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Updated 10:00 AM September 22, 2008




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Saturday Morning Physics returns with variety of lecture topics

Since 1995 the Saturday Morning Physics (SMP) lectures have drawn 350-400 people to the Dennison Building each week from as far away as Alpena, Grand Rapids and northern Ohio. The tradition continues with the commencement of the fall 2008 lecture series.

Sponsored by the Department of Physics, this semester's lectures will cover Great Lakes water levels, Buddhism and science, brains, sports and more. Experts from mathematics and humanities as well as physics will present their topics and explain real-life physics topics using easy-to-understand terms.

At the Oct. 25 lecture, Asian languages and cultures professor Donald Lopez will talk about the relationship between Buddhism and science. "Among the religions of the world, it is often claimed that it is Buddhism that is most compatible with science," Lopez says. "In my lecture, I am going to provide a brief history of that claim."

Lopez says he is interested in the topic of Buddhism and how it relates to science. He recently published "Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed." A faculty member for 19 years, Lopez says he will focus on religion as a different way to view science. "The topic of Buddhism and science is particularly important at the moment, in part because of the interest in it by the Dalai Lama, who visited U-M last April," Lopez says.

On Nov. 15 Richard Canary, will discuss "Non-Euclidean Sports and the Geometry of Surfaces." Canary will use a PowerPoint presentation with animation and graphics to explain hyperbolic spaces within the framework of sports.

Canary will explore the three types of "nice" geometry and focus on hyperbolic space, which grows exponentially. By using examples such as baseball and golf, Canary will illustrate what it would be like to live inside hyperbolic space. "I want to show that if the universe were hyperbolic, this is what it would be like," Canary says. "For example, what would it be like to play sports in this space?"

In the second part of his talk, Canary will use examples of computer graphics and old video games to classify geometric surfaces.

Continuing every Saturday through Nov. 15, the lectures will be in rooms 170 and 182 of the Dennison Building from 10:30-11:30 a.m. The talks are free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided before each lecture.

The lectures continue Sept. 27 with "Superstring Cosmology or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Inflation," with Scott Watson, professor of physics.

For more information, go to

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