Andrew Belmonte: “The Mathematics of Strings, Spaghetti, and Splashes”
Professor Andrew Belmonte of Pennsylvania State University presented the fourth lecture in The Michael E. Moody Lecture Series on “The Mathematics of Strings, Spaghetti, and Splashes”
Andrew Belmonte has long worked at the intersection of mathematics and the world to which it can be applied. He received his PhD in Physics at Princeton University (1994), and was awarded a Chateaubriand Fellowship and an NSF International Fellowship to study at the Institut Non-Lineaire de Nice in France for two years, after which he was a postdoc at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1998 he became a faculty member at Penn State University, where he currently works in the W.G. Pritchard Laboratories. He was the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship (2000), an NSF CAREER Award (2001), and has been a visiting professor at the ESPCI in Paris, France (2004) and at Harvard University (SEAS, 2007).
More information about Andrew Belmonte is available from his website.
The lecture took place on Friday, March 23, 2012, at 7:00 PM, in HMC's Galileo McAlister lecture hall.
As with all of the college's evening speaker lectures, the talk was aimed at a wide audience and was open to all.
If, as Galileo said, the book of the universe is written in the language of mathematics, it is also true that many new chapters in the book of mathematics have been inspired by nature. I will explore this connection through several puzzles from the ordinary experiences of everyday life: why is it difficult to break dry spaghetti in half? Why do things like extension cords, shoe laces, and earbuds always get tangled up in knots? How does a falling droplet splash onto the floor? In each case, careful experimentation leads to mathematical answers, generating interesting new questions in the process.