Thursday, January 28, 2010

Talks at IISc

Two talks that should be of general interest to folks in Bangalore:

  1. Anil Ananthaswamy (Consulting Editor, New Scientist): The Edge of Physics: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Cosmology. Centre for High Energy Physics, Tuesday 2nd February, 2010, 4:00 p.m.

    Abstract: This talk is based on my book, The Edge of Physics, which tells of story of modern cosmology in the form of a travelogue. Cosmologists, and indeed many physicists, are waiting for answers to some profound questions: What is the nature of dark matter? What is the nature of the dark energy that is causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate? What is the origin of mass? How can Einstein's general relativity be reconciled with quantum mechanics? I went in search of the telescopes, detectors and experiments that make up the cutting-edge of cosmology today, almost of which are located in some of the most extreme environments on Earth, including Lake Baikal in Siberia, an underground mine in Northern Minnesota, the Atacama Desert in the Chilean Andes and even the South Pole. I'll talk about some of my journeys to these remote parts of the world, and also discuss how these experiments could provide the answers physicists are after.

  2. Dr. Sharada Srinivasan (Associate Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore): Phases and faces: Bronze and high-tin bronze metalware traditions from southern India. Thursday, 4th February 2010, 4.00 p.m. Centre for Contemporary Studies (Formerly TIFR Mathematics Building), IISc.

    Abstract: This lecture summarises some of the speakers original ethnometallurgical and archaeometallurgical investigations made over the past decade and half on archaeological bronzes which demonstrate the ways in which the properties of bronze of different compositions including high and lower tin bronze were skilfully exploited in Indian and south Indian antiquity to get a range of artefacts suited to specific functions. The skills in making bronze statuary is best exemplified by the 10th century Chola figurines of Tamil Nadu with continuing icon making traditions at Swamimalai. At the same time, the use of specialised bronzes of a higher tin composition known as high-tin bronzes exploiting the properties of intermetallic compound alloys has been established through these studies. It is also demonstrated that from early antiquity going back to the south Indian megalithic period, an interesting alloy of bronze, exploiting the properties of the beta intermetallic compound was used to make elegant vessels and continuing into recent times to make vessels, musical instruments. On the other hand the properties of the intermetallic high-tin delta compound of bronze are still exploited to make fine mirrors in Kerala. Thus the paper covers many fascinating facets of the alloys of bronze and correlations between the 'phases' and 'faces 'of bronze.