The Evolution of Physics
December 22, 2010
School of Engineering, Coimbatore
Dr. Samir Mallick, an eminent physics scholar at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, offered a three-day lecture series this month at Coimbatore. Nearly 15 scholars of science, including faculty members and graduate students, mainly from the Department of Sciences attended.
The lecture series was titled Evolution of Physics from Classical to Quantum Chromodynamics.
In theoretical physics, quantum chromodynamics (QCD) describes the interactions of particles that make up protons and neutrons. This interaction is based on color, hence the name, chromodynamics.
An important part of particle physics, there is a lot of experimental evidence for QCD today.
“Dr. Mallick’s lecture series was an enlightening survey of the development of quantum mechanics from classical mechanics,” shared one faculty member.
Beginning his lecture series by reviewing concepts of action or motion, according to Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics, he used a simple harmonic oscillator to explain.
When displaced from its position of equilibrium, this oscillator experiences a restoring force equal to the force which caused the displacement. A pendulum is an example, as is any mass connected to a spring, such as a retractable ballpoint pen.
“The informative session answered some of my questions regarding the principle of least action and its connection with statistical concepts,” stated Dr. Murali Rangarajan of Department of Chemical Engineering and Material Sciences, who also attended.
In his second lecture, Dr. Mallick explained the concept of operators in quantum mechanics and the importance of Schrodinger equation. He also discussed the theory of special relativity and how it is incorporated into quantum mechanics.
“Quantum mechanics was developed because classical physics was unable to explain certain phenomena due in part, to general relativity,” he stated. “Quantum mechanics mathematically describes the particle and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It’s used to calculate probable outcomes for concrete experiments.”
“The Schrodinger equation plays a central role in quantum mechanics. According to the quantum state, it describes how a physical system changes in time.”
Finally, Dr. Mallick discussed the concept of negative energy and its interpretation. He also reviewed more advanced topics like quantum electrodynamics.
Earlier, while introducing him, Prof. Shastry, Chairman of Department of Sciences at Amrita, remembered his own PhD program days when he had many discussions on the topics of quantum mechanics and nuclear physics with Dr. Mallick.
Today, Dr. Mallick continues to work as Emeritus Scientist at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, where he is currently writing a book on quantum field theory.