Moody Lecture Series: The Mathematics of Strings, Spaghetti, and Splashes. Andrew Belmonte (Penn State University)

03/23/2012 - 7:00pm
03/23/2012 - 8:00pm

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.


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).

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