The Matrix is Made of Math

It’s all just code, baby…

There are few ideas I love more than the one that forms the kernel of the image above: that if we break life down into its constituent parts, there’s a basic code or set of rules by which we can understand all life. There’s a really wonderful xkcd comic that riffs on this idea by establishing a hierarchy of purity. Psychology is just applied biology, biology is just applied chemistry, chemistry is applied physics, etc.* Each of the papers here plays with this idea, breaking down a complicated process into the smaller parts that make it up, showing how at the end of the day, we’re all just loosely organized space stuff.

In his poster, “A Pedagogical Investigation of Metal Oxide Photocatalysts: From Band Theory to Nanoparticle Synthesis and Structure,” Mitchell Shapiro-Albert breaks down the theory and current veins of research in meal oxide photocatalysts, in terms that can be understood by an average undergraduate. This subset of materials chemistry focuses on compounds of metal and oxygen, that, when exposed to sunlight, can promote chemical reactions that break down pollutants in water and ultimately provide clean drinking water in places without an electrical grid.

In “Anomaly Detection with Mean-Flow Interpellation of Temporally Sparse Data,” Harris Hardiman-Mostow has constructed an algorithm that reconstructs periodic time-series signals from sparse data and predicts anomalous observations based on the reconstruction. By making assumptions about the underlying periodic structure of the signal, the algorithm can predict the behavior of a system even when there is very little data to work with.

In “Modeling Clogging in Microfluidic Devices,” Abby Wilson attempts to unpack (as it were) the mechanism of clogging as it occurs in suspension fluids. In this work, Wilson developed a computational model of clog formation that simulates the behavior of particles in a suspension to analyze the formation of clogged structures. In her model, particle behavior is governed by drag forces from the fluid and contact mechanics as the particles collide with each other and channel walls.

In “Ethane-to-Ethylene Conversion on Cobalt Molybdate Catalyst Using Carbon Dioxide as a Soft Oxidant,” Jayson Pinals compared two fuel synthesis methods using molecular simulations. Oxygen is generally reacted with ethane to produce ethylene, which can be used to synthesize different fuels. However, the efficiency of this process is improved when ethane reacts with carbon dioxide because, unlike oxygen, carbon dioxide does not react with hydrocarbons to form undesired products. Using carbon dioxide as a reactant also creates more of the desired product (ethylene) and won’t convert ethane into undesired products (like carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide) in total and partial combustion. Such processes also utilize carbon dioxide, which may help reduce emissions in ethylene production. The goal of Pinals’ project was to understand the mechanisms of such carbon dioxide-assisted reactions on cobalt molybdate catalysts using molecular simulations.

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