Invited Speaker: David Lentink

Avian Inspired Design – Wednesday, September 11, 2019

My lab focusses on understanding every aspect of bird flight to improve flying robots—because birds fly further, longer, and more reliable in complex visual and wind environments. I use this multidisciplinary lens that integrates biomechanics, aerodynamics, and robotics to advance our understanding of the evolution of flight. The experimental approaches range from making robotic models to training birds to fly in custom-designed flight arenas to make novel direct aerodynamic force measurements in flight as well as studying their flight control strategies. I will show how these and other ongoing studies in my lab have inspired new biohybrid soft morphing aerial robots.

Biography Prof. Lentink
Professor Lentink’s multidisciplinary lab studies how birds fly to develop better flying robots—integrating biomechanics, fluid mechanics, and robot design. He has a BS and MS in Aerospace Engineering (Aerodynamics, Delft University of Technology) and a PhD in Experimental Zoology cum laude (Wageningen University). During his PhD he visited the California institute of Technology for 9 months to study insect flight. His postdoctoral training at Harvard was focused on studying bird flight. Publications range from technical journals to cover publications in Nature and Science. He is an alumnus of the Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, recipient of the Dutch Academic Year Prize, the NSF CAREER award, he has been recognized in 2013 as one of 40 scientists under 40 by the World Economic Forum, and he is the inaugural winner of the Steven Vogel Young Investigator Award.

Invited Speaker: Frederic P. Schuller

Einstein’s true legacy – Tuesday, April 9, 2019

There is something seriously wrong with the two pillars of contemporary theoretical physics. Combining general relativity (our theory of gravity) and the standard model of particle physics (our theory of the matter sourcing this gravity) leads to both: spectacular successes and equally spectacular failures, when being confronted with observational data. This includes the all-time worst prediction of fundamental theoretical physics — namely a theoretically sound calculation of the cosmological constant that misses the experimental value by 120 orders of magnitude.
The first half of this colloquium provides a seriously modern introduction into general relativity and matter fields — with no prior knowledge assumed — and thus elucidates these successes and failures for a professional audience of non-experts. This part concludes with the usual interpretation of today’s observational data as the monumental discovery that 96% percent of the energy and matter in the universe are not of standard model type.
In the second half, without changing any of the actual quantitative results, this generally relativistic picture about the relation of matter and gravity is turned around entirely, on the basis of theoretical insights obtained in the course of the last decade. At center stage is a mathematical result that reveals the hidden information about gravity in any field model of matter. In fact, the gravitational theory turns out to be determined by the matter model — and in a constructive manner at that!
The conceptual and practical impact of this result is briefly discussed with regards to far-reaching questions that may now be asked and answered in fundamental theoretical physics. From that vantage point, it then transpires that Einstein’s true legacy is precisely in the concepts, rather than the equations, he put forward.