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    • 2010

      Science on the Edge-The 2010 Nobel Prizes

      November 9
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      Making the Connections – The 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Palladium Catalyzed Carbon-Carbon Coupling   The formation of carbon-carbon bonds has been a challenge that, for many years, only nature has been able to accomplish effectively. With the ability to assemble carbon-containing molecules into more complex structures, a multitude of new materials and biologically active compounds can be prepared.   This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki for their development of and contributions toward the field of transition-metal promoted reactions to create new carbon-carbon bonds.Lecture  by Emily McLaughlin
      Chemistry Program Physics
      “for groundbreaking experiments regarding the
      two-dimensional material graphene”
      Awarded to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov  
      Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics for “producing, identifying and characterizing graphene”, a sheet of carbon atoms arranged in hexagons. Since Geim and Novoselov revealed their absurdly simple method for making graphene in 2004, thousands of papers about this material have been published. Graphene’s two-dimensionality gives rise to unusual properties of fundamental and practical interest, including its electrical conductivity, strength and flexibility. In this talk, we’ll take a look at how graphene was made and characterized and some of its significant properties.Lecture by Simeen Sattar
      Physics Program 

      Fair Duels

      November 9
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Sinan Gunturk
      Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York UniversityA fair duel is a mathematical abstraction that seeks infinite binary sequences which are highly balanced in a certain universal sense. This talk will present the origin of this problem, how some classical sequences fare as attempts to solve it, and the current best solution that is inspired by a signal processing algorithm.

      Mathematics Senior Project Prospectus Talks

      October 28
      RKC 111

      Ben Selfridge

      Lexi Carver

      Nathan Smith

      Zhexiu Tu

      Diana Khaburzaniya

      Mathematics Senior Project Prospectus Talks

      October 26
      RKC 111

      Lionel Barrow

      Alexandros Fragkopoulus

      Jules Moreau

      Greg Backus

      Madeleine Schatzberg

      Mirror Symmetry Through Polytopes

      October 21
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Ursula Whitcher
      Harvey Mudd College
      The mathematical field of mirror symmetry was inspired by an observation made by string theorists: different candidates for the shape of the extra dimensions of the universe yield the same observable physics.  We will describe pairs of "mirror" universes using geometric figures such as polygons, polyhedra, and their higher-dimensional analogues, polytopes.

      Science on the Edge - Paradigm Lost: Is Relatedness Really Essential to Animal Cooperation?

      October 19
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      A lecture by
      Philip Johns
      Biology ProgramOne of the most elegant ideas in evolution is the notion that organisms cooperate with relatives because relatives share genes. Mutations that lead to relatives cooperating can spread through populations even if the altruistic individuals do not themselves leave offspring. This process is called kin selection. It is difficult to overstate how influential this idea has been over the last half century.  But in the last 15 years modern genetics revealed that some of the most impressive examples of animal cooperation -- eusocial insects with sterile working castes -- involve animals that are not necessarily closely related. In fact, in some groups, cooperating animals may be unrelated.  In August, Martin Nowak, Corina Tarnita, and Edward Wilson published a model explaining how relatedness, per se, is not necessary for the evolution of eusociality.  This paper is enormously controversial.  Fifty prominent scientists have reportedly signed a letter protesting its publication in Nature.  In this talk, we discuss the elements of the model and why it is so controversial.  

      Mathematics Senior Project Prospectus Talks

      October 19
      RKC 111

      Julia Bennett

      Jackie Stone

      Travis McGrath

      Adam Chodoff

      Anastassia Etropolski

      Specialization Theorems in Number Theory

      October 7
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      John Cullinan
      Mathematics Program
      Given a polynomial in two variables F(x,t), if we substitute a constant for t then we are left with a one-variable polynomial. This is called a specialization of F(x,t). What algebraic or number-theoretic information about F(x,t) can be deduced from its specializations? Using simple examples as motivation, we'll discuss irreducibility and Galois properties of polynomials. These examples will allow us to state some of the deepest conjectures in number theory. Some exposure to abstract algebra will be helpful, but is not necessary.

      Catalan Numbers Everywhere

      September 30
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Sam Hsiao
      Mathematics Program

      The Catalan numbers, a famous sequence beginning with 1, 1, 2, 5, 14, 42, . . .
      (can you guess the pattern?), appear as the solution to a dizzying array of counting problems. I will discuss a few of the many different interpretations and uses of the Catalan numbers, including their connections to ballot counts and the drunkard's walk. While this talk will be elementary, familiarity with Taylor series will be helpful.

      Bard Summer Research Institute Poster Session

      September 23
      RKC lobby

      Science, Mathematics & Computing Division Ice Cream Social

      August 25
      RKC lobby

      Come to the Science, Mathematics & Computing Division
      Stop by to ask questions about courses being offered or find out more about majoring in the programs.  Faculty members from each program will be there to answer questions.

      Senior Project Poster Session

      May 11
      Reem-Kayden Center

      Students presenting:Erik Badger
      Oni Banks
      Jacqueline Bow
      Alex Carlin
      Aleksandar Chakarov
      Cedric Cogell
      Joseph Corey
      Ivelina Darvenyashka
      Jyoti Dev
      Tessa Dowling
      Jacob Ezerski
      Sarah Farell
      Jonathan Fivelsdal
      Wui Ming Gan
      Jun Harada
      Xian He
      Sam Israel
      Nina Jankovic
      Liz Jimenez-Martinez
      Huaizhou Jin
      Emanuel Krantz
      Leah Ladner
      Shun-Yang Lee
      Hannah Liddy
      Jason Mastbaum
      Robert McNevin
      Alison Mutter
      David Polett
      Hannah Quay-de la Vallee
      Adrita Rahman
      Viriya Ratansangpunth
      Che Ruisi-Besares
      Dale Simmons
      Fang Song
      Petar Stojanov
      Corinna Troll
      Alexandru Vladoi
      Nicholas Wilton
      Yu Wu
      William Wylie
      Xinyuan Xu

      Climate in the Currents of History

      April 22
      Campus Center, Multipurpose Room

      A lecture by
      Mark A. Cane
      G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences
      Professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics
      Columbia University
      In this talk, we will take a tour of some of the impacts of climate variations on human history, beginning with the origins of agriculture in the Middle East. We will consider historical droughts in North America, especially the Dustbowl drought of the 1930s, and then examine the analogous but more severe droughts some seven centuries earlier and their possible role in the demise of the Anasazi. Ideas about the physical climate mechanisms responsible for these droughts will be presented. We will consider the modern and ongoing drought in the Sahel region of northern Africa, and its impact on Darfur, before taking up the projections of drought in the warming world ahead of us. Mark Cane is the G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences in Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics at Columbia University, where he also holds joint appointment in the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) and serves as a member of the IRI's International Science and Technical Advisory Committee. With his colleague Dr. Stephen Zebiak, Mark devised the first numerical model able to simulate El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a pattern of interannual climate variability centered in the tropical Pacific but with global consequences. His current research is focused on the variations in the paleoclimate record, especially abrupt changes, and on the impact of climate variability on human activities, especially agriculture and health. 

      Yes-No Voting Systems

      April 20
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Bradley Forrest
      Stockton College

      We will explore Yes-No voting systems, systems where voters are choosing between only two options, for example when a bill or amendment is pitted against the status quo. Four specific real world Yes-No voting systems will be discussed: the UN Security Council, the European Economic Community (now the EU), the legislative branch of the U.S. Federal Government, and the procedure to amend the Canadian constitution. These voting systems highlight several interesting properties of Yes-No voting systems that we will investigate in detail.

      When Do You Hear an Airplane?

      March 4
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Matthew Deady
      Physics Program
      You hear an airplane passing overhead, you look for it and realize the sound is coming from a different place than where you see the plane. This is due to the fact that the speed of sound is much less than the speed of light. So, one could ask, when do you first hear a plane?

      Answering this question using simple calculus gives insights into wave propagation and reception, and a different way to understand the phenomenon of sonic booms. The physics and mathematics of sonic booms and related phenomena will be presented, including applications to the detection of particles in particle physics experiments.

      Y Chromosome Evolution: Why?

      March 2
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      A Science on the Edge lecture by
      Philip Johns
      Biology program
      The Y chromosome is the chromosome that determines the development of males in humans and most other mammals.  It is a small chromosome with very few genes. Evolutionary biologists have hypothesized the causes of its "degenerate" evolution.  One prediction of how Y chromosomes degenerate is that the genes on Y chromosomes should evolve slowly.  In a recent study titled, "Chimpanzee and human Y chromosomes are remarkably divergent in structure and gene content", Jennifer Hughes and her colleagues at MIT found that, contrary to expectations, genes on the Y chromosome have evolved incredibly quickly since humans and chimps diverged. We will discuss recent human evolution, how scientists have used the Y chromosome to make startling discoveries about humans in the past, and what the implications are that the Y chromosome is evolving as quickly as it is.

      The Role of the Large Hadron Collider in the Quest to Understand Matter

      February 25
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Jim Pivarski
      Texas A&M University
      The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a 17-mile circumference circular accelerator, in which two beams of protons (which are “hadrons”) collide with each other at the highest energies ever achieved in a laboratory.  It has received more media attention than most physics projects -- why is this experiment important, and what is it for?  That question could be answered many different ways, but I will present it in the context of the central story of the quest to understand what matter is: from electromagnetism to quantum field theory, the Standard Model, the search for the Higgs boson, and super-symmetry (time permitting).  Equal weight will be given to theoretical motivations and experimental techniques.

      SESAME: An International Collaborative Science Project in the Middle East

      February 17
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      A lecture by
      Dr. Mukhles Sowwan
      Al Quds University

      In this talk I will speak about the international collaborative science project SESAME Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East. SESAME is being developed under the umbrella of UNESCO and is modeled closely on CERN. The first beam line will be operational in 2012. Several hundred scientists from the region and other parts of the world are expected to use this facility, which will cover disciplines ranging from archaeology to the medical sciences and nanotechnology. The members of SESAME are Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Pakistan, and Turkey. This makes SESAME a unique multidisciplinary center in this part of the world. In addition, I will talk about the Nanotechnology Research at Al-Quds University, and my views on science and politics, and international collaboration, in a volatile environment like the Middle East.

      CANCELED - The Women in our Lives: Lucy, Ardi and Human Evolution

      February 9
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      A re-schedule date will be announced 
      A Science on the Edge lecture by

      William Maple
      Biology program
      Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley and hundreds of biologists, paleontologists and anthropologists throughout the 19th and 20th centuries confronted the question of human origins without adequate fossil evidence. The similarity of apes and humans was clear but the links were missing. Even as more fossil, anatomical and biochemical evidence illuminated ape-human relationships, the mystery remained of accounting for the evolution of typical hominid bipedal locomotion from the knuckle-walking and arboreal locomotion of the African apes. The last 100 years of hominid fossil discoveries gradually pushed the age of our ancestry back to as much as 3+ million years (Australopithecus), but all were terrestrial bipeds. The discovery in the Ethiopian Afar Rift region of fragments (including a partial female skeleton) of a hominid now known as Ardipithecus ramidus clearly (at least to some) suggests a species that moved with both ape-like climbing and human-like bipedality. Recovery of other fossil vertebrates, invertebrates and plants in the same site clarified the ecological habitat as patchy forest.

      The elucidation of the place of Ardipithecus in hominid evolution was named breakthrough of the year by Science Magazine.