01 March 2020

IISc Open Day 29th Feb 2020

The Indian Institute of Science's Open Day is a yearly event during which the general public can visit the campus free of cost and every department exhibits some fascinating experiments or presents the research that students are doing there. Most of these are at the cutting edge of technology, so it's an excellent learning experience for everyone. The campus is so vast that even for someone arriving at 9am, it's hard to visit all the stalls and view all demo's and experiments. Of the many demo's, here are some:

Also known as Magic Mud or Oobleck, the video I took, shows how a person who inserts their hand slowly into the liquid is able to, but the person who jumps on it does not sink. The liquid is just a 1:1.25 ratio mixture of water and corn-starch. The corn-starch doesn't dissolve in the water, and stays suspended as a non-Newtonian fluid. If you are gentle, the liquid parts and allows solids to enter. If you punch it or run over it, if feels like a solid object. I took a thin, sturdy leaf stalk and thrust it into the liquid, but it wasn't able to penetrate. So surface area didn't matter. I'd like to have seen if a knife edge's surface area would be able to penetrate. When I suggested it could be used for bullet-proofing, the organisers said that's one of the applications considered for this fluid. I jumped on it, ran on it and even punched it. Solid as a rock! Be gentle, and it's cooperative. Made me realise that many people behave like non-Newtonian fluids too. :-)

Studies are being conducted on the structure and role of certain proteins which play a role in how ambient light affects the body's sleep cycle.

This was an actual brain-machine interface demo where the person wearing a skull-cap that noted his brain's gamma waves, was able to control a circle on the screen and make it move left or right just by using his thoughts.

Hardware relics from the past.

The presence of such ponds and greenery in an institute campus speaks a lot about the quality and care that goes into maintaining it.

This is a pacman game where they train a deep neural network using the visitor's hand gestures that indicate up, down, left or right motions. The visitor then uses these gestures to move pacman on the screen and play the game of escaping the ghosts. Cumbersome, but interesting.

A functional hydroponics setup that's 90% more water-efficient than traditional farming. The nutrient-enhanced water mist gives nutrition to the roots.

Just a car that follows a trail using infra-red light.

Research being done on mice to understand how the hippocampus stores information on spatial recognition. The brain has grid cells, head direction cells, boundary detection cells etc.

A working demo of the Tesla tower. The CFL bulb glows due to wireless electricity (ionization).

A demonstration of how Tsunami waves are formed, how the wave appears to recede just before the main wave strikes and how barriers may help push the wave backward to cancel out incoming waves; demonstrated by a guy who appears to be infected with the Corona virus :-).

One of the e-rickshaws at IISc that the public could use for free. They are labelled "Transvahan", which initially gets interpreted as "Transgender vahan", but it's actually "Transport vahan". There's very few of these vehicles, and most of the time I saw them transporting water and food. It would've been nice if there would be plenty of bicycles that'd help traverse the vast expanse of the campus during such events. They did a really good job of arranging for plenty of good quality drinking water sources all over the campus.

There were so many many more stalls and demo's that I didn't mention just for the sake of brevity. Overall, a really good experience. Open Day is a must-visit for science-lovers.