A live video conference, the first of its kind in the region attracted a huge crowd in excess of 1000 people to IIT-Guwahati on September 5, 2008. Held in the newly inaugurated auditorium at IIT, Guwahati, the place was jam-packed with enthusiastic students, participants, faculty members and even school kids, who were a part of the national level Olympiad ‘Technothlon’. All in all the response to the first ever effort made by IITG to get a person as distinguished as a Nobel Laureate to address a gathering of technocrats received an awesome response. It was attended by Dr. John C. Mather, a Nobel Laureate in Physics (2006) who works at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. Dr. Goddard was introduced to those present in Guwahati by Dr. Umesh Tahbildar of New Jersey, who consults for NASA. Dr. Tahbildar also participated in the discussions.
Dr. Mather discussed The ‘Big Bang’ theory. He had sent slides to IITG, which were being presented simultaneously as he was delivering his lecture.
It was the story of formation of the universe: How the small concentrated mass of a size of about 10 cm across exploded n expanded into the universe as we know it today. Although much of the world we know today comprises of matter, 90 percent of the matter and energy in the universe do not interact with light. It is the presence of force fields of such matter which provides us with the evidence that it exists, scientists also used the term ‘Dark’ to classify this matter and energy; however, not much is known about it till date.
Dr. Mather then briefed the audience about his work with NASA on project of an observatory on a satellite station and plans of NASA to collaborate with ESA (European Space Agency) and send a New Telescope to be stationed in outer space which would be a much improved version of the Hubble Telescope which is already in space and has served valuable information of the universe.
The lecture concluded with Dr. Mather offering a live interaction with the students in a question-answer session in which interesting questions raised. Dr. Tahbildar also participated in this session. One example of which was a question as simple as-"What is universe?" and the speakers closing statement went something like-"Sorry i could not answer all the questions properly, but that is the beauty of science"
The crowd appreciated the effort put up by IIT Guwahati community and also Dr. Mather for a highly enjoyable and learning experience.
By Ankit Bhatla, Media Team, Techniche’08, Guwahati and Jugal Kalita, Colorado