Schedule of Talks for the 2017-2018 Academic Year
Date: Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Speaker: Prof. Volker Remmert
Fakultät für Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften
University of Wuppertal
Email: remmert AT uni-wuppertal DOT de
Title: The Art of Garden and Landscape Design and the Mathematical Sciences in the Early Modern Period
Abstract: The mathematical sciences of the early modern period comprised many fields of knowledge, and those such as astronomy, geography, optics, music, practical geometry, acoustics, architecture and arithmetic were often deliberately oriented towards practical applications. Between the mid-16th and the mid-18th century, practitioners of the mathematical sciences and garden and landscape designers shared the conviction that nature could be controlled and manipulated, and the methods used and the knowledge acquired in the mathematical sciences opened up new ways to do this. These potentialities affected the realm of landscape design and gardening in various formative ways that reached directly into the political sphere by offering new possibilities for political representation, of which there are numerous noteworthy examples, including the gardens of Versailles, perhaps the most magnificent representational gardens in seventeenth-century Europe.
Date: Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Speaker: Prof. Neil Gallagher
Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering
Webb Institute
Email: ngallagher AT webb DOT edu
Title: Mathematics in the History of Navigation and Ship Design
Abstract: Probably the most fundamental principle for the marine world is Archimedes Principle, which describes buoyancy. Archimedes is one of the most famous mathematicians, and the link between mathematics and marine principles, which he discovered 2300 years, continues to this time. During the Age of Discovery the problem of navigation, that is, finding a ship's location on the sea, was of utmost importance not just for safety of the ship but also of strategic importance for a country's navy. The solution was to accurately measure time and the angles to objects in the sky. Beginning in the 18th Century and throughout the Industrial Revolution modern ship design methods were developed and continue to be used today. These include means to predict the resistance of ships moving in water, and thus the predicted speed, and calculation of the stability of ships, i.e., the ability to remain upright while floating. Many of the names of famous mathematicians - Newton, Descartes, Euler, and Bernoulli - as well as names particular to the marine field, are associated with solving these problems.
Date: Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Speaker: Prof. Robert E. Bradley
Department of Matheamtics and Computer Science
Adelphi University
bradley AT adelphi DOT edu
Title: Jean D'Alembert Tercentennary
Abstract: November 17 was the three-hundredth birthday of Jean Le Rond d'Alembert (1717-1783). The illegitimate child of aristocrats, he was abandoned at birth at a church in Paris. Nevertheless, he rose to international prominence in both mathematical and literary circles.

D'Alembert mastered the differential and integral calculus as it was practiced in Continental Europe during the first half of the 18th century and introduced a number of important innovations of his own to the field. However, one of his most valuable and lasting contributions to the development of analysis was his role as an early champion of the limit concept, as opposed to the doctrine of infinitely small quantities, in providing "the true metaphysics of the differential calculus." In this talk, we will consider d'Alembert's arguments for this approach to the foundations of calculus, primarily as given in Diderot's Encyclopédie.

Date: Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Speaker: Prof. Lawrence A. D'Antonio
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Ramapo College

[Postponed to April due to inclement weather]
Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Speaker: Prof. Maritza Branker
Department of Mathematics
Niagara University
mbranker AT niagara DOT edu
Title: Complex Numbers through the eyes of Cauchy and Hamilton
Abstract: Mathematicians were extraordinarily resistant to the idea of complex numbers. Historically, it was a slow process for them to be accepted as legitimate mathematical objects and this talk will focus on two of the compelling proponents for them. We will contrast the presentation and use of complex numbers by William Rowan Hamilton and Augustin-Louis Cauchy.
Date: Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Speaker: Prof. Lawrence A. D'Antonio
Department of Matheamtics and Computer Science
Ramapo College
ldant AT ramapo DOT edu
Title: Newton's Headache: How High the Moon?
Abstract: Newton remarked to Halley that lunar theory gave him a headache. In particular the calculation of the motion of the lunar apse frustrated Newton (the lunar apse is an endpoint of the major axis of the ellipse defining the lunar orbit). The apse rotates approximately 3 degrees per month, but Newton's calculations only showed half of this amount, leading Newton to say that the problem was "too complicated and cluttered with approximations." We examine the work of Newton on this problem and the later solutions of Clairaut, Euler, and d'Alembert.
Date: Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Speaker: Prof. Colin McKinney
Department of Mathematics and Compuer Science
Wabash College
mckinnec AT wabash DOT edu
Title: The Four Curves of Alexis Clairaut
Abstract: In 1726, at the age of twelve, Alexis Clairaut presented four families of curves to the Paris Academy of Sciences. The work was later published in the Miscellanea Berolinensia in 1734. The first family of curves is similar to those generated by Descartes' mesolabe compass in La Géométrie. In this talk, we will discuss aspects of Clairaut's mathematical education, and how they influenced his work. We will also discuss some of the details of his construction of each of the four families of curves, his classification of algebraic curves in terms of degree and genus, and the applications of his curves to the ancient problem of finding means proportional.