K.R. Sreenivasan made his first international trip as director of ICTP in July. The initial leg of his three-week tour took him to the University of Newcastle in Australia, where he helped to organise and gave the opening lecture for a meeting on turbulence, his field of expertise. He then went on to visit the Indian Institute of Science and the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, in Bangalore, India, to give the keynote address at an international conference on fluid dynamics. His final destination was Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he presented the keynote lecture on singular-like structures in hydrodynamic turbulence at the Brazilian Mathematical Society's annual meeting. In Brazil, he also met with officials of the Latin American Center of Physics (CLAF), one of the most successful scientific networks in Latin America whose collaboration with ICTP dates back to the mid 1960s.
ICTP director K.R. Sreenivasan and Vladimir E. Zakharov
The ICTP Dirac Medal 2003 was awarded to two international
experts in the field of turbulence. Robert H. Kraichnan,
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, and Vladimir E. Zakharov, Landau
Institute for Theoretical Physics, Moscow, Russian Federation,
and University of Arizona, Tucson, USA, were recognised "for
their contributions to the theory of turbulence and for identifying
classes of turbulence problems for which in-depth understanding
has been achieved." Each winner received a US$5,000 cash
prize. Zakharov delivered his Dirac Lecture on 10 September on
"Weak-Turbulent Theory of Ocean Waves." K.R. Sreenivasan
presented Kraichnan's Dirac Lecture, "Order and Randomness
in Fully-Developed Turbulence." Kraichnan could not attend
the ceremony because of ill health. The Dirac Medal is given in
honour of Nobel prize winner Paul A.M. Dirac, one of the Centre's
closest friends and most ardent supporters, who died in 1984.
For additional information about the Dirac Medal, see the Centre's web page at
Horst L. Stoermer
Two Nobel Laureates 'bookended' the Third Stig Lundqvist Conference
on Advancing Frontiers of Condensed Matter Physics: Fundamental
Interactions and Excitations in Confined Systems. Nobel Laureate
Alan Heeger (Chemistry 2000), a physicist and long-time
friend of ICTP's Condensed Matter Physics Group, was the first
speaker. Heeger, who won the Nobel Prize "for the discovery
and development of conductive polymers", teaches at the University
of California at Santa Barbara, Institute for Polymers and Organic
Solids and Department of Physics and Materials. Horst L. Störmer,
who won the 1998 Nobel prize in physics for his discovery of the
fractional quantum Hall effect, delivered the concluding lecture.
His talk, which took place on 15 August, examined "Recent
Results on Two-Dimensional Electrons." German-born Störmer,
professor of physics at Columbia University, and part-time adjunct
physics director at Bell Labs, Murray Hill, New Jersey, USA, is
a leading specialist in the field of nanotechnologies.
Diploma Class 2002-2003
29 August was graduation day for ICTP's 2002-2003 Diploma class.
Twenty-seven students received their diplomas. This marks the
12th year of the Centre's Diploma Programme. Since its inception
in 1991, nearly 400 students from the developing world have successfully
completed the programme. Five days before the concluding ceremony,
the new 2003-2004 class, consisting of 28 students from 19 countries,
arrived at ICTP campus to begin their one-year course of study.
Gandham Ramana Rao (right) receiving the award from the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh
Gandham Ramana Rao, principal of University P.G. College in Godavarikhani, Andhra Pradesh, India, was selected best university teacher for 2003. The award ceremony took place at the state capital, Hyderabad, on 5 September. Ramana Rao's affiliation with ICTP dates back to 1983 when he participated in the Winter College on Lasers, Atomic and Molecular Physics. During the 1980s, he was a Fellow of the Training and Research in Italian Laboratories (TRIL) programme, working at Politecnico di Milano.
UNESCO's Free Software Portal at www.unesco.org/webworld/portal_freesoft includes a virtual laboratory toolkit that was developed with the help of ICTP staff member Clement Onime (right) and consulting scientist Enrique Canessa (left). The kit provides person-to-person and person-to-equipment communication tools enabling scientists to create or participate in a virtual laboratory targeted to specific research problems. For additional information and copies of the CD-Rom toolkit, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More and more, theoretical physicists are intrigued by problems of everyday life that often seem far afield from their abstract interests. Two recent studies in which ICTP's researchers were involved offer an excellent example of this trend.
The first is an article published in the 28 August 2003 edition of Nature and coauthored by a group of scientists that includes Amos Maritan, a professor at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste and an ICTP consultant, and Jayanth R. Banavar, a professor of physics at Pennsylvania State University.
The article, "Neutral Theory and Relative Species Abundance in Ecology," published in Nature's "Letters" section, draws on a widely acclaimed yet controversial 2001 book, The Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography, written by Stephen Hubbell, one the authors of the article. In the book, Hubbell challenges half-century old ideas on the formation of natural plant and animal communities. He contends that many of the ecological patterns we see may be more simply and better explained if we accept the fact that species live compatibly, not competitively, in their shared environments. This concept could have profound implications for our understanding of biodiversity and species extinction.
The second example of the new practical 'avenues' being paved by theoretical physicists is found in an article accepted for publication in Europhysics Letters written by a group of authors that includes Matteo Marsili, staff scientist, ICTP Condensed Matter Physics Group, and Roberto Mulet, ICTP junior associate, University of Havana, Cuba. A subsequent news article published on Science Online uses the mathematical equations presented in the forthcoming Europhysics Letters article to examine traffic patterns in New York City. What the Science article surprisingly concludes is that a detailed knowledge of traffic, based on empirical evidence, may not be helpful in avoiding New York City's clogged thoroughfares. Indeed the article concludes that taxi drivers and native New Yorkers would do better to choose their routes randomly. That may be something valuable to remember the next time you are listening to the traffic reports on your car radio. The best advice may be to change the station and listen to some soothing music.