Thursday, June 4, 2015

Conversation with Nobel Laureate Prof. Hiroshi Amano

Prof. Hiroshi Amano is well known for his contributions towards fabrication of Blue Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Scientists and Engineers have always been keen to fabricate the devices which need much less energy for efficient operation. In case of light emitting sources, bulbs and tube lights are very conventional light sources, which consume very large electrical power. Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) were assumed to be revolutionary devices since 1950s, but it was almost impossible to be fabricated commercially. A source of white light needs a device that emits red, green and blue light, these three combine to produce white light. From historical point of view, the first LED was fabricated in 1950 and the scientists were successful to fabricate diodes which emit light of wavelength range from red to green till 1960. To complete the spectrum blue light emitting device component was needed. Till 1980s, there was no efficient and commercial solution to the problem. Several scientists were struggling to fabricate efficient blue LEDs, but failed due to many technical reasons. Prof. Ishamu Akasaki and his PhD student Hiroshi Amano solved this problem by getting by growing high quality crystals of GaN with the help of metal organic vapour phase epitaxy (MOVPE) technique. At the same time Shuji Nakamura also successfully developed the GaN crystals, while working in America. The scientists’ trio was awarded Nobel Prize of Physics for their contribution toward fabrication of light sources which consumes much less electrical power. LEDs have replaced bulbs and tube-light and are being used all over the world and become the part of our daily life. 
Prof. Hiroshi Amano (Born 11 September, 1960, Hamamatsu, Japan) is a one of the inventors of “Blue Light Emitting Diodes”, which have changed the arena of electricity savings in light sources around the globe. Prof. Amano was awarded Noble Prize in Physics-2014 for his contributions for fabrication of Blue LEDs with two other scientists Isamu Akasaki and Shuji Nakamura. He obtained his PhD from Nagoya University in 1989 under the mentorship of Prof. Isamu Akasaki. He started his research in 1982 under his master’s program at research group of Prof. Isamu Akasaki on the growth, characterization and device applications of group III nitride semiconductors. The group III nitride semiconductors like Gallium Nitride are well known for its application in Blue LEDs. He became successful in developing the deposited buffer layers to grow the group III nitrides based semiconductor thin films on sapphire substrate which was believed to be almost impossible due vary large lattice mismatch (16%) between Gallium Nitride and sapphire in early 1985. These efforts lead towards the successful fabrication of ligh emitting diodes and laser diodes. Further in 1989, he successfully grew p-type Gallium Nitride and fabricated a p-n junction diode, which emitted ultraviolet/blue light for the first time in scientific history. When he started his research work, there was dearth of high-tech experimental facilities in his university and it was not easy to do research at that time. He along with his fellow students had to develop some instrumental facilities including a MOVPE reactor in Nagoya University during his research period, which helped him to understand the science and to use the resources in experimentation.
Currently, Hiroshi Amano is full professor at Graduate School of Engineering, Nagoya University, Japan, where he continues his research work on energy conversion and storage devices with a well equipped research lab. He has co-authored around 400 technical research papers till now which lead him to several prestigious Japanese and international awards including Nobel Prize for Physics. He writes on his webpage, “Our mission is to sustainably improve the quality of human life by developing sustainable devices (i.e., environmentally friendly, long-life devices with high-efficiency energy conversion) using sustainable materials and low-cost device-processing technology.” Blue LEDs are being used in Blu-Ray compact discs, HD-DVDs and display devices. Introduction of LEDs to display devices changed the world of display devices. Devices from high-tech, thin-sleek smart phones to televisions have become possible due to LED based display technology. Prof. Hiroshi Amano is known for his humility and down to earth attitude towards students and youth. He writes a message to students on his personal webpage, “If you are still lacking a dream or a purpose of your life, we will be happy to assist you to find your own dream.”
            Recently, Meher Wan got an opportunity to interview Prof. Hiroshi Amano via email. Here are the excerpts of the interview-

Meher Wan (M.W.): Your work was considered for Nobel Prize for Physics in 2014. After receiving Nobel Prize, How your life has been changed? What type of comfort or responsibility do you feel after this award?

Prof. Hiroshi Amano (H. Amano): My life changed a lot. People have started inviting me to a number of seminars or symposiums as a guest presenter. After the award, I have the chance of attending different fields of society meetings and discussing with people of the other fields. I enjoy so much for such discussions with people of other fields.  

M.W.: Let me ask you about your days of childhood. How do you remember the childhood and boyhood of Hiroshi? How did you perform in your schools? How were you feeling going to school at that time?

H. Amano: At lower school in primary classes, I was a sickly boy. I got measles, rubella, chickenpox, etc., etc. So, I was frequently absent from school. But, at higher classes, I started sports such as baseball or soccer on the advice of my parents. Then, I became healthy. Then, I became happy to go to school for enjoying sports after class.     

M.W.: Many people usually complain that basic education is becoming boring and unproductive for students. What was the state of basic education in Japan that time?

H. Amano: At higher class in primary school, arithmetic was done by using Japanese abacus. I was an inferior player, so I was bad at arithmetic. I could not remember other subjects. For me, study at junior high school was only for preparing entrance examination to high school. So, it seemed to me very boring. 

M.W.: Do you think that teaching mechanism should need any reform or modification for better understanding of subject by students?

H. Amano: Of course, I know that time and facilities are limited, but if students have time and have chance to use equipments, they should try (to understand things) by themselves. 

M.W.: How do you perceive the contribution of university professors in your scientific career? How do you remember your university days?

H. Amano: A lot. I learnt why I should study at the introduction lecture "Introduction to Engineering", in the first grade of university. (Prof. Amano said in many interviews that in his youth, he always wondered thinking, why all people study? What is the necessity of studies in human life?) Of course, I decided to proceed in research on blue LED because my supervisor Prof. Akasaki did this subject.

M.W.:What was the motivation force to work on GaN material and blue light emitting diodes (LED)? I mean there are a number of fields to work on.

H. Amano: As I mentioned before, I recognized why I should study during the lecture of “Introduction to engineering”. But, I could not find what I should do in my life. When I found the dissertation subject "Blue LEDs" at third grade of the undergraduate, I thought I found my dream. I thought I could change the world by realizing LED displays.

M.W.: What were the main challenges to work on this field at that time?

H. Amano: I did not know anything (at that time) about the field of LEDs. So, I started with how to grow GaN crystals (As GaN crystals were considered as best potential candidates for fabrication of blue LEDs).  

M.W.: Which was the “eureka point” when you were working on blue LED fabrication? At that time, have you thought that the small lab level success will change your life in future?

H. Amano: For me, eureka point was just, when I found that I could grow high quality GaN crystals by using low temperature buffer layer. But still, I could not believe that this success would change my life. After realizing p-type GaN, I changed my mind and I felt that my life may change.

M.W.: What problems did you face for this work? Any interesting story related to this instrumentation. I read somewhere that the research paper related to this work was rejected initially. Is it true?

H. Amano: It is true. Research paper based on world’s first p-type GaN was almost rejected. At that time, many people were interested in ZnSe (semiconducting material) and the GaN- people (people, who were working on GaN) were in quite minority. 

M.W.: Which scientific goal do you still want to achieve?

H. Amano: It changes and will continue (to change) until my death. As a recent subject, I can contribute to the food, water, and energy deficiency issues.
M.W.: The energy invested by you in experiments is saving a huge amount of energy every day. Device developed by you and your group has been installed around the globe till now with some upgradation/modification, how do you feel about? Have you expected the huge success of the device?

H. Amano: Of course, it is great. When I was a student, I only considered the application (of LEDs) to displays. Applications to general lighting based on blue LEDs with yellow phosphors were developed by NIchia Corporation, which accelerated the use of blue LEDs.

M.W.: You have observed various developments and changes in semiconductor industry with time for several decades. How interesting is the story this evolution?

H. Amano: People graduated from electronics engineering department are changing their focus from vacuum to solid state devices; it is very common and natural trend. So, it is a n obvious matter. In case of blue LEDs, I thought someone should do that. If nobody is to try, I would like to try. 
In my view, in recent times, one of the most important and interesting subjects is how to involve artificial intelligence into internet system.

M.W.: How do you visualize the future of semiconductor electronics?

H. Amano: Attempts for connecting the people-people and people-things by internet should be increasing. So, number of information technology based semiconductor devices should increase. In addition to it, critical issues (of 21st century) are energy increase and information leakage problem.

M.W.: What do you want to convey to the young minds who want to opt science as their career?

H. Amano:  I would like to send the sentence, Of course, industry size of the opto-science and engineering is increasing more and more. You may have the chance to get a job. But "Please, consider by yourself".
I would like to notice that, in any item, there is durability, good in one side and bad in other side. For example, LEDs reduce electricity consumption, and increase the number of people who are seriously dependent on smart phones. When I was a student, I did believe that change of the display should be the first priority issue. In one sense, I was successful because blue LEDs are applied to general lighting systems, and in other sense, I was failed because of the increase in the number of people who are dependent on smart phones. Today, situation has changed a lot and I feel only young generation can find the route for a bright future. So, I would like to send message that "think yourself". 

M.W.: Dear professor, it is nice to have a conversation with you. Youth will surely be benefitted with your visionary words. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Interview with Prof. C.N.R. Rao, Bharat Ratna

        Prof. Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao FRS, famously known as Prof. C.N.R. Rao is well known researcher in the field of nanotechnology. He has authored more than 1400 research paper in journals of international repute and 45 scientific books. He is fellow of several academies all over the world including Royal Society, London. More than 60 universities awarded him honorary doctorates around the globe. He is recipient of most of the major scientific awards. Recently, Government of India awarded his the Highest Civilian Award of India- Bharat Ratna. Mr. Meher Wan got the opportunity to discuss on the various issues related to science, education and scientific and technological future of India. Here are excerpts of the discussion-

MW: So, first of all congratulations to you for recent achievements, specially for the announcement of Bharat Ratna, The Highest Civilian Award of India to you. How do you feel now?
C.N.R.Rao:  Well!! I think its fine and very nice that’s all I can say. I was not expecting or anything like that, so it’s nice. Many thanks for considering me for this award.

MW:  So let’s start with some memories of your past times, how did this journey in science begin?
C.N.R.Rao:  Well!! You know, it has been wonderful sixty and odious years, since I first started my research in Banaras University (BHU) for my M.Sc. degree, that was exactly sixty two years ago or more than that. Since then, many things, of course I have been a professor, in fact, member of the faculty, last fifty four years now. So, it has been a wonderful thing. Lots of students who have worked with me for PhD and a few hundred people worked with me, so it has been wonderful.

MW: Yeah, When did you realize that chemistry is your cup of tea?
C.N.R.Rao: When I was 17 years old.

MW: So, at that time you were in B.Sc. or
C.N.R.Rao: I just finished BSC at seventeenth then went to Banaras to do my MSc and then I decided that I want to be a scientist. I was not attracted to become or take up an IAS exam or that type of stuff, so I decided to take up science at that time.

MW: So, why did you decide to remain in chemistry?
C.N.R.Rao: Many reasons, I was  very much excited by science in school actually, by wonderful school teachers here in Bangalore and C.V. raman of course  given lecture in our school that somehow I saw him giving a lecture, I got very impressed by that and then after that of course after my BSc in wanted to do MSc and research that’s why I went to Banaras to do part research, part thesis, part course things like that, so I went there and there you know I read a very famous book of Linus Pouling – “Nature of the Chemical Bonds”, that book was very important book for me, even now in the history of chemistry if there is one book which changed the nature of chemistry was that book “Nature of the Chemical Bonds” by Linus Pauling and I thought, I must do this kind of research that’s one reason I left Banaras and went to United States after that.

MW: How do you remember the times of Banaras Hindu University?
C.N.R.Rao: Oh! Fantastic, BHU was a very good university, at that time you know everything was DC not AC (Electricity- Power Supply). To do experiments, we had to work in night when we had to convert DC in to AC, it is unbelievable there was no regular alternating current electricity, any way in the midnight or in the morning I used to came back from the library everywhere there were lab people working BHU was a very active place in science, you know those days many UP universities, Allahabad also was quite active, no longer the case, BHU is no longer what it was, Aligarh was very good at one time, so it was a very nice place to work I enjoyed , I owe a lot to BHU I am very loyal to BHU even now.

MW: Prof. J.V. Narlikar was also student of BHU?
C.N.R.Rao: Yeah, his father was the professor of mathematics. He is junior to me in age as well as study.

MW: How do you perceive the current condition of university system?
C.N.R.Rao: Oh! It’s terrible. Universities are in very bad shape, we don’t have many universities with high standards in teaching or in research.  We have to improve and have to put in a lot of effort and lot of money to improve universities and first of all get rid of the politics in universities, bureaucracy in universities, in addition we have also to improve the facilities the lot of work has to be done and in the meantime of course, we can’t wait for that to change so we are to create new institutions, India requires many-many good institutions like this one where you are sitting (JNCASR, Bangalore) where we have outstanding facilities where young people can do very-very good research work, so we are to improve such things.

MW: I feel basic education of science is very important and it plays a key role in development of scientific scenario in the country, so how do you perceive the basic education in our country?
C.N.R.Rao: Main thing as I told you, the teaching of science at school level itself is not very good. In spite of that many young people come up, in spite of this all there is not so happy situation in school but still we have to do lot more to schools education. Teachers and teaching have not got the adequate recognition and importance in India. See, teaching profession is not respected for example I don’t know the statistics of the world, which are the countries and where teachers are given very high regard.  Number one country in this regard is Finland, it is very difficult to become a teacher there, very easy to become an administrator, here it is opposite, anybody can become a teacher. So, I think teachers should be given importance, teaching profession should get more respect and facilities for schools, lot of things have to be done and if we don’t do that in next five-ten years, India will no longer we can expect to be a powerful nation. It won’t become just by economic state, we have to improve the education, everybody in India should get a good opportunity for that schools and colleges become very important.

MW: So, does it need political will?
C.N.R.Rao:  Partly political, you know. Industries should also help. After all, all of science for example let us take scientific research, all of scientific research is supported by govt. how can that be? After all America South Korea or even China industries should contribute at least forty to fifty percent of the science expenditure for example. Education also private investment is important. At least in this state in Karnataka where we have a lot of private universities, private collages they are bit too commercial, I think we have to worry about having Harward or Stanford and such universities, they all are private. The best universities of America are private universities of course there are some govt. universities like California which is equally good but some of the top ones are private. Why do we don’t have that? Even I can mention names of some industrialists, who can easily start and easily set up with no govt. interference can be there due to privatization, I don’t know why  we have not done enough for that?

MW: What is the state of industry- academia relationship in India?
C.N.R.Rao: There is not much relationship, you know, I have done extensive research publishing tons of papers for last fifty and half years but I have never been approached by any Indian industry for help. And there is a lot of foreign interest in it, my research is being used quite a bit in industries abroad not in India. Because Indian industries are not quite based on hi-fi technology they are based on technologies which do not require modern science they manage with some old stuff, now things are going to change and if India is to compete with other countries then they will have to support science they will have to support universities more. It has become the necessity of these days and I hope they will do something in this direction.

MW: You have contributed remarkably to scientific research in our country, so what are the great achievements of Indian science according to you?
C.N.R.Rao: Well, there are a few achievements. See, for example, in India whenever we have mission oriented science or technology project like atomic energy or space, we have done great, whenever we have been given well defined project to build reactors, rockets etc, we have done well. Where there is no new science involved or application of known science but that type of projects oriented or technology oriented missions have succeeded fairly well. Where we have not succeeded is real science. Real science means physics, chemistry and biology done in small laboratories that are the ones that give progressive background. Reactors or space science is based on the concepts evolved by the ordinary people, working in small ordinary laboratories like you and me, that’s the one that made science what it is today. Small lab level science should be supported more. Big science has always been supported more, like atomic energy and space, small science in universities and other labs have not had that much of support. But now, even if you give money, our universities are not in such position to use that money to improve. There is also too much otherwise politics, I don’t want to say go in to politics as I am not a politician, on the other hand total bureaucracy and other things don’t allow science to thrive in many of our education institutions, but IITs are all okay, but even IITs, how come one of our IITs is like MIT? They should be like MIT, but they are not. It is not just money, so we have to, that’s why I said, we are facing grave problems where we have to improve in a very big way. Individuals do, there are few individuals are outstanding as far as people in Harward but institutions are very few as best in the world, one, two or three, not many but the few individuals have done extremely well internationally. But that number is very-very small, even I can count in fingers them.

MW: We have started with Prof. J.C. Bose, Prof. S.N.Bose etc.….What went wrong in the mean time?
C.N.R.Rao: Don’t count that names, J.C. Bose was different, he created science; he was the first great scientist of modern India. In 19th century he discovered the coherer, he should have got the Nobel Prize. S.N.Bose and others are different, they did little research rest of life they didn’t do much. See, personally speaking I only respect those scientist who do science till the last date that’s why I am admirer of J.C.Bose. Of course Raman did wonderful physics and Ramanujan did great mathematics but he died in very young age. However, many others also did great works, but J.C.Bose was scientist till last day. All the professors with whom I worked very well known people of America or UK like Prof. Mott with whom I am associated is also a Nobel laureate and at the age of 93, he is still publishing papers. Personally, I like such people who are really dedicated, you know, I still publish papers like a young man, in fact I give a competition to young men to work and compete with me.

MW: I have seen it in your lecture actually, few days back in Indian institute of science at a union of material scientists.
C.N.R.Rao: Oh! Were you there? How did you like that?

MW: I liked your work about hydrogen generation through artificial photosynthesis for energy applications. I liked it much. If we talk about materials science we legged behind in micro-revolution but in nano science and technology this is not the case….
C.N.R.Rao: Yeah, in nanotechnology we are not doing too badly due to targeted funding. What happened, we have funded many institutions through the “Nano Mission”. Until “Nano Mission” came, there was electron microscope in Kolkata only in that whole region. So because of that some results have been obtained.  Now, India is showing reasonable results in Nano science and technology because micro electronics we did nothing. But in all aspects of science, very few scientists are on frontier and that’s unfortunate.

MW: Much credit goes to you for “Nano Mission”.
C.N.R.Rao: Only “Nano Mission”.     

MW: What type of support our scientists still need?
C.N.R.Rao:  Mere money would not help. We have to create institutions.  See, for example, you give a lot of money to some educational institutions, they are not able to use that money, because of local conditions bureaucracy, politics whatever. I don’t know, is it same in all universities but I was told it is very bad generally many places. We have to improve that part of infrastructure and everything in universities. In addition, like IISERs on the other hand we have created are outstanding. If we can create few more good institutions like IISERs they can give us a boost and in the mean time we can improve our universities and we will do that.

MW: Media can play a very important role in highlighting the scientific achievements.
C.N.R.Rao: Yeah. Media has done almost nothing for science. You see the TV program you will start depressing, they will show murders, rapes and this kind of stuff or politics, very rarely science has been figured in the value system of the Indian society. In Indian society science come at the bottom, I don’t know why. See china is different; I just got a letter just half an hour before in a formal letter being induced as a foreign member of the Chinese academy. They invited me for a function; I will have to go there. Anyway, they are so organized I mean they are so proud to be Chinese and everything is so different from here. We are not so well organized we are not so nationalistic somehow we are paying a price for it.

MW: So, I feel science communicators should play an important role in this direction.
C.N.R.Rao: Of course, Science communicators can, media also. Suppose media decides to make science as important thing people will listen to that, because look at television every day and night we are blaring all kinds of thing but never education, science when did you see last program on science on TV.

MW: There may be reason behind it; we teach how to do reporting on politics, crime but not how to do reporting on science? Is it so?
C.N.R.Rao: No! No! This is not the reason behind that, after all nobody teaches you how to communicate all the rotten things, many things you learn yourself. It depends on the interest. In china, are there people who taught them? No. They give importance, Chinese give; South Korea invited me to give a lecture in a major meeting of scientists. South Korea is fantastic, I would say in all the little countries South Korea has done best. They got the freedom at the same time as we Indians got in 1947. Look at what they have done see they give amount of importance for education, scientific research. It is unbelievable.

MW:  Sir, you are chairing the science advisory council to prime minister.
C.N.R.Rao: yeah, we have done many things, I will give a book to read to see what we have done, there are a lot of important things we are concerned about.

MW: Yes, I will surely read, please mention some important issues here, Sir.
C.N.R.Rao: It’s a very large list you should read it, I can’t mention all here, but IISERS were created by us, Ramanujan fellowships, improving scholarships to research students, again we are going to improve it, many such important things. Creation of IISERs is very obvious example; you know getting this big computing power for India. Govt. has just given five thousand crores to improve the hyper computing. In computation, you know India does not have good computing power; china has very high, America of course has very high computing power. So we want to have some computing power so that young people like you can do computing in a big way, so many such things we do.

MW: We will have highest number of youth in the world.
C.N.R.Rao: I tell you the future belongs to you. Even, I agreed to see you because of that; otherwise I may be wasting my time. Future belongs to young people. Sixty percent of India is below thirty and thirty five years. Even imagine, after thirty years later when Indian population become 1.5 billion there will be more young people, that is the why I am in worry. We should work out a plan, well architectured plan for education, progress and employment opportunities for young people, until we do it we will be in very bad situation.

MW: How will we plan for it?
C.N.R.Rao: That is a very big question, I will not go deep in this question as it will need another many hours to discuss here, but I have been requesting you that you should read this book and govt. should appoint a visionary group to think on what should be done for younger generation in next twenty years but they have not done yet. We should do that I have been telling them. You know, that question is very serious to work on; it is not like an education commission. We have to chock out the program for the youth as soon as possible in India.

MW: As I have mentioned that I listened your lecture in IISc recently, you have shown very new research done by your group on hydrogen production through artificial photosynthesis. You are very actively engaged in research in spite of you administrative and other engagements, your public life, how do you manage it?
C.N.R.Rao: Most of the time I do only my research. Other things are my overtime. I work very hard, I get up in 04.30 am in the morning everyday so by the time till normal working time, I do 2-3 hours work. I spend much time with my student. I write papers with them, I actually sit and work with them so that we get maximum amount of research output, we optimize our effort. I write a lot, I write a lot of books, review papers. But in addition to it a little bit, I contribute to our country in various ways too, now I am not in regular administration as before I was president and director of Indian society of material scientists, now only I am asked for advisory.

MW: still it is a mystery to youngsters like me, how do you manage your time?
C.N.R.Rao: See, time management is an important thing, you know, Michael faraday has a very famous statement, he said-
What is it, that can be made short or long,
What is it, that can be compressed or elongate,
What is it, that can you enjoy or detest,
What it is, that god almighty thought so precious,
to give us limited amount of it,
That is time….
You know how have to use it. 90%of the people in the world do not know how to manage time. They waste a lot of time. I try to use it. I don’t have people come to chat; you are only an exception today. I just do my work. If I don’t have such work, I read something.

MW: Finally, my last question, what do you want say to youngsters?
C.N.R.Rao: I tell you, young people should be left alone to follow the path, they want. They should not be forced to go in to engineering etc.  They should do whatever they like; they want to be poet, economists, scientists doctors, whatever they want, but they should not give up their passion. At least few of them should have high level of passion; they are the ones who save India. We don’t need a lot of them, 5-10 % of the population is enough and unfortunately that is not happening, people are forced to go to engineering, everybody in Bangalore goes to engineering, science colleges are being closed down, this is bad, very few goes to economics, etc, only leftover go for that. We should not be like that, all professions need very good people, As India need to come up in all areas so young people should not listen bad advice of fool people like me and they should do what they think is best with full passion. Even I have done that way, my parents allowed me to go BHU very far to here to do MSc, they never told me do this do that, wonderful parents I had. I owe a lot to them because this freedom of thinking and freedom of working is very important for young people. Second, I think three important qualities should be retained by youngsters inside doggedness, perseverance and tenacity, a little intelligence is also useful but, that comes afterwards. You must not give up after all.

MW: It is very nice to talk to you sir. Thanks a lot to you for such visionary words.
C.N.R.Rao: Same here; Best wishes to you too.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Interview of Prof.A.J.Legget, Nobel Laureate in Physics

Anthony James Legget is a famous scientist and a capable generous man, working in the field of fundamental physics. He is one of the leaders in the field of low temperature physics in all over the world. He has widely contributed in understanding the normal and super-fluid helium liquids and strongly coupled superfluids. He has also deep interest and insight in testing the foundations of quantum mechanics using condensed systems. His pioneering work in the field of superfluidity was recognized for Nobel Pize of Physics in 2003. He is an Honorary fellow of Institute of Physics (U.K.). He was knighted as “Sir” by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004 “for services in physics”. He was also elected a Fellow of Royal Society.
Sir Anthony James Legget is popularly known as Tony legget in the scientific community. He was born in 26 March, 1938 in a small town Camberwell of South London, England. At that time in England, studies of literature was considered as of great repute in common public and academicians. Anthony James Legget won a scholarship from Oxford University in 1954 to study Classics. After completing the degree, it was a time to rethink about the future of Classics and personal interest of him. Anthony Legget remembers those days in his autobiography written for Nobel Prize website as, “…. there seemed to be no objective criterion of what was correct or not, or even what was good work or bad (in Philosophy), and I felt in my bones that it was just such a criterion that I needed if I was going to pursue an academic career. I did indeed briefly consider the possibility of going into pure mathematics, but rejected it on the grounds that in mathematics, almost by the definition of the subject, to be wrong means you are stupid: I wanted the possibility of being wrong without being stupid - of being wrong, if you like, for interesting and nontrivial reasons. Physics seemed to fill that bill, and while I had zero formal training in that subject, the confidence which I had acquired from Fr. O'Hara in advanced mathematics led me to believe that that aspect of the subject, at least, would not give me major difficulty. So, in the early summer of 1958 I took my courage in both hands and applied to do a second Oxford undergraduate degree, in physics, following the anticipated completion in spring 1959 of my Greats degree.”
After completing his academics, he did his Ph.D. on "Some Problems in the Theory of Many-Body Systems", with Prof. Dirk ter Haar at Magdalen College, Oxford. His theoretical understanding of physics took shape here and blossomed. After completing his post-doctoral studies, he accepted an offer from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) of the MacArthur Chair, in the spring of 1982  with which the university had recently been endowed.
Meher Wan got a chance to listen his invited lecture in Physics Department, University of Allahabad some years back. Prof. Anthony Legget is kind enough to answer the queries and questions of students and researchers of physics very promptly through email too. Here are the excerpts of the interview.
Meher Wan- Let me thank you on behalf of our readers for accepting my request to respond for an interview on your research, life and philosophy. It’s a matter of pleasure for us that you agreed to invest some time from your very busy schedule.
Your pioneering research work on super-fluidity was considered for the most prestigious prize of Science- “Nobel Prize of Physics-2003”. After Nobel Prize, how your life has been changed? What type of relax or responsibility do you feel after this prestigious prize?

Prof. A. J. Legget:  The main ways my life has changed are that-
 (a) I get even more invitations than previously to give popular talks, etc.
 (b) Even more people want me to write letters of recommendation for them.
 (c) I am continually pressed to express in public opinions on matters of which I do not know enough to have an informed opinion.

M. Wan- Let us peep in to your childhood, how do you remember your school days and Beaumont? Were you extraordinarily brilliant in your school days or you made these achievements by mere chasing your curiousness and intent for the quest about nature?

 A. J. Legget: Well, I remember that they used to give prizes for the best performance in about eight different academic subjects, and one year I got the prizes in all eight, which I believe was unprecedented. So I suppose that I did have a reputation for outstanding academic ability.

M. Wan- At your times in schools, one had to choose science or classics or arts as stream of study in his/her very early stage of studies. When you came to Allahabad, India in a Science Conclave, you revealed that primarily you have chosen Classics and literature as your study majors. What were the reasons for choosing classics not science still when your father was a science teacher?

A. J. Legget: Actually, I think my father was steeped in the attitude which was common in Britain at that time (the early fifties, pre-Sputnik), namely that classics was the most "prestigious" subject and science right at the bottom of the pecking order. Certainly he was quite happy to see me go into classics.

M. Wan- After spending five years in studying classics, what was the motivating force for opting science and specially physics?

 A. J. Legget: Actually it was a good deal more than five years (about 5 at high school, then 4 at Oxford if you count the part spent on ancient history and philosophy).The reason for my shift was, first, that I was too unimaginative to think about any career other than an academic one, and secondly that I became convinced that, rather than working in a subject such as philosophy, where there seems to be no clear objective criteria of what constituted good work or bad, I wanted to work in a discipline where Nature herself could prove me right or wrong.

M. Wan- How did the previous study of classics help in your further career? Did you imagine at that time, that you will do so nice in physics after spending too much time in other subjects?

A. J. Legget: I realized that my comparative age was some disadvantage, but I felt that my experience of studying philosophy, in particular, might compensate for this. And indeed I have found it extremely helpful, in particular in that I suspect I am much more skeptical than many of my colleagues about the "established" wisdom and the reasoning behind it.

M. Wan- At the time of your postdoctoral work in University of Illinois, John Bardeen and some other impressive experimental physicists were working there. How did they influence you in the process of being a better researcher?

A. J. Legget: Like many others, I did not find John the easiest person in the world to talk to, but he and Leo Kadanoff played a crucial role in my career by suggesting the problem which led indirectly to my work on superfluid 3-He.
I got more out of my interactions with David Pines (my formal postdoctoral adviser), Leo and Gordon Baym, as well as with the many bright postdocs who were at Illinois at that time.

M. Wan- You have travelled around the globe. What is the status of education in developing countries? What type of modifications you will suggest for the betterment of education and teaching?

A. J. Legget: I'm not sure that one can make any generalization which will cover   India or Brazil on the one hand and Haiti or the Central African Republic on the other. But I think that one rather common feature of   education in many D.C's tends to be an exaggerated respect for authority (including that of Nobel laureates!).I think it is crucial that teachers in such countries feel able to admit that they don't know the answer to a question without fearing that students will lose respect for them.  Also, what is missing in at least some cases, the West African   country with which I am familiar, is very basic technical skills, and this  is something that I feel that visiting teachers from the developed world  tend to forget-it isn't much use students being up with the latest  fashions in sociology of science if they can't repair the electrical  generator when it breaks down!

M. Wan- Quantum revolution influenced approximately all fields of sciences. What are the limitations of quantum mechanics?

A. J. Legget: We don't know, and much of my research has been devoted precisely to trying to design experiments to test this.

M. Wan- What do you say about the future of String theory or superstring theory?

A. J. Legget: Nothing. It is too far from real-life experiment for me to have an opinion.

M. Wan- Many theoretical physicists often wished to have more command on mathematics to do batter physics. Have you felt this at any juncture?

A. J. Legget: Yes, somewhat. But I don't think the lack of a better mathematical education has prevented me doing the really crucial things I have tried to do.

M. Wan- Feynman made a hypothesis at that time, that Fundamental Physics will be much tougher after some years and that state of saturation will be dominating reason that researchers will shift their interests towards other sciences. At what extent are you concerned with this statement?

A. J. Legget: I suspect that Feynman is right, in that if and when we get a "Theory of Everything", physicists will become intellectually restless. But I think they will probably change the questions they are asking so that the "theory" no longer seems so satisfying. Alternatively, as is already happening to an extent, they will try to use the methods of physics to address problems in other fields (psychology, economics...).

M. Wan- You are a scientist and you have faith in religions too. According to you, how do the science and religions connect with each other? Where are the common platforms of science and religion?

A. J. Legget: I am not in fact myself religious, but I see no objection to some of   my colleagues being fervent believers while remaining practicing scientists. The way I view "religious" statements is as a sort of third dimension in the space inhabited by the "fact-value" dichotomy, so they do not compete with the statements made by science.

M. Wan- According to you, which type of important developments and revolutions, will occur in the field of science in near future?

A. J. Legget: If I knew, I would be there already! My best bet would be on a totally novel approach to the "arrow of time".

M. Wan- What message do you want to convey to the students and budding researchers through this magazine?

A. J. Legget: Follow your own curiosity, and don't be put off if everyone around you tells you that the answers to the questions you are asking are obvious or trivial. Remember Einstein and the equivalence principle-
   “Sometimes the really deep questions are so simple as to seem stupid!”

 It was very nice to have communication with you, Sir. I feel that youth will be inspired by your thoughts. 

Thank you very much Sir.

Friday, December 14, 2012

2012: अफ़वाहें और वास्तविकता

-Meher Wan
      हम इक्कीसवीं सदी में जी रहे हैं। सूचना संचार क्रान्ति के समय में हर बात वैश्विक हो जाने की फ़िराक में है। कुछ ही सेकेन्डों में सूचनायें दुनिंयाँ के एक सिरे से दूसरे सिरे तक उछलकूद करती रहती हैं। इसी उहापोह के बीच बाज़ार और नवउपनिवेशवाद के विकृत चेहरे बार-बार नये नये स्वरूपों में सामने आ रहे हैं। कुछ समय तक जब वैलेन्टाइन्स डे पर बाज़ार सजता था तो अफ़सोस के साथ कहा जाता है कि प्रेम दुकानों पर आ गया। लेकिन अब सिर्फ़ प्रेम ही नहीं है जिसका इस्तेमाल बाज़ार अपने विस्तार या अस्तित्व को बचाने के लिये कर रहा है। इस बीच में बाज़ार में “भय” का इस्तेमाल भी ज़ोर शोर से हो रहा है? विज्ञापनों में डॉक्टरों के कपड़े पहने सुन्दर मॉडल आपसे प्रश्न पूछते हैं आपके पानी कितना साफ़ है? फिर बहुत सारे लिज़लिज़े कीड़े आपकों टीवी स्क्रीन पर नज़र आते हैं। इसके साथ ही पीछे से दावों की झडी लग जाती है कि फलाँ उत्पाद इन सब कीड़ों को हमेशा के लिये खत्म कर देता है इत्यादि इत्यादि। यहाँ जो कीड़े आप स्क्रीन पर देखते हैं वह विज्ञापन बनाने वालों की कल्पना का परिणाम होते हैं ताकि आप फलाँ टूथपेस्ट ही खरीदें। आप डर जायें और बाज़ार आपके डर को अपने मुनाफ़े में बदल दे। इस तरह की बहुत सामग्री का इस्तेमाल तमाम उत्पादों को बेचने के लिये हो रहा है, जो कि सिर्फ़ मानव में डर उत्पन्न करके उत्पाद बेचने के तरीकों की श्रेणी में रखी जा सकती है। बाज़ार द्वारा प्रायोजित इस तरह की कुटिल तरीकों की ओर अक्सर हम ध्यान नहीं देते।
      कुछ महीनों से एक बार फिर मानवीय भाव “डर”  को बाज़ार ने अपने कुटिल हितों में इस्तेमाल करने की कोशिश की है। सन २०१२ में प्रवेश करते ही यह अटकलें लगाई जाने लगीं थीं कि इस वर्ष धरती पर महाप्रलय आने वाला है। प्रलय या विनाश से आधुनिक से लेकर प्राचीन सभ्यतायें भी डरतीं रहीं हैं और इस डर का इस्तेमाल समय समय पर सत्ता और अन्य प्रभावशाली गुट अपने हितों के लिये करते रहे हैं। प्राचीन सभ्यताओं में तूफ़ान, बाढ़ जैसी प्राकृतिक आपदाओं से डर कर मानव ने अपने अपने ईश्वरों की परिकल्पना की। प्राकृतिक आपदाओं से बचाने वाले ईश्वरों के अस्तित्व का प्रमाण लगभग हर सभ्यता में मिलता है, क्योंकि उस समय यही बाढ़ और तूफ़ान जैसी आपदायें भी भारी नुकसान का कारण बनतीं थीं। फिर समय के साथ इन ईश्वरों की शक्ति लगातार बढती गयी। उस समय के ईश्वर सिर्फ़ तूफ़ान से बचाते थे और आज के नाभिकीय हमले से भी बचाने की कुव्वत रखते हैं। धीरे धीरे विज्ञान और तकनीक के विकास के साथ सूचना संचार क्रान्ति तक हम आ पहुंचे हैं मगर तकनीक के विकास के साथ तमाम नकारात्मक प्रभावों ने भी प्रगति की है।सामंती युग में लोग अपने वर्चस्व को बनाये रखने के लिये आम जनता में तमाम डर उत्पन्न करके अपनी सत्ता कायम रखते थे। समय के साथ आज डर का और बदतर तरीके से इस्तेमाल बाज़ार कर रहा है। एक तरफ़ दाम बढ़ने के डर को विज्ञापनों के ज़रिये इस्तेमाल करके लोगों को जरूरत से ज़्यादा खरीदारी करने को मजबूर किया जाता है, तो दूसरी तरफ़ अमेरिका जैसा देश जिसकी अर्थव्यवस्था सिर्फ़ युद्धक सामग्री के निर्माण पर आधारित है, युद्ध के डर को उत्पन्न करके भारत जैसे विकासशील देशों को लडाकू विमान बेचता रहता है।
       बाज़ार के लिये “डर” के इस्तेमाल का सबसे बदतर उदाहरण है “२०१२ : तथाकथित महाप्रलय प्रकरण”। ऐसा पिछले कई महीनों से कहा जा रहा था कि २१ दिसम्बर २०१२ को  महाप्रलय आयेगा और उस दिन पूरी दुनियाँ नष्ट हो जायेगी। लोगों को इस बात से रूबरू कराने के लिये तमाम वेबसाईटों का निर्माण किया गया। इंटरनेट पर किताबें बेचने वाली वेबसाइट “अमेजन” पर २०१२ तथाकथित महाप्रलय से सम्बन्धित १०० से भी अधिक किताबें मौजूद हैं जिन्हें अलग अलग लेखकों ने लिखा है। यह भी कमाल है कि इस तथाकथित महाप्रलय को सही साबित करने के लिये कई विशुद्ध वैज्ञानिक सिद्धान्तों का सहारा लिया गया।
        इस कहानी की शुरुआत “जेनेरिया सितचिन” नामक महाशय के उन दावों से हुयी, जिनमें यह कहा गया था कि यह दुनियाँ दिसम्बर २०१२ में खत्म हो जायेगी। ये दावे वह मेसोपोटामिया की सभ्यता के कैलेन्डर के आधार पर कर रहे थे। यह तथ्य सर्वविदित है कि प्राचीन सभ्यतायें अपने विकास के क्रम में समय की गति को पहचान रहीं थीं और समय के साथ प्रकाश, मौसम आदि में आ रहे आवर्ती बदलावों के आधार पर दिन और वर्ष आदि के निर्धारण करने के प्रयासों से जूझ रहीं थीं। इसी प्रक्रिया में मेसोपोटामिया की सभ्यता में भी लोगों ने एक कैलेन्डर बनाया था। ऐसा माना जाता है कि इस मेसोपोटामियन कैलेण्डर की अन्तिम तिथि २१ दिसम्बर २०१२ है। यह कैलेन्डर लगभग 5126 वर्ष पहले बनाया गया था। इसकी प्रथम तिथि अंग्रेज़ी कैलेन्डर के हिसाब से 11 अगस्त 3114 ईसा पूर्व आँकी जाती है। मेसोपोटामिया सभ्यता के लोगों के समय अंकगणित का विकास बहुत अधिक नहीं हुआ था। उनके गणना करने के तरीके बहुत जटिल और लम्बे हुआ करते थे। इसके बावजूद उन लोगों ने 5126 वर्ष के लम्बे अंतराल की गणना की थी। जैसा कि बताया जा चुका है कि इस कैलेण्डर का समय २१ दिसम्बर २०१२ को खत्म हो रहा है, इसी तथ्य को ध्यान में रखते हुये जेनेरिया सितचिन ने दावा कर दिया कि पृथ्वी पर जीवन इस दिन खत्म हो जायेगा। इसके पीछे यह कारण बताया गया कि चूंकि मेसोपोटामियन सभ्यता के लोग बहुत विद्वान थे और वे यह जानते थे कि पृथ्वी पर जीवन इतने अंतराल के बाद खत्म हो जायेगा, इसी कारण से उन्होंने अपने कैलेंडर में आगे के समय की गणना नहीं की। जबकि असलियत यह थी कि मेसोपोटामियन लोगों ने बहुत मुश्किल से इस चक्र तक के समय की गणना की थी मेसोपोटामियन लोगों के लिये इससे आगे की गणना करना तत्कालीन गणितीय ज्ञान के सहारे बहुत कठिनतम कार्य था। चूंकि यह तय कर लिया गया था कि इस दिन पृथ्वी पर जीवन को खत्म होना है तो किसी महाप्रलय की कल्पना की गयी क्योंकि पृथ्वी बहुत विशाल पिण्ड है और कोई सामान्य प्राकृतिक आपदा इस पर जीवन को पूर्ण रूप से खत्म नहीं कर सकती। इस तरह सवाल यह था कि अगर पृथ्वी पर जीवन खत्म होगा तो कैसे होगा? क्योंकि सितचिन और उनके समर्थकों की नज़र में मेसोपोटामिया के लोग गलत नहीं हो सकते थे। इस परिकल्पित महाप्रलय को सम्भव बनाने के लिये कई वैज्ञानिक सिद्धान्तों का भी सहारा लिया गया। हॉलीवुड सिनेमा ने इसे बाज़ार के तौर पर देखा। हॉलीवुड के बाज़ार विश्लेषक यह बहुत अच्छी तरह से जानते हैं कि इस तरह के विषयों पर बनी फिल्में बहुत अच्छा व्यापार करतीं हैं क्योंकि जनता अपने भविष्य के बारे में जानना चाहती है खास तौर पर तब जब वह उनकी ज़िन्दगी और मौत से जुड़ा हो। सही समय पर निर्देशक “रोनाल्ड एमेरिच” ने इस विषय पर एक फिल्म बनायी जिसका नाम था “2012”| इस फिल्म ने आग में घी का काम किया। “रोनाल्ड एमेरिच” बहुत चालाक निर्देशक हैं। उन्होंने विश्व भर में फ़िल्म के दर्शकों की संख्या बटोरने के लिये भारत की कुछ पृष्ठभूमि और यहाँ के वैज्ञानिक को फिल्म की स्क्रिप्ट में शामिल किया क्योंकि भारत और भारत के आसपास के देशों में हॉलीवुड का व्यापार दिन दूना रात चौगुना बढ़ रहा था। फिल्म में भारतीय पृष्ठभूमि और पात्र के इस्तेमाल से तीसरी दुनिया के देशों में इस फिल्म को बड़ी संख्या में दर्शक-वर्ग मिला। इस तरह ज़िंदगी और मौत के डर को इस फिल्म ने बहुत अच्छी तरह से कैश कराया। इससे “२०१२” में होने वाले परिकल्पित महा विनाश को पूरी दुनियां में आसानी से फ़ैलाया गया। इसके बाद इस घटना को ढ़ाल बनाकर समूचे विश्व के चालाक बाज़ार ने कमाने की तमाम तरकीबें खोज निकालीं। तमाम ज्योतिषियों का धंधा चल निकला। कई कम्पनियों ने ऐसी वेबसाइटें बनायीं जिनमें दुनिंया के अन्तिम दिन को अपनी ज़िंदगी की सारी कमाई लगाकर एक साथ किसी खास स्थान पर खास तरह से मनाने की फ़रमाइश की। कई छात्रों ने पढ़ना और लोगों ने काम करना यह कहकर बन्द कर दिया कि जब दिसम्बर २०१२ में सब खत्म हो ही जाना है तो जीवन को अपने तरह से जिया जाये। लोग अपनी अन्तिम इच्छायें पूरा करना चाह रहे थे। बाज़ार इसी बीच अपना व्यापार कर रहा था।
          पृथ्वी पर जीवन के खात्मे की परिकल्पना पर तथ्यों का मुलम्मा चढ़ाना ज़रूरी था ताकि जनता विश्वास कर सके। इस लिये “जेनेरिया सितचिन” ने मेसोपोटामियन सभ्यता का ही सहारा लिया। मेसोपोटामियन सभ्यता में एक “निबिरू” नामक आकाशीय पिण्ड का ब्यौरा मिलता है। कुछ लोग इसे “बारहवाँ ग्रह” कहकर भी पुकारते हैं। सितचिन और तथाकथित महाप्रलय के समर्थक कहते हैं कि यह एक ऐसा ग्रह है जिसके बारे में मेसोपोटामियन लोगों को खासी जानकारी थी। वे जानते थे कि यह ग्रह सूरज से बहुत दूर है और सूरज के चारों ओर चक्कर लगाने में इसे कई हज़ार वर्ष लग जाते हैं। इस तरह इन लोगों ने अपनी बुद्धि से यह गणना की थी कि सन २०१२ में यह ग्रह पुनः सूरज के नज़दीक से गुजरेगा और इसी क्रम में यह पृथ्वी से टकरा कर पृथ्वी को नष्ट कर देगा। अब सवाल यह उठता है कि सूरज के ग्रह सूरज के चारों ओर परवलयाकार पथ में चक्कर लगाते हैं। मेसोपोटामियन सभ्यता के लोग क्या इस बारहवें ग्रह के रास्ते के बारे में और इसके साथ साथ पृथ्वी के रास्ते का आंकलन कई हज़ार वर्ष बाद के दिन तक करने में सक्षम थे? अगर थे तो मेसोपोटामिया की खुदाई में क्या इस सभ्यता के इतने सक्षम होने के प्रमाण मिलते हैं? मेसोपोटामियन सभ्यता  पर अध्य्यन करने वाले इतिहास शास्त्री और मानव विज्ञानियों में से किसी ने मेसोपोटामियन सभ्यता के इस स्तर के होने की बात आज तक नहीं कही न ही उन्हें इस सभ्यता के लोगों के ज्ञान के इस स्तर के होने के प्रमाण मिले। यह बात सत्य है कि इस सभ्यता के लोगों को गणित का मूलभूत ज्ञान हो चला था। यहाँ एक बात और है कि ऐसा पिण्ड क्या वास्तव में अस्तित्व में हो सकता है जो कि आकार में ग्रहों के बराबर हो और वह सूरज से इतना दूर हो कि उसे सूरज का एक पूरा चक्कर लगाने में कै हजार वर्ष लगें? भौतिकी के नियमों के आधार पर इसकी सम्भावना शून्य के बराबर है। जब इस परिकल्पना की धज्जियाँ उडने लगीं तो कुछ लोगों ने यह कहना शुरु कर दिया कि दिसम्बर २०१२ में पृथ्वी से टकराकर पृथ्वी को नष्ट करने वाला पिण्ड “निबिरू ग्रह” न होकर कोई उल्का पिण्ड होगा। इस पर एक वर्ष पहले ही खगोल वैज्ञानिकों ने अपनी राय देना शुरु कर दिया था कि वर्तमान में ऐसा कोई ज्ञात उल्का पिंड नहीं है जो कि दिसम्बर में पृथ्वी से टकराये। वर्तमान में हज़ारों खगोल विज्ञानी  सैकड़ों आधुनिक टेलेस्कोपों के साथ आकाशीय पिण्डों पर नजर लगाये रहते हैं। दुनियाँ भर में किसी भी खगोल शास्त्री ने इस तरह के खगोल पिण्ड के बारे में नहीं बताया न की किसी वैज्ञानिक शोध इस सम्बन्ध में छपा। ऐसे खगोलीय पिण्ड खगोल शास्त्रियों को लिये बहुत महत्वपूर्ण होते हैं क्योकि इस तरह के खतरनाक पिंड के बारे में जानकारी देने बाला वैज्ञानिक जल्दी ही चर्चा में आ जाता है। दिसम्बर महीना आधा बीत चुका है और अब तक किसी ने इस तरह के खगोलीय पिण्ड के अस्तित्व के बारे में खबर नहीं होगी।
          कुछ लोगों ने यह भी अफ़वाह उड़ाई कि २१ दिसम्बर २०१२ को धरती के चुम्बकीय ध्रुव अपनी जगह बदल लेंगे। यह लगभग असम्भव सी बात है। यह सत्य है कि पृथ्वी के चुम्बकीय ध्रुव (उत्तरी और दक्षिणी ध्रुव) अपना स्थान बदलते रहे हैं और जहाँ पर यह आज स्थित हैं लाखों साल पहले वहाँ पर नहीं थे। यह वैज्ञानिक तथ्य भी है। लेकिन यह भी वैज्ञानिक तथ्य है कि ध्रुवों को अपनी स्थिति मे परिवर्तन करने में कई लजार साल लग जाते हैं। आधुनिक भौतिकी के किसी भी नियम के अनुसार यह महज कुछ घण्टों या महीनों में असम्भव है। इस तरह २१ दिसम्बर २०१२ को ध्रुव स्थान परिवर्तन का सिद्धान्त भी सटीक नहीं बैठा।
       कुछ लोगों ने अपनी क्रियेटिविटी का पूरा इस्तेमाल करते हुये यह भी कहा कि इस दिन सूरज से बहुत भयावह लपटें उठेंगी जो कि धरती को तबाह कर देंगीं लेकिन ऐसी किसी घटना के बारे में सौर-खगोल भौतिकी से जुड़े किसी भी वैज्ञानिक ने जानकारी नहीं दी, जबकि ये वैज्ञानिक सूरज के हर कोने में उठ रही लपटों पर नज़र रखते हैं।  कुछ लोगों ने कहा कि धरती एक ब्लैक होल के निकट है और ठीक इसी दिन पृथ्वी इस ब्लैक होल में समा जायेगी। जबकि धरती के आस पास क्या हमारे समूचे सौरमण्ड्ल के आस पास किसी ब्लैक होल के होने की सम्भावना नहीं है, अगर ऐसा कुछ होता तो हमें इस सम्बन्ध में कुछ जानकारी होती। कुछ बुद्धिमान लोगों ने कहा कि इस दिन घरती जिस धुरी पर घूमकर चक्कर लगाती है वह धुरी की दिशा बदल जायेगी, लेकिन यह बात उन्होनें किन वैज्ञानिक आधारों पर कही यह कोइ जबाब नहीं दे पाया। यहाँ तक कि इन अधिकतम परिकल्पित घटनाओं के बारे में बताने वाले लोगों के नाम पता नहीं हैं। यह बातें अफ़वाहों का रूप धारण कर चुकीं हैं जिनपर वैज्ञानिक चादर ओढ़ाने की असफ़ल कोशिश की जाती रही है। कुछ लोगों ने तो यहाँ तक कह दिया कि ग्लोबल वार्मिंग के कारण धरती दिसम्बर २०१२ मे नष्ट हो जायेगी, जबकि ग्लोबल वार्मिंग पर शोध करने वाले कई हजारों वैज्ञानिक इस सम्बन्ध में कहते हैं कि यह असम्भव है।

         सवाल यह है कि इस तरह की अफ़वाहें इतने बड़े पैमाने पर कैसे फैल पातीं हैं? और इनके पीछ कौन से उद्देश्य और लोग होते हैं? उत्तर साफ़ है कि ऐसी घटनायें सनसनी की श्रेणीं में आती हैं और इन्हें अफ़वाहों में बदलने में बहुत वक्त नही लगता और जनता इन घटनाओं की बहुत बहुत जल्दी आकृष्ट होती है। इस तरह की खबरें दिखाकर न्यूज चैनल, एफ़ एम रेडियो और अन्य संचार माध्यमों के ज़रिये बाज़ार अच्छी खासी कमाई कर चुका है और कर रहा है। यह अफ़वाहें मस्तिष्क में डर पैदा करती हैं और आज “डर” बेचना सबसे आसान काम बन चुका है। सपनों,प्यार, सेक्स आदि को बेचने के बाद “डर” एक बेहतरीन विक्रय बढाने वाली दवा के रुप में उभर कर सामने आया है। इस बीच लोगों को लोटरी आदि के लिये कई वेबसाइटें उकसा रहीं है, कुछ का मानना है कि लोगों को अपना सारा पैसा अन्तिम दिन की पार्टी में उड़ा देना चाहिये, इत्यादि इत्यादि। इस तरह की विक्रय तकनीकों को “वाइरल मार्केटिंग” कहा जाता है। इन अफ़वाहों से भी हमें बहुत गम्भीरता और धैर्य के साथ वैज्ञानिक ज्ञान का इस्तेमाल करते हुये निबटना चाहिये। अंततः प्रमुख अंतरिक्ष एजेंसी ने भी २०१२ में तथाकथिक किसी भी महाविनाश की घटना के होने से इन्कार करते हुये प्रेस विज्ञप्ति जारी की है कि यह दुनिया चलती रहेगी।