By Viola Zhou
Mathematics is not only numbers. It can also explain how Harry Potter’s cloak makes things invisible.
In a series of upcoming lectures, world-class mathematicians will try to bring mathematical theories to life and build public interest in the subject.
Dr. Arthur Benjamin from Harvey Mudd College will demonstrate and explain how to mentally add and multiply numbers faster than a calculator and how to figure out the day of the week of any date in history at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 in 110 Baylor Sciences Building.
“They are designed for general public, so people don’t need to know a lot of advanced mathematics to understand,” said Dr. Lance Littlejohn, chair of the mathematics department. “If they come to our lectures, I’m pretty sure they will be able to go away learning something that they didn’t know before and glad that they came to the lecture.”
Dr. Gunther Uhlmann of the University of Washington will talk about how invisibility can be achieved by designing a special material which steers light around a hidden region in a separate lecture at 4 p.m. Wednesday in 101 Marrs McLean Science Building.
Littlejohn said he hopes many Waco residents will also attend the lectures. Dr. Frank Mathis, professor of mathematics and associate dean for sciences, said a number of Waco area high school students came to the public lectures in the previous years and they are welcome again this year.
Mathis said in the annual mathematics lecture series, some lectures are for math majors and others are for everyone’s appreciation. Audiences will see how mathematics can be used in everyday life and how it affects everyday life.
Houston senior Thomas Gibson said he attended last year’s public lecture, in which the speaker applied math to graphics and design.
“The message is clear that mathematics is related to everyone’s life,” Gibson said.
Littlejohn said the National Science Foundation predicts that in ten years, 80 percent of the jobs created in the U.S. will require mathematics, and he wants to attract more students to the major.
“Math was, is and always will be difficult for everyone, including me,” Littlejohn said. “It’s something you have to spend a lot of time on. But it’s a worthwhile career. If I had to do this all over again, I would do the same thing.”