Dr Nergis Mavalvala becomes first recipient of Lahore Technology Award

LAHORE: Fumbling, stumbling, grumbling, lost in the world of physics and walking on the unplanned paths, Professor Nergis Mavalvala from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was able to solve the centuries old mystery about gravitational waves.

“I used to repair bicycles and did hours long chemistry concoction in Karachi. My first forays of research were in college time when I got to know there is a whole field of science where I could pursue my career,” she said.

Dr Nergis Mavalvala is a professor of astrophysics and head of physics department at MIT . She is a Parsi celebrity scientist. Mavalvala is best known for her role in first observation of gravitational waves, the team in which she was working also got the Nobel Prize in Physics.

She delivered a lecture on ‘The Warped Universe: hundreds years quest to detect gravitational waves, Ligo and Virgo Collaborations’ at Arfa Software Technology Park on Sunday. She was awarded first ‘Lahore Technology Award’ institutionalised by the Syndicate of Information Technology University (ITU) on her discovery of gravitational waves.

She was born in Lahore and raised in Karachi.

In her lecture Dr Nergis narrated in a story style about the warped universe, discussing the cosmic address, story of the exploded black holes, explaining gravity messages, device to measure detectable gravitational waves. A large number of audience took keen interest in her scientific observations.

She said the journey of gravitational waves starting from Newton and reached at its optimal level in the time of Einstein. She said through the discovery on the gravitational waves we will be solving some of the unsolved mysteries of the universe.

It was a time when you think, gravitational waves are faint and they ripple of space-time travelling at the speed of light. They even stretch and compress space-time itself.

She mentioned that detector Ligo and Virgo are not only two detectors in the world, there are three in Italy and a 3km detector is under construction in Japan.

With the advancement in physics, Einstein’s General Relatively theory seems to be correct that black holes exist and they even form pairs, she said.

“But there are puzzles too. How does nature makes heavy black holes and how they form pairs is still a question,” Dr Mavalvala said.

The recent discovery has solved some of the mysteries too like heavy metals like gold and platinum are formed in neutron star and mergers.

She said with using gravity alone or with light a new tool for unimagined new discoveries in universe can be unearth.

ITU Vice Chancellor Dr Umar Saif said in his welcoming remarks that Pakistan does not have major academic award to acknowledge and celebrate the services of Pakistani scientists.

“Lahore Technology Award first recipient sets the bar extremely high and signaled what we believe is a befitting example to emulate for Pakistani scientists,” he added.

“Lahore Technology Award backed by $30,000 is a token of gesture to our distinguished guest.”

The example of Dr Nergis would encourage more female to come forward to offer distinctive services in the field of technology, he said.

Published on The Nation