Math for Everyone seminar: You can't hear the shape of a drum


Location: 127 Hayes-Healy Center

Math for Everyone: You can't hear the shape of a drum


Carolyn Gordon
Dartmouth College

In spectroscopy, one attempts to recover the shape or chemical composition of an object from the characteristic frequencies of sound or light emitted. Mark Kac’s question, “Can one hear the shape of a drum?” asks whether two membranes (drumheads) which vibrate at the same characteristic frequencies must have the same shape. We answer Kac’s question negatively by constructing pairs of exotic-shaped sound-alike drums. We also listen to a computer simulation, produced by Dennis DeTurck, of the sounds of these drums.

Math for Everyone is a series of math-related talks and discussions, especially for undergraduates. Events conclude with snacks and refreshments. Everyone, from Fields medalists to math phobes, is welcome to attend. 

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