Renowned mathematician talks on ‘Double Soap Bubbles’ at Tarleton symposium


STEPHENVILLE (October 3, 2018) — Dr. Frank Morgan sees things in soap bubbles the rest of us don’t see.

He will explore the fragile floaters in a keynote talk, Double Soap Bubbles, at Tarleton State University’s 2018 Student Research & Creative Activities Symposium set noon-1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, in the Barry B. Thompson Student Center ballrooms.

Register at Lunch will be served to registrants.

Currently a visiting professor at Baylor University, Morgan will focus on math academia’s fascination with soap bubbles and the applications for related research.

A round soap bubble is the least-area way to enclose a given volume of air, as mathematician Hermann Schwarz proved in 1884. The double bubble that forms when two soap bubbles merge is the least-area way to enclose and separate two given volumes of air, as Morgan and collaborators proved in 2002.

In other spaces, there are numerous open problems and results, some of the solutions achieved by undergraduates. Morgan’s presentation will feature a guessing contest with demonstrations, explanations and prizes.

Morgan is the Webster Atwell ’21 Professor of Mathematics (emeritus) at Williams College. His proof with colleagues and students of the Double Bubble conjecture — that the minimum-surface-area enclosure of two given volumes is formed by three spherical patches meeting at 120-degree angles at a common circle — is featured on the National Science Foundation’s Discoveries site.

Morgan attended MIT and Princeton University, where his thesis adviser introduced him to minimal surfaces. He then taught for 10 years at MIT, where he served three years as undergraduate mathematics chair, received the Everett Moore Baker Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching, and held the Cecil and Ida Green Career Development Chair. He spent leave years at Rice, Stanford, the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton and Berkshire Community College.

He served on the NSF Math Advisory Committee from 1994-97 and as chair of the Hudson River Undergraduate Mathematics Conference in 1997. In January 1993 he received an inaugural Mathematical Association of America national award for distinguished teaching.

In 1995 he represented mathematics research at the exhibition for Congress by the Coalition for the NSF. He received the Allen High School Distinguished Alumni Award and an honorary doctorate from Cedar Crest College.

For 1997-98 he held the first Visiting Professorship for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton. From 2000-2002 he served as second vice president of the Mathematical Association of America, and from 2009-2012 as vice president of the American Mathematical Society, when he launched the AMS Graduate Student Blog,by and for mathematics graduate students.

Morgan served at Williams as mathematics department chair and founding director of an NSF undergraduate research project. He is editor of Notices of the American Mathematical Society.

He has written six books — “Geometric Measure Theory: A Beginner’s Guide”; “Calculus Lite”; “Riemannian Geometry: A Beginner’s Guide”; “The Math Chat Book,” based on his live, call-in Math Chat TV show and Math Chat column; and “Real Analysis and Applications.” He also has a blog at the Huffington Post.

The Tarleton Student Research & Creative Activities Symposium celebrates students actively engaged in research and other scholarly activities independent of a classroom project. These students often go beyond the typical requirements for a degree. They are encouraged to present.



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