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Dan Silver

Daniel S. Silver
Professor of Mathematics
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
ILB 325
University of South Alabama
Mobile, AL 36688-0002

(251) 460-6264/ 460-7969 FAX
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Five Minutes of Knot Theory History

Click When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes to watch a 5-minute video of my dangerous attempt to recreate an experiment that P.G. Tait performed for Lord Kelvin in 1867. More about the poisonous session can be found in an article that I wrote recently for American Scientist Knot Theory's Odd Origins. (E-reprints are available. Please ask!) Co-starring are Susan Williams and University of South Alabama chemistry professor Andrzej Wierzbicki.

Helmholtz worked out the interaction of two smoke rings traveling in the same direction: "If they have the same direction, the foremost widens and travels more slowly, the pursuer shrinks and travels faster, till, finally, if their velocities are not too different, it overtakes the first and penetrates it. Then the same goes on in the opposite order, so that the rings pass through each other alternatively." Click here to see a great image produced by an artist at American Scientist. Pas de deux

Here is a photograph of Ralph Fox that was given to me by my friend and collaborator Wilbur (Red) Whitten. Fox was a pioneer and tireless promoter of knot theory when the subject was still young. An altered version of the photograph appears in John Milnor Collected Papers, Volume 2 (Publish or Perish Press). If you look closely, you can see Fox's signature.

Click here for a short, elementary exposition on knots and Fox colorings, intended for undergraduates. It is titled ``Why Knot?"

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