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Lyceum Society October 2021 Meeting




for Members

Lyceum Society October 2021 Meeting

Thursday, October 14, 2021, 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM EDT


Presented By


Welcome and Introductions: 11:30 am to 11:45 am

Preliminary Presentation: 12:01 pm to 12:40 pm

Speaker: Stuart Kurtz, PhD

Topic: The Murmuration of Starlings: Patterns and Emergence

Outline: Patterns arise from human construction such as by architects as well as from nature and physics. Some patterns are the result of simple or complex processes. Examples are the processes that give rise to crystals, flower shapes, and sand dunes. Others are the result of conscious or unconscious rules of complex individuals. I have chosen some examples including the Murmuration of starlings, Conway’s Game of Life, and synchronicity of pendulums that illustrate different pattern generation and I discuss the processes that give rise to those patterns. The diversity of explanations is a feature of the idea of emergence.

CV: See Main Presentation

Main Presentation: 12:45 to 2:00 pm

Speaker: Stuart Kurtz, PhD

Topic: The 1980 Titan ll Accident

Outline: A little known Nuclear Missile accident, that nearly led to the explosion of the most massive nuclear warhead in the US arsenal in Arkansas, is a story of how complex systems are subject to failure despite all of the best protocols. Yet the rarity of such events indicates that often the probability of disasters might be less than we fear, though they still need to be addressed. Understanding this accident and other such failures is an opportunity to decrease the probability of such failures in the future. This talk is based on both a PBS documentary and the book by Eric Schlosser (Command and Control).

CV: Stuart Kurtz graduated from MIT with an SB in Chemical Engineering and from Princeton with an MS degree in Polymer Engineering and an MA and PhD. in Chemical Engineering. He taught at RPI and in Brazil as Professor Titular in Materials Engineering. This was followed by a research career in industry accumulating around 30 patents and publishing at least a few good papers. He now focuses on Philosophy of Science and Physics and climbing mountains because they are there. He has spoken to the Lyceum Society many times; most recently in January, 2018 he spoke on the topic: Lessons from Science Lysenko, Velikovsky and the Demarcation Problem; In February, 2018 he spoke on Geoengineering for Climate Change Mitigation. In April, 2019 he spoke on Does Time Flow? In February, 2020 he spoke on Cold Fusion; and in February and March, 2021 he gave a 2 part presentation on the scientific accomplishments and biography of Fritz Haber.


Nonmember Student, Undergrad, Grad, Fellow
Member Student, Post-Doc, Fellow