Public lectures

The Graduate Center has a mandate to help make the frontiers of our knowledge accessible to the broadest possible audience.  At ITS, we are trying to do this through a series of public lectures and conversations.  All events are free, but we ask that you register in advance at the public programs web site.  

Monday, 14 November, 2011
6:30 PM in Proshansky Auditorium

Superconductivity and other insoluble problems:  
Are there limits to scientific understanding?
Leon N. Cooper

When an ordinary metal is cooled to very low temperatures - near absolute zero - its electrical resistance vanishes.  Once a current starts to flow in a loop of such "superconducting" wire, it flows forever.  Discovered in 1911, this remarkable phenomenon defied explanation for nearly fifty years, until the work of John Bardeen, Leon Cooper and J. Robert Schrieffer.  Today, superconductivity is still a central topic in scientific research and in the search for new technologies, while the "BCS" theory has had implications for our understanding of systems ranging from the atomic nucleus to the behavior of massive stars.   To celebrate the centennial of the original discovery, we are delighted to welcome Professor Cooper, who will reflect on the history of superconductivity and on the nature of scientific explanation.

Leon Cooper is the Thomas J. Watson, Sr., Professor of Science at Brown University, where he also directs the Center for Neural Science.   A graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, he shared the 1972 Nobel Prize for Physics for his contributions to the theory of superconductivity.

Monday, 5 March, 2012
6:30 PM in Elebash Recital Hall

The intelligence of swarms
Guy Theraulaz

From soaring flocks of birds to stampeding herds of wildebeest, collective behavior in large groups of animals are among the most beautiful, and occasionally frightening, phenomena in Nature.  But animals can cooperate not just to choose their direction of migration, but to reshape their environment, engaging in construction projects that can be compared meaningfully with human efforts.  One of the leading contributors to the modern study of animal behavior, Guy Theraulaz will take us on a tour of these remarkable phenomena, including a literal 3D tour of insect nests (glasses provided).   We will see "engineering" of startling subtlety, and see how some of these phenomena can be reproduced and studied under controlled conditions in the laboratory, the first steps on the road to understanding. 

Guy Theraulaz is Director of Research in the French National Research Council (CNRS) Center for Animal Cognition at the Universit'e Paul Sabatier, in Toulouse.  In addition to his technical publications, he has written for general audiences in France, Germany, Japan and Spain.  He has received the Bronze Medal of the CNRS, among other honors.