North British Differential Equations Seminar

The purpose of this organisation is to fund and sponsor visits to the UK of eminent mathematicians working in the area of differential equations (broadly interpreted). At present, the member institutions are:
  • in Scotland: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt, Glasgow, Strathclyde, and St. Andrews;
  • in the North of England: Durham, Keele, Leeds, Manchester.
The format of lecture tours varies, but usually it is of two week duration, one week spent in the North of England and another in Scotland, with series of lectures being given at different member institutions.
Current Speaker:
  1. L Mahadevan (Harvard).
    • 11 May Dundee
      Morphogenesis: geometry, physics and biology
      The diversity of living form led Darwin to exclaim that it is enough to drive the sanest man mad. 150 years later, how far have we come in quantifying this variety? Motivated by biological observations of tissue organization in plants and animals, I will show how a combination of biological and physical experiments, mathematical models and computations allow us to begin unraveling the physical basis for morphogenesis in the context of examples such as tendrils, leaves, guts and brains. I will also try and indicate how these pan-disciplinary problems enrich their roots, creating new questions in mathematics, physics and biology.
    • 12 May Aberdeen
      Elastohydrodynamics: of flags, films and fishes
      The borderlands between elasticity and hydrodynamics lead naturally to a number of moving boundary problems in elastohydrodynamics. I will discuss some phenomena in this rich area involving extreme geometries: the flutter of a slender flag in a breeze, the lift on a soft fluid-lubricated solid sliding/rolling near a wall (and its relation to joint lubrication), and the dynamics of fish swimming.
    • 13 May Glasgow
      Interfaces: analogies and singularities
      The boundaries between fields are often a fertile source of problems and ideas. Interfaces in physics and biology are similar - and using these as motivation, I will discuss some simple quantitative approaches to characterize the mechanical response of unstructured and structured soft interfaces. These include the peeling and healing of thin adherent films, the creasing and cutting of soft interfaces, and the behavior of hairy and scaly interfaces. In addition to providing explanations for a number of experimental puzzles, the models lead to interesting mathematical problems and challenges, that I hope to highlight.
    • 15 May Edinburgh
      Origami: art, science and mathematics
      Origami is the art of folding paper into intricate three-dimensional shapes. After a brief introduction to the rigid geometry of traditional origami, I will discuss some physical aspects of dry origami sculptures that focus on the weak and strong deformations of thin sheets of paper along straight and curved creases, using a combination of analysis and computation. I will then turn to wet origami in the context of hygromorphs, structures that can act as sensors, harness energy and respond dynamically to environmental variations in humidity. I will conclude with a consideration of a simple inverse problem - how do create drapes using origami.

The Seminar has been funded from subscriptions paid by each of the member universities. It is run by a committee whose members come from the participating universities. The current officiers are:

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