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Wednesday, May 12

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The I. E. Block Community Lecture:

Some Mathematical Insights into Car and Bicycle Racing

6:30 PM-7:30 PM

*Room: Capitol Center/South*

*Chair: Gilbert Strang, SIAM President, and Massachusetts Institute
of Technology*

Throughout his life the speaker has been involved in either car
racing or BMX bicycle racing, either as participant, spectator, or
supportive father. On numerous occasions his mathematical knowledge
helped him to better understand a particular challenge or problem.
This understanding, in turn, often led to a satisfactory solution;
other times it merely led to a better feel for the related
phenomenon. This talk will not focus on mathematical modeling, but on
using simple mathematical principles to explain commonly held beliefs
and dispel some fairly common misconceptions. Topics that will be
discussed include: fair lane assignment in BMX bicycle racing, a
mathematical justification that dragsters are travelling faster than
their recorded speed, interesting stories and facts concerning gear
ratios, misconceptions about tire and wheel geometry, and why
dragsters must spin their wheels in order to win.

**Richard A. Tapia**

*Computational and Applied Mathematics*

*Rice University*

*MMD, 2/2/99*