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Foams and Minimal Surfaces

29th July 2002 to 23rd August 2002

Organisers: Dr A Kraynik (Sandia), Professor H Stone (Harvard), Professor E Terentjev (Cavendish Labs), Professor DL Weaire (Dublin)

Programme Theme

Computational methods have given fresh impetus to the mathematics of minimal surfaces and its applications. In particular the theory of liquid foams, which has its roots in the work of Plateau in the 19th century, has been greatly advanced. The Surface Evolver software developed by Ken Brakke and others has been particularly valuable. The subject remains a fertile ground for interaction between pure and applied mathematicians, physicists and engineers, using mathematical analysis and extensive simulations.

In addition to the further analysis of equilibrium foam structure, physical properties associated with coarsening, drainage, rheology and collapse are actively debated. These are of widespread industrial interest (detergents, foods and beverages, defoaming).

The programme will progress from the theory of minimal surfaces and discrete geometry to a wide range of techniques and applications, and will include related fields (emulsions, biophysics, solid foams).

Special Lectures

05 August 2002: 16:00 - 17:00
Professor T Hales (University of Pittsburgh) Connections between sphere packings and honeycombs
12 August 2002: 16:00 - 17:00
Professor MF Ashby (Department of Engineering, Cambridge) Novel Cellular structures and the design of sandwich panels
14 August 2002:
The Soap Bubble Geometry Contest - A public event for ages 11+
19 August 2002: 16:00 - 17:00
Professor Sir Sam Edwards (Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge) Granular materials need a new statistical mechanics
Final Scientific Report: 
University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute The Leverhulme Trust London Mathematical Society Microsoft Research NM Rothschild and Sons