Monday 17 September 2007

Of the era that was and the age that is, electronics

Its funny that I pen down a title like that (above) when what I really intend to do is write about my experience at Pilani during my summer internship.

In one way, May 15 - July 15 brought about a myriad of experiences, each unique in its own right.
Although this fact alone should have accounted for my jubilation when I first received my confirmation mail, the fact that it is one of our reputed research institutes got me excited.
Pilani is about 5 hours from Delhi - by road - and there is no other means of transport to get there. So, after a 5 hour grueling bus journey, I finally arrive at my destination: A land full of camels and the desert wind. The land of the Rajahs, as they say, and the town for education - Pilani. It took me a bit of time to adjust to the extreme climate, not to mention that adjusting with peacocks as your friendly neighbourhood stray animal was a pretty formidable task in itself! An oasis in a desert, It could put many fairylands to shame.

Of course the most striking factor about the place was the pace of its functioning. Time would literally stay still as you would take your own sweet time to adjust and go on.
Hardly a few days of stay, and I was already convinced that I had entered a new world.

And then, I was proved wrong when I entered CEERI - the real new world! A lot more than what it appears on first sight: A modest research institute established under the CSIR. The History attached with the place is compelling: A lot of technical breakthroughs without which the country would probably have had to shelve lumps of money for technology transfer; and of course, live without television! But again it was a new experience, a new way of life and a new world to enter.

A glimpse into the developments that are going on here, and I begin to wonder about the era that was and the age that is, electronics. Since the turn of the century we have had numerous breakthroughs and path breaking findings, even revolutionary progress; yet we seek to answer the same fundamental questions and are groping for the still more fundamental answers.
One begins to question the nature of revolutions themselves, based on the scope that they claim to affect.

"New hopes, new styles, and, most important, a new way of seeing. Revolutions do not come piecemeal. One account on nature replaces another. Old problems are seen in new light. Something takes place that resembles a whole industry retooling for new production. It is rather as if the professional community had been suddenly transported to another planet where familiar objects are seen in a different light and are joined by unfamiliar ones as well." - CHAOS, James Gleick

And this is the situation that people at CEERI try to address and bring about all the time. We may talk about the next big breakthrough, the next big Silicon revolution, even pathbreaking findings that may allow us to look back and laugh at what we currently regard as the highest achievements we have made.
Yet, in the foreseeable future, I cant help but see a fraction of us smirk at those who laugh, for we still, as always will, remain in an endless pursuit of answering the fundamental questions that stare at us.