Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Whats in NSF !

You actually feel very happy when you come across some - Successful - one from the same background as yours. That's what happened here today.

Its with great Awe that I walked into ICSR audi today after listening about Prof. Subra Suresh , who heads the list of notable IIT M Alumni. He is currently Director of NSF and formerly, Dean , School of Engineering at MIT .

As the talk is titled as "From the Stratosphere to the Street: Science without Borders" , I was expecting a more general lecture. He explained how NSF funding goes and why it funds such long term projects. NSF 's take on Research :

1. Era of Observation : Nature offers us lot more complex phenomenon than we can actually appreciate. So the constant push has been on OBSERVATION.. observing all the existing ones and possibly, new phenomenon , which might change our standard of living phenomenally. All that might not be going till commercial ends. but , each has its own rewards. For example, GPS. when made, none thought it would fit into hand held devices that now we are so much dependent of!

Suresh narrated conversation between Faraday and the then PM of UK.

PM: What visible effects will your research touch.. (practical value of electricity or , what good that invention could be)
Faraday: "One day sir, you may tax it." !

He went on , saying that There is a better chance to address the issue of development , only when gap between `Natural sciences & Engineering Research` is bridged to social needs.

2. ERA of Data Analysis and Information: Now, with the advancements achieved so far , there is tremendous data being generated. Even, research proposals keep popping in much higher rate. But all that can not be funded, and even that sounds a bit illogical. So, the Quest is to make good observations.

Every year, any complex phenomenon , when studied, produces tremendous statistical data. All that has to be followed closely , so as to make sure we are ON the track.

Food for thought for IIT'ians:

Hailing from 1977 batch, Prof.Suresh said that almost US then 80% of '77 batch , IIT M left to US then or atleast at some point of time. But, only 16 % of 2009 batch , all IIT's put together are now in US. This might sound advantageous for rest of Indians, who gossip.
But, What are the rest 84 % doing? Are they really doing ON which they are invested to ! or, ending up being here and ........

He wished concluding We, at INDIA will keep up our quality as "Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors."

Work, Not Talk

"I have far more confidence in the one man who works mentally and bodily at a matter than in the six who merely talk about it."

-- Michael Faraday, letter to John Tyndall, 1851

Faraday's Secret

"The secret is comprised in three words -- Work, finish, publish."

-- Michael Faraday's advice to William Crookes, who had asked him the secret of his success as a scientist.

" Life didn't promise to be wonderful." -Internet.

"Ah ! Then , I will learn PHYSICS ! " -Vivek R :-)

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