Excitement in Science

30th November: Schedule

09:00 - 09:30 Registration
09:30 - 10:30 Hundred Years of Fundamental Physics and a Crisis
G. Rajasekaran (Emeritus Professor - IMSc, CMI)

One hundred years of Fundamental Physics have culminated in a theory called Standard Model of High Energy Physics. This theory is now known to be the basis of almost ALL OF KNOWN PHYSICS except gravity. The discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012 has established this theory.

Understanding neutrino mass, Dark Matter and Supersymmetry are some of the issues beyond Standard Model. But the main loop hole is gravity which has been left out of Standard Model. The energy scale of quantum gravity, known as the Planck scale, is 16 orders of magnitude higher than the presently accessible TeV energies. So there is a long way to go. I will mention what can be done.

10:30 - 11:30 Demystifying AI and ML
Madhavan Mukund (CMI)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are two terms that are very much in the news these days. What exactly do they signify? Are they synonmyous? If not, what is the distinction? In this talk, we give a quick overview of the history of research in AI and ML, survey current trends and highlight some challenges and concerns.

11:30 - 12:00 Tea / Coffee
12:00 - 13:00 Number theory and secure communications
Balasubramanian Ramachandran (Emeritus Professor, IMSc)

We introduce in this lecture the concept of Public key, in particular R.S.A, and explain the number theory behind the same.

13:00 - 14:00 Lunch
14:00 - 15:00 Recent developments and challenges in high energy density Li-ion batteries
K. Ramesha (CSIR-CECRI)

Large-scale electrical energy storage has received worldwide attention for reducing fossil energy consumption and for the widespread use of intermittent renewable energy. Electrochemical energy storage (batteries) possesses a number of desirable features, including pollution-free operation, high efficiency, flexible power and energy characteristics, long cycle life, and low maintenance. Batteries represent an excellent energy storage technology for the integration of renewable resources. Among present battery technologies, Li-ion technology is the best performing one owing to its delivered energy density (210Wh/kg), which exceeds any competing technologies. With such attractive performances, coupled with its long life cycle and rate capability, Li-ion technology has captured the portable electronic market, invaded the power tool equipment market, and is on the verge of penetrating the EV market and stationary applications on condition that improvements can be achieved in terms of cost and safety. Indeed, long-term stability, high-energy density, safety and low cost seem to be the overriding factors in high-volume applications. Therefore, it implies assessing present Li-ion technology so as to define the challenges that lie ahead to ensure its long lasting success. Research directions are towards increasing the Li-ion battery energy density, to lower its cost, improve its safety and make it more sustainable and ‘greener’. On research level, nanomaterials and nanotechnology has a lot more to offer for Li-battery technology. A substantial segment of the battery materials community is moving toward developing electrode materials on the basis of abundance and availability of the relevant chemicals. Materials centered on sustainable 3d metal redox elements such as manganese (LiMn2O4 ), Iron (LiFePO4 ) and titanium (Li4Ti5O12 ). In addition to the Li-ion chemistry, Na-ion chemistry also interesting and could be used in batteries due to ample availability unlike Li resources. Currently new technologies such as Li-air, metal air, Lithium-Sulphur are emerging but currently in the R & D stage. However, they have garnered lots of interest due to their high energy density almost ten times better than current day Li-ion batteries.

15:00 - 15:30 Tea / Coffee
15:30 - 16:30 Maths, Games and Epidemics
Sitabhra Sinha (IMSc)

Mass immunization against many common diseases by public health vaccination campaigns has been one of the biggest achievements of medicine in the previous century, significantly decreasing child mortality apart from reducing the burden of disease in adults. In addition to conferring immunity against the disease to the person vaccinated, mass immunization also prevents an infectious disease from breaking out as an epidemic in the population by protecting un-vaccinated, susceptible individuals from infectious individuals by screening the former in large groups of immunised individuals. Thus, to eradicate a disease (such as small pox or polio) we do not have to vaccinate every person on this planet - all we need to ensure is that enough people have been vaccinated so that any stray case will die out without being able to pass the infection along. But precisely how many do we need to vaccinate so that this is possible ? Mathematical modeling allows us to answer this question and has been how the World Health Organization (WHO) has come up with its plans to eradicate various diseases for which vaccines are available. However, the very success of the early vaccination campaigns has made people complacent about many diseases even before they have been eradicated - so that there has been a remarkable drop in vaccination rates even in developed parts of the world. This has unsurprisingly resulted in resurgence of vaccine preventable diseases - bringing in its wake a public health nightmare where all the gains of the last century could potentially be reversed. In this talk we will explore the mathematics behind vaccination and specificially ask why apparently sensible individuals would try to avoid vaccination. Using the language of game theory, we show that when individuals are influenced in their decision to get vaccinated by the cost associated with vaccination (e.g., either the effort involved in getting vaccinated or any real or imagined side-effects) as well as the perceived risk of being infected with the disease, the actual number getting vaccinated can depend sensitively on a number of factors. One of the policy implications of our findings is that a process of real-time dissemination of local disease incidence information may be more successful in convincing individuals to get vaccinated at the right time - leading to better public health outcomes - rather than a non-specific national-level mass-media-based campaign.