Saturday, October 31, 2009
One of the members of Concern, an IISc student's forum wrote to me requesting me to advertise a programme they are organizing on Chattisgarh, November 7, 2009. [I will take this opportunity say that I am happy to post any students' organization's notice if they write to me as long as the tone is civilized and in my estimation they will not offend any particular group or community.] Details at their web-site here and here.
Let me have the luxury of day-dreaming a little about the connection between mathematics and physics. To me it seems that the separation took place only about a 100 years ago. Perhaps Poincare did not consider himself either a mathematician or a physicist, but both. But the reason for this post is a reaction to some thoughts that have been in my mind for some time. Today it was catalyzed by reading a news item about the Shaw prize which was awarded to Donaldson and Taubes. It seems to me that Taubes notable achievements are in the mathematics arising from gauge theories and quantum field theories. He is concerned with various monopole solutions in part of his work. So the connection is quite clear. The other reason is the claim of objectivity in these disciplines which is supposed to transcend subjectivity, unlike in other spheres of human endeavour. But is this really so? Atiyah has written that mathematics will get a big boost from string theory, while Langlands has said that it will get a boost from quantum field theory and statistical mechanics. While there is no dispute about these, it seems to me that these are really quite subjective views in which there is a human intervention. In other words, are these assessments really objective, or is it that mathematics and physics are also like any other enterprises, guided by taste and aesthetics. This is not to say that there are no rigorous standards. Let me welcome comments.
Friday, October 30, 2009
For the first time yesterday I heard of Vikram Buddhi who has been incarcerated in the USA under the most mysterious of circumstances. It appears very shocking. I believe the Hon. Minister Mr. S. M. Krishna has now promised help. I would urge you to go and sign the appeal here which was brought to my attention by my sister.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Those of you who read my posts from 2008 on my travel-log in Switzerland may rember a brief reference to old friend Thomas Henzinger in this here. Yesterday I received an alert from a friend Japhet Bagilishya that Thomas had moved back to Austria to take up an important post. It turns out that it is not just any old post: he is now the President of the Institute of Science and Technology in Vienna and you can read about it in an article from Nature.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I feel impelled (one of my dictionaries warns me against getting impelled and compelled mixed-up incorrectly) to wake up and to become a blogger again. The hiatus in blogging resulted with a general dis-satisfaction with the quality of my own posts, turbulent events in personal and professional life, including serial hospitalizations of near and dear at the time of my last post 10 months or so ago, but a semblance of order seems to be creeping in now. A recently joined colleague asked me if I had stopped blogging because I am now Chairman of my Centre and if that has influenced my decision, while Rahul Basu over at "As I Please" has deleted my blog from his list of blogs he reads, and while Abi at "Nanopolitan" has been decrying the lack of science bloggers, and finally a mail today from some one at the Centre for Society and the Internet wrote to me on my views on open-source or something of that sort, even though I am no longer a regular blogger, etc., has prompted the decision to rise from the ashes. In the meantime, I have been continuing to read blogs. One of the important things that has made an impression on me is the elementary proof of the density Hales-Jewett problem on Timothy Gowers' blog featured very prominently on Nanopolitan which has woken me up to the importance of science/maths blogging. While it is impossible that this humble blog will ever find a niche of that sort, it is the paucity of Indian science blogs which has jolted me out. So let me promise all 3 readers of this blog (are there that many?) that I will make an effort.