Professor John Conway Visits Lehigh

Last week John Conway, Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University came to Lehigh for a discussion on his many accomplishments. The talk was arranged by Lehigh’s Professor Donald Davis, who teaches a course based off of Conway’s work called “Popular Mathematics.” The beginning of the discussion was about the Game of Life, arguably Conway’s most famous accomplishment. The Game of Life is one of the first examples of cellular automata, and is based on a grid of uniform square cells that are either alive or dead. There is also a set of rules that defines whether the cells will die, be reborn, or stay the same. After going into a lengthy ramble about this, Conway went on to describe one of his most recent and favorite accomplishments, the free will theorem. This theorem in the field of quantum mechanics is based on the premise that if humans have free will, so should elementary particles. Although Conway spoke very softly and was hard to hear for most of the talk, the event was interesting enough, and I will surely look into both the Game of Life and the free will theorem during my free time.

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