Zip-Apart Möbius Bands

I’ve taught topology many times. One of the highlights for the students (and for me) is the investigation of the Möbius band—the one sided, one edged, non-orientable surface with boundary. On the day we introduce the Möbius band I bring many strips of paper, clear tape, and scissors and have the students make conjectures about what…

Beautiful theorems about dynamical systems on the plane

I was reading through some papers written by my Ph.D. advisor (John Franks) from the early 1990’s and was reminded of a few beautiful results about the dynamics of planar homeomorphisms. So I thought I’d share them here. For those of you who are not familiar with the terminology, a planar homeomorphism is a bijective…

Bubbles with knotted boundaries

We can think of a mathematical knot as a knotted piece of string (or in our case, wire) with its free ends joined. Examples are shown below. There is a remarkable theorem that every knot can be realized as the boundary of a surface. Moreover, Herbert Seifert produced a very simple algorithm for constructing an orientable…