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Seeing stars!

PHOTO: R.V. MOORTHY

A NEW VIEW S. Jagadisan with his star chart

Galileo died for saying the sun was the centre of the universe and the earth, along with other planets, was merely in orbit around this life-giving centre of our universe. He went down in history for his sacrifice in the cause of scientific research that flew in the face of age-old religious faith.

New contention

And now, in an age when science is more of a religion for many than the kind practiced in places of worship, to come across someone who dares to contradict this `deity' of scientific reasoning is nothing short of shocking. But S. Jagadisan, who claims to have made a detailed mathematical study of the night sky, has no compunctions in stating that Galileo was wrong after all.

"The sun is not at the centre of our planetary system," explains the Karol Bagh resident. "What Galileo said was completely incorrect."

Jagadisan's theory might have sparked a row in the scientific community, except that he is not a scientist. He runs a `mess' - a small restaurant - and is not highly educated. It was when his wife was studying for her B.Ed examination that he was bitten by the astronomy bug.

"I used to draw the star charts, etc. for her project work. That was when I became interested in the subject. I have observed the sky a lot and I also like to do mathematical calculations," relates Jagadisan, armed with a folder full of charts he has drawn himself, showing positions of the earth vis--vis the other celestial bodies.

"I approached the Nehru Planetarium, but they refused to give me a hearing. People just don't want to consider my theory. But one gentleman from the Indian Council for Scientific Research says I could be right."

Jagadisan does not converse in English. To follow his arguments, you have to be well versed in both Tamil and astronomy. Whether he is right or not is for astronomers to decide. Even if he had not been `merely' a small-time restaurateur, this proposition would have met with resistance. But our perception of knowledge is certainly not permanent. Didn't Pluto, which we grew up hearing was the ninth planet, just get unceremoniously divested of its title?

ANJANA RAJAN

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