Monday, March 8, 2021
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Don’t ignore the scientists’ warnings on global warming, says Nobel Laureate David Gross at IIT M convocation


None would have expected that in the last month of 2019 a deadly virus (coronavirus) could emerge and spread rapidly across the world. Many scientists had predicted that such a pandemic will inevitably arise. Yet, their warnings were largely ignored, said Nobel Laureate David J Gross, Chancellor’s Chair of Theoretical Physics, University of California.

Many scientists also warned of the impending disasters due to global warming and climate change. Yet these warnings are not sufficiently addressed, he said at the 57th convocation of IIT Madras held virtually.

“I warn you (graduating students) of the continuing and indeed worsening dangers of nuclear weapons whose use could destroy all lives on the planet. We must not ignore the warnings,” said Gross who was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics along with H David Politzer and Frank Wilczek for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction.

Advice to the students

In his advice to the students, Gross said, aim high and dare to fail. If you attempt goals that might appear to be impossible, you are guaranteed not to achieve all of these goals. If you try, you may very well fail. So what? You might succeed. In any case, you know that you gave your best shot and will have fun along the way especially if you are engaged in what you love, he said.

Take a chance that makes a difference in all aspects of life. Do not sell your dreams short; do not be afraid to follow your most ambitious plan and pursue your most outlandish ideas. Dare to connect with other human beings and to love deeply. If you do, there will be many moments like this; moments triumphed endings and moments of hopeful beginnings, he said.

“Life is not made of years, but of moments. None of us remember the beginning and none of us will remember our end. Most other moments to mark our years are both endings and beginnings. This (graduation) moment too is both a beginning and an ending,” he said.

For the first time in its history, the IIT Madras conducted its convocation using a ‘Mixed Reality’ mode. The event was held completely online combining the real and virtual world and showcasing how they can interact. A total of 2,346 degrees were awarded during the 57th Convocation.

New normal

Pawan Goenka, Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT Madras and Managing Director, Mahindra and Mahindra, presiding over the Convocation, said the Covid-19 pandemic is without doubt, the biggest health and economic crisis mankind has faced. “But it has given us the opportunity to define a new normal for how we work and how we live – and once we are out of the fear of catching the virus, the new normal in fact may be better than what we will be leaving behind. It has accelerated the rate of tech adoption across streams of life. Changes which would have taken 5-6 years have happened in just about 3-4 months.”

Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, awarded degrees to the graduating students virtually. A total of 2,346 degrees were awarded this year. This includes the highest number of PhDs awarded in an academic year (353).

The convocation 2020 also included, for the first time, 59 Inter-disciplinary Dual-Degree students who upgraded from the UG programme to obtain Masters’ degrees in Data Science, Computational Engineering, Robotics, Nanotechnology and Energy Systems, and 51 from industry who have earned their Masters’ degrees through our web-enabled executive programmes in Engineering specialisations and Business Administration, says a release.

IIT Madras continues to attract substantial funding for its research and consultancy activities from both Ministries of the Government of India and industry. During the past five years, the former grew at a CAGR of 17 per cent while the latter grew at a very healthy 26 per cent, he said.

In 2019-20, the institute received sanction for 294 Ministry-sponsored projects for a total value of ₹333.1 crore, and 649 consultancy and industry-sponsored research projects amounting to ₹249.3 crore. We filed for 191 patents during the year of which 62 are international filings, and were granted 58, he said.



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