About the author
Specializing in Einstein’s general theory of relativity, Vishveshwara has worked extensively on the theory of black holes, making major contributions to this exciting field of research since its very beginning. For instance, he was one of the first ones to analyse the structure of black holes employing spacetime symmetries thereby demonstrating the existence of the ergosphere. He proved the stability of the non-rotating Schwarzschild black hole, a crucial factor that ensures its continued existence after formation. Further, he discovered the quasinormal modes of black holes. These modes of black hole vibrations would be one of the main targets of observation when the gravitational wave detectors, being set up all over the world, become functional. In recent years, he has been investigating black holes in cosmological backgrounds, an important aspect of black hole physics that has hardly been explored. Vishveshwara has also made significant contributions to other areas of general relativity such as the exact solutions of Einstein’s field equations, gravitational collapse, compact stellar objects, inertial forces, and spacetime perturbations.
Vishveshwara received his AM degree from Columbia University and PhD from the University of Maryland, and subsequently served on the faculties of New York University, Boston University, and University of Pittsburgh. After his return to his hometown of Bangalore, India, he has been a senior professor at the Raman research Institute and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics. Vishveshwara has also held the position of Visiting Professor at several universities including University of Pennsylvania, University of Maryland, Boston University, University of London, and Universidad del Pais Vasco.
In addition to authoring a number of technical papers, Vishveshwara has co-edited ten volumes on relativity, astrophysics and cosmology that have been brought out by leading publishers such as Cambridge University Press and Kluwer Academic Publishers. He has contributed articles to these volumes and illustrated two of the volumes with his cartoons, which have been highly appreciated. Further, he has written a number of popular articles on various topics in science. As founder-director of the Planetarium in Bangalore, he has written the scripts of several planetarium programmes and directed them. These have proved to be exceedingly popular because of the simple and attractive manner in which difficult concepts have been presented. Vishveshwara has also produced two short science films.
For a more detailed profile of Vishveshwara and further account of his contributions, see Black Holes, Gravitational Radiation and the Universe: Essays in Honour of C.V.Vishveshwara, Bala R. Iyer and Biplab Bhawal eds, Kluwer Academic Publishers (1999).
Popular Science Contributions:
1."Geometry and the Universe" in Cosmic Perspecives, eds. SK Biswas, DCV Mallik, and CV Vishveshwara, Cambridge University Press(1989).
This volume contains articles by eminent people like Sir Joseph Needham, Hanbury-Brown, Brandon Carter, Fred Hoyle etc. It got excellent reviews including my article.
2."After the Fall: From Adam and Eve to Apples and Elevators", Gravitation and Relativity: At the Turn of the Millenium - Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation(1998).
This is the expanded and illustrated version of the after dinner talk I gave at the conference. Prof CJS Clarke of Southampton University wrote in his review of the volume that 'Vishveshwara's article alone makes the book worth buying.'
3."Leaves from an Unwritten Diary. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar - Reminiscences and Reflections"
It was published by Current Science, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, India, which has circulation in both UK and USA. It is on their website which can be found throgh Google. Again, the article was highly acclaimed.
4."New Cosmos" and "Cosmic Perspectives". Two articles commissioned by Gran Enciclopedia del Mundo, Spain. Translated into Spanish from original English text.
5.Articles under the heading 'Out of Focus' - light-hearted short essays on different subjects.
The author contributes a poem on relativity for the Einstein Experiment pursued by Lettre International of Berlin.
In the press
From pre-publication reviews:
"Beautifully written and thoroughly entertaining, Vishveshwara's "Einstein's Enigma" provides an authoritative but distinctly original approach to an explanation of basics and subtleties of Einstein's general relativity and of the astrophysics of black holes. I warmly recommend it to beginner and expert alike."
Prof. Roger Penrose, Author of Shadows of the Mind and The Road to Reality
"The main dish in this feast is a clear and sound presentation of the science underlying black holes from a distinguished scientist who has been contributing to their study since before they were named. Furthermore this science is presented in a sauce of philosophy, history, literature, gastronomy and imagination from an entertaining personality who needs several alter egos to show all the different ways he can think about his subject. Among the cartoons and drawings are the few lines of optional mathematics which are included for those who like that approach."
Prof. Charles W. Misner, Co-author of Gravitation by Misner, Thorne and Wheeler
"The unusual format and whimsical style of "Einstein's Enigma" should not obscure the fact that this is a serious book,which aims to get across the essentials of the theory of general relativity and some related topics to a readership which is not assumed to be fluent in advanced mathematics.
I believe the author, who has a long experience in presenting this kind of material to non-specialist audiences, has succeeded in the task he has set himself; the book will amply repay sustained and diligent reading by even a totally unmathematical reader."
Prof. Anthony J. Leggett, Nobel Laureate in Physics, 2003
From the reviews:
"The only thing this intoxicating is Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories."
Dr. Richard Isaacson, former Program Director for Gravitational Physics, Physics Division, National Science Foundation, USA.
"...an innovative way of trying to explain some of the most complicated concepts in physics to beginners and it contains one of the best accounts I've ever read of the (almost Damscene) conversion of a newcomer to the pleasure of a night's observing. As Nietzsche said: 'What would be the joy of a star but for those who behold it?'"
David Reid, BBC Sky at Night, April 2007
"Vishveshwara’s is among the more successful presentations of a most sophisticated, important, and beautiful theory of 20th-century physics--Einstein’s general relativity and its most fascinating corollary, the existence of black holes. … A book to inform, enrich, and entertain every science-educated reader. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through professionals." (V. V. Raman, CHOICE, Vol. 44 (11), July, 2007)
"The author is a major specialist in the field of relatvity, astrophysics and gravitation, and is currently working in Bangalore, India. ... According to me, this book deserves a very large audience: it is very different from all the popular science books written on the subject and as such will be appreciated even by the non-physicists. The physicists will probably learn new things, while the specialists in astrophysics and gravitation will certainly enjoy this new and fresh insight in their field." (Fabrice Louche, Physicalia Magazine, Vol. 29 (4), 2007)
"The author blends fiction, fantasy, physics and philosophy to tell the story of gravitation theory...and the astrophysics of black holes. He not only succeeds at doing this; he entertains readers with delightful digressions and illustrates key concepts with wonderful cartoons, some purportedly scribbled on paper napkins..." (Michelle Press, Scientific American, January 2008)