Patterns are pervasive in the world with many examples being found in the arts, the humanities, as well as the natural and social sciences. Some spatial patterns are easily perceived, as in the symmetric structure of a snow flake, while others are more subtle (for example, the distribution of sand grains on a beach). This Shop Talk will discuss an interdisciplinary study that applies some simple ideas from statistical mechanics (a sub-field of physics) to describe the spatial distribution of collections of living organisms. The goal of this work is to be able to infer the behavioral characteristics of the individuals comprising the collection based solely on the spatial distribution of the aggregate population. This Shop Talk will present illustrative examples of these ideas as applied to both inanimate and living systems. Please also note that this Shop Talk comes with a money back guarantee. If you do not completely understand this presentation the author will gladly refund twice the cost of admission.
Graphs abound in our world - we see them daily in newspapers, in text books, in scientific journals, even on the web. Graphs are intended to convey information, but are often cluttered with "chartjunk" (coined by Edward Tufte, graph guru). Computer software allows graphing with ease, but often without thought. In this talk, I will present examples of "good" and "bad" graphs, discuss Tufte's design principles, and briefly review some of the research literature relating to human perception of graphical elements. Feel free to bring a graph or two to critically analyze.
My work on the relationship between American values and the
institution of marriage has focused primarily on Alexis de Tocqueville's
observations about the unique relationship between marriage and American
democracy in the early 19th century. Tocqueville applauded the hierarchical
nature of Americans' marriages as necessary checks on the potential
disorderliness of democratic egalitarianism. Democracy could only work, in
Tocqueville's view, if some institutions were not wholly democratic.
For the shop talk, I will address the extent to which a Tocquevillean understanding of marriage explains and fails to explain current efforts to link marriage and democratic citizenship. I hope we can have a lively discussion about Americans' distinctive commitment to marriage and what is at stake in current (and simultaneous) efforts to promote it among heterosexuals, limit it from gays and lesbians, and secure rights for same-sex couples who wish to marry.
In this presentation I will explore the ways in which Buddhist philosophers of classical India have elaborated on the doctrines of Buddha-nature and the path toward its awakening. The texts I have consulted (composed between the 4th and 6th centuries C.E.) contain several paradoxes, two of which I will address here: 1) Reality (Buddha-nature, Suchness, etc.) is both inconceivable and ineffable yet a clear linguistic formulation and correct conceptual comprehension of Reality are necessary conditions for awakening; 2) Reality is ontologically prior to all modes of consciousness and yet the realization of Reality occurs only after consciousness has been transformed. The soteriological "system" as presented in these religiously authoritative texts articulate a necessary temporal sequence of conceptual and meditative cultivation that culminates in the realization of an a-temporal reality already "present."
My Shop Talk takes as its subject “the spaces between”—the spaces between authors, because my work is a collaborative effort with a colleague in Ohio; the spaces between genres, because our study is on film adaptations of fiction; and the spaces between historical generations, because we are interested in how the intervening passage of time has led filmmakers to convert, critique, celebrate, collaborate with, or confront the “original” tellers of stories about the Nazi past. I plan to talk about all of these interstices: the process of collaboration in the humanities, as well as the products that result. I will concentrate on three pairings: the novel and film versions of Jurek Becker’s Jacob the Liar, Heinrich Böll’s Billiards at Half Past Nine, and Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum.
The enduring regard and popularity of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible presents an interesting problem for dramatic theory and for philosophy. The play is judged by some to be a straightforward morality play, of good versus evil, a case of good waxing and waning until its final, albeit costly, triumph in the end. This perspective is deepened, perhaps, when the play is also seen as a study of a particular kind of evil, i.e., an investigation into the realities of the mass hysteria characteristic of political or religious witch-hunts. I want to suggest that neither of these perspectives, morality play or witch-hunt, is especially relevant to the play’s theatrical power or philosophical importance. Rather, I will argue that The Crucible evokes and illuminates key features of a common human reality essential to moral judgments of right and wrong action. It is this that gives the play its universal appeal and its power to resonant in the lives of people around the globe.
Fish consumption advisories due to mercury contamination are prevalent throughout the United States with some of the highest fish mercury levels in the country found in Minnesota. State and federal policies to control mercury emissions have been criticized as unnecessary and inconsequential to fish mercury concentrations. This talk will summarize basic mercury science, review recent research findings, and summarize current proposed regulatory actions.
The Shop Talk coordinator (Paul Saulnier) would like to solicit abstracts for the Shop Talk series. These 20-30 minute presentations allow Gustavus scholars to share their original research/art and enthusiasm. A title, brief abstract (electronic format), and A/V requirements should be sent to Paul (PSAUL@GUSTAVUS.EDU). If the current Shop Talk schedule does not have any vacancies do not hesitate to contact Paul to reserve a future date.