Room 019, School of Engineering and Applied Science
"It is not that all questions were answered; it is that not all questions were asked," said renowned theoretical Quantum Physicist and Vice Chancellor of Punjab University Professor Arvind, as he spoke about the evolution of Quantum Physics. He was talking about claims of a few 19th century physicists about having a complete understanding of physics. Professor Arvind was in conversation with Raghavan Rangarajan, Dean and Professor of Physics, School of Arts and Sciences, at The Nalanda, organised by Ahmedabad University. He explained how the limitations of classical physics led to an understanding of fundamental questions such as why wood is hard or why tube lights emanate white light, for instance. It led to deeper questioning and, thereby, to Quantum Physics. He said, "All sciences are tentative. It would be arrogant to say Quantum Physics is the final frontier. I believe, if we don't kill ourselves by destroying the world, we will have a more elegant world of physics in the future."
He said that one significant difference between Quantum Physics and Classical Physics was probability: "While Classical Physics believes that probability is something we don't know for sure, the concept of probability is fundamental to Quantum Physics. We understand now that many realities can be true together." While responding to Professor Rangarajan's question about the next frontiers in Quantum Physics, Professor Arvind said, "It is fascinating, and for some people, almost unbelievable. But the world is quantum. It may seem abstract, but it allows you to answer open questions. That was the first evolution of Quantum Physics. The second evolution is the application, and the entire 20th century has seen these applications, such as micro conductors. The third evolution will be brought in now with Quantum Cryptography and Quantum Computers. We will see these sooner than we thought we would."
Professor Arvind is a well-known theoretical Quantum Physicist with a keen interest in science education, science communication, and developing science pedagogy in Punjabi. He is currently the Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, and is on deputation from IISER (Indian Institute of Science Education & Research) Mohali, where he is a Professor of Physics. Professor Arvind completed his MS in Physics from IIT Kanpur and obtained a PhD in Theoretical Physics from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in 1997. He has received the INSA medal for Young Scientists 2000 and is the National Coordinator of Theme-1 (Photonics) of the National Multi-Institutional Networked Programme on Quantum Enabled Science and Technology (QuST). Professor Arvind is involved in contributing to education, especially in the context of teaching science in schools and universities. He dedicates time to designing experiments for physics education and has been working on developing new pedagogical tools for teaching science.
Professor Raghavan Rangarajan was on the faculty of the Theoretical Physics Division at the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, for over twenty years before joining Ahmedabad University. His areas of research are cosmology and particle physics, and he works primarily on processes that occurred soon after the Big Bang in the very early Universe. He obtained his PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1994 and his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in 1988. He is on the board of editors of the journal ‘Physics Education’ of the Indian Association of Physics Teachers. He also serves as the national coordinator of Physics Training and Talent Search (PTTS).