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Varadaraja Raman

Professor Emeritus of Physics and Humanities, Rochester Institute of Technology; former President, Institute on Religion in an Age of Science

Varadaraja V. Raman is Emeritus Professor of Physics and Humanities at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

He has lectured and written profusely on many aspects of Indian heritage and culture and authored numerous books, more than 300 book reviews and scores of articles on science and religion. He is an active member of organizations devoted to building understanding between science and the humanities. He has been elected Senior Fellow of the Metanexus Institute, and was the recipient of the Raja Rao Award, which honours and recognizes writers who have made an outstanding contributions to the literature of the South Asian Diaspora. He has written a web column entitled Reflections on Remote Roots, which is widely circulated to people of Indian heritage in many parts of the world.

His undergraduate work was in physics, and his first postgraduate degree was in mathematics, all at the University of Calcutta. His doctoral work at the University of Paris, carried out in the medium of the French language under the supervision of the Nobel laureate Louis de Broglie, was in theoretical physics, specifically on the mathematical underpinning of quantum mechanics.

He served the UNESCO for a few years, during which time he became more interested in the history and philosophy of science. His varied interests took him into avenues of work well outside the confines to which many physicists are limited. Eventually, he settled down at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the USA 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 18th 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.

In 1988, he was nominated by his university’s president, and was a recipient of the Outstanding Educator award, presented in Washington D.C. by the American Association of Higher Education.

Raman has been a member of the Calcutta Mathematical Society, American Physical Society, American Association of Physics Teachers, Philosophy of Science Association and History of Science Society. 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, the Martin Luther King Commission of Rochester. He was elected the 2004-2005 Metanexus Fellow on Science and Religion, in which capacity he delivered six lectures at the Hillel Hall of the University of Pennsylvania on Indic Visions in an Age of Science.

Dr. Raman has been for many years a member and lecturer at the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS) where he has been active in the discussions on Religious Naturalism. He offers both the perspective of a scientist (physicist) and that of a teacher of a New Age religion.


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Variety in Religion and Science: Daily Reflections

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