Science Cafés in the Spring Semester 2018

March 05, 2019

The Secret Life of Things: A voyage into an environmentally conscious consumption

Ghasideh Pourhashem
Assistant Professor, Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials, North Dakota State University

Abstract: Everyday new products that are designed to serve us better and make our lives easier enter the market. All products, during their life time, directly or indirectly, interact with their surrounding environment and people. These interactions can potentially result in short- and long-term harmful (or beneficial) effects, which may also lead to socio-economic consequences. Many of the unwanted health and environmental impacts of products can be avoided or mitigated if elements of sustainability are considered in their design and life cycle. But when designing new products, what tools scientists/engineers and producers have to ensure that on a bigger scale making and consuming those products is not harming people and the environment? How this information can help us make better choices when selecting products? Are there any tools for consumers to make informed and responsible decisions?

April 09, 2019

Extending beyond reality to find the truth: comparing mathematics with art

Azer Akhmedov
Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics, North Dakota State University

Abstract: To many, art is the avenue to the highest knowledge ever available to humans. An artist often distorts and alters the reality also because of the belief that the truth (the path of acquiring the knowledge) does not fully fit into the reality. Mathematics, on the other hand, is "the language of the universe"; although formally not bound to reality, it has certain special (and complicated) relationship with the physical reality. Perhaps not as severely as, say, a chess player who expresses herself/himself strictly within the frame of 64 squares, a mathematician works in a certain limited environment; he/she certainly does not enjoy the freedom of an artist's self-expression. By discussing several selective examples widely accessible to a general audience, we will explore artistic aspects of mathematics demonstrating how we extend the reality in our search of truth. This talk is aimed at a general audience and requires no special background in math.