Randall D. Peters
Physics Department
Mercer University

Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Willet Science Center 101

"The Butterfly and the Bumblebee
(Is harmonic oscillation ever really simple?)"

Abstract:  Through his own original experiments and through literature search as part of a CRC engineering handbook chapter that he's writing; Dr. Peters has discovered that the equation for the damped harmonic oscillator, as presented in physics textbooks, is mostly a myth. In the myth of the bumblebee, the Navier-Stokes equations were thought by some to be 'inadequate'; in the myth of viscous damping, many have thought it to be inviolate. Using a recently developed 'universal' damping model, based in energy and surprisingly akin to Coulomb friction, arguments will be made in support of a premise: that the 'butterfly effect' of chaos fame -- through the work of Ed Lorenz -- is important not only to the flight of the bumblebee, but to most 'many-body' systems of vibrational type, because of nonlinear damping. To test this hypothesis, which departs from conventional wisdom, a collaborative project is in the planning stage involving Mercer Physics and Georgia Tech's Professor Dewey Hodges, School of Aerospace.

Please join us for light refreshments outside WSC 109 at 4:15.

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