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Juniata Math Professor to Lecture on Famed Dutch Scientist

(Posted January 31, 2006)

John Bukowski, associate professor of mathematics

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- At the age of 17, Dutch mathematician Christiaan Huygens proved a theory of Galileo to be wrong, and Juniata College mathematician John Bukowski will explain how math prodigy Huygens proved his theories in a lecture at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8, in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The lecture is part of the Bookend Seminar Lecture Series, which features afternoon lectures each month by Juniata faculty.

Bukowski's lecture, titled "Huygens, Holland and Hanging Chains," will explain how Huygens proved that the shape of a hanging chain is not a parabola, as Galileo previously thought. Bukowski will explain how Huygens proved his geometrical arguments, and will share research he did on Huygens' life while studying in Holland last summer.

Christiaan Huygens is best known for discovering Saturn's moon, Titan and also discovered the true shape of the rings of Saturn. He also helped develop modern calculus and wrote the first book on probability theory. "You won't have be an expert at math to come to the talk," Bukowski says. "If you have heard of triangles and maybe parabolas, that should be the only prerequisite."

Bukowski joined the Juniata faculty in 1997 after earning his master's degree and doctoral degree in applied mathematics from Brown University in Providence, R.I. He earned a bachelor's degree in both mathematics and physics from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa.

In 1998-99, he was a fellow of Project NExT, a national program sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America for new faculty interested in improving the teaching and learning of undergraduate mathematics. His research interests are in continuum limits of particle systems, partial differential equations, ordinary differential equations, and dynamical systems.

He is a member of the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Association for Women in Mathematics. He is married to Cathy Stenson, assistant professor of mathematics at Juniata.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.