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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 lecture in our Spring 2006 series
The Insect Trilogy

By Dr. Jared Leadbetter [IFF-L15]
Thursday, June 1 @ 7:30pm
Hosted at Telic Arts Exchange in Chinatown / Los Angeles
975 Chung King Road
Los Angeles, CA 9001

Termite gut bacteria known as spirochetes, belonging to the genus Treponema.
Photos courtesy of Dr. Jared Leadbetter, Caltech.

From the order isoptera, few organisms strike fear into the hearts of homeowners more than the humble termite. Termites are estimated to cost the southern California economy more than a billion dollars a year and their ubiquitous presence has given rise to that peculiar contribution to the tradition of wrapped objects, the tented home. Though fearsome in your foundations, termite’s penchant for wood commands our respect, for it is one of the linchpin’s of the global ecology. Around the world, some 2600 species of termites quietly break down the vast tonnage of fallen trees and other fibrous biomass, digesting lignan and cellulose and recycling our forests’ nutrients. They can do so because of the unique colonies of microbes that live inside their guts. There - in the absence of oxygen – this unheralded community performs a miracle of micro-molecular transformation that daily cleanses our planet and keeps our environment healthy.

Worker termite and gut tract from the species Zootermopsis nevadensis
The gut makes up about one third of the insect’s total weight.
More than a hundred different species of microbes live inside a termite’s gut – many of them found nowhere else on earth and most still a mystery to science. Among this community are spirochetes related to the bacteria that cause syphilis, tiny protozoans resembling snails, and Triconymphae whose aquiline bodies suggest microscopic sea lions. Charting their way by chemotaxis - sensing chemical gradients in the liquid around them – this interlocking ecology has collectively evolved the ability to break down even the hardest woods. How they do this is still largely unknown, but it’s a trick that industry would love to learn. In theory, if we could simulate a termite’s gut, wood could be used as a feedstock to produce ethanol as an alternative to gasoline.
Termite gut protozoan - Streblomastix strix – noses its way along chemical gradients in the insect’s stomach juice.
Dr Jared Leadbetter, a world expert on termite gut ecology, is an assistant professor of microbiology at Caltech’s Department of Environmental Science and Engineering. In this talk, he will take us into the wonderland of a termite’s stomach and guide us through this microbial Serengeti, one of the great-uncharted wildernesses on our planet. The event will include films of termite intestinal flora and examples of termite’s unintended sculptural triumphs

#1 How Flies Fly – Dr. Michael Dickinson (Thurs, May 4)
#2 The Ecology of a Termite's Gut – Dr. Jared Leadbetter (Thurs, June 1)
#3 What is it Like to be a Spider – Dr. Simon Pollard (Wed, June 28)

The Institute For Figuring is a nonprofit organization devoted to enhancing the public understanding of figures and figuring techniques. This lecture series is hosted by Telic Arts Exchange and funded in part by a grant from the Annenberg Foundation.