Utah State University
Prospects in Mathematics 10/06/04

Undergraduate Lecture
The Mathematics of Soap Films

In October 2004, I was honored to be the Utah State University Prospects in Mathematics lecturer. The first lecture was for an undergraduate audience and it was about the Mathematics of Soap Films. We did experiments with films illustrating various mathematical and physical principles. Also, we talked about the mathematics needed to understand soap film geometry: differential geometry and complex variables. Finally, we showed how Maple can be used to create new minimal surfaces according to the Weierstrass-Enneper Representation and how Maple can solve differential equations (explicitly and numerically) to give us shapes.These are photos from the lecture, all taken by Nancy Smart of the Utah State Math Department. Thanks to Nancy and to all of the "volunteers" for their help with the experiments! Finally, thanks to my host Dariusz Wilczynski and Utah State for the invitation to speak and for the chance to see a beautiful part of the country.

Dariusz Wilczynski

Pepper held up by Surface Tension

Pepper held up by Surface Tension

Soap films do work

Soap films minimize area: A catenoid

Another catenoid

Soap films minimize area: A helicoid

Circles maximize area subject to fixed perimeter

Plateau's Rules

What has he been drinking?

Is this a flattering view?


More talking

Even more talking

Will it end?

Bear Lake

Dariusz again

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