Beech River Books

Varadaraja V. Raman

Ivan G. Burnell
Excerpts from information presented by Professor Nitant Kenkre, University of New Mexico:

Varadaraja V. Raman, recipient of the Raja Rao Award (2006), is a philosopher, physicist, writer, and a man distinguished by a sense of humor and cultural wisdom. Raman was born into a Tamil family who had resettled in Bengal. He received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in physics and mathematics from the University of Calcutta. His doctoral work in Paris, under the supervision of the Nobel laureate Louis de Broglie, was in theoretical physics, specifically on the mathematical underpinning of quantum mechanics.

As a youth, Raman was drawn to poetry and philosophy, to mathematics and music, to languages and literature. He was fascinated by the depth and scope of meaningful knowledge that science has brought to humanity, and impressed by the power and coherence of scientific methodology. He grew up reading and reflecting on humanity's heritage. With strong links to his own tradition, he now regards himself as a human being most of all, with respect and sympathy for all that is enriching, ennobling, and enlightening in human culture.

After obtaining his doctorate from the Sorbonne, he returned to India and worked at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics. Then he served UNESCO for a few years, during which time he became more interested in the history and philosophy of science. Eventually, he settled at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the United States as a professor of Physics and Humanities. He went on to publish extensively on the historical, philosophical, and social aspects of science. His scholarly papers on those matters have been on the history of thermodynamics, the origins of physical chemistry, the genesis of the Schrödinger equation, the early reactions to Einstein's theory of relativity, the impact of the Copernican revolution, and on the Euler-D'Alembert controversy in eighteenth century mathematical physics. He has also written on such topics as the history of the theory of gravitation, of the energy conservation principle, and of acoustics.

He has lectured on many aspects of Indian heritage and culture and is the author of several books on that theme: Glimpses of Indian Heritage, Satanama: Hundred Names from India's Past, Nuggets from the Gita and Reflections from Alien Shores.

Since the 1990s Professor Raman has been very involved with the emerging academic field of Science and Religion. In this field he has published papers in Zygon: Journal on Science and Religion, as well as in Science and Spirit. He was elected the 2004-2005 Senior Metanexus Fellow on Science and Religion.

Dr. Raman has been a member of the Calcutta Mathematical Society, American Physical Society, American Association of Physics Teachers, Philosophy of Science Association, History of Science Society, the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science. He has served on the Editorial Board of The (American) Physics Teacher. He has served as the President of various cultural/social organizations, including the Interfaith Forum of Rochester, the India Community Center of Rochester, the Bengali Association of Rochester, the Rochester Tamil Sangam (which he founded and served on the board of), the Martin Luther King Commission of Rochester, the Metanexus Institute on Science and Religion, and the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science. He is an elected member of the International Society for Science and Religion."

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Truth and Tension in Science and Religion (Beech River Books, 2009) is an examination of the frameworks of science and religion that provides a multi-cultural view of how they affect our perception of the truth. Raman argues for an openness of heart, mind and spirit. The human story, he tells us with disarming warmth, is much too grand to be narrated only from one perspective.


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