Math and The Body and The Mind

October 16, 2013 5:30pm to 7:30pm at UC San Diego's Atkinson Hall Auditorium

View large: 8.5"x11" or 11"x17"

Free to the public | Light refreshments served from 5:30 to 6:00 | No food or drinks in auditorium

Join cognitive scientist Rafael Núñez along with Cindy Lawrence and Glen Whitney, Co-Directors of the National Museum of Mathematics as they discuss the interplay between physical experience and mathematical cognition and intuition. Is mathematics a purely symbolic exercise, or can it be experienced and processed physically? How do mathematical ideas originate? What role do fun, creativity, and exploration play in the learning and doing of mathematics?

Thank you to the James B. Ax Foundation and Viasat Inc., Founding Partner of the Clarke Center, for sponsoring this event.


Rafael Núñez, UC San Diego Cognitive Science

Núñez is the director of the Embodied Cognition Laboratory at UCSD dedicated to investigating how cognition is grounded on the human body and the experiences it supports. He is particularly interested in high-level cognitive phenomena such as conceptual systems, abstraction, and inference mechanisms. His multidisciplinary approach uses methods such as psycholinguistic experiments, gesture studies, brain imaging, and field research with isolated indigenous groups. His book, 'Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics into Being' (with George Lakoff) presents a new theoretical framework for understanding the human nature of Mathematics and its foundations. He is the founding co-director of the Fields Cognitive Science Network for the Empirical Study of the Nature of Mathematics, housed at the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences in Toronto, Canada.

Cindy Lawrence, The National Museum of Mathematics

Cindy Lawrence has been active in the education field for many years. She began her professional career as a CPA working for Price Waterhouse, followed that with a stint at Newsday, then moved into education. Lawrence spent sixteen years working as the national editor for a professional review course, writing curriculum and addressing questions from students and instructors worldwide. Lawrence is also a lifelong math enthusiast who created and directs an extracurricular mathematics program for gifted middle school and high school students run through a joint venture with Brookhaven National Laboratory. Lawrence currently serves the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath), America’s only museum of mathematics, as its Co-Executive Director.

Glen Whitney, The National Museum of Mathematics

Glen Whitney received an undergraduate math degree from Harvard
University and a Ph.D. in mathematical logic from UCLA. He began his career on the academic, theoretical side, teaching at the University of Michigan, then added the applied point of view as a hedge fund quantitative analyst with Renaissance Technologies. Whitney discovered the spirit of hands-on exploration as an elementary-school math club coach, and he's seen the value of math as a tool to give back to society, helping to design the data collection systems used by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. Whitney now devotes himself full time to running the National Museum of Mathematics, America’s only museum of mathematics.

Parking Info

You may park in lot P502, which is on Voigt Drive across the street from Atkinson Hail; however, you must have a parking permit to do so, and the closest parking permit machine is at the Hopkins parking structure. Please buy a permit first at Hopkins, and then drive to lot P502. Permits cost $4 after 4:30 PM.