Wednesday, April 27, 2016

49th Annual Summer School Day 1:25-04-2016. Talk by Prof. Umesh Waghmare. Topic: How basic ideas lead to technologies


 Today was the 1st day of the 49th Annual summer school  hosted by  Bangalore Science Forum and today was truly mind opening. The inaugural address was given by Prof. Umesh V Waghmare , who is a scientist and works in the Theoretical sciences unit in Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research and he talked about how basic ideas lead to technologies. 

 Basic science, as the name itself suggests, is the base for any kind of discoveries in the field of science, especially for the development of advanced technologies. For a structure to be stable a solid foundation is required, likewise, for new and advanced development of technologies the knowledge of basic science is very essential.  In modern days it is a common and blind belief of people that there is not much scope for basic or pure science, the chance of succeeding is less, we can’t get good remuneration in initial stages etc, but it is not so. Without theoretical and practical researches in basic science one cannot imagine development of other fields co-related with science, directly or indirectly. He first gave a few ideas about how ideas changed the world like farming and gravity and relativity then he introduced us to the top 10 inventions in the 20th century like a personal computer, nuclear power, airplane etc…then he decided to start with a few specific topics like antibiotics and transistors likewise he spoke about antibiotics first. Antibiotics basically kill harmful bacteria. In 1928 Alexander Fleming identified Penicillin, the first antibiotic although it was not bacterial it was fungal.  He won the Nobel Prize for it In 1945.In 1933 Domagk discovered the bacterial drug Prontosil and he won the Nobel prize for it in the year 1939. And after speaking about antibiotics he spoke about transistors. 

The above picture  is a diagram of a transistor.
A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power as given by Wikipedia.It was first developed by William Shockley, in 1937 he proposed – like how we can control the flow of water by the tap we can also control the flow of electrons.To prove this he worked with John Bardeen , Walter Brattain in 1947( the year we got independence )  and won the Nobel prize for it in 1956.Bardeen is the only person till date who has won two Nobel prizes in physics.  One  for the transistor and the other for the theory of superconductors in the year 1972. Now we know that Bardeen won a Nobel Prize for the theory of superconductors , but what are superconductors? Waghmare Sir explained that to us too.
Super conductors are metals that show zero resistance when subjected to very low temperatures near absolute zero. For example mercury shows its superconductivity when subjected to temperatures below 4.2 Kelvin.
The technologies based on super conductors are
MRI in hospitals
Power transmission and
Magnetic  sensors.

The Josephson junction can identify extremely small magnetic fields and they won the nobel prize for it as the same time Bardeen won it for the theory of superconductors – 1972.
Now we all light up our houses with bulbs and tubelights , they consume a lot of electricity but on the other hand there are LED lights which produce much more light with minimal electricity .Professor  told us about them also. Akasaki, Amano and Nalamura worked on it and won the Nobel Prize for their work on blue LEDs in 2014.

When the negatively charged particles and positively charged particles come together they produce light and this is the working principle of LED. LED’s ARE EVERYWHERE NOW!!!
He also talked about spontaneous symmetry breaking,that is, a substance changing its structure when subjected to lower or higher temperature .
Scientists believe that one of the reasons they believe the titanic sank was because the rivets used to make the ship, in the sense bind the parts of the ship became brittle due to the very cold temperatures and broke off,thus  flooding water in the ship when it hit the ice berg and with this he summarized the lecture and had a discussion with a few students .

At 11:30 there was a session about scientific temper , the capacity of an individual , the thinking capacity and the way of asking questions . They told one story of a boy who was watching a hen incubating its eggs . Out of the 4 eggs only 2 eggs were hatched so the boy thought that he will sit on the eggs and make them hatch . When the hen saw the boy sitting on its eggs  it started poking him with its beak and there was a fight between the duck and the boy . This may sound funny for people but if we observe there is some kind of creativity in his thinking, he wanted to try out different experiment, he wanted to know if the eggs could hatch if he sits on it ? how much time will it take for the eggs to hatch if he sits on it? Like this he had many questions in his mind which could be answered only by experiments.  Though his experiment got flopped he gained the knowledge that the eggs cannot be hatched by a human being. This guy is non-other than the famous scientist Thomas Alva Edison. While inventing light bulb he failed 999 times but the 1000th time he was succeeded in inventing the light bulb. When people asked him about his failure for 999 times he told that he got to know the different methods in which a light bulb cannot be made .He even told that No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong. After hearing that I felt that there is no mistake in experimenting things nor step back because people will laugh at you when your experiment did not become successful .

The teacher made the class interesting by telling this story and it encouraged us also for conducting experiments and ask questions to ourselves to find the answer which lies within us. This has truly and at utmost level been very informative and inspiring. I thank the organizers for providing us with this opportunity.  

Report presented by Group 1. Basavanagudi : Nagashree, Bhoomika , Sai Chandana , Chaitra , Vaishnovi  and Pallavi.