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Department Seminar Speaker — Katherine Socha, Educational Director of Math for America — “Sea Battles, Benjamin Franklin’s Oil Lamp, and Jellybellies”

The Department of Mathematics & Statistics would like to welcome:

Katherine Socha, Educational Director of Math for America, on Tuesday, October 8th, at 4:00 pm, in SCP 229.

Title: “Sea battles, Benjamin Franklin’s oil lamp, and jellybellies”

Abstract: “During our passage to Madeira, the weather being warm, and the cabbin windows constantly open for the benefit of the air, the candles at night
flared and run very much, which was an inconvenience. At Madeira we got
oil to burn, and with a common glass tumbler or beaker, slung in wire, and
suspended to the ceiling of the cabbin, and a little wire hoop for the
wick, furnish’d with corks to float on the oil, I made an Italian lamp,
that gave us very good light….” (Benjamin Franklin, December 1, 1762
letter to John Pringle)

Observations of real phenomena have led to mathematical modeling of
surface water waves, interfacial waves, and Lagrangian coherent structures
among other examples. This expository talk will provide a quick tour of
the (mostly advanced undergraduate level) mathematics needed to describe
idealized versions of the rings formed by striking a surface of water with
a large object (like a bomb), the oil-water waves observed by Founding
Father Benjamin Franklin on his voyage to Madeira, and the motion of
nutrient laden water being swept into the underbelly of a swimming

Immediately following the talk,from 5:00-5:45, she will keep a Math for America info
session with Aaron Kutnick who is a consultant for MfA.