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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 fifth in our 2005 lecture series
Figuring Minds

SATURDAY, November 5 at 5:00pm
A Talk about Knot Theory
by Ken Millett

at The Foshay Masonic Lodge
9635 Venice Blvd
Culver City
[Two blocks West of the Museum of Jurassic Technology and CLUI]

In mathematical lore, a topologist is a person who can’t tell the difference between a coffee cup and a donut, both objects being topologically the same. Of the many things topologists strive to categorize, one of the more enigmatic is knots. Though knotting is one of humanity’s oldest and most widespread activities, being documented in almost every culture on earth, at first glance it seems an unlikely subject for the formalisms of mathematics. But at the end of the nineteenth century mathematicians began to classify these twisted and braided forms, leading to a vast taxonomy of the species, whose members include the unknot, ideal knots, tame knots and wild knots.

Today, the insights of knot theory are being bought to bear on problems in biology and chemistry, specifically to understanding the structure of DNA and other macromolecules such proteins and polymers, and to fundamental issues in theoretical physics, where “string theory” proposes that all matter is composed of knot-like contortions in spacetime. In this lecture, Dr. Ken Millett, a leading knot theorist and professor of mathematics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, will discuss the history, theory, and taxonomy of knots. The event will include hands-on activities making knots and attempting to answer such questions as how much rope is required to make a specific knot, and how we determine if two seemingly disparate knots might really be the same.

After the lecture please join us for a reception at the Museum of Jurassic Technology, two blocks away. The Museum has recently opened its wonderful new exhibition on string figures.

As an undergraduate at MIT, Ken Millett was first drawn to engineering, then to physics, and ultimately to mathematics, specifically to geometry and topology, because, he says “these have served as the language of expression and means to study the mysteries of the natural sciences.” In the 1980’s Millett was involved in the discovery of several classes of “knot invariants,” polynomial equations that help mathematicians to categorize knots, and he participated in the development of topological quantum field theory. He is currently working on applying knot invariants to questions arising in molecular biology, including the structure of DNA. At the other end of the scale, models arising from these methods also apply to solar storms. Dr Millett is an authority on polygonal modeling of knots and is a leading researcher investigating the spatial characteristics of knotted materials.
"Ideal Knot" (top): courtesy of Ken Millett and Jason Cantarella
Knot images (above): courtesy of Eric Rawdon and Michael Piatek
(created using KnotPlot, a program for visualizing and exploring knots by Rob Scharein)