replied that “Trump has no mind. How can he change it?” Serge also gave an advice to ease the bilateral relations with India’s neighbours by saying, “In science there are no nationalities. Scientists traverse the globe for conferences and events. Research and knowledge cannot replace governmental dialogue but can certainly act as an initiator of better international relations.”