Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Taylor fest!

The two-day Taylor fest came to an end just now. The day started with a discussion in the Department with Prof. Taylor; Dr. Eric Lord made a wonderful presentation about his work on periodic minimal surfaces, surface tiling, and such stuff. This was followed by a round table discussion on Women in Science in CCS under the aegis of the academy committee on women in science; the discussions were presided over by Prof. Rohini Godbole, who also made a half-an-hour presentation on women in Indian physical sciences. The last program of the fest was the public lecture given by Prof. Taylor on "Soap bubbles and crystals". It was a more popular version of her mathematical talk in TIFR yesterday. After her talk, M \epsilon \delta sounds so cool; but that doesn't rule out it popping up in my nightmares though. And, the soap bubble pictures from her July 1977 paper were just lovely.

On a more personal note, I managed to get the reprint of her paper from the Bulletin of American Mathematical Society autographed. I asked her about Atiyah looking towards physics for inspiration, while she herself is looking more towards materials science. She feels that there are two modes in which mathematicians work; the inward looking and the outward looking. She feels her own PhD times, it was more inward looking. Now, mathematicians are reaching out to other fields looking for problems. And, she feels that this alternation between modes is the way the field actually evolves. On the whole, a very stimulating two days; and, for the next few days, our coffee house discussions will undoubtedly revolve around soap bubbles, minimal energy surfaces, and the like!

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