Pope Appoints Scientists to Academy

Indian Astrophysicist and French Psychologist Join Group

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 11, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI appointed two people to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: Govind Swarup, Indian professor of astrophysics, and Stanislas Dehaene, French professor of evolutionary psychology.

Govind Swarup was born in Thakurdwara, India, in 1929. He received his doctorate from Stanford University in 1961. After working in the National Physics Lab at Dehli, in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia, and in Harvard University, in 1963 he joined the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and became professor of eminence in 1990.

“Swarup has been a pioneer in the field of solar radio astronomy, radio galaxies, quasars, cosmology, and of the instruments for radio astronomy,” explained the Vatican press office today upon announcing his appointment.

He has planned and directed the unique construction of a radio telescope 530 meters (1739 feet) long and 30 meters (98 feet) wide, in Southern India. Between 1987 and 1997 he proposed and constructed the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, the largest radio telescope in the world.

Stanislas Dehaene was born in 1965 in Roubaix, France. He studied applied mathematics and computer science and received his doctorate in cognitive science in 1989.

During his work as Director of the INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit at the Service Hospitalier Frédéric Joliot in Orsay, he was awarded the chair of experimental cognitive psychology at the College of France in Paris.

“In his investigations, Stanislas Dehaene uses methods of experimental cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, and neuroimaging, together with mathematical models, in order to understand the cerebral mechanisms of some branches of human knowledge: mathematics, elaboration of language and access to knowledge,” stated the Vatican communiqué. “Thanks to his experimental approach, he has achieved important advances in the understanding of the organization of cognitive abilities, of its pathologies, and of the origins of its development and evolution.”

Dehaene is a member of the Academy of Sciences of Paris. He received the “Pius XI” medal from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 2002.

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