Spooky, bizarre and mind-boggling are all understatements when it comes to quantum mechanics. Many researchers believe that physics will not be complete until it can explain not just the behaviour of space and time, but where these entities come from. Providing students an opportunity to learn some of the complex theories in physics, the Department of Physics, Chowgule College, Margao conducted a lecture series on ‘Material Science and Quantum Mechanics’.
The lecture series were conducted by associate professor emeritus at the School of Materials Science and Engineering of the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA, Brent Carter. He has published several papers and also has patents in the field of Material Science.
Speaking about his experiences in Goa, he says, “I had read about the beaches in Goa. I also knew that the density of population in Goa is lower compared to that of Delhi and Mumbai. But after arriving I realised that the natural beauty of Goa is amazing. The life of people here is more outdoorish, probably because of the warm weather. Also, in my country, you have roads where you drive straight, but here, you have houses, shops, hawkers, people walking around, etc. I’ve seen cows, dogs, cats and even a monkey on the streets here. The roads here, is where life happens, not just where you drive.”
During his lecture series, Carter observed stark differences between the student crowd in Goa compared to that of USA. “Back in my country, students have the liberty to walk in and walk out of the class whenever they please. They also have the text book system where they are expected to read a particular chapter before the class begins so that once the teacher is teaching, they know what to expect. Students in Goa are more attentive and receptive to what they learn. At the same time, they are also very shy.”
Revealing about the technologically advanced teaching methods in Georgia, Carter shed light on a unique system called the PRS, “Back home, we have something called the Personal Response System (PRS) which is a hand-held remote control that students use to convey their responses by pressing its clicker.
“In my class, I would deliver a mini-lecture on a new or difficult concept, followed by some questions to test if students understand the new concept, and a discussion to address misconceptions. This can also be used to facilitate discussion in class on a certain topic and sometimes also to ask the students to respond anonymously as to whether or not they agree to what the teacher is saying. If that was available here, it would’ve helped a lot since the students are so shy here.”
Incidentally, Carter and Vijay Chowgule have known each other since college and have been friends since. “We have been friends for the past 47 years. It is on his request that I agreed to come give lectures on Quantum Mechanics and Material Science at Chowgule College, Margao.”
Besides researching on Quantum Mechanics and Material Science, Carter is also interested in reading. He also has many other talents, “I play the guitar and usually carry it with me to class. I have played for my students on a beach in Fiji. I used to play ice-hockey years ago, so took my roller blades to France on my visit there. Besides snow and ice skiing, I also do water skiing, sail in the lakes in Georgia and fly planes in Atlanta.”
After having a great experience in Goa, Carter insists that he would love to return to the sunny state. “I have seen so many exciting things in Goa. I’ve eaten vindaloo, fish, clams, calamari, crabs and prawns. I ate Bebinca with ice-cream and it was wonderful. I went to the spice garden, visited the churches in Old Goa and went on the ferry. It’s all very green and beautiful here. This visit of mine was as a lecturer, but the next time I would love to visit as a tourist.”