Jayant Narlikar

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Jayant Vishnu Narlikar
Jayant Vishnu Narlikar - Kolkata 2007-03-20 07324.jpg
Jayant Vishnu Narlikar
Born (1938-07-19) 19 July 1938 (age 76)
Kolhapur, India
Residence Pune, India
Nationality Indian
Fields Physics, astronomy
Institutions Cambridge University
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics
Alma mater Banaras Hindu University
Cambridge University
Doctoral advisor Fred Hoyle
Doctoral students Thanu Padmanabhan
Known for Quasi-steady state cosmology
Hoyle-Narlikar theory of gravity
Notable awards Padma Vibhushan (2004)
Adams Prize (1967)
Padma Bhushan (1965)

Jayant Vishnu Narlikar (born 19 July 1938) is an Indian astrophysicist.[1]

Narlikar is a proponent of steady state cosmology. He developed with Sir Fred Hoyle the conformal gravity theory, commonly known as Hoyle–Narlikar theory. It synthesises Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity and Mach's Principle. It proposes that the inertial mass of a particle is a function of the masses of all other particles, multiplied by a coupling constant, which is a function of cosmic epoch. In cosmologies based on this theory, the gravitational constant G decreases strongly with time.

Early life[edit]

Narlikar was born in Kolhapur, India on 19 July 1938 in a family of Karhade Brahmin scholars. His father, Vishnu Vasudev Narlikar, was a mathematician who served as a professor and later as the Head of the Department of Mathematics at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. Jayant's mother, Sumati Narlikar, was a scholar of Sanskrit language. Jayant studied in Kendriya Vidyalaya Banaras (till class 12) and Banaras Hindu University (12th onwards) campus, Varanasi.


Narlikar received his Bachelor of Science degree from Banaras Hindu University in 1957. He then began his studies at Fitzwilliam House, Cambridge University in England, where he received a B.A. in mathematics in 1959 and was Senior Wrangler.[2] This appears to have been the first time, and perhaps the only time, that a student was Senior Wrangler who was a non-collegiate member of the University at the time. In 1960, he won the Tyson Medal for astronomy. During his doctoral studies at Cambridge, he won the Smith's Prize in 1962. After receiving his PhD in 1963 under the guidance of Fred Hoyle, he served as a Berry Ramsey Fellow at King's College in Cambridge and earned an M.A. in astronomy and astrophysics in 1964. He continued to work as a Fellow at King's College until 1972. In 1966, Fred Hoyle established the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy in Cambridge, and Narlikar served as the founder staff member of the institute during 1966–72.

In 1972, Narlikar took up Professorship at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai, India. At the TIFR, he was in charge of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group. In 1988, the Indian University Grants Commission set up the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune, and Narlikar became the Founder-Director of IUCAA.

Narlikar is internationally known for his work in cosmology, especially in championing models alternative to the popular Big Bang model. During 1994–1997, he was the President of the Cosmology Commission of the International Astronomical Union. His research work has involved Mach's Principle, quantum cosmology, and action-at-a-distance physics.

During 1999–2003, Narlikar headed an international team in a pioneering experiment designed to sample air for microorganisms in the atmosphere at heights of up to 41 km. Biological studies of the collected samples led to the findings of live cells and bacteria,[citation needed] which introduced the possibility that the earth is being bombarded by microorganisms, some of which might have seeded life itself on earth.[citation needed][dubious ]

Narlikar was appointed as the Chairperson of The Advisory Group for Textbooks in Science and Mathematics, the textbook development committee responsible for developing textbooks in Science and Mathematics, published by NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training), which are used widely as standard textbooks in many Indian schools.


Narlikar has received several national and international awards and honorary doctorates. India's second highest civilian honour, Padma Vibhushan, was awarded to him in 2004 for his research work. Prior to this, in 1965, he was conferred Padma Bhushan.

He received Maharashtra Bhushan Award for the year 2010.[1]

He is a recipient of Bhatnagar Award, M.P. Birla Award, and the Prix Jules Janssen of the French Astronomical Society. He is an Associate of the Royal Astronomical Society of London, and a Fellow of the three Indian National Science Academies and the Third World Academy of Sciences.

Apart from his scientific research, Narlikar has been well known as a communicator of science through his books, articles, and radio & television programs. For these efforts, he was honoured in 1996 by the UNESCO with the Kalinga Award.

He was once featured on Carl Sagan's TV show Cosmos: A Personal Voyage in the late 1980s. He received the Indira Gandhi Award of the Indian National Science Academy in 1990.[3] He is a global figure in science.


Besides scientific papers and books and popular science literature, Narlikar has written science fiction, novels, and short stories in English, Hindi, and Marathi. He is also the consultant for the Science and Mathematics textbooks of NCERT (National Council for Educational Research and Training, India).


  • Facts and Speculations in Cosmology, with G. Burbridge, Cambridge University Press 2008, ISBN 978-0-521-13424-8
  • Current Issues in Cosmology, 2006
  • A Different Approach to Cosmology: From a Static Universe through the Big Bang towards Reality, 2005
  • Fred Hoyle's Universe, 2003
  • Scientific Edge: The Indian Scientist from Vedic to Modern Times, 2003
  • An Introduction to Cosmology, 2002
  • A Different Approach to Cosmology, with G. Burbridge and Fred Hoyle, Cambridge University Press 2000, ISBN 0-521-66223-0
  • Quasars and Active Galactic Nuclei: An Introduction, 1999
  • From Black Clouds to Black Holes, 1996
  • From Black Clouds to Black Holes (Third Edition), 2012[4]
  • Seven Wonders of the Cosmos, 1995
  • Philosophy of Science: Perspectives from Natural and Social Sciences, 1992
  • The extragalactic universe: an alternative view, with Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Nature 346:807–812, 30 August 1990.
  • Highlights in Gravitation and Cosmology, 1989
  • Violent Phenomena in the Universe, 1982
  • The Lighter Side of Gravity, 1982
  • Physics-Astronomy Frontier (co-author Sir Fred Hoyle), 1981
  • The Structure of the Universe, 1977
  • Creation of Matter and Anomalous Redshifts, 2002
  • Absorber Theory of Radiation in Expanding Universes, 2002
  • आकाशाशी जडले नाते (Akashashi Jadale Nate), (in Marathi)
  • नभात हसरे तारे (Nabhat hasare taare), (in Marathi)


In English:

  • The Return of Vaman, 1990
  • The Adventure
  • The Comet

In Marathi:

  • वामन परत न आला
  • यक्षांची देणगी
  • अभयारण्य
  • व्हायरस
  • प्रेषित
  • अंतराळातील भस्मासूर
  • टाईम मशीनची किमया


Personal life[edit]

Narlikar married a mathematics researcher and professor Mangala Rajwade who was later known as Dr. Mangala Narlikar. The couple have three daughters – Geeta, Girija and Leelavati. He is the uncle of the Cambridge University academic Amrita Narlikar.


  1. ^ a b "Narlikar honoured with Maharashtra Bhushan". The Times of India. 7 March 2011. 
  2. ^ Mitton, Simon (2005). Fred Hoyle: A Life in Science. Aurum. p. 275. ISBN 978-1-85410-961-3. 
  3. ^ Ernet.in
  4. ^ http://www.worldscibooks.com/physics/8148.html
  5. ^ Current Science May 20 1983 Vol 52 No 10 page 449

External links[edit]