ALLADI RAMAKRISHNAN'S THEORETICAL PHYSICS SEMINAR
After completing his PhD at the University of Manchester, my father returned to India and joined the physics department at the University of Madras as a Reader in 1952. He was later promoted as Professor. He was developing the theory of product densities that he had initiated in his PhD thesis and studying applications of it by himself and with his students. He availed every possible opportunity to invite eminent scientists to the University of Madras and to our family home Ekamra Nivas and encouraged his students to listen to their lectures and engage in discussions with them. When my father visited the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1957-58 at the invitation of its Director Robert Oppenheimer, he had the opportunity to listen to over one hundred seminars on theoretical physics by the leading researchers of that generation. My father returned to India filled with a desire to expose students to the latest developments in modern physics. Not satisfied with the curriculum at the Madras University, he gave advanced lectures in theoretical physics to students at Ekamra Nivas. Eager students gathered at the seminar to hear his lectures, and this was formally called The Theoretical Physics Seminar. He invited eminent scientists to lecture in this seminar. My mother Mrs. Lalitha Ramakrishnan, graciously hosted the foreign speakers and the students by arranging lavish South Indian dinners after the seminars. I was a very young boy, but I had the privilege of meeting the eminent visitors. The seminars were held in the upstairs lecture hall of Ekamra Nivas, and the dinners were either on the lawns or in the rear building, and were often served on plantain leaves as is the custom in South India. Some of these eminent scientists were our house guests. The magic moment was when Nobel Laureate Niels Bohr visited Ekamra Nivas in 1960 and lectured in my father's seminar. Bohr was visiting India as the guest of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. When Bohr returned to Delhi on completing his visit, he told reporters that two things impressed him the most: the massive set up of the Tata Institute in Bombay, and the small group of students trained by my father in Madras. This statement by Bohr was flashed in national newspapers like The Hindu, and it attracted the attention of Prime Minister Nehru who wanted to meet my father and his students. With the assistance of Mr. C. Subramaniam, the Minister for Education, such a meeting was arranged at the Raj Bhavan, the residence of the Governor of Madras. After meeting my father and his students, Nehru asked my father what he wanted. Here was the Prime Minister of India asking what you want! At such an instance you do not ask for anything meagre. My father asked for an institute for advanced research like the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. With the support of Mr. C. Subramaniam and the benevolence of Jawaharlal Nehru, MATSCIENCE, The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, was inaugurated on 3 January, 1962, with my father as its Director.
Attached is the list of eminent visitors to Ekamra Nivas and the Theoretical Physics Seminar from 1954 to 1961 prepared from my father's documents. Dates of the visits are given in parenthesis. The list of students in the seminar is also given. I have included a few pictures of visitors to the Theoretical Physics Seminar and there will be additions to this in the future. Subsequently, I also plan to describe my father's association with these eminent scientists as well as recollections of my father about the visits of these scientists as noted by him in his original memoirs.
HOME AND THE THEORETICAL PHYSICS SEMINAR, 1954-61
WHO ATTENDED THE THEORETICAL PHYSICS SEMINAR
*) E. T. Nambi Iyengar (helped with all academic correspondence.)
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