Saturday, 14 January 2017

Giving Honour to Whom it is Due: Science Nigeria Lectures 2015

It was a matter of who is who in the Nigerian scientific firmament and the intellectual community in general as members of the public, scientists, educationists, students and students-alike gather for the maiden edition of the Science Nigeria Lectures which held Wednesday June 17, 2015 at the ETF Hall, University of Abuja. This event, which turned a huge success, had Professor Amagh Nduka, world renowned Professor of Theoretical Physics and Applied Mathematics, and Former Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, as the guest lecturer.

Dignitaries that graced the occasion include: the chairman of the occasion, Professor Peter Okebukola, who was represented by Professor Wilson Herbert of Bingham University, Nasarawa State; the host and of course, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Abuja, Professor Michael U. Adikwu, represented by his Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics,


Professor Adegboyega Kolawole; the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oye-Ita, represented by the Director-General, Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO), Professor Sunday Thomas; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Arch. Sunny Ejodah, represented by Dr. Dickson Okoro, Federal Director of Cooperatives; Director-General/CEO, National Board for Technology Incubation, Dr. Mohammed Jibrin; Director-General/CEO, National Mathematics Centre, and currently the President, African Mathematical Union (AMU), Professor ART Solarin; Director-General/CEO, Energy Commission of Nigeria, Professor Eli Jidere Bala, represented by Professor Joseph Dioha, and the President, Nigerian Institute of Physics, Professor David Malgwi. Other dignitaries include: the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Education Research and Development Council, Professor Ismail Jinadu, represented by Dr. David Omole; Secretary of the Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA), Professor G.B. Ayoola, represented by Mr. Joseph Adam Egwu; Professor Godwin Chukwu, President, Toncia Energy Consulting, and Emeritus Professor of Petroleum Engineering at the Alaska Fairbank University (USA), Executive Secretary, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), represented by Suraji Abdullahi Fari; Director-General/CEO, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Professor Luicy Ogbadu, represented by Hajia Yusuf Hajara; Director-General/CEO, Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), Professor Lawrence Dim, represented by Usman Ismaila and Mfon Ebong; Director, FCT Department for Science and Technology, represented by Engr. Hamza Isa Baba, and Director, FCT Universal Basic Education Board, represented by Mr. Olori Augustine. There were also other luminaries: Professor P.C. Onyenukwe, Director, Biotechnology Advanced Laboratory, SHESTCO; Professor Sani Mashi, Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration, University of Abuja, and some other professors of University of Abuja – Professor E.O. Ajali, Professor E.A. Salako, and Professor J. Nwabueze.

All these dignitaries, from the chairman of the occasion to the representative of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, had one thing or the other to say in praise of the programme and on the distinguished guest lecturer. In his speech, the representative of the chairman, Professor Wilson Herbert, made it clear that without a proper science education that there is no hope of Nigeria attaining national development. He further stressed that innovation is the capital of the future. Also in his speech, the representative of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Director-General, Sheda Science and Technology Complex, Professor Sunday Thomas, said that lectures of this kind in science stimulates new thinking, discussions, arguments, criticisms, and eventually open up new vitas for carrying out research and development. He also, before declaring the lecture open, enjoined the audience to listen attentively to the guest lecturer that the lecture may call for a rethinking of some of the theories and concepts that have already been learned.

A high point in the event was the heralding of the guest lecturer, Professor Amagh Nduka, the great masquerade for the Science Nigeria Lectures 2015, into the podium amidst great ovation. Professor Nduka began his lecture by saying that he has come to discuss nature, and that a discussion of nature would require physics, mathematics, chemistry and biology. He went ahead to define physics as being concerned with the furniture of the universe, and by furniture he meant man, trees, cars, atoms, stars etc. The creator, according to him, brought all things as furniture into the universe. He also said that physics is also concerned with the infrastructure of the universe, and that God’s own infrastructures in the universe are gravitation, electricity and magnetism, strong and weak interactions. The last two, he said, are in the nucleus of the atom. He went further to say that physics also studies the interaction between the furniture and infrastructure, and that the consequence of this is the evolution of the universe and its final fate.

Before delving into what he considers new in the 21st Century science, Professor Amagh Nduka reviewed physics in the last 3000 years, and categorized its development into four periods: the period of antiquity, the renaissance (i.e. the intellect-driven period), the machine-driven period, and the future.

The period of antiquity, according to him, started from 6th Century BC by the Greek philosophers. One of the giants of the period was Thales of Mellitus, who in 6th Century BC accidentally discovered electricity and magnetism. Another giant of the period was Heraclitus, who said that the sun is the centre of the solar system, and was almost beheaded by the Christians. But his theory was later proved to be correct. He also mentioned another giant of the period, Democritus, who in 4th Century BC had a theory that matter is made up of atoms. But Democritus’ atom had no part: it was indivisible and indestructible. All these ancient knowledge were preserved in the library at Alexandra in Egypt. But unfortunately, according to him, the library was destroyed and rebuilt twice – first by the Christians and again by the Moslems. Although the Moslems quickly turned around to start pursuing ancient knowledge, but the Christians were later to do so, and by that time, the Moslems were far ahead of them.

The second period is the renaissance period. This period, according to him, was the period when the ancient scientists wanted to understand the works of the Greek philosophers in the period of antiquity. They wanted to understand mathematically the theory of motion. They wanted to understand mathematically the theory of electricity and magnetism. And within the same period, chemists discovered periodic table and periodic law. There were actually a lot of things to understand, and this period, he also called, the intellect-driven period. The giants of the period were Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and PAM Dirac. There were also others: JC Maxwell, Heisenberg, Schrondinger. But this last three, according to him, were good, but not very good scientists. This period, according to him, recorded a lot of triumphs, and came to an end by the work of Dirac, who studied the hydrogen atom to understand the empirical work of chemists that created the periodic table and the periodic law.

Professor Nduka continued in his historical overview, but now on the third period which, according to him, began from 1930 to date. He called this period the machine-driven period. He stated it clearly that this period is the golden age for experimental physics, but the dark age of theoretical physics. The giants of this period, according to him, brought in all sorts of things – guage theory, string theory, perturbation theory, and renormalization theory – just to give result for experiments. According to him, there is supposed to be symbiosis between experimental physics and theoretical physics, but because these people had no good mathematics, they could not do it. This, he said, was the kind of science that was done in the period. He also went ahead to say that these people gave themselves Nobel Prizes; came up with theories such as quantum electrodynamics (QED), quantum flavordynamics (QFD), quantum chromodynamics (QCD), quark model, and standard model – all of which he described as rubbish.

Having given a historical perspective on the development of physics, A. Nduka then posed the question: What then is the science of the 21st Century and beyond? He summarized that science in the last three periods (antiquity, intellect-driven, and machine-driven) had nature in the front-seat and mathematics at the backseat, but the 21st Century science and beyond has mathematics in the front-seat and nature at the back seat. He went ahead to say that there are only two laws through which the whole of nature can be unraveled. The first law, which is mathematical, he called the Dimensionality theorem. This law states that every physical state is a partition of eight (8), and by partition he meant bits and pieces of primitive numbers that add up to 8. As such, the whole of nature is determined by number 8, and this number he called cosmic number 8. The second law, according to him, is physical and states that every physical state is electrically neutral. With these two laws, A. Nduka has constructed all of nature, including those things his predecessors and colleagues could not do for the past 100 years.

There is no doubt that Professor A. Nduka gave a very interesting and mind-expanding lecture, and if his theories are applied into physics, it means that many of the things in conventional literature will only be for the trashcan. In other words, a total overhaul of science is mandatory. The import of this is that everybody goes back to school! Another interesting thing (if not unfortunate) is that he is the only authority in the world in what he has done. According to him “What we have done puts Nigeria as number one in science, and I am the only authority in the world in it”. This may seem extravagant, but if you go through some of his recent papers, you would see that there is no mention of any black (not African or American) in all his references, and that validates the point that he is indeed a world-authority in his chosen areas.

It is really not surprising that the works and theories of A. Nduka do not ring much bell today. The reason is simple: the overwhelming economic and political clout of the scientists or their disciples whose work he has disproved. Some of these people are Nobel laureates and are dominant in the world’s scheme of things in science. It will certainly require another generation of physicists or scientists that would grow up to apply his theories. But one thing is clear: his works take science a hundred years ahead. According to him, “We are the pioneers of the future, with the aim of constructing a physical theory appropriate to both macroscopic and microscopic phenomena. The elements of our theory are: the intellect, non-classical mathematics (discrete geometry, partition and dimensionality theorems, 4-operators – all invented by us), and experiment”.

There is indeed no doubt that time, just as it did for scientists before him, will vindicate this great Nigerian scientist. We therefore congratulate him on his many contributions, not just in theoretical physics and applied mathematics, but to science in general.

CHIGOZIE UBANI
Coordinator, Science Nigeria Lectures
And Chairman, Global Science Development Initiatives