Bhubaneswar: Organised by Haryana-based Ashoka University, the workshop was conducted at the Xavier Institute of Management today by Arjendu Pattanayak, a professor of physics at Carleton College, USA.

The seminar highlighted the use of the fundamental principles of physics in daily life and correlated them to topical issues of the society.

Stating that though physics was taught in the form of derivations of laws and problems with complicated equations of mathematics, Pattanayak said: "We will learn to think about the world in terms of forces and fields and will use this perspective to deal with topics usually thought to be outside of the realm of basic physics."

Pattanayak, whose research has mostly been on problems in statistical physics, created an instant rapport with his listeners. He kept them engaged in discussions and also cracked jokes. Quoting a law of physics he said: "If you shake your cat with charged strands of hair, it will emit light." He asked the participants to question themselves that if in physical terms we all are made of matter then having "free will" (another physics jargon) is not possible. While on contrary, in psychological terms we do according to our will.

One of the noteworthy thoughts of the seminar was that "Problems of society do not recognise any discipline'", which he explained stating that: "A pit on the road is equally a problem of a scientist and that of a litterateur."

Pattanayak, who deliberated both in English and Odia, is currently working on the physics of energy with a focus on renewable and non-fossil fuel issues, particularly those of concern to the developing countries. He is teaching a course on these issues at Young India Fellowship programme in Delhi.

An open house after the workshop allowed students and their parents to interact with the academic. "Science students had absolute fun attending the seminar. Even those who are not from science background could pick interesting facts," said Sujit Mahapatra, founder of city-based Bakul Foundation for children who attended the seminar with many volunteers of the foundation.
News Source: The Telegraph