Nonlinear and Non-equilibrium Physics Unit (Mahesh Bandi)
Associate Professor Mahesh Bandi
bandi at oist.jp
Most complex phenomena that surround us in nature are so familiar to us that we often do not realize that though we know them, we do not understand them so well. Being commonplace, reproducing them in the lab is easy, with most effort then dedicated to designing the simplest experimental setups that capture the important variables that govern the phenomena and obtain their minimal parameter description. The visually arresting patterns of exquisite beauty that the phenomena sometimes generate also form a naturally attractive hook in undertaking their study. Many of these phenomena arise in systems driven far from equilibrium that exhibit nonlinear responses, for which theoretical understanding has yet to be gleaned from careful construction of experimental evidence. Our group’s experimental efforts are trained in large measure towards gaining such understanding of fundamental phenomena, but whose answers find use in the applied realm. Examples of our efforts include studying how wind power fluctuates in response to turbulent wind or how solar power fluctuates with cloud passage, how fungi exploit wind patterns to disperse spores to distant infection sites (a cause behind the Irish potato famine), how friction controls behavior of granular materials that cause earthquakes and mudslides, but also determines how we package pills and breakfast cereal, how soap and oil spread on water which has implications from detergent action to oil spills, how did stiffness emerge in the foot as we humans evolved from our arboreal ancestors to our current terrestrial forms, and more...