Today, Dr. Carroll Wells came to speak with the mathematics classes at VAMPY. Currently, Dr. Wells is department chair at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. The talk began by mentioning Euclid, The Elements, geometry, and calculus. He then introduced the main focus of his talk, topology. Wolfram MathWorld says “is the mathematical study of the properties that are preserved through deformations, twistings, and stretchings of objects.” Dr. Wells’ definition was a bit easier to grasp – topology is the study of doing something to something.
Topology is an upper-level college mathematics course, but the presentation really helped students see what the topic is all about. Through the use of paper, tape, vests, coats, and string, Dr. Wells was able to clearly demonstrate the möbius strip and explain why the number of “surfaces,” number of “holes,” and other such properties are important to solving problems.
The end of the talk touched upon knot theory. Dr. Wells had students experiment with tying knots in certain ways and gave some real-life applications. One of his examples was the knots that arise in DNA. On Friday, students will get a stronger taste of knot theory when Dr. Claus Ernst speaks with the class.
Today’s talk was very informative and enjoyable. Make sure you check out the videos below!