Saturday, January 24, 2009

Now available online: Videos of the IISc Centenary Conference

Go straight to the Conference Program, and they are all there.

[Update: Oops! The page has this statement:

These videos can be downloaded and watched within the campus LAN only. Access from outside campus will be made available ... after the [copyrights] are put in...."

Sorry for the false alert. Will post the links -- again -- when the videos are *really* available to the world outside. In the meantime, the following links work only within the campus.

And thanks to the anonymous commenter for pointing out this problem.]

Two strong recommendations from me:

  1. Prof. Subra Suresh's keynote (hi-res version if you are on our campus). After a longish introduction, Suresh's talk starts at about 8 minutes; he spends the first part on what engineering is about, and how its mission is getting redefined, and hence, how engineering education must be re-oriented. Bottomline: an awareness of and a concern for the environmental and cultural effects of all that they engineer, and therefore, an interdisciplinary focus that includes not just the physical sciences, but life sciences, social sciences and humanities as well.

    He illustrates these trends with a couple of examples. This part relies quite heavily on slides (animations, videos, etc); since the video, sadly, missed the slides, this part does not come out all that well. Just so you know.

  2. Prof. Sidney Brenner's keynote (hi-res). You can safely skip the long introduction and go straight to the 20th minute -- yes, the intro was *that* long!

    Before he gets to his main theme -- how to read the genome -- Brenner does two things: he starts with a great story that takes a dig at the lengthy intro, and he trashes a couple of sub-fields: systems biology and synthetic biology. It's not just that he points out the major limitations of these enterprises, but just plain trashes them -- for example, he calls them "low input, high throughput, no output" sciences. Ouch!

    If you enjoy strong views that are backed up by strong arguments and a willingness to wage verbal war -- and if you are not a systems or synthetic biologist -- you'll greatly enjoy this part of the talk.

    The other part is very good too. It's an excellent illustration of a great public lecture: presenting some of the key ideas of a field to an audience that includes a lot of 'outsiders'. Don't miss it!

    Here's a great quote from the talk:

    Someone said that sequencing the human genome is like sending a man to the moon. They were absolutely right. [pause] Because sending a man to the moon is easy; [it is] getting him back which is the problem.


  1. Anonymous said...

    This is what i am able to see..

    "Sorry, the IISc Centenary Conference Videos are accessible only on the Campus LAN at this point in time.

    Last Updated: 12 Jan 2009; 1223 hrs"

    Thanks for the information though