The Seduction of Curves: Catastrophe Theory, Life Drawing and Beauty

5 March 2018, 5.00 PM - 5 March 2018, 6.00 PM

Dr Allan McRobie (Engineering, University of Cambridge)

Frank lecture theatre

Allan will explain how the mathematics that underlies his lectures on stability in structural engineering can - perhaps surprisingly  - best be learned in the life drawing class. The key is the understanding of curved surfaces, whose features may be described by Rene Thom's Catastrophe Theory. Sharing its title with Allan's book, published recently by Princeton University Press, the talk will wander gently across engineering, the sciences and the arts, always with a focus on curves. It begins with the stability of building columns and oil rigs, and after some excursions into optics and gravitational physics, it enters the trickier arenas of psychology, aesthetics and art, to end beside the deathbed of Salvador Dali.

Contact information

For further information, contact Molly Hackett at

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