As kids, we are taught about the existence of prime numbers: numbers that are only divisible by themselves and one. The first few are easy to recognize just by counting: two, three, five… But the larger the counting goes, the less obvious the prime. The ability to predict where the prime numbers lay on the number line has haunted mathematicians and scientists for centuries, but … Continue reading A Centuries-Old Mathematical Puzzle May Finally Have an Answer
The age distribution of human populations is unique among animal species. Children remain dependent on their parents for an extended time, and the elderly live long after the end of their reproductive period. Some scientists now speculate that microorganisms may be responsible for this unusual aspect of human nature. To test this idea, researchers created mathematical models of early hunter-gatherer societies and divided each population … Continue reading Big Role for Bacteria in Human Population Dynamics?
Presented by Stephen Portillo, Zachary Slepian, and Kate Alexander As the result of observational and theoretical breakthroughs starting in the twentieth century, the cosmology of the Big Bang Theory was established. A crucial part of this captivating story is explaining how, from the violence and chaos of the Big Bang, organized structures like our own Milky Way galaxy formed. The first part of this lecture … Continue reading Our Universe’s Story: Cosmos from chaos
We may know that the universe began with a Big Bang, but until yesterday, we had no direct evidence for the drastic expansion the universe is thought to have undergone in the moments after its birth. This “inflationary” model has grown from a speculation in 1979 into the best available explanation of how the universe’s infant moments (less than a trillionths of a trillionth of a second) formed crucial aspects of our universe today. Continue reading Inflation of the Universe!
Presented by Jessica Kunke, Lei Zhu, Stephen Portillo The natural world is so complex and unpredictable that it might seem math could never be a sufficient tool to understand it. Our lecture aims to widen this view of math and explore how mathematical models and chaos theory give us insights into nature. The first part of our lecture introduces the concepts of math models and … Continue reading Math in Nature: Finding order in chaos
Presented by Jessica Laird, Brenna Krieger, and Philip Shiu Decision-making is part of our daily routine, but what is really going on in our heads? This lecture will explore the science of decision-making from the perspectives of Economics and Neurobiology. First, we’ll learn how economists examine decision-making when there is a tradeoff between immediate and future happiness. For example, how do people compare the present … Continue reading Thinking About Thinking: the science of decision-making from an economics and neurobiology perspective
Ann Druyan, an American author and producer specializing in cosmology and popular science, once said For most of the history of our species we were helpless to understand how nature works. We took every storm, drought, illness, and comet personally. We created myths and spirits in an attempt to explain the patterns of nature. As disordered as nature appears, a number of natural phenomena adhere … Continue reading Understanding pattern formation during morphogenesis