"The power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous." To start a statement of one's teaching philosophy with this quote from historian Edward Gibbon seems at the very least an attempt to absolve oneself of all responsibilities of a pedagogue.
Yet, my teaching philosophy is based upon a rather personal spin on the quote. I aim to train my students to be independent thinkers and problem solvers. I want to teach my students to take risks, be imaginative and not get trapped in the conventional modes of thinking.
In the classroom you will often find me teaching how to look at a problem a thousand different ways rather than "teaching to test." For I believe that a young student of science in general, and physics in particular, needs to learn the art of chasing the truth without pocketing it, rather than the contrary.
I am a nurturer in the classroom, often a dream maker if I can be, and certainly an inspirer. At least that's how I would like to think of myself.
Research/Areas of Interest
Quantum mechanics, the physics describing the very small, and general relativity, Einstein's theory describing the universe at large, are the two pillars of modern physics. Between the two of them lies a vast chasm of length (and energy) scales.
Each theory in its own domain of operation eminently describes known phenomena of the atomic world and the cosmos. These two theories are supposed to merge into a unified description at the so-called Planck scale—at energies much higher than we can envision or even currently achieve on earth.
The Planck length is 10-33 cms if you can visualize it, and the Planck energy, the stuff the big bang was perhaps made out of, packed into a volume of a cube each side of which is of the order of the Planck length. Despite a half century's worth of effort, we have not been able to find a fully consistent quantum theory of gravity.
My work of the last few years centers around the topic of what constitutes, and how to describe, the fundamental degrees of freedom of the gravitational field at high energies.
At any given moment you could find me dabbling in the physics of black holes—those mysterious objects which can gravitationally trap everything including light, yet quantum mechanically radiate like a black body—or looking into possibilities of testing those wild quantum gravity ideas in cosmic rays and particle colliders.
It's a terribly exciting time to do this kind of physics, since experimentalists are helping push the energy frontier further and further into a place where subatomic particles, gravity and the cosmos may all have lived as a wondrous whole a few seconds after the big bang.
Sayandeb Basu, Ph.D.
Office: 104 Olson Hall
University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95211