Madison Chaos and Complex Systems Seminar

Spring 2020 Seminars

All seminars are Tuesday at 12:05 pm in 4274 Chamberlin Hall except as noted. Refreshments will be served.

Short List
Join us for lunch during the summer on the Memorial Union Terrace at noon each Tuesday, starting May 5th!


January 21, 2020

Color: Physics and perception

Pupa Gilbert, UW Department of Physics

Unless we are colorblind or are in the dark, as soon as we look at any object, we know what color the object is. Simple, isn’t it? No, not really. The color we see is rarely just determined by the physical color, that is, the wavelength of visible light associated with that color. Other factors, such as the illuminating light, or the brightness surrounding a certain color, affect our perception of that color. Most striking, and useful, is understanding how the retina and the brain work together to interpret the color we see, and how they can be fooled by additive color mixing, which makes it possible to have color screens and displays. I will show the physical origin of all these phenomena and give live demos as I explain how they work. Bring your own eyes!

For more information: (1) watch TED talk: “Color: Physics and Perception” and (2) read book: PUPA Gilbert and W Haeberli “Physics in the Arts”, ISBN 9780123918789.

January 28, 2020

A conditional Gaussian framework for assimilating and predicting complex nonlinear turbulent dynamical systems

Nan Chen, UW Department of Mathematics

A conditional Gaussian nonlinear and non-Gaussian framework is developed and is applied to study data assimilation, uncertainty quantification and prediction of complex nonlinear turbulent dynamical systems. The talk will contain the following topics: recovering turbulent ocean flows, predicting non-Gaussian atmosphere phenomena including extreme events, solving the time evolution of high-dimensional probability density function, parameter estimation and recovering the hidden states in complex systems.

February 4, 2020

Anesthesia in the Anthropocene: Environmental and economic considerations of modern anesthesia and surgery

Mike Ries, UW Department of Anesthesiology

Climate health and population health are undeniably and inextricably linked. As healthcare institutions maintain a moral obligation to the healing of all the world's citizens, and healthcare being a significant, environmentally burdensome business, there exists a large motive and opportunity for "greening" healthcare. Even further, the operating room has been singled out as the most polluting and most energy-intensive part of the modern healthcare ecosystem. As the perioperative expert, this places a moral and economic obligation on anesthesiologists to improve environmental standards in the operating room. During this talk we will discuss the complex environmental and economic problems facing the healthcare industry and more specifically how "greening" the OR is the right choice for checkbooks and our environment alike.

February 11, 2020

Learning with scarce data: The role of side information, simulators, and GANs

Kangwook Lee, UW Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

In this talk, I will present the role of side information, simulators, and GANs for learning with scarce data.  In the first part, I will talk about the role of similarity graphs in recommendation systems.  In the second part, the role of simulators and GANs will be discussed.

February 25, 2020

The emergence of human emotions: Learning, development and biology

Seth Pollak, UW Department of Psychology

Theories about the emergence of human emotion have traditionally emphasized evolutionarily preserved, universal aspects of emotion or the functional and cultural adaptations of emotions. While these opposing views make different assumptions about the initial state of emotion in the brain, both theories devote little attention to or specification about potential processes for learning and developmental change. This colloquium will focus on the question of how brain and behavior are shaped and refined by children's early social and emotional experiences. To do so, I will describe recent research involving children who have experienced aberrant early life experiences. These include child abuse and neglect, children raised in extreme poverty, children raised in institutional settings, and children who have endured traumatic life experiences. Studies of these children provide new insights about the developmental processes underlying socio-emotional learning as well as shed light on the mechanisms through which children acquire emotions. In addition to these basic science questions, children raised in adverse environments are at increased risk for a variety of health, academic, and social problems. I will highlight ways in which research in this area can both address central issues in human development as well as hold tremendous promise for improving the health and well-being of children.

March 10, 2020

Enhancing soil health through policy and practice

Steve Ventura, UW Department of Soil Science
Healthy soils are fundamental to food security and provide numerous other ecosystem services, including water purification and carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change. But, modern agriculture and land development can disrupt the complex biochemical and ecological systems that contribute to these functions. This talk will introduce some of the practices that contribute to healthy soils and some of the possible policies and incentives that could encourage adoption by farmers and land managers.

March 24, 2020

The role of turbulence in the universe

Siyao Xu, UW Department of Astronomy

Turbulence is everywhere in our daily life. The same turbulence in our blood vessels, coffee, rivers, etc. also exists in the universe over a vast range of length scales from planets to the large scale structure of the universe. The same physics of turbulence, including mixing, diffusion, dynamo amplification, applies to diverse astrophysical environments. This talk will introduce astrophysical turbulence and its power in connecting different astrophysical phenomena, from the most energetic explosions in the universe to our Sun.

April 7, 2020

The complexity of pain how to better understand and express pain perception: a Physical Therapist's perspective
Jim Cumming, UW Hospital and Clinics

Physical therapists are often charged with alleviating pain in those suffering from various injuries, afflictions, and after surgery.  In treating pain, Physical therapists are often bewildered how pain expression varies wildly from individual to individual, and even from day to day or hour to hour. This discussion will dive a bit into the neuroscience of pain, and the possible mechanisms behind why things like having an illness, having a stressful life, and even the weather can affect pain perception. But the crux of the discussion will be to discuss some ideas for how to communicate with your health providers about your symptoms to hopefully help improve the care you receive.

April 21, 2020

Wisconsin's trumpeter swan recovery program: A 30-year retrospective (1989-2019) on research, management, and collaboration

Sumner W. Matteson, Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

The State of Wisconsin Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) recovery plan, written in 1986, set as a recovery goal 20 breeding and migratory pairs by the year 2000.  From 1989 through 1997, we worked with the late Rod King of the UFWS to collect a total of 385 Trumpeter Swan eggs in Alaska at the Minto Flats and Nelchina Basin during early June.  These eggs were transported in a private jet piloted by the late Terry Kohler and Mary Kohler, and the eggs were placed in incubators under the supervision of Ed Diebold, Avian Curator, Milwaukee County Zoo.  Overall hatching success during the 9-year period was 93%, and the cygnets were placed into two programs:  captive-rearing at sites in southern and southeastern Wisconsin (with cygnets wing-clipped and released at nearly 2 years of age at selected northerly wetland sites), and decoy-rearing at selected wetland sites in northern and central Wisconsin, where camouflaged University of Wisconsin interns in float tubes led cygnets to loafing and feeding sites throughout the summer.  Decoy-reared cygnets were then allowed to fly free at fledging – about 16 weeks of age.  A captive parent-rearing program involving three private cooperators also provided yearling birds to the program.  During 1989-2005, decoy-rearing contributed 196 (49.7%) birds, captive-rearing 159 (40.4%), and captive parent-rearing 32 (8.1%), with another 7 miscellaneous (1.8%) birds, totaling 394 (100%).  Monitoring of Wisconsin’s growing flock from the early 1990s through 2014 involved:  spring aerial surveys to locate nests, ground-truthing to determine clutch size, and August flights to locate families and count cygnets, followed by round-ups to mark cygnets.  By 2014, there were 253 nesting pairs in Wisconsin.  The Department transitioned from documenting every nesting pair in the state annually to aerial surveys in 2015 as part of the national quinquennial survey protocol implemented by USFWS.  In 2015, the Trumpeter BPOP was 3,679 (95% CI:  ± 4,619).  In 2019, the state’s BPOP had reached 6,106 (95% CI: ± 4,728).  Many private and public partners contributed to Wisconsin’s successful restoration program, including The Trumpeter Swan Society, USFWS, MNDNR, MIDNR, WDNR, UW-Madison, Milwaukee County Zoo, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, Windway Capital Corporation, GE Medical Systems, Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, and several others to be mentioned.

April 28, 2020
Year-end celebration

Following the tradition of recent years in which we had a delightful discussion of where we have come and where we might go with the seminars, this last seminar of the semester will be devoted to a continuation of that discussion without any formal speaker. We will also discuss what we want to do during our informal weekly lunches on the Memorial Union Terrace which begin on May 5th. This celebration will include expanded refreshments, to which your own culinary contribution is welcome.