Abstract: Charles Darwin, in his On the Origin of Species, laid the foundation for all of modern biology. But he had doubts of his own theory: "I...confine myself to one special difficulty...actually fatal to my whole theory. I allude to the neuters or sterile females in insect communities...they cannot propagate their kind." Put another way, how can evolution explain altruistic behaviour? Evolution has proven the test of time, so was Darwin wrong in second guessing? As it turns out, some basic mathematics was all that was needed to solidify his theory.
Abstract: The first personal computing revolution took place not in Silicon Valley in the 1980s but in Pisa in the 13th Century. The medieval counterpart to Steve Jobs was a young Italian called Leonardo, better known today by the nickname Fibonacci. Thanks to a recently discovered manuscript in a library in Florence, the story of how this little known genius came to launch the modern commercial world can now be told.
Based on Devlin’s latest book The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci’s Arithmetical Revolution (Walker & Co, July 2011) and his co-published companion e-book Leonardo and Steve: The Young Genius Who Beat Apple to Market by 800 Years.
Abstract: Can we make objects invisible? This has been a subject of human fascination for millennia in Greek mythology, movies, science fiction, etc. including the legend of Perseus versus Medusa and the more recent Star Trek and Harry Potter. In the last decade or so there have been several scientific proposals to achieve invisibility. We will introduce some of these in a non-technical fashion concentrating on the so-called "transformation optics" that has received the most attention in the scientific literature.
Whether it is a bottle of soda, the tires of a car or the human body: Objects in everyday life can be described by only a few parameters, like temperature, pressure or volume. But how is this possible, if each of these systems are complex assemblies of atoms and molecules giving rise to a vast number of coordinates, on the order of 10^23?
Ergodic theory is the mathematical attempt to provide an answer to this fundamental question. In this talk we will tackle the problem based on a prominent example - the Einstein model for a solid. It will be shown that this problem is reduced to studying rotations on a circle, for which we will prove a version of the ergodic theorem.