Eminent Indian-American theoretical physicist EC George Sudarshan has been cremated in the US state of Texas, with his family and friends attending the last rites. Sudarshan, 86, who is survived by his wife Bhamathi Sudarshan and two children, died of natural causes on May 13 in Austin, Texas. His two sons Alex and Ashok performed the last rites at the Beck Funeral home near Roundrock. His wife Bhamathi sang Sudarshan’s favourite song on Goddess Saraswathi. The University of Texas at Austin, where he worked since 1969, mourned his passing away. Several students and faculty from the Physics department attended the cremation service and spoke highly of the professor and his works. Consul General of India at Houston was represented by Consul Ashok Sockalingam.
Sam Kannappan, a close friend of Sudarshan for the past 50 years, has proposed that a scholarship or a lecture series may be established in the name of the eminent physicist. Sudarshan, an outstanding theoretical physicist, was born in Kottayam, Kerala in 1931. The professional career of Sudarshan spans five decades. He was a distinguished member of the Physics Faculty at the University of Texas from 1969. He was nominated for Nobel Prize in Physics nine times but was never awarded. Sudarshan was awarded the Dirac Medal in 2010, which is known to be given out to scientists who have made substantial contributions in theoretical physics, computational chemistry and mathematics. His numerous contributions to theoretical physics include the V-A Weak Interaction unification, symmetry groups in quantum field theory, the Sudarshan p representation, superluminal motion, spin and statics, quantum optical coherence, quantum Zeno effect and the infamous tachyon, the particle that moves faster than the speed of light.
He received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in 1958 and then moved to Harvard University to work with Julian Schwinger as a postdoctoral fellow. After serving on the faculties of the University of Rochester and Syracuse University, he settled at the University of Texas at Austin in 1969. In 2007, the Indian government recognised and awarded the physicist with the second highest civilian award Padma Vibhushan. A professor of physics at the University of Texas at Austin from 1969 to 2016, he made many important contributions to theoretical physics on the Indian National Science Academy (1977) and the Dirac Medal (2010). Working with his Ph.D. advisor Robert Marshak, Sudarshan created the V-A theory of the weak force, a discovery that was crucial to the unification of the weak and electromagnetic interactions by Steven Weinberg, Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow, which in turn led to the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Along with Roy Glauber, Sudarshan developed a quantum mechanical description of light that would become the foundation of a new field: quantum optics. Glauber went on to share the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics for that work. Sudarshan and his graduate student V K Deshpande first proposed the existence of particles called tachyons that would violate Einstein’s theory of relativity by travelling faster than the speed of light. They would also have the bizarre consequence of allowing signals to be received by an observer before it was actually sent, violating the principle of causality. So far, no experimental evidence has been found to support their existence.
Even during his tenure at the University of Texas at Austin, he continued to contribute to research and education in India, serving as a senior professor at the Center for Theoretical Studies at the Indian Institute of Sciences (1971- 1991) and director of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai (1984-1991).