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B M Birla Centre to produce low-cost science exhibits

A view of the exhibit set up by the B M Birla Science Centre at Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh
A view of the exhibit set up by the B M Birla Science Centre at Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh
The Hyderabad-based B.M.Birla Science Centre, acclaimed to be among the best in the world for dissemination of science, has embarked on an ambitious  project to produce low-cost interactive science exhibits.
 
The centre has already developed, fabricated and installed such low-cost exhibits in Hyderabad at the Defence Research and Development Laboratories (DRDL) School, the Indian institute of Chemical Technology School, the Jawahar Bal Bhavan and six regional science centres in different parts of Andhra Pradesh besides in Jaipur (Rajasthan ), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Raipur (Chhattisgarh) and Agra (Uttar Pradesh).
 
The centre, which has attracted more than 13 million visitors during its 27 years of existence, has also developed hi-tech World Bank-aided museums and a uniue Dinosaurium, which is one of the best in the world, according to Dr.B G Siddharth, director of the centre.
 
The fact that 26 Nobel laureates and scores of world class scientists of equal calibre have participated in its multifarious activities over the years bear  testimony to the laudable work being carried out at the centre, which has emerged as one of the most prestigious centres for dissemination of science in the country.
 
In February 2005 the Science Centre entered into a formal agreement for establishing the International Institute for Applicable Mathematics and Information Sciences (IIAMIS) with hubs at the Centre and also at the University of  Udine, Italy. 
 
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The hub in the B.M. Birla Science Centre networks with Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Pune, the Department of Information Technology, Government of Andhra Pradesh and the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai. 
 
The hub in Udine, Italy networks with European Universities such as those in Genova and Valencia. The Centre provides opportunities for young Indian researchers to pursue doctoral work in Europe. It also provides post-graduate training in Information Sciences for selected candidates. 
 
The agreement to this effect was signed by Mr Kapil Sibal, then Union Minister for Science and Technology and Ms. L. Moratti, the Italian Minister for Science and Technology and Universities, in the presence of the Presidents of India and Italy in Delhi, during the latter’s visit. The MOU with the individual partners was also signed in Delhi.
 
The Centre has instituted the prestigious B.M. Birla Science Prizes for Indian scientists below the age of 40 for outstanding original contributions in the fields of Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Life Sciences. The prize amount is Rs 1 lakh per subject per year. The scientists are carefully selected by a distinguished award board. 
 
The prizes have been given away apart from Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, then President of India, by Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao, then Prime Minister of India,  Nobel Laureates Lord George Porter, Ilya Prigogine, Roald Hoffmann, Klaus von Klitzing, Prof. ‘t Hooft, Prof. Charles Townes, Prof. Douglas D. Osheroff , Prof. Cohen-Tannoudji, Prof. Robert Curl, Prof. William D. Phillips, Prof. Anthony James Leggett and Prof. Ei-ichi Negishi.
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The Centre also gives away the Lifetime Achievement in Science Award to the most distinguished scientists in the world. This award has been given so far to Prof. Yuval Ne’eman and Nobel Laureates Prof. Abdus Salam, Prof. Norman Borlaug, Sir Aaron Klug, Prof. James Watson, Prof. Ilya Prigogine, Prof. Roald Hoffman, Prof. Klaus Von Klitzing, Prof. Gerard ‘t Hooft, Prof. S. Chu, Prof. Charles Townes, Sir Harold Kroto , Prof. Douglas D Osheroff and Prof. Cohen-Tannoudji, Prof. Robert Curl, Prof. William D. Phillips and Prof. Anthony James Leggett.
 
The B.M. Birla Memorial Lecture Series was instituted by the B.M. Birla Science Centre, Hyderabad about 20 yeas ago. The idea was to give an opportunity to the larger scientific community to hear some of the greatest scientific minds in the world. The eminent scientists who have delivered the B.M. Birla Memorial Lecture include Sir Fred Hoyle, Nobel Laureates Professors William Fowler, Abdus Salam, Lord George Porter, Antony Hewish, Norman Ramsey, Aarun Klug, Ilya Prigogine, Werner Arber, Kluas von Klitzing, Roald Hoffmann, Charles Townes, Gerard ‘t Hooft, S. Chu,  James Watson, Herald Kroto, Douglas D Osheroff, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, John Kendrew, Robert Curl, Prof. William D. Phillips and  Prof. Anthony J. Leggett.
 
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During the silver jubilee year of the B.M. Birla Science Centre, construction of the G.P. Birla Observatory and Astronomical Research Centre was started. This building is a tribute to one of the greatest visionaries and philanthropists of India, Padma Bhushan Ganga Prasad Birla, is an iconic landmark of Hyderabad atop the Naubat Pahad, laced with gardens and situated right in the heart of the city. 
 
The roof of this impressive building houses the Astronomical Observatory. The Observatory is an Indo-French collaborative effort and is one of the few public observatories in India. At selected times amateurs and interested persons could use the Observatory and see for themselves the marvels of the universe. Lectures, Seminars and other such events around the Observatory are also planned. The Observatory itself houses a very sophisticated compact telescope which is capable of even detecting exo planets.
 
The lower floors of this imposing structure have sections for Research, Educational Courses, and a Library. Research on High Energy Astrophysics is ongoing. These programmes have an international collaborative flavour.
 
In addition to astronomy, it is envisaged that there would be courses in Science Teaching for School Teachers, as also more advanced courses 
in Computer Science and Information Technology and Management and Finance. 
 
The annexe houses the Nirmala Birla Gallery for Modern Art, to give an artistic touch to the elitists of science.
 
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