Gaurav Goswami is an Assistant Professor at School of Engineering and Applied Science (formerly, Institute of Engineering and Technology), Ahmedabad University. Before joining AU he was a postdoctoral fellow at Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad. He obtained his PhD (Physics) in the field of theoretical cosmology from Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, and MSc (Physics) from University of Pune (in 2007).
His primary research interest is in the interface of fundamental physics and cosmology.
(mostly aimed at non-experts)
My work is closely related to the following academic disciplines: cosmology, gravitation, elementary particle physics/high energy physics, astrophysics/astro-particle physics and theoretical physics. In what follows, I try to give a broad brush overview of the culture in these closely-connected academic disciplines:
- My primary research interest is in pure science (or, natural science) which means that my research is not motivated by any industrial/medical/societal applications but involves exploring the world for its own sake.
- One of the most basic endeavours in these disciplines involves pushing the frontiers of our understanding of the natural world under the most extreme conditions we could imagine. E.g. what goes on at very small length scales (at, say, distances 10000 times smaller than the size of a proton) or what could have happened in the very early universe etc.
- One of the reasons these extreme conditions are studied in great detail is that it is expected that any deviations from our current "big-picture" understanding of the natural world are likely to show up under these extreme conditions. That is, due to the success of our already existing theories about the Universe, many (but not all) of the frontiers of the "complete unknown" have been pushed quite far away from the direct human experience.
- Needless to say, to make any reliable progress, experiments are designed which could probe these extreme conditions. It should not come as a surprise that since these experiments try to probe some of the most extreme conditions, many of these experiments end up employing pretty remarkable technologies. E.g. what is now the World Wide Web was originally invented at CERN (which operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world) so that the physicists could share the huge amount of data involved in their experiments!
- Since experimentally probing these extreme conditions is very expensive and challenging, typical experiments are huge collaborations which are often international (see, here). This is very different from our conventional picture of an individual researcher receiving grants to perform his own experiments. Typically there are only a handful of experiments or facilities of a given kind in the whole world.
- Something which comes as a surprise to many of my colleagues in other disciplines: the results of these collaborative experiments are routinely freely shared with the rest of the world so that others can make use of them to push the frontiers of human knowledge about the natural world. This is understandable: if tomorrow there is an important advancement in our understanding of the formation of first galaxies in the Universe, it won’t be a source of patents/profit for a select few but rather it would be an achievement for all of humanity!
- Most interestingly, in the academic disciplines I am talking about, the distinction between the work of a theoretician and that of an experimentalist has increasingly become more pronounced. The experimentalists work on designing the experiments (e.g. writing the softwares, developing the instruments, the hardware etc) while the theorists focus on how the results of the experiments can be used to draw some novel conclusions about the natural world. This is really due to increased specialization.
- Since all the theories of fundamental physics are fairly mathematical in their very nature and since for the work of a theorist, often, theoretical or mathematical consistency plays a role as crucial as the experimental results in making progress, it is necessary for every theoretician to be good at applying mathematics to various circumstances.
- I, in particular, happen to be a theoretician and I basically keep track of the results of a number of ongoing experiments to see if some interesting insights can be gained. Some of the experiments whose results could affect my current work are: particle colliders (e.g. LHC), CMB experiments (e.g. WMAP/Planck/BICEP/KECK), Gravitational Wave Observatories (e.g. LIGO), visible/IR telescopes (e.g. HST and JWST), Fermi gamma ray telescope, neutrino experiments, Dark Matter experiments etc.
The interface of fundamental physics and cosmology today:
The focus of my research in the recent past has been mostly in the field of cosmology which has seen rapid advancements recently mostly due to better observations of the Universe. It may appear that one could speculate anything one likes about the big questions about the natural world such as the origin and evolution of the Universe but this turns out not to be true. Any possible speculations are surprisingly well-constrained by what we already know about nature (see, for instance here). This is because advances in fundamental physics in the twentieth century have provided us with a very rigid theoretical framework to think about all of the natural world at a broad level. The most basic problems of cosmology and those of elementary particle physics have thus essentially merged.
If we decide to pay attention to all the available constraints (both theoretical and observational) and not just a small subset of them, we are led to a picture of the Universe (see here and here) which appears very unexpected. Yet, admittedly, the evidence in favour of this picture is not completely convincing and so one must work harder to settle whether this picture is really correct or not. Settling this is the holy grail of the interface of fundamental physics and cosmology.
- Awarded Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) international travel grant for a few months visit to USA (Princeton University, Penn State University), 2011.
- Awarded CSIR International Travel Grant For Research Scholars for a few weeks visit to Italy (International Centre for Theoretical Physics), July 2010.
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- Vector and Complex Analysis: (Complex analysis, vector calculus and Fourier analysis for engineering undergraduates): Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017
- Electromagnetic theory: (Mathematical formulation of electromagnetism as a classical theory of fields for engineering undergraduates): Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018
- Transport Phenomena: (A unified description of momentum, heat and mass transfer for chemical engineering undergraduates): Fall 2016
- Heat Transfer: (Conduction, convection, radiation, solution of related BVPs, dimensionless numbers, correlations, boiling, condensation, heat exchangers): Fall 2017
- Thermodynamics-II: (An advanced course on thermodynamics for chemical engineering undergraduates): Spring 2018
- At Cosmology Rapid Response Meeting, at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai in April 2010.
- At International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) Summer school on Cosmology, at ICTP, Trieste, Italy in July 2010.
- At Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad on August 25, 2010 (while on a visit there).
- At Primordial Features and non-Gaussianity (PFNG) at Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad in December 2010.
- At The Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos, Pennsylvania State University on September 07, 2011 (while on a visit there).
- At International Conference on Gravitation and Cosmology (ICGC) - 2011, at Goa, India on 16/12/2011.
- At Young Physicists' Meet - 2014, Theoretical Physics Division, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad (on February 7, 2014).
- At Young Physicists' Meet - 2015, Theoretical Physics Division, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad (on March 10, 2015).
- At Young Physicists' Meet - 2016, Theoretical Physics Division, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad (on March 11, 2016).
- At The 24th International Conference on Supersymmetry and Unification of Fundamental Interactions (SUSY 2016) at University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia (July 4 - 8, 2016).
- At 22nd International Symposium on Particles, String and Cosmology (PASCOS 2016) at Quy Nhon, Vietnam (July 10 - 16, 2016).
- At Theory Division, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics on August 29, 2016 (while on a visit there).
- Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) School on Non-Linear Dynamics at Delhi University, Delhi, India (08/12/2009 to 24/12/2009).
- Indian Conference on Cosmology and Galaxy Formation (ICCGF) at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India (30/10/2009 to 01/11/2009).
- Cosmology Rapid Response Meeting at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, India (06/04/2010 to 08/04/2010).
- International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) Summer School on Cosmology at ICTP, Trieste, Italy (19/07/2010 to 30/07/2010).
- Primordial Features and non-Gaussianity (PFNG) at Harish Chandra Research Institute (HRI), Allahabad, India (14/12/2010 to 18/12/2010).
- Prospects in Theoretical Physics (PITP) - 2011: Frontiers of Physics in Cosmology at Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), Princeton, NJ, USA (18/07/2011 to 29/07/2011).
- International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS) School on Cosmology and Gravitational Waves at IUCAA, Pune, India (01/12/2011 to 11/12/2011).
- International Conference on Gravitation and Cosmology (ICGC) - 2011 at Goa, India (15/12/2011 to 19/12/2011).
- IXth Field Theoretic Aspects of Gravity (FTAG) Meeting - 2013 at IIT-Gandhinagar (05/09/2013 to 08/09/2013).
- Workshop in High Energy Physics and Phenomenology (WHEPP) XIII at Puri, India (December 12-21, 2013).
- 8th Asian Winter School on strings, particles and cosmology at Puri, India (09 Jan, 2014 -18 Jan, 2014 ).
- Young Physicists' Meet - 2014 at Theoretical Physics Division, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad (February 5-7, 2014).
- Young Physicists' Meet - 2015 at Theoretical Physics Division, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad (March 10-13, 2015).
- Young Physicists' Meet - 2016 at Theoretical Physics Division, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad (March 09-11, 2016).
- Workshop on High Energy Physics and Phenomenology (WHEPP) XIV at Indian Institute of Technology - Kanpur, India (December 04-13, 2015).
- Indo-French LIA THEP and CEFIPRA INFRE-HEPNET Kick-Off Meeting at Centre for High Energy Physics, Indian Institute Science, Bangalore (May 2-4, 2016).
- Workshop on "750 GeV excess under scrutiny" at ICTS, Bangalore (5th May 2016).
- Pre-SUSY 2016 at University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia (June 27 - July 01, 2016).
- The 24th International Conference on Supersymmetry and Unification of Fundamental Interactions (SUSY 2016) at University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia (July 4 - 8, 2016).
- 22nd International Symposium on Particles, String and Cosmology (PASCOS 2016) at Quy Nhon, Vietnam (10-16 July, 2016).
- "A short course on Cosmology," at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Gandhinagar (A five lecture course: October 24-28, 2016).
- At "Third Saha Theory Workshop: Aspects of Early Universe Cosmology," Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, (to be held) January 2017.
233, School of Engineering and Applied Science,
Ahmedabad Education Society FP. 4,
Near Commerce Six Roads,
Navrangpura, Ahmedabad - 380 009, India