Eminent scientist, Prof. C. N. R. Rao inaugurated the two day national conference on 'Chemistry: Education and Research Frontiers' to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry 2011 at the Indira Gandhi National Open University's (IGNOU's) convention center in the capital today.
The on-going national conference is organized by the Sir C.V. Raman Chair for Science Education and School of Science (SOS) of the university wherein nearly 250 students and teachers from eminent schools and colleges participated in the morning session.
Prof. Rao delivered his keynote address on 'Glorious past and Exciting Future' of Chemistry and started with positioning the subject in the 18th century era. “People did not know in the 18th century that there is a subject called Chemistry. In 1911, no one knew about DNA. There were only few chemical compounds known to man then. Lavoisier was the father of chemistry. He was the first one to define the word compound. Today, it is 100 years of Nobel Prize to Madam Curie and if I am alive by the year 2016 then I shall celebrate 100 years of modern chemistry as well,” he started his lecture.
With the help of a presentation, he apprised the audience by introducing them to the various eminent chemists of the past viz, Dalton, Berthollet, Humphry Davy and J.J. Berzelius. “Chemistry became three dimensional because of Van't Hoff,” he said.
Prof. Rao threw light on Michael Faraday's achievements and his association with Davy. “Chemistry is an old subject. It is not just doing but understanding. In the first century, there were only seven elements known to us; in the 16th C there were 10 and subsequently today, in the 20th C, we know 114 of them,” he said.
“The subject is not just about reading books or just doing experiments. It requires intuition. You have to come up with an idea which may or may not work,” he said.
Describing the modern chemistry era he said, “When did modern chemistry start? It started when it was said that a chemical bond is nothing but two electrons between two atoms. The 1960 view of chemistry was based on structure, synthesis and dynamics. This subject is like a phoenix which rises from its own ashes.”
Other dignitaries present on the dais were Prof. K.R. Srivathsan, Pro VC, IGNOU, Prof. P.T. Manoharan, C.V. Raman Chair Professor, IGNOU, Dr. Geeta Kaicker, IGNOU, Prof. Javed. A. Farooqui, SOS, IGNOU and Prof. Shakti .R. Ahmed, IGNOU.