Jayant Vishnu Narlikar (born 19 July 1938) is an Indian astrophysicist. He developed with Sir Fred Hoyle the conformal gravity theory, known as Hoyle–Narlikar theory. It synthesizes Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity and Mach's Principle. It proposes that the inertial mass of a particle is a function of the masses of all other particles, multiplied by a coupling constant, which is a function of cosmic epoch.
Narlikar was born in Kolhapur, India on 19 July 1938 in a family of scholars. His father, Vishnu Vasudev Narlikar, was a Mathematician who served as Professor and Head of Department of Mathematics at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi & mother, Sumati Narlikar, was a scholar of Sanskrit. His maternal uncle was the distinguished Statistician V. S. Huzurbazar.
Narlikar received his BSc degree from Banaras Hindu University in 1957. He then began his studies at Cambridge University, where he received a BA (Tripos) degree in Mathematics in 1959 and was Senior Wrangler. In 1960, he won the Tyson Medal for astronomy. During his doctoral studies at Cambridge, he won the Smith's Prize in 1962. After receiving his PhD degree in 1963 under the guidance of Fred Hoyle, he served as a Berry Ramsey Fellow at King's College in Cambridge and earned a Master's degree in Astronomy and Astro-Physics in 1964. He continued to work as a Fellow at King's College until 1972. In 1966, Fred Hoyle established Institute of Theoretical Astronomy in Cambridge, and Narlikar served as the founding staff member of the institute during 1966–72. In 1972, Narlikar took up Professorship at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai, India. At the TIFR, he was in charge of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group. In 1988, the Indian University Grants Commission set up the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune, and Narlikar became the Founder-Director of IUCAA. In 1981, Narlikar became a founding member of the World Cultural Council. Narlikar is known for his work in cosmology, especially in championing models alternative to the popular Big Bang model. During 1994–1997, he was the President of the Cosmology Commission of the International Astronomical Union. His research work has involved Mach's Principle, quantum cosmology, and action-at-a-distance physics. Narlikar was part of a study which cultured microorganisms from stratospheric air samples obtained at 41 km. Narlikar was appointed as the Chairperson of The Advisory Group for Textbooks in Science and Mathematics, the textbook development committee responsible for developing textbooks in Science and Mathematics, published by NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training).
Narlikar has received several national and international awards and honorary doctorates. India's second highest civilian honour, Padma Vibhushan, was awarded to him in 2004 for his research work. Prior to this, in 1965, he was conferred Padma Bhushan. He was awarded 'Rashtra Bhushan' in 1981 by FIE Foundation, Ichalkaranji. He received Maharashtra Bhushan Award for the year 2010. He is a recipient of Bhatnagar Award, M.P. Birla Award, and the Prix Jules Janssen of the Société astronomique de France (French Astronomical Society). He is an Associate of the Royal Astronomical Society of London, and a Fellow of the three Indian National Science Academies and the Third World Academy of Sciences. Apart from his scientific research, Narlikar has been well known as a communicator of science through his books, articles, and radio & television programs. For these efforts, he was honoured in 1996 by UNESCO with the Kalinga Prize. He was featured on Carl Sagan's TV show Cosmos: A Personal Voyage in the late 1980s. He received the Indira Gandhi Award of the Indian National Science Academy in 1990. In 2014, he received a Sahitya Akademi Award for his autobiography in Marathi, Chaar Nagarantale Maze Vishwa.
Besides scientific papers and books and popular science literature, Narlikar has written science fiction, novels, and short stories in English, Hindi, and Marathi. He is also the consultant for the Science and Mathematics textbooks of NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training, India). Non-Fiction: Facts and Speculations in Cosmology, with G. Burbridge, Cambridge University Press 2008, ISBN 978-0-521-13424-8, Current Issues in Cosmology, 2006, A Different Approach to Cosmology: From a Static Universe through the Big Bang towards Reality, 2005, Fred Hoyle's Universe, 2003, Scientific Edge: The Indian Scientist from Vedic to Modern Times, 2003, An Introduction to Cosmology, 2002, A Different Approach to Cosmology, with G. Burbridge and Fred Hoyle, Cambridge University Press 2000, ISBN 0-521-66223-0, Quasars and Active Galactic Nuclei: An Introduction, 1999, From Black Clouds to Black Holes, 1996, From Black Clouds to Black Holes (Third Edition), 2012, Seven Wonders of the Cosmos, 1995, Philosophy of Science: Perspectives from Natural and Social Sciences, 1992, The extragalactic universe: an alternative view, with Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Nature 346:807–812, 30 August 1990, Highlights in Gravitation and Cosmology, 1989, The Primeval Universe, 1988, Violent Phenomena in the Universe, 1982, The Lighter Side of Gravity, 1982, Physics-Astronomy Frontier (co-author Sir Fred Hoyle), 1981, The Structure of the Universe, 1977, Creation of Matter and Anomalous Redshifts, 2002, Absorber Theory of Radiation in Expanding Universes, 2002. In Marathi: आकाशाशी जडले नाते, नभात हसरे तारे. Fiction:In English:The Return of Vaman, 1990, The Adventure, The Comet. In Marathi: वामन परत न आला, यक्षांची देणगी, अभयारण्य, व्हायरस, प्रेषित, अंतराळातील भस्मासूर, टाईम मशीनची किमय. In Hindi: paar najar ke.
Narlikar married a mathematics researcher and professor, Mangala Narlikar (née Rajwade). The couple have three daughters: Geeta, Girija and Leelavati. He is the uncle of the Cambridge University social sciences academic Amrita Narlikar.
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