Abstract for Sidney Nagel
Colloquium Speaker for
March 30, 1999

Sidney Nagel
The University of Chicago

Tuesday, March 30, 1999
4:10 pm Room 118 PA
Refreshments at 3:45 in Room 224 PA


There are many complex phenomena which are so familiar to us that we forget to ask whether or not they are understood. In this lecture, I will discuss several familiar cases of effects that are so ubiquitous that we hardly realize that they defy our normal intuition about why they happen. The examples of poorly understood classical physics that I will choose can all be viewed at a breakfast table. I will mention the anomalous flow behavior of granular material, the long messy tendrils left behind by honey spooned from one dish to another and the pesky rings deposited by spilled coffee on a table after the liquid evaporates. These are all non-linear hydrodynamic phenomena which not only are of technological importance but can also lead the inquisitive into new realms of physics.