Kerry K. Kuehn

LIberal Arts Reading Group---Friday April 13

In chapter 4 of On Education, Formation, Citizenship, and the Lost Purpose of Learning, Joseph Clair begins by observing that every educational system aims to produce not only a certain kind of human being but a certain kind of citizen. In other words, it aims to establish a distinctive political community.  Let's plan to discuss this topic on Friday at LARGe.  Read More…

New soap film photos

Check out these images recently obtained by undergraduate student Amelia Lauth and myself in the fluid dynamics labs at the College. We are developing an apparatus to help us better understand the motion of spinning soap films. By studying thin soap films, we hope to obtain a more general understanding of how thin layers of fluids behave. This has applications from laboratory micro-fluidics to the study of meteorology and evolving weather patterns. Read More…

Liberal Arts Reading Group--Feb. 16

At our LARGe meeting on Friday, why don't we take one more look at the first chapter of Reading Augustine: On Education, Formation, Citizenship, and the Lost Purpose of Learning by Joseph Clair. This will give us a bit more time to acquire our own copy of the book, which is part of a series of books "for people who see Augustine everywhere". A scanned .pdf file of our first chapter is available by clicking here.

Also, be sure to bring along your Genres of Films "homework assignment" given out by Paul last week. Read More…

Galileo, Harmony and Piano Tuning

In his Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences (1638), Galileo raises the question: why it is that certain combinations of notes sound good together, while others do not?

For example, two notes separated by an octave, or three notes forming a major chord, will sound pleasant when struck simultaneously. On the other hand, if one were to randomly pick out two keys on a piano and strike them simultaneously, then they would typically sound dissonant. Why is this?

Perhaps most interestingly, it seems that the identification of "pleasing" or "unpleasing" combinations of notes is not a subjective process, in the sense that people throughout history and from vastly different cultures come to similar conclusions on this topic. Why might this be?
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Liberal Arts Reading Group--Feb. 9

For our LARGe meeting this week, let's plan to take a look at the first chapter of Reading Augustine: On Education, Formation, Citizenship, and the Lost Purpose of Learning by Joseph Clair. This is part of a series of books "for people who see Augustine everywhere".

A scanned .pdf file of the chapter for our consideration is available by clicking here. I suspect that we may wish to pursue some more chapters from this book, so you may look into obtaining a copy for yourself.

Also, we might take a look at a short commentary, recommended to us by our local computer scientist and linguist, entitled Who's Afraid of the Liberal Arts.

Chapel talk: The Presentation of Our Lord

Here is a link to the (drastically cut) chapel talk I gave at Wisconsin Lutheran College on February 2, 2018. Since the video was accidentally cut, I've provided the text of my talk in pdf form here.

Liberal Arts Reading Group--Feb. 3

This week, we will at LARGe, let's plan to discuss the last of the three articles from Touchstone Magazine. The article is an overview of the relationship between the church and society, paying particular attention to western political thought. Below is the citation, which provides a link to the article (pdf format).

Hitchcock, James.  The Great Divorce: Christianity and the Liberal Society. Touchstone, November/December, 2017.

The Lehningers have kindly offered for us to meet at their home at 4pm.

Honors Lecture: Aristotle, Ptolemy and Medieval Astronomy

ptolemaic

Today, I am giving a presentation on Aristotle, Ptolemy, and the Medieval worldview for an Honors class at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Read More…

Liberal Arts Reading Group--Jan. 26

This week at LARGe, we will be meeting at the Kuehn Home to discuss an article from Touchstone magazine:

Esolen, Anthony.  The Greatness Commission: Christ, Individualism, and the Meaning of Cultural Diversity. Touchstone, November/December, 2017.

The article, which is available as part of a larger packet by clicking here, explores the "diversity of the saints" and the "sameness of the wicked."

Bubbles! Building an apparatus to study rotating thin fluid films.

Here are some images from a talk I gave to the Faculty of Wisconsin Lutheran College last month. In this talk, I described work that my students and I are doing in designing and building an apparatus to study the dynamics of thin fluid films.

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Liberal Arts Reading Group--Dec. 8

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This week, we will be looking at a short introductory chapter of Paula Fichtner's book on religion and politics entitled Protestantism and Primogeniture in Early Modern Germany.
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Liberal Arts Reading Group--Dec. 1

Last week at LARGe, we looked at an article entitled "Can Beauty Save the World" by Vigen Guroian, which was found in a recent issue of Touchstone magazine.   Before moving on to another one of the Touchstone articles that Paul forwarded to us, perhaps we can finish our reading of Haroun and the Sea of Stories.  So why don't we meet on this last Friday of the church year at the Palmer Home to conclude our discussion of this little book by Salman Rushdie. 

Liberal Arts Reading Group--Nov. 17

For Liberal Arts Reading Group (LARGe) this week, let' plan to discuss Can Beauty Save the World, an article written by Vigen Guroian for Touchstone Magazine. The title of the article echoes a line from Dostoevsky's novel The Idiot.

Scanned copies of this (and other) articles can be found in a single pdf file by clicking here. Let's plan to meet at my new home at 4pm; Cindy and I have cleared away enough boxes so that our little group will have space to meet.

LIberal Arts Reading Group--Oct. 6

This week at LARGe, we will be looking at the first chapter of Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories. The title of the short story we'll be discussing is The Shah of Blah. We'll plan to meet at the Palmer home.

Whiskey Rebellion: Orwell's 1984

Last month at the meeting of the Whiskey Rebellion, we discussed Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. In keeping with our dystopian them: this Saturday evening we will be discussing George Orwell's classic novel 1984, (which was written in 1949). We will meet at the Kuehn home at 8pm.

Liberal Arts Reading Group--Sept. 29

This week at our little liberal arts reading group (LARGe), we will be looking at the first story of Salman Rushdie's 1991 fantasy novel Haroun and the Sea of Stories, which is called The Shah of Blah. Let's plan to meet at the (soon to be erstwhile) Kuehn home at the usual time: 4pm.

Liberal Arts Reading Group--Sept. 22

This week, we will plan to look at the chapter entitled The Iguana from Isak Denesin's 1938 novel Out of Africa. Let us plan to meet at the Palmer home at 4pm on Friday.

Looking ahead to next week: we will plan to begin Salman Rushdie's 1991 fantasy novel Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

Liberal Arts Reading Group--Sept. 15

This week, lets turn to his essay entitled The Illusion of `Ordinary Life'. Here, Rene Guenon continues his critique of the 'profane' point of view adopted by modern western man. In particular, he claims that in normal (i.e. traditional) civilizations the `sacred' plays an integral part. But in deviant (e.g. modern western) civilizations, there exists the notion of

'ordinary 'life' or 'everyday life'; this is in fact understood to mean above all a life in which nothing that is not purely human can intervene in any way, owing to the elimination from it of any sacred, ritual, or symbolical character… Read More…

Chapel talk: God is changeless

Here is a livestream video of the chapel talk I gave at Wisconsin Lutheran College on Sept. 7, 2017. The talk itself begins at about 5;50; the rest of the video includes other parts of the liturgy. You will probably need adobe flash player to view the video.

Liberal Arts Reading Group--Sept. 8

This week at our liberal arts reading group (LARGe), we will continue looking at Rene Guenon's The Reign of Quantity and the Sign of the Times. Originally written in French in 1945, Guenon's book criticizes modern western culture from the perspective of ``changeless metaphysical principles". This week, we will look at Chapter 8, which compares "Ancient Crafts and Modern Industry". Read More…

Mind, biology, and the second law of thermodynamics

The second law of thermodynamics was derived not by doing measurements on the entire universe (the only truly closed, isolated system). Rather, it was derived by Rudolph Clausius after considering a large number of common everyday systems. In other words, it was a universal law generalized from everyday observations of nature. Even today, physics professors do not typically use the example of the entire universe to illustrate the second law. Rather, they use everyday examples such as breaking eggs, mixing cream into coffee, or heat flowing from hot to cold bodies despite the fact that none of them are isolated systems. Yet all of these examples convey the essential feature of the second law: that order tends to decrease in natural processes. Read More…

Liberal Arts Reading Group--Sept. 1

according to the modern conception, a man can adopt any profession, and even change it to suit his whim, as if the profession were something wholly outside himself, having no real connection with what he really is, that by virtue of which he is himself and not anyone else. According to the traditional conception, on the other hand, each person must normally fulfill the function for which he is destined by his own nature, using the particular aptitudes essentially implicit in that nature as such; he cannot fulfill a different function except at the cost of a serious disorder, which will have its repercussions on the whole social organization of which he is a part Read More…

Total Solar Eclipse

Below are some photos of the Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017, which were taken at Magnolia Hollow Conservation Area, 10 miles north of Ste. Genevieve along the Mississippi River (GPS coordinates N38deg02.4sec, W90deg08.7sec). The weather was partly cloudy leading up to totality, but the weather cleared during totality and remained excellent until the end of the eclipse. Totality was amazing, and it lasted about 2 minutes and 39 seconds.
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Let there be light!

Throughout history—and particularly during the time of the Reformation—many theologians were wrestling with how to think about the relationship between the revealed teachings of the Church and many new scientific discoveries. The curriculum at the University of Wittenberg, where many of the reformers (including Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon) held academic posts, reflected a thinking which was both broad and faithful. Read More…

Flowing soap film movies

Below are a few movies of flowing soap films captured by my research assistants, Elise Sloey and Amelia Lauth. The soap film is falling downward between two vertically oriented fishing lines. It is illuminated with a mercury vapor lamp. Reflected light from the front and back surfaces of the film gives rise to the variously colored interference fringes which can be seen. Read More…

Fluid dynamics and the Tides of Fundy

In June, my family and I visited the Bay of Fundy, which is situated between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The Bay of Fundy is famous for its unparalleled tidal ranges—up to 70 feet from high to low tide—and its stunning rock formations. Below I've posted a few photos. Read More…

Elise Sloey wins 2017 Kepler Award

Elise Sloey, (a biochemistry major and physics minor at Wisconsin Lutheran College) was recently awarded the 2017 Kepler Scholarship. Congratulations Elise! Read More…

Interview for LetTheBirdFly podcast

This past Sunday, I was interviewed for a weekly podcast entitled LetTheBirdFly—hosted by Wade Johnston, Peter Hermanson and Ben Leyrer. In addition to discussing my standard fare (physics) I fielded other questions relating to Charles Barkley, designated hitters, and the Gorter-Mellink coefficient of mutual friction (even my dissertation committee in Santa Barbara didn't press me on this issue). My interview appears in Episode 6. Read More…

Whiskey Rebellion: Hoppe's "Democracy: the God that Failed"

At our upcoming whiskey club, we are looking at the introduction and the first chapter of Hans-Hermann Hoppe's book entitled "Democracy: The God that Failed". This book explores the transformation of western states from monarchy to democracy during the 20th century. Read More…

Chapel talk: First Corinthians Chap. 3

Here is a livestream video of the chapel talk I gave at Wisconsin Lutheran College on Feb. 15, 2017. The talk itself begins at about 5:55; the rest of the video includes other parts of the liturgy. You will probably need adobe flash player to view the video.
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Whiskey Rebellion: Benson's "Justice without the State"

How is a modern social democracy, such as the United States, different from a voluntary organization such as the Wisconsin Athletic Club or the American Physical Society? After all, unlike membership in private clubs, membership in most democracies is not voluntary—at least not in the same sense. This is evident from the long history of violent suppression (or the threat of violent suppression) of groups who have attempted to secede from such democracies. Read More…

Chapel talk: The Living Stones Metaphor

Here is a livestream video of the chapel talk I gave at Wisconsin Lutheran College on Sept. 14, 2016. The talk itself begins at about 4:39; the rest of the video includes other parts of the liturgy. You will probably need adobe flash player to view the video.
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