The International Science Literature Festival opened on Tuesday as a part of the India International Science Festival, 2019, which is being held in Kolkata. Organised by CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR) and Vigyan Prasar, the science literature festival is being attended by over 200 invitees, researchers and scientists.
As part of the festival, a Guinness World Record for the ‘largest astrophysics lesson and assembly of spectroscopes’ was successfully achieved at the Science City, with the participation of over 1,598 students. The lecture lasted 45 minutes.
Spectroscopes are used by astronomers to know details like temperature and chemical composition of celestial objects hundreds or millions of light-years away. A small model of a spectroscope can easily be made by anyone using a cardboard box with a narrow window used to channel light into it. A piece of a compact disc is used to split the light by diffraction.
Eminent computer scientist Dr Vijay Bhatkar, who was the chief guest, said that the dimension of scientific literature is very important for science communication. He added that the IISF’s science literature fair is a welcome step that connects the masses to science.
Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, in his keynote address said that science communication was as important to scientists as it is vital to the different sections of society. Prof. Sharma added that communication of science is a major scientific social responsibility and we need to encourage scientists and researchers to take to popular science writing as well.
Distinguished physicist, author, philosopher and musician, Dr Partha Ghose, said that without science literature, science cannot grow roots. He said that science fiction is an important part of science literature and we need many more science fiction writers in India.
In a separate event at the festival, Minister for Science and Technology, Earth Sciences and Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan, said that India shared a common past and goal with many of its close neighbours and other partner countries that have served to forge an unbreakable association with India.
Addressing delegates from various countries during the Overseas Ministers and Diplomats Conclave, Dr Vardhan emphasised the need to harness the soft power of science and technology as an important pillar of the cooperation in the knowledge economy of the 21st century. He said the government strongly believed that science and technology is the bedrock upon which the country relies for its knowledge power, enterprises for their success, and the people for a better life. This government is therefore fully committed to promote science with a human face that serves the common man and promotes equitable and sustainable development of the country, he added.