dr bob enterprises: academic home page

This is the no frills academic homepage of Bob Jantzen (Robert T. Jantzen):
Department of Mathematical Sciences, Villanova University, Villanova, PA 19085-1699 USA
Phone: 610-519-7335 Fax: 610-519-6928
e-mail: robert.jantzen@villanova.edu
Office: St Augustine Center for the Liberal Arts Room 370
Arts and Sciences Faculty Page for bob

What About Bob?

CONTENTS: What about Bob?

The following stuff is available about Bob and some of his interests:

overview about bob

bob is currently interested in general relativity and cosmology, differential geometry, Lie groups, and various physics stuff, and is somewhat computer knowledgeable in TeX and LaTeX typesetting (the default medium of physics and mathematics), MAPLE V mathematics software (and some Mathematica),  web page creation, miscellaneous computer user stuff and a few other things (math education of course!).

With degrees in theoretical physics, bob likes to teach applied courses and take advantage of technology. Research-wise, bob is a relativist [the opposing view]

Bob received his A.B. in Physics from Princeton University, class of '74 [update][news] and his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California at Berkeley, 1978, specializing in general relativity. For more details see the bullet list overview.

bob is not great at dressing up, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Even robes are sometimes required, part of the academic job description. For a feature article in The Villanovan in Fall 2011, see the large scanned file.

anybody curious about those rabbits at the corner of Spring Mill and County Line Roads? [upgrade 2017]

Does anyone remember Mine Ener?

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teaching: what bob thinks about it

bob has strong feelings about mathematics education. Coherent mathematical expression communicating the steps used in working problems will be encouraged to help students gain control over the mathematics. [Active learning on the part of the student is essential in mastering mathematics: one learns by doing.] "Writing intensive" and "writing enriched" courses across the curriculum try to develop communication skills in English language expression—in a similar way the key to a better understanding of mathematics is the development of clear organization in the communication of worked mathematical problems. Especially when doing homework problems for yourself, it is important to present your steps cleanly, and their relationship to each other, in such a way that each step conveys as much information as possible about your mental activities which are supporting the written expression, and allows less room for mistakes to occur in passing from one step to the next. This also helps develop the skills necessary to communicate your technical work with others when it is no longer academic (the workplace).

If you expect to just sit in class and inhale enough to do the homework, don't pick bob. In order to learn enough to have some understanding of what you are doing, you need to read the book and think about its discussion to acquire some ownership of its ideas. Parroting back examples from class does not help you in the long run. I try to predigest the main ideas of each section of the text for you, but without your followup, you won't get it.

If you want to know more, check out bob's teaching FAQ. [NovaTeachers.com]

If you want to have an idea what bob's tests look like, check out the dr bob quiz/test archive.

bob is not a grade grinch (humor page courtesy of cyrus). [does anyone have a better Excel grade spreadsheet than this one?]

Is our educational system the right way to learn? Not always. Students have rights and responsibilities as they work through the system which can seem arbitrary at times.

Think you are special? Maybe you are. You can get a first class education at this institution if you set your own standards. Living proof of this is a former physics major Sean Carroll, who puts it well in his blog.

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teaching: courses bob is interested in

bob has both of his degrees in theoretical physics, although he took nearly as many math as physics courses as a student himself. He does research work in mathematical general relativity, applying modern differential geometry and the theory of Lie groups and related mathematical techniques to questions in the dynamics of cosmological models with symmetry and in the interpretation of spacetimes from the observer point of view.

bob is therefore interested in the kinds of applied mathematics courses that are important in solving physical problems in scientific applications. Besides teaching in the MAT 1500/1505/2500 engineering/science calculus sequence, he is course coordinator for MAT 2705 (Differential Equations With Linear Algebra: see bob's 2705 site) and has taught MAT 3400 (Linear Algebra). bob has taught MAT4230 (Partial Differential Equations, no longer explicitly listed in the catalog but can be offered as MAT5930, Topics in Pure Mathematics) , MAT5920 (Topics in Applied Mathematics) using MAPLE to explore topics in higher mathematics, and MAT 5600 (Differential Geometry).

Each of bob's engineering/science sequence course sites has

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Maple stuff


bob has developed example worksheets for the science and engineering calculus, differential equations and linear algebra sequence MAT1500, 1505, 2500, 2705 andn tips for users in the Math Dept website: Maple tips and hints. He also has some resources for instructors new to Maple and using Maple in Calculus and Differential Equations and Linear Algebra.

The VU MAPLE archives on the web used to contain a "maple/misc" (relocated here) subdirectory of some neat MAPLE stuff, including (truly) nonlinear regression worksheets like fitting logistic curves (eventually superceded by Maple's nonlinear fit function: see cmdlist1.mw) and a fun worksheet on updating Apollonius on the geometry of the ellipse and the distance problem [which led to investigating the evolute of the ellipsoid].

For playing with the general relativistic Poynting-Robertson effect, see the worksheet:
This came out of a worksheet for calculating the geodesics on the torus, itself from a chapter in my PDF on-line book on differential geometry. Check out this weird umbilic torus. And some gravitational field orbits, same problem.

bob occasionally teaches a math elective 5920: Using MAPLE to Explore Higher Mathematics.

Last century bob developed a Maple book of notes on Differential Equations with Linear Algebra as he become familiar with the tool. Later this was superceded with a lighter version at Using Maple: Tips and Examples.

For some tips about plots, drawing tools for plots, animations, and export for web graphics, see some Maple Examples. [keystroke shortcuts!]

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gr stuff

A good place to start to locate gr stuff (gr = general relativity, and related topics) on the web is Hyperspace GR Hypertext (courtesy of Malcolm MacCallum's relativity group at the Queen Mary and Westfield University in London). The US government sponsored scientific preprint archives at http://arXiv.org/ (Los Alamos National Laboratories) contain preprints in bob's field in the list gr-qc, as well as in many other areas (see also SPIRES at Stanford). Another on-line service in bob's area of research is the Institute of Physics in the UK which publishes Classical and Quantum Gravity . The American Physical Society (APS: bob is a member), which publishes Physical Review D15 where gravitation articles are published, also has a topical group on gravitation with home page: APS Gravitation.

The Marcel Grossmann Meetings on General Relativity and Gravitation are organized by bob's friend Remo Ruffini, who got bob involved in the planning of the Eighth Marcel Grossmann Meeting (MG8: Jerusalem, June, 1997) as the chairperson of the International Coordinating Committee, while bob co-edited the proceedings of the previous meeting MG7 at Stanford University in 1994. He continued as chair of this ICC for MG9 which took place in Rome, July 2-8, 2000 [bob developed the MG proceedings editor macros] and for MG10 (Rio, July, 2003), MG11 (Berlin, July, 2006), MG12 (Paris, 2009), MG13 (Stockholm,2012) and MG14 (Rome, 2015).

Bob is a member of the International Society for General Relativity and Gravitation, which publishes the journal General Relativity and Gravitation (GRG). bob has also published in the Journal of Mathematical Physics, the International Journal of Mathematical Physics D: Gravitation, Astrophysics and Cosmology, Il Nuovo Cimento B, and a few other journals.

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bob gr stuff

bob does GR [= General Relativity]. Mathematical aspects of cosmological models and black holes [who named them?]. Eventually he may finish a long document on Spacetime Splittings. bob likes the interface of math and physics, like this cute story.

bob's research is described in the next section, but the link to his list of publications, with many recent ones available in PDF format on-line, may get lost inside the paragraph, so here it is all by itself:

some other GR links not mentioned  above:

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research stuff

Bob works in the mathematical edge of the field of general relativity and cosmology, where he has published a few things (see bibliography), both on cosmological models with symmetry groups [mostly Bianchi cosmology] and in splitting spacetime into space-plus-time from an observer point of view. [See the outline of his talk in 97F for a Villanova physics colloquium or the updated version in 00S.]

Bob's enthusiasm for abstract mathematics by itself and directed toward relativity started way back in high school after reading a book by a husband/wife couple Hugh and Lillian Lieber on relativity for the layperson. See the overview and the Lieber home page.

Bob is fortunate to participate regularly in the activities of the International Center for Relativistic Astrophysics (ICRA) in the physics department of the University of Rome "La Sapienza" since 1979 (even before ICRA was created). [see bobrom and the group G9 Information Technology specialists] His past Italian collaborator Paolo Carini (physics Ph.D. at the Stanford University Gravity Probe B gyroscope experiment, with bob as unofficial advisor) and current Italian collaborator Donato Bini (physics Ph.D. at the University of Rome, with bob as unofficial advisor), were originally students there. A long relationship with his two Swedish collaborators, Kjell Rosquist and Claes Uggla (see Kjell and Claes's contact page), has taken him to the Institute of Theoretical Physics of the University of Stockholm many times for enjoyable visits.

The Rome physics research group G9 started back around the late 1970s and has had a long history of transient members, many of whom have remained good friends, and two couples of whom even married.

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mathematics stuff

The UPenn Math department also has many useful mathematics links.

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physics stuff

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tex stuff

bob is an intermediate tex user and still a member of the TeX Users Group [CTAN].

for many years bob and liz barnhart of TV Guide in nearby Radnor codirected the activities of the Delaware Valley Tex Users Group which met more and more infrequently (from every several months to twice a year to once a year to ... never again) in a Mendel Hall classroom at 4:30pm on a Thursday afternoon.

for those who would like to upgrade their PLAIN TeX knowledge to LaTeX, see the zip file of an example explaining how to do this. [the text file explains the story of bobmacro.tex and bobmacrola.tex, the first an early macro package that made bob a minor celebrity in the Italian physics community for a time last century.]

a nice on-line journal for elementary users of TeX/LaTeX is The PracTeX Journal.

for presentations with math, you want to forget MS Powerpoint and use the Latex beamer software. An example of such a presentation is here. for web pages with math instead you want MathJax to convert Latex to HTML

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bob talks

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web stuff

Local Media read by bob:

Some nonlocal media:

and alternative media ( ** means I support these financially):

and some web audio :

and some pondering of weighty matters:

and some food blogs bob wished he had time for:

and some US expats in Italy blogging fun:

and Villanova on You Tube:


Social networks


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dr bob stuff

Creative fun stuff falls under dr bob enterprises, now a dot com since 1998, where the two main activities of this company are located:

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multiculturalism stuff

Bob's life is very much interconnected with an international web of people and activities. Multicultural relationships have and continue to have an important influence on Bob.

One of the most important such influence is Ani, who is an Armenian Lebanese (and US) citizen from Anjar (Mousaler, MousalerUSA) whose mom Isghouhi is a great Armenian/Middle East cook who has enriched our culinary lives with a wonderful cooking heritage. [Lebanese food: check out Bitar's Pita Hut Best of Philly Grilled Falafel Sandwich on the northwest corner across the field from Pat's/Geno's on 10th St 2 blocks south of Washington St, or Bitar's Cedar's Meza dinner south of 2nd and South St in Philly. (We're fans of Jim's Steaks at 4th and South.)] Musically, Armenia is famous for the wooden flute called a "duduk", one of the oldest musical instruments in the world, and the foremost living duduk virtuoso is Djivan Gasparyan, whose name has reached mass western audiences through Peter Gabriel's soundtrack album Passion (The Last Temptation of Christ) and whose music is available on CD from Traditional Crossroads, which distributes a small number of titles of mostly alternative Middle Eastern music, primarily Armenian and Turkish (Beirut Nights ). (Bob and Ani first heard Gasparian on the radio in a friend's apartment in Rome, and thanks to a WXPN announcement were able to hear him in person at the Painted Bride during the famous Blizzard of '94�the ice storm one, now that every year seems to be hyped with its own "Blizzard of".) [Armenian music radio: 365.] More world music can be found at the syndicated public radio show ECHOES website and sometimes on our own local Public Radio International show World Cafe at WXPN . [Also AllMusic.Com.] More recently we frustratingly search for foreign films on NetFlix.

Bob was the faculty co-advisor for the Villanova Armenian student club: Armenian Youth Organization (AYO = yes in Armenian), now dormant, and a friend of the Armenian Sister's Academy just a few minutes away at the end of County Line Rd. His inlaws come from AAnjar, which in turn came from Musa Dagh, rescued by the French as in 1915, made famous in a novel 40 Days of Musa Dagh but never a movie.

We eat a lot of whole wheat pita bread.

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Bob is also unofficially an honorary Italian, having spent years of time (when summed together) in Italy [Roma = Rome = Rom (German)] through his continuing connection with the Physics Department at the University of Rome and the International Center for Relativistic Astrophysics (ICRA) within that department (group G9), directed by Remo Ruffini. This has included spending many summers at the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo, also the summer home of a well known celebrity, and now occasional home of the 80th anniversary Villanova University Mendel Award winner and friend. bob is also a confirmed pedestrian in Italy, moving with legs (compensating for pasta loading), buses, trains and boats, while reading the Italian newspaper La Repubblica daily (now too poor to guy this), often hanging from one arm on the bus. A side benefit of his regular time in Italy is the opportunity to visit some terrific places (like Ponza for example) and renew relationships with special people.

Nowadays, dr bob is more "bobusa" than "bobrom" (forced to read the Philadelphia Inquirer daily not hanging on to a bus), but he compensates with extra pasta and risotto at home with ms ani [oops. the low carb/complex carb revolution has dialed down that food group lately,  but whole grain pastas have come to the rescue! including flax.].

[tuttocitta,paginebianche, pb.it] [need a vacation? notice the average Italian vacation length]

Wow, look at this modern Roman church. Worth seeking out but hard to get to with public transportation.

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saving the world or something stuff

bob is on a lot of mailing lists. for alternative news he tries to read regularly The Nation (weekly) and Z Magazine (monthly), and Truth-Out (daily) and a ton of newletter type publications from the many organizations which he is supporting, or those he has supported or which have bought his name from other mailing lists, including environmental issues, consumer defense and national political action, human rights and international political action, Armenia, etc. [Now the electronic flow has started (see web stuff), including useful alternative media sites like MediaLens.] As a concerned scientist, bob belongs to the Union of Concerned Scientists (how appropriate). Many of the other organizations he supports can be found on the Progressive Directory directory list, including DSA, FAIR, Greenpeace, Peace Action, PSR, PP, Quixote Center, Witness for Peace, and UCS, but not including Common Cause, Public Citizen, the Center for Defense Analysis, Freedom from Hunger, PennPIRG, the American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonite Central Committee (bob's dad was a midwest Mennonite, and this service organization was rated by US World and News Report as having the lowest overhead in a national ranking of service organizations), etc. (but things change quickly!). Now in the new century, with only a single disposable income, bob has had to pull back on the number of good causes that he can support financially and should edit down this list a bit.

ever contemplate the meaning of life? or look up at the stars? what about faith and science?

are you a professional who feels like you are not making a difference?

have more stuff but not more happy?

do you think the United States is the greatest nation on earth? [part 2]

Villanova is a Catholic university but is 22 on the list of 100 most militarized universities in the USA [video]. The fact that this is not disturbing is disturbing in itself. Ironically the Jesuit Georgetown U is number 10. In 2017 bob finally joined students concerned about the Villanova marriage to Nike, the only major sports apparel company which does not allow the student activism generated WRC (Villanova is an affiliate) to monitor problems in its subcontractor factories, as a co-advisor of Villanovans Against Sweatshops, an affiliate of USAS.

bob is a bleading heart liberal and proud of it. bob is also experiencing direct mail soliciting and progressive information overload. a tax cut? [again?] [rapture?]

If you want peace, work for justice. [peace AND justice][bob hype][tsunami?]

Here is a great little quote about war:

"Why of course the people don't want war... That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship ...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."
—Hermann Goering

[another one: Wars will stop when men refuse to fight
—Albert Einstein]

And a quote from Noam Chomsky [expanded by Howard Zinn]:

"If you assume that there's no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, there are opportunities to change things, there's a chance you may contribute to making a better world. That's your choice."

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1-apr-2017: robert.jantzen@villanova.edu]