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Renowned Indian American physicist George Sudarshan, 86, passes away

The Kerala, India, -born physicist made seminal contributions in quantum mechanics and particle theory.

By Jose Plackatt

George Sudarshan

Renowned Indian American physicist George Sudarshan, 86, whose seminal contributions in quantum mechanics and particle theory earned him several Nobel Prize nominations, passed away in Austin, TX, in the early hours of Monday.

The internationally acclaimed physicist was a Professor Emeritus at the Department of Physics, at the University of Texas at Austin, from where he had retired in 2016.

Sudarshan, who had been a member of the faculty at the school since 1969, founded and directed its Center for Particle Theory. The center was instrumental in gaining international reputation for UT Austin, especially in physics.

He also taught at the Indian Institute of Science.

Among the India-born physicist’s noteworthy contributions were the V-A theory of weak interactions and the quantum theory of optical coherence.  Both were groundbreaking concepts in the field.

Sudarshan is also credited with predicting the existence of Tachyons, which are particles that travel faster than light.

Ennackal Chandy George Sudarshan was born in Pallam, in the district of Kottayam, Kerala, on September 16, 1931.

He studied at CMS College in his hometown of Kottayam, Madras Christian College and the University of Madras, from where he completed a master’s in 1952.

Sudarshan came to the United States to enroll at the University of Rochester, where he worked with renowned physician Robert Marshak. He completed the doctoral degree in 1958.

He joined UT-Austin after earning a D.Sc. from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee in 1969.

Among the dozens of accolades he won include the coveted Padma Bhushan in 1974, and a Padma Vibhusha, the second-highest civilian award given by the Government of India, in 2007.

He also won the UT-Austin Presidential Citation in 2005-2006 — the most prestigious award given by the school to its faculty.

Another major award he won was the Dirac Medal, which he won along with Nicola Cabibbo, for describing fundamental forces of nature.

Sudarshan was married to Lalita, whom he met while in school and married in 1954.

 


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