Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year's Eve!

Maintaining the tradition of spending new year's eve in the capital, I am "planning" to leave for New Delhi tomorrow. I am saying "planning" because there is still chances of this trip getting ruined. There are some strikes going on in Rajasthan through which my train is supposed to pass through. The Gujjar community there are protesting against the government by blocking rail and road traffic. Their demand is around 5% reservations in education, jobs etc. Anyone can imagine how ridiculous the way of their protest is. As far as their demand is concerned, I would say all the Indian citizens should get reservations so as to remove the existing bias as well as to rule out such stupid agitations in future ;) My train has been diverted from the usual route I guess, and hopefully I will be able to reach New Delhi before new years' eve. The dense fog around the capital is another problem hitting both rail and air traffic. I am still optimistic about reaching Delhi somehow. I have to leave for Calcutta also for a workshop in SINP from 4th Jan-8th Jan'2011.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Rajasthan 2010

I was in Jaipur for around one week attending a conference in LNMIIT as mentioned in the previous post. The city of Jaipur has got tremendous historical importance and the number of monuments in and around the city are still carrying the pride of Jaipur and the kings who ruled there. First of all the whole city is surrounded by hills and on top of the hills you can see various forts and huge walls. The ancient city of Jaipur was slightly away from the main city today and it was surrounded by huge walls. The fort of Amber was simply amazing. The beautiful ceilings inside reminded me of some of those in Vatican museum. It was great to see the Rajasthan Government taking all necessary steps to keep the monuments evergreen. Apart from the this grand fort, the Jalmahal, the Jaigarh fort, the Nahargarh fort, the Hawa mahal, the City Palace were also amazing. Jaipur don't look so good from the point of view of a modern city, but it has got so much historical monuments that no other city in India can probably beat Jaipur. And the interesting fact is that most of the cities in Rajasthan have such huge monuments which make Rajasthan a hot tourist spot in India.

Apart from historical monuments, Rajasthan is famous for wildlife also. Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary and Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve are pretty famous for that. Bharatpur is around 4 hours journey by bus from Jaipur. It's a small town, a bit dirty and unorganized. But the autowala took us to a nice place to stay. It was a part of a person's residence which he gives to tourists on rent. It was pretty close to the gate of the Keoladeo National Park (or Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary) . We went inside the sanctuary twice: we walked on the first day and took bikes for the second day. Although the sanctuary is spread over an area of 30 square kilometer, most of it were unavailable for tourists. Apparently a tiger came out from Ranthambhore national park and entered into some village from where people drove him off to Bharatpur. The authorities are yet to transfer that tiger from Bharatpur to some other national park. People said , it would be done within one week and the entire park will then be open for visitors. We saw a wide varieties of birds there mostly unfamiliar to me. The Siberian Cranes for which the park was very famous at one time, don't come nowadays. According to a guide there, since the Afghan war started, those birds stopped visiting the park since their route to India was over Afghanistan. Apart from birds, there were deers, antilope, wild lizards, jackal and lots of cows, bulls.

Ranthambhore national park is around 190 km from Bharatpur. And there is no good bus service between these two famous tourist destinations. We had to take some pathetic train to reach Sawai Madhopur (which is the district center and very close to Ranthambhore). Sawai Madhopur is again a very small town, but fact that the town has more number of hi-class hotels than shops surprised us a lot. We need to survey a lot to find a room which fits our budget. The Taj Group , the Oberoi group also have hotels over there. And due to high demands from lots of tourists, the prices of rooms were a bit high for Indian grad students ;) Anyway, we managed to find a small tent for us at 600 rupees per night. We took two safaris there, one in the afternoon and one in the morning. Although the afternoon safari went in vain (in the sense that we could not see any tiger), the morning safari made it possible. The guide is the second safari was a bit more experienced than the first one. He followed the warning calls from spotted deer and sambar deer and lead us to spot the tiger. The tiger quietly came and crossed our roads. We felt so lucky to see it in the very second safari, people don't see tiger there even after taking 4-5 safaris. The park is spread over an area of 392 square km and there are only around 30 tigers. So the probability of spotting a tiger in a 3-hour long safari is quite low. Apart from tiger, we saw many birds (which we already saw in Bharatpur), crocodiles, deers, antilope etc.

Area-wise Rajathan is the largest state in India, and of course it's not possible to cover everything within just few days. There are many more interesting places like Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Ajmer which we could not cover. Will have to plan some trip again to this awesome Indian state in near future :)

DAE Symposium Jaipur

DAE symposium 2010 was in Jaipur this time as I had mentioned earlier. It was held in a brand new institute called L N Mittal Institute of Information Technology (LNMIIT), around 17 km away from the main city. The institute campus was really cool, and the organizers also did a great job I believe with the arrangement of food, accommodations etc. There were two things I did not like about the campus: it is located in a very deserted place away from the city and the campus has too many flies which keep annoying you in the lecture halls as well as in the dining room. The symposium brought many old friends together, it was really nice for me to be in a conference where more than half of the participants are known. Most of them, I met in various other schools in the last few years. This symposium was also very exciting for me since it was the first time I gave a talk in a conference. Although I was a little bit nervous, but my talk went quite well. Each day of the conference was divided into two sessions: one for plenary talks and the other for parallel sessions. The invited speakers for plenary talks were well-known experts in their respective fields and it was really great listening to them, particularly the talks by Sandip Trivedi, A Joshipura and others. Anyway it was a great academic experience for me. The non-academic experiences of Jaipur will follow this post shortly ;-)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Symmetries at High Temperature!

When I read about the spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB) in the simple scalar field theory, I was wondering many things. In SSB, what happens is that, the ground state of the scalar potential breaks the symmetry but the overall Lagrangian still preserves it. I was wondering if the reverse is possible and if yes, then how will we describe it. My curiosity was natural in the sense that we see more conserved symmetries at low energy like color (strong interaction), electromagnetism, baryon number, lepton number etc than spontaneously broken symmetries like electroweak symmetry. Although we know theories where Lepton number and Baryon number can be violated by the decay of very heavy particles, at GUT (Grand Unified Theory) scale for example, but we always take it for granted that the conserved gauge symmetries like color and electromagnetism at low energy are conserved at high energy as well. However, recently I found some papers which try to investigate such issues in details, the high energy behavior of symmetries. And it can be possible that finite temperature effects can:
1. Restores a symmetry (global or local) at high temperature which is broken at zero temperature and
2. Violates a symmetry (global or local) at high temperature which is preserved at zero temperatures.
Although the first effect of finite temperature is what most of us would naively expect (like in the case of SSB), but the second effect is something counter-intuitive as well unexpected. The second effect is known as Anti Restoration of symmetries at high temperatures. Langacker and Pi had shown in their work that the U(1) symmetry of electromagnetism which is perfectly conserved at zero temperature can be broken at very high temperatures provided your theory has sufficiently rich to account for that. Of course, with just the standard model field content, the second effect would be difficult to show. Although such anti-restoration at high temperatures wont be observed at present universe which is in a supercooled state, but such effects can have very important implications in cosmology. There might be multiple phase transition in the early universe because of this restoring and anti-restoring effects. There are models where the electroweak symmetry is broken at very high scale (~GUT scale for example), and as the Universe cools down, this symmetry gets restored after some critical temperatures and upon further cooling, it gets broken at the electroweak scale. This means that the standard model quarks and leptons were ultra-heavy at very early stage of the Universe which can have various implications. Although this field was very active in the eighties, I do not see anybody working on such models seriously nowadays except the models of supersymmetry breaking. But I find these ideas very interesting although they are kind of out-dated from current research trends point of view.