2012 Richards Lecture on September 27, 2012
On Tuesday, March 30, 2010, the Weber State Mathematics Department hosted the first lecture in the Richards Math Lecture Series. This lecture series is intended to raise awareness of mathematics on campus and in the northern Utah community. Although mathematics is frequently acknowledged as being useful and challenging, mathematics is inherently beautiful and mysterious, and the first Richards Math Lecture was a wonderful opportunity for attendees to see this.
The talk, titled Spherical Cats and Ham Sandwiches, was given by Dr. Jonathan Rogness, from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Rogness spoke about a mathematical area known as topology. He explained that from the point of view of topology, circles are the same as squares and a donut is the same as a coffee cup. Although topology can sound very theoretical, it has many concrete consequences that Dr. Rogness showed us. For example, at any given moment there is a point on the surface of the earth where the temperature and barometric pressure are identical to the temperature and pressure on the opposite side of the earth. More practically, we have all benefitted from topology when we have read certain maps, such as a map of the London Underground subway system. On a more hair-raising note, Dr. Rogness showed us that it is impossible to comb the hair on a spherical cat without creating a ``cowlick.'' Dr. Rogness concluded his talk by taking us on a virtual 3D flythrough of various topological models of the universe.Overall the talk was a wonderful success. Nearly 200 students, faculty, and community members attended, and Dr. Rogess spent more than a half hour afterward answering questions from numerous enthusiastic attendees.
Dr. Rogness received his PhD in mathematics from the University of Minnesota in 2005. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Minnesota as well as the Associate Director of the Mathematmics Center for Educational Programs. In his career as a teacher, he has taught college students as well as high school students participating in University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program.
In addition to being a wonderful speaker, Dr. Rogness and colleague Doug Arnold are co-creators of an award winning mathematical video. Their video, titled "Mobius Transformations Revealed," won Honorable Mention in a national contest relating to the visualization of science and engineering. The video has since been viewed more than 1.7 million times on Youtube, and it can be accessed via the following link.