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Slinkies, Gorges, and Ice Cream: What I Did on My Summer Vacation

  • Thursday, September 26, 2019
  • 3:40 PM–4:30 PM
  • North Hall 276

Joyce Chew, Calvin University (Student)

Slinkies are fascinating toys that exhibit sometimes surprising behavior. While the most famous examples of Slinky behavior involve motion, as in their ability to seemingly walk down stairs, the possible equilibrium shapes of a Slinky at rest also form an intriguing mathematical playground. In this talk, I will present a method from optimal control theory for finding equilibrium configurations of a Slinky with fixed ends. I will also discuss instabilities and bifurcations in “families” of such configurations induced by internal tensions in the Slinky. Finally, I will share more generally about my experience of working in an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at Cornell University, where I conducted this research.

Refreshments precede the talk at 3:30 p.m. in NH 282.

September 2019
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