Past Public Lecture

13 November 2017
17:00
Allan McRobie
Abstract

There is a deep connection between the stability of oil rigs, the bending of light during gravitational lensing and the act of life drawing. To understand each, we must understand how we view curved surfaces. We are familiar with the language of straight-line geometry – of squares, rectangles, hexagons - but curves also have a language – of folds, cusps and swallowtails - that few of us know.

Allan will explain how the key to understanding the language of curves is René Thom’s Catastrophe Theory, and how – remarkably – the best place to learn that language is perhaps in the life drawing class. Sharing its title with Allan's new book, the talk will wander gently across mathematics, physics, engineering, biology and art, but always with a focus on curves.

Warning: this talk contains nudity.

Allan McRobie is Reader in Engineering, University of Cambridge

Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register

1 November 2017
17:00
Abstract

Can mathematics really help us in our fight against infectious disease? Join Julia Gog as we explore some exciting current research areas where mathematics is being used to study pandemics, viruses and everything in between, with a particular focus on influenza.

Julia Gog is Professor of Mathematical Biology, University of Cambridge and David N Moore Fellow at Queens’ College, Cambridge.

Please email: external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to regsiter

27 October 2017
17:00
Stephen Hawking
Abstract

In recognition of a lifetime's contribution across the mathematical sciences, we are initiating a series of annual Public Lectures in honour of Roger Penrose. The first lecture will be given by his long-time collaborator and friend Stephen Hawking.

Unfortunately the lecture is now sold out and we have a full waiting list. However, we will be podcasting the lecture live (and also via the University of Oxford Facebook page).

18 October 2017
17:00
Vicky Neale
Abstract

Prime numbers have intrigued, inspired and infuriated mathematicians for millennia and yet mathematicians' difficulty with answering simple questions about them reveals their depth and subtlety. 

Join Vicky to learn about recent progress towards proving the famous Twin Primes Conjecture and to hear the very different ways in which these breakthroughs have been made - a solo mathematician working in isolation, a young mathematician displaying creativity at the start of a career, a large collaboration that reveals much about how mathematicians go about their work.  

Vicky Neale is Whitehead Lecturer at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Supernumerary Fellow at Balliol College.

Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register.

28 June 2017
17:00
to
18:15
Sanjeev Goyal
Abstract

Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures

The Law of the Few - Sanjeev Goyal

The study of networks offers a fruitful approach to understanding human behaviour. Sanjeev Goyal is one of its pioneers. In this lecture Sanjeev presents a puzzle:

In social communities, the vast majority of individuals get their information from a very small subset of the group – the influencers, connectors, and opinion leaders. But empirical research suggests that there are only minor differences between the influencers and the others. Using mathematical modelling of individual activity and networking and experiments with human subjects, Sanjeev helps explain the puzzle and the economic trade-offs it contains.

Professor Sanjeev Goyal FBA is the Chair of the Economics Faculty at the University of Cambridge and was the founding Director of the Cambridge-INET Institute.

28 June 2017, 5.00-6.00pm, Lecture Theatre 1, Mathematical Institute Oxford.

Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register

11 May 2017
17:00
to
18:15
Marcus du Sautoy
Abstract

Symmetry has played a critical role both for composers and in the creation of musical instruments. From Bach’s Goldberg Variations to Schoenberg’s Twelve-tone rows, composers have exploited symmetry to create variations on a theme. But symmetry is also embedded in the very way instruments make sound. The lecture will culminate in a reconstruction of nineteenth-century scientist Ernst Chladni's exhibition that famously toured the courts of Europe to reveal extraordinary symmetrical shapes in the vibrations of a metal plate.

The lecture will be preceded by a demonstration of the Chladni plates with the audience encouraged to participate. Each of the 16 plates will have their own dials to explore the changing input and can accommodate 16 players at a time. Participants will be able to explore how these shapes might fit together into interesting tessellations of the plane. The ultimate idea is to create an aural dynamic version of the walls in the Alhambra.

The lecture will start at 5pm, but the demonstration will be available from 2.30pm.

Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register

 

 

 

9 May 2017
17:00
to
18:15
Abstract

Meteorologist Ed Lorenz was one of the founding fathers of chaos theory. In 1963, he showed with just three simple equations that the world around us could be both completely deterministic and yet practically unpredictable. More than this, Lorenz discovered that this behaviour arose from a beautiful fractal geometric structure residing in the so-called state space of these equations. In the 1990s, Lorenz’s work was popularised by science writer James Gleick. In his book Gleick used the phrase “The Butterfly Effect” to describe the unpredictability of Lorenz’s equations. The notion that the flap of a butterfly’s wings could change the course of future weather was an idea that Lorenz himself used in his outreach talks.

However, Lorenz used it to describe something much more radical than can be found in his three simple equations. Lorenz didn’t know whether the Butterfly Effect, as he understood it, was true or not. In fact, it lies at the heart of one of the Clay Mathematics Millennium Prize problems, and is still an open problem today. In this talk I will discuss Lorenz the man, his background and his work in the 1950s and 1960s, and will compare and contrast the meaning of the “Butterfly Effect" as most people understand it today, and as Lorenz himself intended it to mean. The implications of the “Real Butterfly Effect" for understanding the predictability of nonlinear multi-scale systems (such as weather and climate) will be discussed. No technical knowledge of the field is assumed. 

Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register

Further reading:
T.N.Palmer, A. Döring and G. Seregin (2014): The Real Butterfly Effect. Nonlinearity, 27, R123-R141.

8 February 2017
16:00
to
17:30
Tim Harford
Abstract

Tim Harford, Financial Times columnist and presenter of Radio 4's "More or Less", argues that politicians, businesses and even charities have been poisoning the value of statistics and data. Tim will argue that we need to defend the value of good data in public discourse, and will suggest how to lead the defence of statistical truth-telling.

Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register 

18 January 2017
17:00
Stephen Hawking
Abstract

In recognition of a lifetime's contribution across the mathematical sciences, we are initiating a series of annual Public Lectures in honour of Roger Penrose. The first lecture will be given by his long-time collaborator and friend Stephen Hawking.

Registration will open at 10am on 4 January 2017. Please email:

external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk from that time only.

When registering please give your name and affiliation - your position, department & organisation/institution as appropriate. Or if you are a member of the General Public, please say so. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis with only one place per person. We will only be able to respond if you have a place or are on the waiting list.

We will be podcasting the lecture live. More details to follow.

15 December 2016
17:00
Ian Stewart
Abstract

Puzzling things happen in human perception when ambiguous or incomplete information is presented to the eyes. Rivalry occurs when two different images, presented one to each eye, lead to alternating percepts, possibly of neither image separately. Illusions, or multistable figures, occur when a single image can be perceived in several ways. The Necker cube is the most famous example. Impossible objects arise when a single image has locally consistent but globally inconsistent geometry. Famous examples are the Penrose triangle and etchings by Maurits Escher.

In this lecture Ian Stewart will demonstrate how these phenomena provide clues about the workings of the visual system, with reference to recent research in the field which has modelled simplified, systematic methods by which the brain can make decisions. In these models a neural network is designed to interpret incoming sensory data in terms of previously learned patterns. Rivalry occurs when different interpretations are confused, and illusions arise when the same data have several interpretations.

The lecture will be non-technical and highly illustrated, with plenty of examples.

Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register

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