Workshop in Theoretical Physics – 18-21 Dec 2017
Department of Physics, RKMVERI, had organized a three-day Workshop in Theoretical Physics from 18-21 Dec 2017.
Dept had arranged for online submission of applications. There was an overwhelming response to our announcement of the workshop, and within the span of less than a month, we received as many as 150 applications from all across India. For logistic reasons, the number of participants had to be limited, which was achieved by making a careful selection based on the academic performance of the applicants. In the end, there were participants from all the leading academic institutions, including the IIT’s, the IISER’s, NISER, IISc., IACS, SNBNCBS, St. Xaviers’, Calcutta University, JNU, Jadavpur University, Presidency University, RKM Vivekananda College Chennai, IIEST, NIT, University of Hyderabad, etc. In addition, there were Ph. D. as well as first and second year M. Sc. students from the Department of Physics, RKMVERI who participated in the workshop. The total number of students, both local and outstation, who attended the workshop was 55.
Highlights of the Report on the Workshop
The event, modeled as a unique and an intense workshop, featured several expository lectures on frontier areas of research by experts of repute chosen from leading research institutes and universities across India as well as from the host organization, the Department of Physics, RKMVERI. There were both experienced and young researchers delivering lectures in the workshop. On a typical day of the workshop, there were four 1-hour long talks, two in the morning and two in the afternoon, and a 1.5-hour long interactive evening talk as part of a special 5-lecture course. The workshop was aimed at Ph. D., M. Sc. and third-year B. Sc. students.
Lectures were delivered on a wide range of topics chosen from as diverse areas as condensed matter physics, gravitation, non-linear dynamics, statistical physics, and quantum computation.
Professor N. Mukunda from IISc., Bangalore gave a set of 5 lectures on a topic that is quite foundational, yet rarely discussed in text books on classical mechanics, namely, the topic of Dirac theory of constrained dynamical systems.
Professor Mustansir Barma from TIFR, Hyderabad emphasized the importance of fluctuations in bringing about the remarkable universality observed near the critical points of many systems (fluids, magnets …). An interesting highlight of his lectures was the revelation that although ordering is in general destroyed by fluctuations larger than the average, there are notable exceptions in which a system exhibits the phenomenon of fluctuation-dominated phase ordering, whereby fluctuations and order coexist.
Professor Vijay Shenoy from IISc., Bangalore introduced in his lectures the field of topological insulators, a topic of huge recent interest. The key results conveyed in his two lectures were: (i) there are more than one type of band insulators in one dimension, which can be distinguished by the topology of their ground-state wave-functions, and (ii) a summary of the “periodic table of topological phases,” and an exploration of the ten-fold symmetry classification of Fermionic systems.
Professor Arvind from IISER, Mohali lectured on quantum information and quantum computation. He introduced the notion of quantum entanglement and its quantitative measures based on entropy and partial transpose. Further, he introduced the idea behind quantum cryptography protocols.
The lectures of Professor Krishnendu Sengupta from IACS, Kolkata were devoted to the area of non-equilibrium dynamics around quantum critical points. In his lectures, he covered the basic aspects of non-equilibrium dynamics of closed quantum systems, and demonstrated that they may have relevance in the physics of ultracold atoms.
Professor Ram Ramaswamy from JNU, New Delhi decided to talk about the very interesting topic of collective synchronization in dynamical systems. He described the phenomenon in coupled linear and nonlinear dynamical systems, including those wherein the dynamics is chaotic, when the coupling is linear and nonlinear, and when there is time delay in the coupling.
In the wake of recent upsurge in interest in gravitational waves, Professor Pankaj Joshi from TIFR, Mumbai talked about Black Holes, discussing the current status of research on gravitational collapse of massive stars in the Universe in the framework of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the formation of black holes and naked singularities and their observational, astrophysical and quantum gravity implications.
Dr. Shamik Gupta from the Department of Physics, RKMVERI, discussed how one may study theoretically the problem of spontaneous synchronization using tools from dynamical system theory and statistical physics. The talk was planned as a tale of a fascinating journey along a winding path that wanders through mathematical biology, kinetic theory, bifurcation theory, and plasma physics.