Pune: Renowned Cosmologist Prof Thanu Padmanabhan, a theoretical physicist and Dean of the Academic Department of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, passed away in Pune on Friday following a massive heart attack, a top scientist said.
He was 64 and is survived by his wife Vasanthi and daughter Hamsa, both scientists.
Prof Thanu Padmanabhan, who hailed from Kerala and was conferred the Padma Shri in 2007, breathed his last at his home here, stunning the scientific community.
“This is one of the saddest days in the history of the IUCAA and the Indian scientific community today. Prof Thanu Padmanabhan passed away this morning as a result of a cardiac arrest,” IUCAA Director Somak Raychaudhury said in a message.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, and leading members of the Indian and international scientific fraternity have expressed grief over Padmanabhan’s death.
Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government, K. VijayRaghavan, condoled the death.
“Shocked to hear of the passing of Prof Thanu Padmanabhan. His research linking general relativity and thermodynamics in new ways, and in other areas, has been widely recognised. Scholar, communicator, extraordinary scientist, friend to many. He will be much missed,” he said.
Born on March 10, 1957 in Thiruvananthapuram, Padmanabhan’s areas of specialised research were dark energy, gravity and related fields.
Padmanabhan completed his primary education at the Karamana High School. He did his graduation and postgraduation, both with gold medals, from Kerala University. Padmanabhan published his first research paper on General Relativity at the age of 20 when he was still an undergraduate.
The physicist then joined the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, for his doctorate in Quantum Cosmology. Padmanabhan spent a year at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge.
He had a four-decade long scientific career. Padmanabhan authored over 300 research papers besides scientific books, articles, and textbooks on a variety of science topics.
At various times, Prof Thanu Padmanabhan served as Adjunct Faculty of TIFR, the Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru, the Indian Institute of Science, Education & Research, Pune and was Adjunct Faculty at IISER in Mohali.
Among various international honours, he served as the Chairman of the Time Allocation Committee of the Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope of NCRA (2006-2009). He has been Chairman and of the INSA’s National Committee (2008-2011). This interfaces with the activities of the International Astronomical Union, and other global bodies.
Prof Thanu Padmanabhan won several top national and global honours or awards for his significant contributions and achievements in science.