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Why do the other lines in the grocery store always seem to move faster?

Dr. Will Mather

January 23, 2016
An interactive session led by Dr. Will Mather

Virginia Tech professor

Why do the other lines in the grocery store always seem to move faster, especially when the grocery store is really busy? Answering these kinds of questions can be hard, especially since there is so much that we do not know about the problem. For example, could it be that one cashier is really slow, or maybe some of the customers are buying much more than others? When scientists have trouble with these questions, they often run virtual experiments on a computer to try and figure out the answer. In this interactive session, Dr. William Mather will transform students into a giant coin flipping machine to answer hard questions, including why the other line always seems to go faster. The session ends with a discussion of how modern computers speed up this process, with comments on how students can get involved in the future of simulation science.

Dr. William Mather is a professor at Virginia Tech working on synthetic biology and biophysics. Dr. Mather and his students use mathematics and computer simulations to better understand complex gene programs in bacteria. Through this, not only do they hope to better understand the basic programming language of life, but they also wish to develop a number of useful biotechnologies with this programming language.

After the interactive session the students will be escorted by their parents to have lunch and then to the hands-on portion of the event. There the students will enjoy the experience of interacting with various exhibits from the Virginia Tech community.