#TAOK (The Appearances Of Knowledge, July 02, 2016):
Do you know that you are ignorant? How do you understand clouds? What would total knowledge do; could you create the entire universe then? Is the process of acquiring knowledge an iterative tussle with ignorance? Does every new knowledge also produce new ignorance? Are all descriptions answers? How is a discipline made possible? Is it possible to classify ignorance a priori? Is science primarily a representational endeavour? What is painter’s knowledge? How does biology understand nature? How do objects form? How does the connection between theory and the phenomena differ across disciplines? Do all disciplines operate at the level of (formal?) language? What is common between the sciences? And the arts? Is there a unitary underlying method? Can we understand tides as a mystery? Is nature ideal? Can we, in principle, make a zebra from fundamental particles? What is imagination constrained by? How is biology different from physics? Do disciplinary boundaries have more to do with knowledge transfer than knowledge creation? Would 21st century be the century of materials? What would be the legitimacy of the portrait in the 22nd century? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts & experiences from philosophy (Prof. Prajit K. Basu, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad), physics (Prof. Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, TIFR, Mumbai), & art (Dr. Gieve Patel, Mumbai).
SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TAOK show.
Prof. Prajit K. Basu (philosophy, cognitive science) currently researches and teaches at the Center for Neural and Cognitive Sciences, Department of Philosophy, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad. He joined UOH in 2000 after teaching at IIT Delhi & IIT Mumbai for about 10 years. He holds a Ph.D. from IISc, Bangalore (1989-91), and a second Ph.D. from Iowa University, USA. His areas of research include history and philosophy of science, social studies of science and technology, and the interface issues between cognitive science and philosophy of science. Some of his current interest areas are: reasoning, mental models, visual attention, and embodied cognition. He believes that his core strength of perseverance has helped him to build an instrument while being trained in science and learn philosophy while attempting to think about science. Most of his working days are spent in discussions with his students. He is greatly inspired by scientific heroes such as Albert Einstein who was at it to produce Grand Unification Theory but failed. At the same time, he derives inspiration from Dasharath Manjhi who chipped away at a mountain for twenty years for road connectivity to his village and succeeded. His current inspirations are writings of Mahatma Gandhi (The Story of My Experiments with Truth), and of others such as, Melanie Stefan, Johannes Haushofer & Brad Voytek (all writing variously on CVs of failures).
Prof. Sabyasachi Bhattacharya (physics) is an experimental condensed matter physicist. He is currently the Distinguished Professor at the Department of Condensed Matter Physics and Material Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. Prof. Bhattacharya received his B.Sc. (Physics) from Presidency College (Kolkata) and M.Sc. (Physics) from University of Delhi. He then went to do his Ph.D. from Northwestern University (USA). He spent his post-doctoral years at the University of Rhode Island, Francis Bitter National Magnet Laboratory and as a James Franck Fellow at the University of Chicago. Subsequently, he worked at Exxon Corporate Research, New Jersey and as a NEC Fellow at the NEC Research Institute, Princeton. In 2002 he joined TIFR as a Senior Professor and as the Director. His research activities over the years include complex fluids such as liquid crystals, micelles, microemulsions and glass forming liquids as well as dynamics of disordered condensed matter systems such as vortex matter in superconductors, sliding charge density waves and glassy systems in general. Some of his other interests include scanning probe studies of domain wall dynamics in systems such as ferroelectrics, ferromagnets and multiferroics as well as optical tweezer-based studies of complex fluids. He has also been a frequent visitor at the International Centre of Theoretical Physics in Trieste over the last two decades.
Dr. Gieve Patel (art, poetry) is an independent painter and a writer based in Mumbai. He trained as a medical doctor and was also a practising physician. He is a self taught artist, poet and playwright. His paintings are in public and private collections in India and in other countries. Some notable venues of his collections are: The National Gallery of Modern Art (New Delhi), Bharat Bhavan (Bhopal), The Nicholson Collection at The Prince of Wales Museum (Mumbai), The Museum of Modern Art (France), and The Peabody Essex Museum (USA). He has published three books of verse – ‘Poems’ (Nissim Ezekiel, 1966), ‘How Do You Withstand, Body’ (Clearing House, 1976), and ‘Mirrored, Mirroring’ (Oxford University Press, 1991). He has written three plays (Princes, Savaksa, and Mr. Behram) which have been performed in Bombay and in other Indian cities. A collection of his plays (Mister Behram and Other Plays) was published by Seagull Books in 2007. For more than 20 years, he has also been conducting an annual poetry workshop for school students at Rishi Valley School, Andhra Pradesh. An anthology of poems written by his students, ‘Poetry with Young People’, was published by Sahitya Akademi in 2007. He was awarded the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship at Washington DC in 1984. He has also been awarded Fellowships at University of Chicago, and at the University of Pennsylvania.
Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.
#TAOK mentions: Ernest Rutherford, Wittgenstein, Michael Polanyi, Donald T. Campbell, & Richard Feynman, among others.