Science meets art as the Leicester Lit & Phil meets its new president

Posted by pt91 at Sep 27, 2011 11:29 AM |
New programme of lectures begins from 3 October

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 27 September 2011

The new season of the Leicester Lit & Phil begins with the Presidential inaugural lecture on Monday 3rd October at 7.30pm in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Leicester, Councillor Robert Wann, in the Main Gallery of Leicester’s New Walk Museum.

This year’s President, Professor John Fothergill, Head of Engineering at the University of Leicester, will be speaking on:  ‘Chaos and Fractals: Science Meets Art’.

Professor Fothergill outlined some of the highlights that have made the Leicester Lit & Phil special for him:  “The Leicester Literary & Philosophical Society (the ‘Lit & Phil’) is probably not what you would imagine.  If you think of a society which holds dry pseudo-intellectual talks in a musty hall, then you’ve clearly never been to a meeting. It’s not like that at all!

“The society prides itself on its diversity.   It attracts people of all ages and from a wide range of backgrounds, and holds twelve fascinating talks a year on a huge variety of subjects.

“The Lit & Phil has close links with the New Walk Museum, which its founding members, partly funded and where it holds most of its presentations. I tend to find the most interesting of these to be those that I know least about – so it’s difficult to pick out those that I’ll most enjoy this year.

“As we’re coming up to their 200th birthdays, the Society has lectures on ‘Dickens and the Anatomy of Murder’ and ‘Memorabilia: Robert Browning and Literary Celebrity’.

“The lecture on ‘What do we know about garden wildlife?’ promises to describe the wildlife that lives in your garden, why you are aware of almost none of it, and how easy it is to attract even more.

“Looking historically we have talks on ‘Vikings and Villains: Surnames, Genetics and Ancestry’ and on the ‘Archaeology, Mythology and folklore of Fossil Sea Urchins’.

“Nick Watson OBE, Justices’ Clerk for Leicestershire and Rutland will be asking the question, ‘650 Years on, is there a Future for Magistrates?’ and the recently appointed Vice-Chancellor of De Montfort University, Professor Dominic Shellard, will also be making a presentation. 

“Finally, I shall be particularly interested in the last lecture this coming year, by Professor Andrew Hugill, on ‘Making Music with Computers: how I wrote certain of my works’ – especially since I will touch on similar subjects in my opening address.”

Professor Fothergill’s talk, ‘Chaos and Fractals: Science meets Art’, will take a fresh look back to the time when the Lit and Phil was founded, when it may have witnessed many discussions on determinism and free will. 

Laplace had announced his proposition in 1814 that if the positions and momenta of all particles in the universe were accurately known, then their positions and momenta could be calculated at any time in the future. 

His ideas did not survive the twentieth century, when the mathematics of deterministic chaos demonstrated themselves in the Butterfly Effect and the unreliability of the weather forecast. 

The natural world is determined by the laws of non-linear systems, which govern chaos, and produce the natural shapes around us that differ so much from the circles and squares of traditional geometry.  Out of this comes the study of fractals, which another French mathematician, Mandlebrot, described as the Geometry of Nature. 

The beauty of fractals may inspire art and the semi-predictability of chaotic systems may inspire music.  Professor Fothergill’s talk aims to inspire the audience with examples of both.

‘Chaos and Fractals: Science Meets Art’ takes place on Monday 3rd October at 7.30pm in the Main Gallery of the Leicestershire Museum and Art Gallery.

The Lord Mayor will give the vote of thanks and there will be a reception afterwards.

Visitors and new members are always welcome to Lit & Phil meetings, which take place fortnightly during the season and present a distinguished speaker who answers questions after the talk. The talks are followed by refreshments.

Membership of the Society is £12.50 a year (£5.00 for students) for twelve events.

For more details, including dates of events or membership, please see the website   Information about membership is also available from tel 01455 209291.

Notes to Editors: Further details are available from the in-coming President of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, Professor John Fothergill, Head of Engineering, University of Leicester, email, tel 0116 252 2569.

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