“I think the next century will be the century of complexity.” - Stephen Hawking (2000)
“I see the future of science and the future of complexity as converging on each other. More and more science is learning interdisciplinarity and there will be fewer and fewer simple answers that are just chemistry or biology or physics.” - PW Anderson (2008)
This futuristic programme, possibly the first of its kind in India, reflects our endeavour to chart a new research trajectory on the occasion of our centenary. Strongly guided by the legacy of our founder, this interdisciplinary programme will also serve as a unique bridge between biology and physics.
In the last few decades of the twentieth century, the focus in both physical and biological sciences has gradually but decisively shifted from the reductionist perspective of equating a system merely as an aggregate of its parts. Instead, the focus has shifted to study the collective behaviour of the components of a system and of the “emergent properties”, thought to arise therefrom.
Following is a selection of the diverse topics to be studied.
* Gene regulatory networks: Gene regulatory networks (GRNs) play a vital and perhaps dominant role in development and differentiation. Crucial details on how the epigenetic machinery is coupled to GRNs and their stationary states is not known with clarity. Also, there is every possibility of cross-talk between GRNs and consequently of their possible non-trivial role in diseases.
* Network of networks: Many real-world networks today are interdependent on each other and interact among themselves. Failure of a few critical links or a small subcomponent might initiate a cascading effect and occasionally a catastrophe. We want to study such networks and to see how the structure of connections between and among layers dictates function.
* Noisy information transmission in synthetic circuits: Using experiments and stochastic modeling, we want to decipher the fidelity of signal transmission in model synthetic circuits.
* Quantum networks: Quantum networks provide opportunities to implement distributed quantum information processing tasks such as quantum communication, quantum cryptography and quantum computation. We want to study the role of entanglement in such networks.
* Topological defects: Topological defects naturally arise in phase transitions with an associated symmetry breaking. We will study such properties in phase transition of nematic to isotropic liquid crystals and relate them to those obtained in super-fluids like liquid helium as well as neutron matter in astrophysical neutron stars.