The MOST Program presents:
Mathematical Microscope: using X-ray diffraction to reveal the hidden structures of nature
with Dr. Sarah Goodman
Thursday, February 22
6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
What do you do when something is too small to see with the naked eye? What if it is also too small to see with a magnifying glass, or even a microscope? How do we know what the structure of matter looks like at the tiniest length scales — how atoms arrange themselves in crystals, or what biological molecules look like? Math to the rescue: we can turn to mathematics to uncover even the smallest patterns in nature. Join scientist and engineer Dr. Sarah Goodman, Professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology and Fellow from MoMath’s Mathematics Outreach Seminar and Training (MOST) program, in a hands-on workshop for all ages, where participants will use laser pointers to create dazzling diffraction patterns from everyday objects, revealing their hidden features. Along the way, we’ll build mathematical intuition to understand what’s happening, learn how this relates to a mathematical technique called Fourier analysis, and learn how the diffraction of X-rays through crystals allows us to “see” the way atoms are arranged inside a material. This powerful technique at the intersection of math and art is called X-ray diffraction, and it’s what brought us the structure of DNA, antibiotics, minerals, and more.
We will be working with lasers and refraction during this program. Suitable for later elementary and middle school students; participants must be able to measure, multiply, and divide.
To learn more about the MOST program, visit most.momath.org.
This is an in-person event at the National Museum of Mathematics (11 E 26th St).