Why the sky is blue – A Different Raman Effect


Why the sky is blue: Dr C.V. Ramn talks about science by Chandralekha Patel, Dashrath Patel

A famous scientist is mid-speech, vigorously moving his hands about as he looks up in wonder and says ‘One thing leads to another. That is the essence of science. You must go where it leads you. The moment you raise a question, another arises. Then another arises. Ultimately, you find you have to travel the whole field of science before you get the answer for why the sky is blue

The scientist is C.V. Raman. There is another famous twosome listening to him. One of them, the dancer Chandralekha and the other, the founder member of National Institute of Design, Dashrath Patel. The dancer delights at the animation before her – the moving hands, like sparks of movements telling a story. She instructs her friend Mr. Patel to click photos of Dr. Raman and she gives him real time cues on the exact moments she wants clicked.

These black and white photographs along with a paragraph long thought of Raman are put together in a book, a page each of both. A broadsheet slim book meant for children 8 and up, but read with a delight for detail and collaboration by this adult. The text is an extraction from  a famous lecture delivered by Raman at the Community Science Centre in Ahmedabad on 22 December 1968, with apparently many young ones in the audience.
This book is a little known gem, as this unlikely partnership conveys Raman’s curiosity and passion for science so simply and photographically.
While it is a light intro to why the sky is blue, what it manages to do is return one to the essence of wonder and questioning. Which begins best not from judgement and accusations, but from curiosity. A scientist’s curiosity conveyed to the young through a dancer’s curiosity for the scientist’s expression. A helpful talented friend who helps execute the idea. Making this book a real collector’s item, both for lovers of science and meaningful collaborations.All three are long dead and a few lovely editions of this book by Tulika Publications are available online. WHY THE SKY IS BLUE – This Raman Effect is subtle, simple and beautiful. using black and white photographs to convey the essence of a turning, alive mind. Listening deeply is an art and the one who does that is always a real artist. A little book for children reminded me of this, from a science meeting of another time. Your kids too might enjoy!

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Tisha Srivastav

Tisha Srivastav's core passion is one on one gupshup, loafing and writing. Career wise, this turned into experiments in effective communication across media. From reporting for India's first environmental video magazine on national television to documentary length reports on NDTV to content curation for Yahoo India. Creative response to specific audiences and connecting the mainstream with the lesser known are abiding professional interests. She considers reading to be as deep a human privilege as real dialogue. She has a soft spot for poetry and the Himalaya.

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