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IFF Directors Talks

IFF Directors Talks 2012
IFF Directors Talks 2011
IFF Directors Talks 2010
IFF Directors Talks 2009


Previous IFF Lectures

Exhibition Opening and Fractal Unveiling
Doheny Library, University of Southern California
Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 57pm

A Lecture by Ryan and Trevor Oakes
Sat. September 22, 2012 @ 68pm

Theoretical and Practical Explorations of Space

@ Hayward Gallery, London
June 12–14, 2012

IFF Director Margaret Wertheim speaks at Art Center College of Design
June 22, 2011 @ 7pm
With Dr. Jerry Schubel, President and CEO, Aquarium of the Pacific

Captain Charles Moore Talks About Plastic Trash
[IFF-L22] Saturday Jan 17, 2009

IFF Director Margaret Wertheim
Neuroscience Discussions at the LA Public Library

[IFF-L21] October 2 + November 10, 2008

Seeing Anew [IFF-L20]
A lecture by Trevor and Ryan Oakes
at Machine Project Sunday, June 24 @ 7pm

The Logic Alphabet of Shea Zelleweger[IFF-L19]
A discussion with the IFF and Dr. Shea Zelleweger
at Foshay Masonic Lodge Saturday, March 3 @ 5pm

Structural Considerations of the Business Card Sponge[IFF-L17]
By Dr. Jeannine Mosely
Sunday, September 10 @ 8pm

The Insect Trilogy
@ Telic Arts Exchange
How Flies Fly [IFF-L14]
By Dr Michael Dickinson
The Ecology of a Termite's Gut [IFF-L15]
By Dr Jared Leadbetter
What is it Like to be a Spider? [IFF-L16]
By Dr Simon Pollard

Where the Wild Things Are 2:
A Talk About Knot Theory
By Ken Millett
at The Drawing Center in NY.

Where the Wild Things Are 2
by Ken Millett
at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Things That Think:
A hands-on history of physical computation devices.

by Nick Gessler [IFF-L12]

Where the Wild Things Are:
A Talk about Knot Theory

by Ken Millett [IFF-L11]
at The Foshay Masonic Lodge (Culver City)

Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane:
A conversation on non-euclidean geometry and feminine handicraft

by Dr. Daina Taimina and IFF Director Margaret Wertheim [IFF-L10]

Darwinism on a Desktop:
Sodaplay and the Evolution of a Digital World

by Ed Burton [IFF-L9]

The Logic Alphabet
by Christine Wertheim [IFF-L8]

Why Things Don't Fall Down
A Talk About Tensegrities
by Robert Connelly [IFF-L7]

The Art and Science of Child’s Play

By Norman Brosterman [IFF-L6]

Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane [IFF-L5]
A Talk by David Henderson and Daina Taimina

The Mathematics of Paper Folding [IFF-L4]
by Robert Lang

The Physics of Snowflakes [IFF-L3]
by Kenneth Libbrecht

Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane [IFF-L2]
by Daina Taimina and David Henderson

The Figure That Stands Behind Figures:
Mosaics Of The Mind
by Robert Kaplan


Previous Events

Crochet Hyperbolic Workshop
Proteus Gowanus gallery, Brooklyn, NY

Hyperbolic Crochet Workshop:
a celebration of feminine handicraft and higher geometry and a homage to the disappearing wonder of coral reefs.

at The Institute For Figuring – Special Collections

A workshop on crocheting the hyperbolic plane.
at the Velaslavasay Panorama in Los Angeles.


The Institute for Figuring
announces the second in our 2005
lecture series entitled Figuring Minds

Friday, May 20 @ 8:00pm
Why Things Don't Fall Down
by Robert Connelly [IFF-L7]

Telic [ more ]
975 Chung King Road
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tickets: $8, members & students $6

CROCHETING THE HYPERBOLIC PLANEby Daina Taimina and David Henderson
CROCHETING THE HYPERBOLIC PLANEby Daina Taimina and David Henderson
Tensegrity images courtesy of Robert Connelly and Allen Back.

In the autumn of 1948, while experimenting with ways to build flexible modular towers, a young artist named Kenneth Snelson constructed a sort of sculpture that had never been seen before. Etheral in appearance and with no obvious weight-bearing elements, it nonetheless retained its shape and stability. The following summer Snelson showed the enigmatic form to his mentor, R. Buckminster Fuller, who had been thinking about the possibilities of structures held together by tension. Fuller adopted Snelson’s invention as the centerpiece of his system of synergetics and, acknowledging its integrity under tension, gave it the name tensegrity.

Made up of two types of elements called cables and struts - which may be modeled with rubber bands and pieces of dowel - tensegrity structures embody a balance of tensional and compressional forces. Cables pull vertices together; struts hold them apart. Tensegrities may be seen in such diverse manifestations as cabled roofs, robot arms, the folding of proteins, the packing of granular materials, the internal structure of glass, and the architecture of living cells. A spider web can also be viewed as a tensegrity, albeit one with no rigid parts. In the 1970’s mathematicians began a general study of tensegrities, creating a theory with special regard to their geometry. In this lecture Dr. Robert Connelly will discuss tensegrities from spider webs to the carpenters rule and explore the underlying geometry of why things don’t fall down. The audience will be invited to build their own tensegrity structures.


Robert Connelly, a professor in the Department of Mathematics at Cornell University, is an expert on the mathematics of rigid and flexible frameworks. His other research interests inlude discrete geometry, distance geometry, the study of packings and coverings, and the shapes of asteroids. He has been a vistiting researcher at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifique in Bures-sur-Yvette, Bielefeld University in Germany and Eotvos University in Budapest. Using the mathematics of group theory, Connelly and Allan Back have compiled a complete catalog of super stable symmetric tensegrities. Along with Eric Demaine and Gunter Rote, Connelly proved the carpenter’s rule conjecture using the concept of the anti-tensegrity.