Fall 2014 Events

Fermat's Last Theorem

Fermat's Last Theorem

September 22, 2014 8:00 PM  – 9:00 PM
Searles Science Building, Room 315

This lecture centers on the solution of Fermat's Last Theorem, a mathematical assertion from the 17th century that was established by modern methods twenty years ago after resisting the efforts of professional and amateur mathematicians for 350 years. It will explain the formulation of the problem and recapitulate the history leading up to the announcement of a solution by Andrew Wiles in 1993 and the final step of the proof by Richard Taylor and Andrew Wiles in 1994. Some of the new mathematical ideas used in the proof will be summarized at the end of the lecture.

Ken Ribet will present the Cecil T. and Marion C. Holmes Mathematics Lecture sponsored by the Mathematics Department.

Ribet is a member of the editorial boards of several book series and research journals.  He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997 and the National Academy of Sciences in 2000.  He was awarded the Fermat Prize in 1989 and received an honorary PhD from Brown University in 1998.  Ribet was inducted as a Vigneron d'honneur by the Jurade de Saint Emilion in 1988.  He received his department's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1985.

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Dynamical Models of Locomotion

Dynamical Models of Locomotion

October 3, 2014 12:30 PM  – 1:30 PM
Searles Science Building, Room 315

Dynamical systems theory uses normal forms as simple models for empirical observations. This lecture focuses upon stable limit cycles as models of animal locomotion. Utilizing motion capture data of running cockroaches and people and flying fruit flies and mosquitoes, we test the anchors and templates hypotheses formulated by Full and collaborators. These hypotheses propose that animals have evolved so that their motion resembles a low dimensional dynamical system, and that control is based upon a small number of quantities. This lecture will introduce these hypotheses and reformulate them as a statement about the motion of a dynamical system near a periodic orbit. It will then describe the strategy we developed to analyze motion capture data from this perspective. We end with new questions about stochastic perturbations and data driven models of dynamical systems.

John Guckenheimer, Abram R. Bullis Professor in Mathematics, Cornell University, will present the Dan E. Christie Mathematics Lecture. Lecture is sponsored by the Mathematics Department and Digital and Computational Studies.

John Guckenheimer started his career in pure mathematics, and is now one of the leaders of applied dynamical systems. Last year, he and co-author Phil Holmes were awarded the AMS Leroy P. Steele Prize for Mathematical Exposition for their 1983 book, Nonlinear Oscillations, Dynamical Systems, and Bifurcations of Vector Fields (Springer-Verlag). John is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for Advancement of Science, the American Mathematical Society, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, where he served as president in 1997-98. His research encompasses mathematical biology, systems with multiple time scales, and computational algorithms.

This lecture integrates mathematics, biology, and digital and computational ways of thinking.

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Multiple Stable States: Theory and Evidence

Multiple Stable States: Theory and Evidence

October 9, 2014 4:00 PM  – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

One of the most vexing problems in ecology is how distinctly different communities, such as mussel beds and seaweed stands that occur on rocky shores in Maine, can occur in the same ecosystem. These communities often persist for long periods, yet small, temporary shifts in environmental conditions can cause an unexpected tipping of the system and one type of community may be replaced by another. How can alternative communities be both persistent and yet so susceptible? The theory of these systems, known as multiple stable states, is well understood, but whether multiple stable states actually exist in nature has remained a hotly debated subject and, not surprisingly, definitive examples continue to be elusive. The past decade has seen resurgent interest in the topic because of large-scale changes in the species composition of many ecosystems around the globe and the extent to which anthropogenic activities and climate change may underlie these sudden shifts. The occurrence of multiple stable states has implications for how we manage ecosystems and our basic understanding of the roles of historical and contemporary processes in determining patterns of organismal distribution and abundance. I will present the results from the past 18 years of an ongoing project investigating whether rockweed stands and mussel beds represent alternative community states in sheltered bays of the Gulf of Maine.

Dr. Steve Dungeon is Professor of Biology, at the California State University, Northridge.  He received his PhD from the University of Maine in 1992. His research interests focus on the unique biological features of clonal algae and invertebrates, the evolution of life history and morphological traits and how these traits influence the dynamics of the communities in which they live. The temperate rocky intertidal zone is the experimental system used to explore these concepts.

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Physics Talk - Mattias Bartleman

Physics Talk - Mattias Bartleman

October 9, 2014 4:00 PM  – 5:00 PM
Searles Science Building, Room 315

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is delighted to welcome Professor Matthias Bartelmann from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, to give a seminar called, "Gravitational Lenses Reveal the Dark-Matter Landscape."

Thursday, October 9
Searles 315
4:00 p.m.
Please join us for a brief reception just before the talk in Searles 313 at 3:45.

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Book Release Celebration - David Collings "Stolen Future, Broken Present: The Human Significance of Climate Change"

Book Release Celebration - David Collings "Stolen Future, Broken Present: The Human Significance of Climate Change"

October 22, 2014 4:15 PM  – 5:15 PM
Moulton Union, Main Lounge

Join us for a discussion and reception celebrating the release of Bowdoin Professor of English David Collings' new book, Stolen Future, Broken Present: The Human Significance of Climate Change, moderated by Collin Roesler, Associate Professor of Earth and Oceanographic Science at Bowdoin.

In Stolen Future, Collings argues that we are virtually out of time to prevent severe, irreversible climate change - with a devastating effect on how we think about the future.

Nearly everything we do, Collings says, is premised on the assumption that the world we know will endure into the future and provide a sustaining context for our activities. But today the future of a viable biosphere, and thus the purpose of our present activities, is put into question. A disappearing future leads to a broken present, a strange incoherence in the feel of everyday life.

We thus face the unprecedented challenge of salvaging a basis for our lives today. That basis may be found in our capacity to assume an infinite responsibility for ecological disaster. By owning disaster and accepting our small place within the inhuman forces of the biosphere, we may discover how to live with responsibility and serenity whatever may come.

David Collings teaches courses in British Romanticism, critical theory, sexuality and gender, and environmental studies. He is the author of Wordsworthian Errancies: The Poetics of Cultural Dismemberment (1994) and Monstrous Society: Reciprocity, Discipline, and the Political Uncanny, c. 1780-1848 (2009), among others.

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Physics Department Talk - Doug Cowan

Physics Department Talk - Doug Cowan

October 30, 2014 4:00 PM  – 5:00 PM
Searles Science Building, Room 315

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is delighted to welcome Professor Doug Cowen from Penn State University. Professor Cowen will be giving a seminar called, "The Discovery of Ultrahigh Energy Astrophysical Neutrinos with IceCube."

Thursday, October 30
Searles 315
4:00 p.m.

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