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Robotics, dinosaur, virtual art at IIT techfest

india Updated: Jan 26, 2007 13:34 IST
Highlight Story

Fun, robotics, videoconference talks from some of the planet's big names in science and tech and a drastic re-look at alternatives to the copyright model are on the menu for this year's Techfest2007, the student festival of one of India's premier technology training centres, IIT-Bombay.

"There will be something like 20,000 people taking part here," said Assistant Professor Shishir K Jha of the Shailesh J Mehta School of Management.

Draped in a sea of banners that indicate the support from affluent industrial and other sponsors to this event in the prestigious technology training-grounds, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Bombay was busy with students and others thronging the three-day event that begins on Republic Day and goes on till Jan 28.

Organisers project it to be a mix of fun, technology and brainpower. Technoholix, an "after dark" festival, will showcase "robowars" where 30-pound and 60-pound robots will "fight it out" in a specially built antenna.

Said organisers, "You may have seen it on TV, but we promise to demo it live for an altogether different experience."

"Illusions" is the name for a virtual reality park, with French artist Miguel Chevalier projecting a special interactive wall mural. Chevalier is known internationally as one of the pioneers of virtual and digital art.

Playmotion! will let visitors play games like ShufflePack and soccer on a screen-with their shadows!

One of the prominent speakers is John Nash, eminent mathematician and Nobel laureate. He was popularised by the Academy Award winning film A Beautiful Mind, a 2001 film inspired by the life of Nash and his experiences of schizophrenia. Nash is to deliver a lecture via videoconference on game theory and other mathematical concepts.

Thanks to videoconferencing, another of the world leading cybernetics experts-Prof Kevin Warwick, also known as the Human Cyborg will talk on Sunday evening about neural implants and its impact on the human body, drawing on his own experience of having a chip implanted in his arm.

Giving the festival a social thrust, a debate on the "responsibility of being an IITian" will also be focussing on "India's most-hyped" students. Taking part will be IITian-turned-editor Sandipan Deb, Lok Paritrana president Tanmay Rajpurohit, Mastek CEO Ashank Desai and Webaroo's Rakesh Mathur, among others.

Others offering lectures include former Bell Labs president Arun Netravali (via video conference), Centre for SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Research Dr Jill Tarter, India's leading astrophysicist Dr Jayant Narlikar, Skybus and anti-collision device rail pioneer Rajaram Bojji (formerly of the Konkan Railway Corporation), and political activist Dunu Roy on how society is closely interlinked with science and technology.

The Royal Society, Britain's oldest existing scientific society, will exhibit its Summer Science exhibition for the first time outside the United Kingdom, at Techfest 2007, IIT Bombay organisers said.

Exhibits will include a life-sized model of the winged dinosaur Pterosaur, mind-reading machines, systems to forecast unpredictable natural disasters (like tsunamis and earthquakes), and special structures that can be used for construction in space, apart form alternative sources of energy.

IIT Bombay's own R&D exhibition will focus on a "silicon locket" to monitor cardiac disease, "virtual surgery" and prosthetic design systems, and an urban disaster management plan, among others.

If you want updates of the events, you can get them via SMS. And to add to the "fun" are events of juggling and others taking place, of all places, in the swimming pool, apart from promises of "sand animation".

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