February 23rd, 2010
I must say I have been slacking off in the blog department for the last few months, part of the reason for which is my relatively busier schedule as a post-doc. But that's definitely not all. Writing, like sketching, reading, or any other hobby, is just an alternate reality for me. In both ordinary and depressing times, it provides me with a version of life which is neither plagued by the truth of reality nor its sorry limitations. In other words, when the daily routine is just a routine, imagination finds its last refuge in writing. The reason that I have not really been writing or even reading for the last couple of months is that I'm thoroughly engrossed in my current research. My adviser, Dr. Nemat-Nasser, is the sort of researcher I have always imagined good scientists to be like. He has achieved every accolade his field has to offer and has contributed immensely to research, but the twinkle in his eye and the enthusiasm in his voice that appear when he is discussing a new problem betrays how much he still loves the pure, unadulterated joy of trying to understand how nature ticks. His is a very non-utilitarian, almost an artistic take on research - which is the only way good research should be carried out - with its only aim being understanding the subject matter and having almost no stake in the results. It isn't always possible because it's the taxpayer's money which supports research in the hope that its fruits would benefit society. Society, therefore, automatically has a vested interest in results and as a consequence a large number of researchers wither under this social pressure and produce results which, if anything, are of only minor consequences and almost no insight. But there are people who manage to strike a good balance and my current adviser is definitely one of them.
I am currently working on trying to understand how acoustic waves travel in a material which is not uniform. Several interesting physical phenomenon are seen in such materials. If the non-uniformity is controlled properly, intriguing physics like complete stoppage of sound at certain frequencies and negative energy propagation at some other frequencies are seen. More complex materials give rise to other effects with interesting physics. I'll update my research page with more details, in case someone finds it interesting.