Mast Kalandar

bandar's colander of random jamun aur aam

Wed, 07 Feb 2001

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On Setting up Experimental Facilities at IMSc


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 "The Institute of Mathematical(ly Representable) Sciences"  

I don't think that the objection to experiments arises from the name of the institute. The problem is the additional infrastructure that is required before you can start a lab:

  1. An experimental specialist who will oversee the construction of the lab and be a co-director of the project.

Such a person will quite often not be a member of the institute to begin with when the institute is a theoretical one. For example, the Institute for Advanced Study was part of the ENIAC project but von Neumann collaborated with MIT elec. engineers.

  1. Scientific officers and an accounts officer to actually order, purchase and install the equipment.

  2. A building/large room where the lab will be housed.

Usually, any funding agency that sees an experimental project proposal requires that the review committee be alowed to examine existing facilities. Now it is possible to start a "computer lab" with little except a small grant of 4-10Lakhs if you have a room. From there one can go on to build a big Computer Centre with an Origin, a cluster and whatever else we have. But do you think we would have got a High end computer right at the start? Unfortunately, "real" experiments (rather than "numerical" ones) cost much more than computer ones.

Thus, most experimental facilities emerge from existing experimental facilities in an ameoba-like fashion (NCBS, NCRA are examples). Some experimental facilities are started as such (BARC, IGCAR, TIFR, ICAR are examples) with huge grants to begin with.

Regardless of its name the IMSc falls into neither category. We do not currently have the facilities (1-3 above) even to handle a pilot experimental project and probably never will.


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