Soap Bubbles and Mathematics

Frank Morgan, Atwell Professor of Mathematics at Williams College, will give this year's Science Lecture titled "Soap Bubbles and Mathematics" at the University of Oslo on May 20th. Soap bubbles, with applications from cappuccino to universes, illustrate some fundamental questions in mathematics. The show will include some demonstrations. 

Frank Morgan. Photo: Jeff Bauer of CitcoFrank Morgan. Photo: Jeff Bauer of Citco

The Science Lecture is one of three lectures given at the University of Oslo in connection with the Abel Prize week. The two other lecturers are Camillo De Lellis, University of Zürich and Tristan Rivière, ETH Zürich. There will also be speeches by the Abel Laureates John F. Nash, Jr., Princeton University and Louis Nirenberg, Courant Institute, New York University.

Abstracts Abel Lectures

  • Camillo De Lellis, University of Zürich:
    Surely you're joking, Mr. Nash?

Camillo De Lellis

Nash Equilibria, Nash functions, Nash manifolds, the Nash-Moser iteration, the Nash embedding theorems, the De Giorgi-Nash Theorem.

These names will remain in the history of science to testify to the extreme originality of a mathematician who has tackled and solved some of the hardest problems of contemporary mathematics, revolutionizing our understanding of entire subjects. The hope of this talk is to convey the sense of incredulity and marvel that generations of scholars have experienced while delving into his work.

  • Tristan Rivière, ETH Zürich: Exploring the unknown, the work of Louis Nirenberg on Partial Differential Equations
Tristan RivièreTristan Rivière

Partial differential equations are a central object in the mathematical modeling of natural and social sciences (sound propagation, heat diffusion, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, elasticity, fluid dynamics, quantum mechanics, population growth, finance...etc.). They were for a long time restricted only to the study of natural phenomena or questions pertaining to geometry, before becoming over the course of time, and especially in the last century, a field in itself.

The second half of the XXth century was the "golden age" of the exploration of Partial Differential Equations from a theoretical perspective.

The mathematical work of Louis Nirenberg since the 1940s has to a large extent contributed to the growth of this fundamental area of human knowledge. The name Nirenberg is associated to many of the milestones in the study of PDEs.

The award of the Abel Prize to Louis Nirenberg marks a special occasion for us to revisit the development of the field of PDEs and the work of one of the main actors of its exploration.


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The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
Drammensveien 78
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Telephone: + 47 22 84 15 00
Fax: + 47 22 12 10 99
Web editor: Anne-Marie Astad
Design and technical solutions: Ravn Webveveriet AS