Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Angel Hair, Ice Cream Castles, Dripping Faucets & Euler Fractals

Dr. Robert Cahalan presented a Maniac Talk on October 24, 2012 at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Dr. Robert Cahalan gave an interesting and stimulating talk entitled ‘Angel Hair, Ice Cream Castles, Dripping Faucets & Euler Fractals’. He combined anecdotes from his life and career with insights into the world around us from symmetry, fractals, and chaotic systems. This began with a look at the mathematics of rotations, topology, and prime numbers, with demonstrations including a hexaflexagon.

The mathematics then became a background for Bob’s experiences growing up in the middle part of the previous century, including being forced to do arithmetic by nuns at Catholic school as punishment for bad behavior, and through his career as a scientist, moving from the world of particle physics (heavily entwined with symmetry) through to the work on radiation and climate he is known for here at GSFC. We learned about the common themes which have underlined many aspects of this work. The talk renewed our sense of wonder and amazement at the beautiful complexity of nature and mathematics. -- summary by Andrew Sayer

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