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Friends Dinner with Dr. Eugenia Cheng - CANCELED

The Square Root of 2 and the Devil in Music


We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. Please stay tuned for details of a rescheduled friends event. For questions, please contact us at

We are excited to announce Dr. Eugenia Cheng as our guest speaker who will be speaking on the topic The Square Root of 2 and the Devil in Music. The square root of 2 is one of the great conundrums of mathematics. So easy to describe but so difficult to pin down, you can run into it by accident just by folding a square in half, but what actually is it? The devil in music or "diabolo in musica" is the tritone, and it acquired this nickname because it is the most dissonant of all intervals. In this presentation, Dr. Cheng will weave together these two stories.

Eugenia Cheng is a mathematician and concert pianist. She is Scientist In Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and won tenure at the University of Sheffield, UK. She has previously taught at the universities of Cambridge, Chicago and Nice and holds a PhD in pure mathematics from the University of Cambridge. Alongside her research in Category Theory and undergraduate teaching, her aim is to rid the world of "math phobia". Eugenia was an early pioneer of math on YouTube and her videos have been viewed around 15 million times to date. She has also assisted with mathematics in elementary, middle and high schools for 20 years. Her first popular math book "How to Bake Pi" was featured on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and "Beyond Infinity" was shortlisted for the Royal Society Science Book Prize 2017. She also writes the Everyday Math column for the Wall Street Journal, and recently completely her first mathematical art commission, for Hotel EMC2 in Chicago. She is the founder of the Liederstube, an intimate oasis for art song based in Chicago. Her latest book, "The Art of Logic” was just released in July.

The Friends are the primary supporters of the Caltech Y. It is through generous contributions of our Friends that the Y can continue its longstanding mission of reaching out to the Caltech community with fresh ideas, student programming, and active community service.

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