Mathematical Sciences

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3 December 2014

Christmas Lecture 2014: Jeremy Gray - The Shape of Things

Presented By Jeremy Gray (Open University and University of Warwick)
  • 6 pm

About this event

The speaker at this year's Department of Mathematical Sciences Christmas Lecture will be Jeremy Gray (Open University and University of Warwick). The title of his talk will be The Shape of Things.

Abstract: All sorts of things have shapes, and studying them can lead to remarkable insights. Even the flat plane has a shape, so does the sphere, and so do surfaces drawn as maps, such as the maps we find in atlases and on the web. We can even reverse the process, start with a map, and ask about the shape of the surface it represents, and when we do we find some surprising candidates for two-dimensional space.

We can also measure times as well as spaces, and when we do we find that different observers measure different things. A little physics and some simple plane coordinate geometry leads to the conclusions of Einstein’s theory of special relativity: observers moving relative to us at constant velocity seem to us to be shorter than they say they are, and their clocks seem to run slow.

But we can go further: if we think of gravity, forces, and accelerations, we can even talk about space itself having a shape – and we even have to if we are to find planets orbiting stars other than the Sun.

Everyone is welcome!