Thanu Padmanabhan was a Distinguished Professor at the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) at Pune, India. He died aged 64 years.
Padmanabhan’s research Interests included studying the interface between Gravity and Quantum theory and the structure formation in the universe. “I worry a lot about putting together the principles of quantum theory and gravity in a consistent manner,” he wrote on his lab page. “How did structures like galaxies, clusters of galaxies, etc. form? I try to get somewhere in understanding this question though progress has become very difficult in the recent years since this area has become fashionable,” he added.
A globally-renowned theoretical physicist, Padmanabhan completed his undergraduate and postgraduate at the University of Kerala. He joined the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in 1979 to pursue a doctoral degree and went to the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, UK with a postdoctoral fellowship. Some of the positions he occupied were as Chairman of the Astrophysics Commission of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), President of the Cosmology Commission of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), Sackler Distinguished Astronomer of the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge.
Padmanabhan was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007 and the Infosys Prize for Physical Sciences in 2009. The citation for the Infosys Prize read,
“The Infosys Prize in Physical Sciences goes to Professor Thanu Padmanabhan in recognition of his contribution to a deeper understanding of Einstein’s Theory of Gravity in the context of thermodynamics, and for his work on the [large-scale] structure in cosmology.”
Read more about Thanu Padmanabhan (in his words), his work, books (advanced level and popular science), and lectures on his lab page.