22 February 2018

Celebration of ten years of ICTS-TIFR, Bengaluru

Brief Report

04 January 2018 to 07 January 2018

Discussion meeting: ICTS at Ten

This is the tenth year of ICTS-TIFR since it came into existence on 2nd August 2007. ICTS has now grown to have more than fifteen faculty in a number of areas in the theoretical sciences. Over 150 programs and discussion meetings have been held. The ICTS at Ten event was an opportunity to reflect on the journey thus far, and to go ahead with renewed energy into our second decade, through a small celebratory scientific gathering. The theme of the meeting was “Celebrating the Unity of Science”.

Over the course of this meeting, speakers from around the world gave broad perspective talks (of 30 minutes each) across several different themes in the theoretical sciences: Astrophysics and Cosmology, String theory and Quantum Gravity, Mathematics, Theoretical Computer Science, Condensed Matter and Statistical Physics, Physical Biology.

These areas reflect ICTS' present profile as well as the directions we would like to grow into in the coming years. The talks, by a galaxy of distinguished researchers, gave a broad perspective on some exciting frontier questions in these areas.

The talks were held at the Chandrasekhar auditorium of the ICTS Campus located in north Bangalore and were attended by over 200 participants.

The list of speakers can be found at: Webpage

All the ‘ICTS at Ten’ lecture videos are available on the ICTS YouTube channel: Link


Public lecture and Panel discussion: The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge

On the afternoon of Sunday, the 7th of January, Robbert Dijkgraaf, IAS, Princeton delivered the Public lecture on “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge” emphasizing the role of fundamental research, which seems useless at times but often turns out later to play a significant role in technologies serving humankind.

The lecture was followed by a panel discussion on the themes mentioned below:

  • Global spread of science in the 21st century- what are its dynamics and how is it going to happen
  • Role of three entities in society in funding scientific research - funding coming from Govt, individual philanthropy and corporate sectors and how can they be most effective in doing so
  • Fundamental science in India-what role it has played in India and what role it should play. As well as the role of Science education.

The panel was moderated by Rajesh Gopakumar and the panelists were introduced by Spenta Wadia.

The panelists: Manjul Bhargava (Princeton University), Jennifer Chayes (Microsoft Research, New England), David Gross (KITP, Santa Barbara), Narayana Murthy (Co-Founder, Infosys Technologies), K. VijayRaghavan (NCBS-TIFR & Secretary, DBT, Govt. of India)

Some salient points made by the panelists:

David Gross stated that developing countries like India and China are poised to become the future global centers of science. However, investment from the society is something which is necessary for India. He also stated that India should recognize and tap into its vast talent pool.

Jennifer Chayes added that it will be crucial for India to create an environment by investing in science to bring back its best brains to the country.

Narayana Murthy pointed out that a culture of openness to new ideas and meritocracy, supported by generous funding from the private and the government is the key to attain scientific and technological supremacy. He emphasized on the need to recognize our scientists, teachers and technologists for the work they do and create a culture where we have continued interaction with people to learn from and share scientific knowledge with.

K VijayRaghavan highlighted the importance of investment in science and how the universities can become the crucible of interactions between basic and applied scientists. In addition, institutional leadership is also critical to connect with the Government and in ensuring positive direction to the Indian science.

Manjul Bhargava pointed out that the field of number theory, considered useless for the past hundreds or thousands of years, is the most heavily funded branch of mathematics now in the US, with its usage in our daily lives in the internet or as a core tool to keep our communications secure. He talked about the importance of investment and how it is crucial to create that science culture where people can pursue things just for the purpose of knowledge.

Robbert Dijkgraaf added that a conducive ecosystem of the governments, private individuals and industry needs to be created, to serve the needs unique to India and institutions like the ICTS, can play a major role “ like the principle of transistor - a small current driving a large current,” in directing governments and individuals to do the right thing.

Public lecture and Panel discussion video: Link


ICTS Vishveshwara Lecture: Exploring the Universe with Gravitational Waves: From the Big Bang to Black Holes

On the 11th of January, ICTS witnessed a gathering of over 1500 students and members of civic society who had come to attend the first ICTS Vishveshwara Lecture  (the public lecture series through which ICTS celebrates the life and work of C. V. Vishveshwara) delivered by Kip S. Thorne, Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at Caltech & 2017 Nobel Laureate in Physics on “Exploring the Universe with Gravitational Waves: From the Big Bang to Black Holes”.  

Thorne talked about the two types of waves that can propagate across the universe: Electromagnetic waves and gravitational waves. Galileo initiated electromagnetic astronomy 400 years ago by pointing a telescope at the sky and discovering the moons of Jupiter. LIGO recently initiated gravitational astronomy by observing gravitational waves from colliding black holes. Thorne described this discovery, the 50 year effort that led to it, and the rich explorations that lie ahead.

Lecture video: Link


Public Lecture and Movie: The Science of the Man from the 9 Dimensions

On Sunday, 14th January, there was a talk by Hirosi Ooguri, Fred Kavli Professor of Theoretical Physics and Mathematics, Director of Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics, Caltech on "The science of the man from 9 dimensions" followed by a 3D dome movie screening of "The Man from the 9 Dimensions".

This was a special premiere of this spectacular movie in India at the Sky Theatre, JN Planetarium, Bengaluru. The Chief Guest for this special event was Mrs Sudha Murty from the Infosys Foundation.

Lecture video: Link

For more details on ICTS at Ten and associated events, please visit here

Press coverage:

Govts must encourage scale-up of ICTS, David Gross (6 January, 2018)

Maths can be fun if students discover it themselves: Fields Medal Winner, Manjul Bhargava (7 January, 2018)

Having struck gold, LIGO hopes to detect supernova, David Reitze (7 January, 2018)

Training to scientists in gravitational astronomy (5 January, 2018)

Interview with Nathan Seiberg during ICTS at Ten: 'There's No Conflict Between Lack of Evidence of String Theory and Work Being Done on It' - The Wire (07 January, 2018)