Welcome to the homepage of
Daniel S. Silver
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
Professor of Mathematics
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
University of South Alabama
(251) 460-6264/ 460-7969 FAX
here to send e-mail. (Remember to change "at" to "@".)
Here is what you will find inside
- Courses for Fall Semester, 2013:
Students in my MA227 class (Calculus III) can click here
for first-day handouts, homework assignments, solutions to quizzes and other exciting stuff.
Students in my MA525 class (Graph Theory) can click here
for first-day handouts, homework assignments, supplemental material and general encouragement.
My research is in topology and combinatorial group theory. I am especially interested in knots and links.
Since 1995 I have been working with Susan G. Williams on applications of symbolic and algebraic dynamical systems to knot theory. (Click here
to see a photograph of us defending our research in Zacatecas, Mexico.) I have also written articles and book reviews on the history of mathematics and science.
Publications: I have published comic strips on political and social issues for many years. Working out the humor and language bears many similarities to doing mathematics.
More samples can be found at Harbinger, an alternative paper that published in Mobile for more than fifteen years.
- Mobile Math Society:
is a community mathematics society that grew out of a challenge I made to my history of mathematics class several years ago. We meet at Satori Coffee House, a wonderful, funky place. Read about the society here.
- Mobile Chamber Music Society: For more than ten years I served as President of Mobile
Chamber Music Society, a non-profit organization that brings internationally known classical music ensembles to Mobile. I am currently
First Vice President, responsible for programming.
Mathematics and Science History Presentations of General Interest
- Lord Kelvin's Imagination and the Odd Origins of Knot Theory : was a public lecture at Spring Hill College in April 2011. I spoke about the roles of metaphor and humor in scientific discovery, focusing particularly on the curious history of modern knot theory.
- The Last Poem of James Clerk Maxwell : the story behind Maxwell's poem which begins: "My soul's an amphicheiral knot upon a liquid vortex wrought." A dramatic presentation sponsored by the Mobile Mathematical Society. View photos by Susan Williams and text . An article based on this play, appearing in the November 2008 Notices of the American Mathematical Society is here .
- Sigma-Xi Presentation: "Perhaps I Might Explain This...": The Toys and Humor of James Clerk Maxwell A photographic essay with new images from the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge and James Clerk Maxwell House, Edinburgh.
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.
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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