Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series

The Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series is on hiatus due to concerns about the current covid-19 pandemic.

I expect we will resume at some point, as risks and mitigation methods become more clear.

Regards, Larry Susanka


This series of talks will be devoted to any subject of interest to our general community of Mathematics and Physics enthusiasts.


Officially, talks start at 3:30 pm sharp, but the room (and coffee, tea and pastries) will be available to us for general (fairly random) arguments and discussions from 3:00 to 3:30. Sometimes these can be as entertaining as the talk itself.

Note to speakers: try very hard to make all your points by 4:20 pm, or save them for the next meeting in the 3:00-3:30 pre-meeting period.


Link to the Direct Progenitor Series, Mathematical Methods for Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity Colloquium Series, 67 Meetings from January 2016 to March 2018

Link to the past series, Hilbert Space for Quantum Mechanics, 87 Meetings from January 2013 to December 2015

Link to the Older Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series, 45 meetings from January 2003 to May 2006

Descriptions of a few Prehistoric Talks, before 1990.
(Only rumors and hints about this mysterious period remain, before the birth date of many of our current faculty. If you have additional information or corrections please contact the Colloquium organizer.)



The 49th meeting of the Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Victor Polinger continued.

Title: "An introduction to group-theoretical applications in quantum mechanics."

The 46th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, February 11, 2020. Steve Ziskind gave the third talk on Group Theory to provide background concepts and results to be used later in addressing the solution of 5th degree polynomials using the Galois group. The talk assumes no background, though a small bit of linear algebra would help. It will be accessible to students, and they are encouraged to attend.

Here are notes from the first two talks if you would like to catch up.

The 47th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, February 18, 2020. Trevor Gamble spoke.

Title: "A Friendly Look at History: Virtual Particles and Black Holes."

The 48th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, February 25, 2020. Victor Polinger spoke on "An introduction to group-theoretical applications in quantum mechanics. " The topic is huge and one-hour lecture is too short to consistently present its whole picture. Therefore, for this one-hour talk was a brief overview of the basic ideas. We will return back to continue this story in next week.
The 43rd meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, January 21, 2020. Larry Susanka finished the proof/discussion of Noether's theorem for one independent variable, with a quick recap of the first talk. The first talk was about what it means for a configuration path to be stationary, and therefore a physically realizable path in nature according to Hamilton's Principle of undergraduate Theoretical Mechanics. After a recap we discussed invariance of the Lagrangian with respect to a symmetry group. Noether's First Theorem for one independent variable is a trivial consequence of these two results.

Here are notes for today's talk.

The 44th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, January 28, 2020. Steve Ziskind gave the first of (probably) three talks on Group Theory. These will provide background concepts and results to be used in addressing the solution of 5th degree polynomials using the Galois group. The 45th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, February 4, 2020. Steve Ziskind continued from last week.
The 40th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, November 12, 2019.
Robert Hobbs spoke on a question concerning the nature of spin. The Einstein-de Hass effect was predicted in 1908 and confirmed by Einstein and de Hass in 1915, demonstrating macroscopic motions attributable to the reversal of quantum mechanical orbital angular momentum (residing in STATIONARY orbital states). Spin was not discovered until about 1927 but accounts for nearly all of the magnetization of Iron. This experiment then in fact detects the flipping of electron spins as manifested in the rotation of the macroscopic sample. Similar detection of macroscopic motions due to photon spin continue to modern times. Citations will be provided.
The 41th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, November 19, 2019. Steve Ziskind gave the first of what will, ultimately, be several talks root-finding and Galois Theory. This talk is about attempts to find the roots of polynomials of 3rd, 4th and 5th degree. This work led to the foundations of modern abstract algebra, and particularly to the invention of Group Theory.

Here are his notes.

The 42nd meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, November 22, 2019. Larry Susanka spoke about the First Noether Theorem: notation, proof and applications.

Here are notes from this talk.

A translation by M. A. Tavel of Emmy Noether's 1918 paper Invariant Variation Problems.

The 37th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, October 8, 2019. Tim Winchester spoke on "Lamb Shift and the Proton Radius Puzzle" about some recent experiments that clarified the situation involving potential new physics beyond the Standard Model. (Answer: no new physics.) Here is a Quanta Magazine article on this matter and here are the slides fromhis talk.

The 38th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, October 15, 2019. Jason Vance will speak on a topic related to nuclear technology. "Fission, Nuclear Chain Reactions, and The Engineering/Physics of Nuclear Systems" The 39th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, October 29, 2019. Jason Vance continued to speak on "Fission, Nuclear Chain Reactions, and The Engineering/Physics of Nuclear Systems"
The 34th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, June 18, 2019. Larry Susanka continued the discussion about the quaternions and finished with an implementation of these in MATLAB, with graphical depiction of rotation using quaternions. The 35th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, September 24, 2019. Robert Hobbs regaled us with tidbits from some Physics Education work he has done recently (which will culminate in publication) regarding an experiment appropriate for a General Physics class in which a magnet falling vertically through copper pipe of various thicknesses induces "ring currents," as it falls, around the circumference of the pipe. He took data which illustrate in a clear way various basic principles of electrodynamics. The 36th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, October 1, 2019. Larry Susanka gave an overview talk on the life and work of Emmy Noether.
Here is a link to the slides from this talk.

Later talks (not in consecutive weeks) will be about Noether's Theorems which resolved a problem in Einstein's general relativity (lack of conservation of energy) and uncovered the link between conservation laws (such as the conservation of energy) and the symmetries of physical law. These theorems were key to the invention of the standard model of particle physics 30 years after her unfortunate and unexpected death at the age of 53.

Einstein and Hilbert had enormous respect for her and her work. After she created these theorems in her habilitationsschrift at Göttingen she went on to revolutionize abstract algebra, introducing an entirely original way of thinking about the subject which persists to this day.

The 31st meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Larry Curnutt finished up his discussion of the Calculus of Variations.

Here are reference notes he provided.

The 32nd meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Trevor Gamble presided over "Mystery Topic" which was related to General Relativity, among several other things. Creative and interesting, as always! The 33rd meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, June 11, 2019. Larry Susanka added to the discussion of Ziskind on quaternions and rotations. We started with a reminder of basic group theory concepts and symmetry, proceeded to a discussion of the Pauli spin group and the quaternions. Here are some slides we saw from this (and the next) talk. And here are more comprehensive notes on quaternions.
The 28th meeting of the Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Steve Ziskind spoke. His title: "Our Friend the Quaternion." Here are some notes outlining his talk. The 29th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, May 14, 2019. Larry Curnutt gave the first of (at least) two talks on the Calculus of Variations. The 30th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Larry Curnutt continued to speak on the Calculus of Variations.
The 25th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, April 9 2019. Robert Hobbs provided another collection of hands-on optics demonstrations. The 26th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, April 16 2019. A new speaker, Luke Rawlings, discussed his work on "Group Theory, Symmetry, Art and Regular Division of Planar Regions." This is work he is doing in collaboration with his PhD supervisor. This first talk concentrated on his art and was amazing. The 27th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, April 23, 2019. New speaker Luke Rawlings continued his wonderful discussion of his work on "Group Theory, Symmetry, Art and Regular Division of Planar Regions." His talks have both featured art he has created, reminiscent of the work of M. C. Escher.
The 22st meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, February 28th 2019. Victor Polinger continued with "Schroedinger: The Discovery of Quantum Mechanics". The 23rd meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, March 4 2019 in room L-211 at 3:30 PM. Trevor Gamble spoke. His title: "Angular momentum in an atom: Is it real, or a figment if our historical path of thinking? This, and other personally puzzling thoughts". The 24th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, March 11 2019. Robert Hobbs regaled us with demos involving reflections.
The 19th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, January 22th 2019 in room L-211 at 3:30 PM. Steve Ziskind spoke on a result related to the distribution of prime numbers. Here is one file related to the talk and here is another. The 20th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, January 29th 2019 at 3:30 PM. Steve Ziskind argued with Victor about the distribution of prime numbers and presented this delightful proof of the divergence of the sum of prime reciprocals. The 21st meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, February 19th 2019. (The February 5th and 12th meetings were cancelled due to snow!) Victor Polinger spoke, to continue next week. His title: "Schroedinger: The Discovery of Quantum Mechanics".
The 16th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held November 20th 2018. Steve Ziskind talked. His title: "Simple Random Walk - Stranger Than You Think." Here is an m-file for his talk. The 17th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held November 27th 2018. Robert Hobbs and a student cohort demonstrated some interesting features of holograms: in particular that the size of the image is dependent on the frequency with which the hologram is illuminated. Then Larry Susanka talked about Causality and the Lorentz group. The 18th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, January 15th 2019. UW student Zach Barnes spoke about a recent advance in computing theory that demonstrates that many of the touted benefits of Quantum computing can be achieved with classical computers. Here are his slides.
The 13th meeting was held Tuesday, October 30th, 2018. This meeting was an amazing multi-faceted demo by Robert Hobbs "Presenting diverse spectra using a thin white line screen" exploring facts from his upcoming paper on this topic. The 14th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, November 6th 2018. Larry Susanka talked about the setup needed to explore E. C. Zeeman's 1963 paper " Causality Implies the Lorentz Group." The 15th meeting of this Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, November 13th 2018. Larry Susanka explored further the setup for E. C. Zeeman's 1963 paper " Causality Implies the Lorentz Group."
The 10th meeting was held Tuesday, October 9th, 2018. Steve Ziskind will spoke. His topic: All Roads Lead To Rome (sometimes). He discussed random walks and interesting consequences of Polya's Theorem. His slides can be found here. The 11th meeting was held Tuesday, October 16th, 2018. Steve Ziskind finished a discussion of random walks and Polya's Theorem. His write-up can be found here. The 12th meeting was held Tuesday, October 23th, 2018. Trevor Gamble led a lively discussion on the relationship between Mathematical Structures and applications to Physics.
The 7th meeting was held Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Robert Hobbs continued his earlier talk on Engineering a Particle Accelerator or Atom Smasher: What do particle accelerators do? The 8th meeting was held Tuesday, June 5, 2018. Larry Susanka talked about Improving the Good: the Richardson Extrapolation Technique for improving the convergence rate of almost ANY numerical method that uses a limit as a parameter goes to 0. Examples: finding a derivative of a function at some point, or finding an integral over an interval using the trapezoid rule or finding the value of the solution to a DE at some time in the future using Euler's method. Our discussion uses power series, but nothing more than a nodding acquaintance with them is required. As an added bonus, we will use MATLAB to demonstrate the effectiveness of the procedure. The 9th meeting was held Tuesday, September 25, 2018. Larry Susanka talked about a few topics from Number Theory and explain how one of the public key encryption methods, the RSA Cryptosystem, works. Numerical examples (using small primes to create the public/private key pair) were worked out in detail. A Handout version of the slides can be found here and expanded notes with a bit more number theory can be found here.
The 4th meeting was held Tuesday, May 8, 2018. New speaker Zachary Barnes talked about the number (and how to count them) of spanning trees which can be built from the edges and nodes of a finite graph. The arguments for this surprising result were invented originally by Gustav Khirchoff of electric circuit fame. Applications include fluid flow in porous media, QFT, electric and internet networks and Feynman integrals, among many others. His slides are here. The 5th meeting was held Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Robert Hobbs talked about Engineering a Particle Accelerator or Atom Smasher: What do particle accelerators do? He talked about the kinds of physics knowledge needed to design and operate accelerators. The 6th meeting was held May 22, 2018. Jen Townsend spoke about Machine Learning. Machine learning (Artificial Intelligence) is hardly "magical". Most algorithms are mere applications of undergraduate-level mathematics: linear algebra, multivariate calculus, probability and statistics. In this talk we saw an overview of the processes used in machine learning, and some specific mathematics content that underpins machine learning algorithms---from simple decision trees up through neural networks.
The first meeting of the new Mathematics and Physics Colloquium Series was held Tuesday, April 17, 2018. Larry Curnutt gave a historical sketch of Science talks given at BCC in the eighties, and Larry Susanka began a description of the more recent talks, of which this was the 200th! We also talked about this newest incarnation of the colloquium series and what we want to achieve. The second meeting was held Tuesday, April 24, 2018 in room L-214 at 4:00 PM. Larry Susanka finished a historical review of Math and Physics talks given at BC. The third meeting was be held Tuesday, May 1, 2018. Mike Ulrey, an old regular who has been in Ohio recently, has returned for a while and spoke on his latest ruminations about entanglement/Bell's Experiment. Here is a link to his slides from this talk and if you want the Mathematica notebook corresponding to his slides they can be found here.

(And here is a link to slides from his earlier talk if you want to compare.)


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This page was last modified on 03/10/20 at 16:31.