The Ruhr-Universität mourns Padma Kant Shukla

“International ambassador“ and brilliant scientist passed away

Almost 40 years of physics at the RUB

The Ruhr-Universität Bochum mourns Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Padma Kant Shukla (Physics and Astronomy). He died from a heart attack in New Delhi, India on January 26th, 2013. Shortly before, Prof. Shukla had travelled to India to receive the prestigious Hind Rattan Award from Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. The award of the NRI Welfare Society of India honours the outstanding contributions of Prof. Shukla to his research area ( “With Padma Kant Shukla, the first head of the International Chair at the RUB, we lose one of our greatest scientists and a committed ambassador of the RUB in the world,” RUB Rector Prof. Elmar Weiler said. This year, Padma Shukla would have celebrated his 40th anniversary at RUB.

From India to Bochum

Padma Kant Shukla was born in Tulapur, India in 1950. He moved to Europe when he was 21 years old. In 1993, he became a German citizen. Since 1973, Padma Shukla had worked at the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy at the Ruhr-Universität. With great commitment and outstanding enthusiasm he researched at the interface of astrophysics and plasma physics. He regularly published his results in high ranking scientific journals and contributed to more than 1,400 publications in total. During the past years, he received numerous awards. The Nicholson medal, which was given to him as the first Western European in 2005, is one of the most outstanding examples. In autumn 2006, he was the first German citizen to be elected into the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Physics division, which comprises only few researchers worldwide. As a member of the academy he advised the Nobel Prize committee.

“Ambassador“ of the RUB

Since 2010, Padma Kant Shukla was head of the Internaitonal Chair at the RUB. As “ambassador” he expanded the university’s network across country borders and disciplines and increased its reputation abroad. The RUB awards the “International Chair” for a duration of five years to renowned researchers which foster the internationalization of the university in outstanding ways. With his excellent worldwide contacts, Padma Shukla performed this task in an unprecedented manner. “With his impressive creative power, Padma Shukla attracted many young researchers and prestigious colleagues from all over the world to Bochum,” Prof. Ralf-Jürgen Dettmar, dean of the faculty, said.

Research on dusty plasmas and giant waves

Dusty plasmas, as they occur for instance in the rings of Saturn, were one of the main research interests of Prof. Shukla. In these plasmas, he discovered the so called dust acoustic waves. In 2009, he and his American colleagues unravelled the “Mystery of the Voyager”. The spacecraft had detected small particles in the solar wind which were “hotter” than they were supposed to be according to a theory which existed since 1941. Furthermore, Shukla together with researchers from Sweden theoretically calculated and simulated how small ocean waves develop into giant freak waves under certain circumstances.

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