For its first show this season, Theatre UAB takes on the story of a brilliant mathematician who suffers a mental breakdown. His gifted but depressive daughter leaves her own studies to care for him, but when a revolutionary mathematical theory is discovered among her father’s papers, she must ponder the link between genius and madness — and speculate about which legacy he will bequeath to her.
That’s the premise of “Proof,” David Auburn’s Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play that deftly intertwines family drama with a mystery less about prime numbers than the elusive nature of truth.
Theatre UAB will present “Proof” Oct. 3-7, 2012, in UAB’s Alys Stephens Center, Sirote Theatre, 1200 10th Ave. South. Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3-6, with a 2 p.m. matinee Oct. 7. Tickets are $12 and $15; student tickets $6; UAB employee and senior citizen tickets $10. Call 205-975-2787 for tickets. Visit Theatre UAB at www.uab.edu/theatre.
Artificial Conversations Spark Insights into the Evolution of Ideas
By Matt Windsor
Philosopher Marshall Abrams is designing a digital simulation of the flow of ideas among individuals that leads to cultural change.
In a small office in UAB’s Humanities Building, philosopher Marshall Abrams, Ph.D., is hosting a heated debate about the origins of life. The nine participants share their opinions rapid-fire, completing several hundred conversations every minute. Nevertheless, not a word is spoken; all the action is happening on Abrams’s computer screen. Welcome to philosophy’s digital era.
Above: a representation of the neural networks inside one "person" in the simulation.
Abrams is building a computer-based simulation of cultural change, the flow of ideas among individuals that exerts a powerful shaping force on a society’s guiding values. “Meteorologists want to understand the local changes that affect large-scale weather patterns,” Abrams says. “Social scientists want to do the same thing with cultural change. But just like the weather, it is very subtle and complicated. I’m trying to see what a digital model can add.”
Lauren Goodwin Slaughter (Poetry) is working on her first collection of poems, A Lesson in Smallness. She says of this work, “My poems explore the way our identities can be symbolically expressed in seemingly benign objects and experiences—a trip to the salon, a high-tech mixer, a county fair ribbon, an ultrasound. These poems are particularly interested in taking a sometimescritical, sometimes-celebratory look at how my own relatively new roles in the domestic sphere coincide with the most esoteric human experiences.”
She will also begin a new series of poems responding to the tornadoes that struck her home state of Alabama last year. Ms. Slaughter received her B.A. from Kenyon College, her M.A. from the University of Montana, and her M.F.A from the University of Alabama. Her poems have appeared in Blackbird, Chariton Review, Hunger Mountain, among others, and she has received fellowships from Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Vermont Studio Center.
Ms. Slaughter teaches at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. She hopes to take a leave of absence next year, use her Writer’s Award for childcare and living expenses, and focus on these two poetry collections and a novel-in-progress. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama.
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