Sussex PDEs 16/09/14 – Andre Neves

Setting and Scene

Lecture theatre, talk during conference of specialism


Speakers, academics, students


Presentation of new work for critique, publication, information of other participants and discussion

Act Sequence

Talk with scattered questions, followed by formal Q&A at the end




Technical language, though at the beginning the presenter emphasises that “this talk will be highly non-technical”

Frequent diagrams, often very roughly drawn in a very childlike way, which still appears to be sufficient for precise understanding in the context. This includes reference to a “two-legged fish“, shown by a rather strange diagram, saying that

n^2 is not allowed because of the two-legged fish

Two measures of a property were given as

Bending energy or Willmore energy is a measure of how bent it is

first a verb, then a name

Some reference was made to applications in biophysics, Bensimon & Matz, 1992, shapes of vasicules

Some metaphorical language used, including

two-legged fish

taking a walk along this curve

Here you arrive at the same point, here you arrive at different points

Push the blue curve into this red curve here

this guy here has area 0

this evil guy here…

and a diagram characterising a manifold as a globe giving it a North and South pole.

Often presented ideas as part of a narrative, either imagined as above, or in the form of an anecdote about the process of doing the research presented, as below:

We had to understand which case was which because understanding that would give us a good idea of whether we could compute this

He speaks of

[Looking] at my surface from distance T

The phrasing of ‘look at’ a mathematical object is interesting, as most of its significant properties cannot be made physical and are depicted symbolically.

“The behaviour of a charged loop of strings is a traditional subject for tea-time speculation” – Freedman – Ho-Wang 1994

This appears to be some kind of a mathematical joke involving T-time, obscure to non-mathematicians.



No interruptions except short questions for clarification until Q&A, when participants raise hands to ask longer questions




Few people understand the proof; there have been efforts to find another.


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