Friday, May 2, 2008

Planet named after Indian Scientist

Move over politicians here comes a scientist who beats you at getting something named after him. Politicans get streets and buildings named after them, but a rare honour has come the way of Dr Sainudeen Pattazhy, a professor of zoology at the S.N. College in Kollam, Kerala

A minor planet in the solar system, which earlier bore just the number 5718 CD4, has now been named after the Kollam based scientist. It is now called "5718 Pattazhy".

Pattazhy was surprised when a representative of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, run by the space agency NASA, telephoned him on Wednesday evening. “I’m not a space scientist and initially thought someone was pulling my leg,” he told the media “But the official explained that my name was chosen after going through my research papers.”

Pattazhy, who teaches zoology at a local college, has carried out pioneering research on many environment related issues such as the phenomenon of ‘red rain’ —which occurred in Kerala in 2001—the control of mosquitoes, the eco biology of ‘sacred groves’, and the health hazards posed by mobile phone towers.

Pattazhy’s suggestions on the health hazards posed by mobile towers are still pending with the Union Ministry of Environment. According to him, the radiation would affect people residing within 300 metres of the towers.

The minor planet — to be henceforth known as ‘5718 Pattazhy’ — was discovered by US-based space scientist Dr R Rajmohan in 1989. There are around 400,000 ‘minor planets’ or asteroids in the solar system, of which 185,685 have well defined orbits and have been allotted numbers by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Around 14,000 of them have been given names.

“It seems the discoverer of the planet forwarded my name after going through my work,” said Pattazhy, adding that he had no idea why he was chosen.

It seems foreigners recognice pioneering work done by Indian scientists more than the Indian Government. Anyways, congratulations Dr Pattazhy, we are proud of you.
Next time you look up you can say," There goes Dr Sainudeen Pattazhy for another spin around the solar system.

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