Saturday, March 31, 2012

MAPS Presentation

Well, in my very few posts over the last couple of months I've more than once mentioned my upcoming talk. It took place last night, and my hubby took some pictures, so I'm going to use those to report in on how it went.

The marquee

Modesto Area Partners in Science graciously treats its speakers to a dinner prior to the talk. It was so awesome to be supported by my colleagues and friends!! Dinner was yummy, and the fellowship took the edge off my nervousness :-)

Where else to begin the journey into playful mathematics but Konigsberg?

What good audience participation!

Here's how to make a trefoil knot!

Sadly, this will probably be the only time I'll be on-stage "with" renouned physicist, mathematician and philosopher Sir Roger Penrose!!

You just can't miss when using images by the amazing M. C. Escher!

And you can't miss with animations by the amazing Wes Page!

To quote Galileo: "Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe." He sure has whispered the secret of maximizing volume and minimizing surface area to bees (and soap bubbles and earth's crust and . . .)!

My goal was to get across to that math can be playful - and, more importantly, that play is not merely frivolous - that is has intrinsic value and also has value in that it can result in powerful applications.

I think I got the first message across very strongly, but I had some technical glitches with the computer and with the sound system that threw me off a bit, so I'm not sure the second message came through as well. It's an important one, though, and, as I've been researching this talk I've come across it in a wide variety of places. I'll end this post with a Q&A in an article I found in Discover Magazine (September 2009) in which Sir Roger Penrose (whose father was also a mathematician and scientist) was being interviewed:

Q: How did your father influence your thinking?

A: The important thing about my father was that there wasn’t any boundary between his work and what he did for fun. That rubbed off on me. He would make puzzles and toys for his children and grandchildren . . .

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