My ideas of good experiments has been always oriented towards physics, although I must admit that I did not eventually get around to the type I really wanted to do. We had to make do with what was available.
As young men we were more influenced by G. N. Ramachandran, C. V Raman, J. C. Bose, Meghnath Saha. They were all physicists. There were few original physical chemists, in fact. It remains like that.
Those were the days before IITK influenced India. After IITK there was considerable style and promise but very little delivery on substance.
Of the chemists I know in India, only one in my mind has drawn world attention for his and his group’s original (emphasis on original) and (so far) lasting contributions on supramolecular synthons to crystal chemistry. I attempted to collaborate with him using my insights from atomic sizes. In a way, this collaboration was disappointing. In my discussions with him and my perusal of the work in the literature I realized that the way the synthon word was being used was not consistent. I tried to improve upon it when I wrote a manuscript. I think I put the word synthon in a correct perspective.
There was some acrimony after that which I lament. I wanted to be the corresponding author having written the entire paper without any discussion with my collaborator except some references which need to be put in for political correctness. (see my blog The Golden Bough, Sciencophansy and the * on a Chemist at http://caprarius-aquacorn.blogspot.com of Dec 28 2009)
My insistence on being the corresponding author was not a part of my scientific ethic before this time nor is it now. There is no longer a science in which one debates, I guess. I was only trying to put in the unfortunately accepted practice in scientific echelons of what has become the most important part of a publication, the star on the author indicating to whom the correspondence should be addressed.
There is a solid state chemist (always with a * if he can help it since way back beyond) who has drawn attention for several important things notably for the volume of work he has produced from a third world (emphasis on “third world”) country and for the volume of awards he has thereby received. It is truly phenomenal and nothing more can be said, no matter how much one may want to huff and puff. For all his efforts, he should have got the big daddy long back. All said and done the world (my world at least) perhaps seems to conclude that originality and reproducibility has not been his forte. Now that I put this down, let us hope he gets the Nobel Prize especially when the flavour is India.
Listed below are some of the experimental areas, I have been in. I did chemistry because (Rev. Fr. L. M. ) Yeddanapalli, my research guide, impressed upon us to do experiments and contribute to the nation’s wealth. His emphasis was on original applications and working with one’s own hand. Yeddanapalli, who was in Princeton and was part of the Manhattan project (perhaps) is my true science guru.
I always wanted to do crystal growth of the perfect kind. All I could do was to talk on crystal growth from melt in space — because of exhortations from the organizers of a conference on space in 1980. Giving such a talk used to be alright in India even when you have not worked on an area. I needlessly spent considerable time preparing for this talk. I am including it here in memory of the effort I put in which was not
The main areas of my work are the following: