Oct. 29 Scientia to feature four five-minute talks

The next Scientia colloquia will be Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. and will feature a set of five-minute talks by four faculty on the ideas that have most powerfully influenced or engaged them in their careers and intellectual lives.

ScientiaThe colloquium, which is free and open to the public, will be in Duncan Hall’s McMurtry Auditorium, with a reception afterward.

The speakers and their topics are:

Erin Cech, assistant professor of sociology, on “The Power of Culture.” In her abstract, she wrote, “Laws, institutions and the physical environment structure our lives, but culture is an equally powerful force that keeps us ‘behaving ourselves,’ shapes our identities and reproduces inequality in seemingly innocuous ways.”

Simon Fischer-Baum, assistant professor of psychology, on “Heterogeneity.” He wrote, “Studies of individuals with brain-damage and developmental differences have demonstrated striking variability in how people’s minds work. How does this variability affect our understanding of cognition?”

Gisela Heffes, assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese, on “In Praise of Irreverence.” Heffes wrote, “Renowned Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges once referred to ‘irreverence’ as a key component of cultural innovation. In this talk I will expand briefly on this idea and how it has intersected with my own experience as a Latin American writer of fiction and scholarly works.”

Andrew Putman, associate professor of mathematics, on “What We Can’t Know.” He wrote, “It follows from work of many people (starting with Gödel) that there are simple mathematical statements that are true but cannot be proved.  I’ll speculate about the meaning of this.”

Scientia is an institute of Rice University faculty founded in 1981 by the mathematician and historian of science Salomon Bochner. The lecture series provides an opportunity for scholarly discussion across disciplinary boundaries; its members and fellows come from a wide range of academic disciplines. For more information on Scientia, visit http://scientia.rice.edu.



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