Perimeter Institute brings great thinkers from around the world to Canada to share their ideas on a wide variety of interesting and topical subjects. These lectures and debates are aimed at non-specialists. No mathematical or scientific knowledge is necessary or assumed. Each event is explicitly tailored for the general public and everyone is welcome to attend.
From Levins recent book comes a strange if true story of coded secrets, psychotic delusions, mathematics, and war. This story of greatness and weakness, of genius and delusion, circulates around the parallel lives of Kurt Gödel, the greatest logician of many centuries, and Alan Turing, the extraordinary code breaker during World War II. Taken together their work proved that there are limits to knowledge, that machines could be taught to compute, that one day there could be artificial intelligence.
This is a story of how the impossible became possible. How, for centuries, scientists were absolutely sure that solids (as well as decorative patterns like tiling and quilts) could only have certain symmetries - such as square, hexagonal and triangular - and that most symmetries, including five-fold symmetry in the plane and icosahedral symmetry in three dimensions (the symmetry of a soccer ball), were strictly forbidden.
The laws of physics are usually meant to be set in stone; variability is not usually part of physics. Yet contradicting Einstein\'s tenet of the constancy of the speed of light raises nothing less than that possibility. I will discuss some of the more dramatic implications of a varying speed of light. João Magueijo is Professor of Physics at Imperial College London. He is currently visiting Perimeter Institute and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in Toronto.
Long before the emergence of planets, stars, or galaxies, the universe consisted of an exploding quantum soup of elementary particles. Encoded in this formless, shapeless soup were seeds of cosmic structure, which over billions of years grew into the beautiful and complex universe we observe today. The lecture will explore the connection between the inner space of the quantum and the outer space of the cosmos. The inner space/outer space connection may hold the key to the nature of the dark matter holding together our galaxy and the mysterious dark energy pulling apart our universe.
Einstein\'s famous equation E=mc2 asserts that energy and mass are different aspects of the same reality. It is usually associated with the idea that small amounts of mass can be converted into large amounts of energy. For fundamental physics, however, the more important idea is just the opposite. Researchers want to explain how mass itself arises, by explaining it in terms of more basic concepts. In this lecture targeted for a general audience, Prof. Wilczek will explain how this goal can, to a remarkable extent, be achieved.
Inside Harvard College Observatory in 1904, a young woman named Henrietta Swan Leavitt sat hunched over a stack of glass photographic plates, patiently counting stars. The images had been taken by a telescope high in the Peruvian Andes, and Miss Leavitt was given the tedious chore of measuring the brightness of thousands of tiny lights, something that would now be done by machine. Her job title was \'computer,\' but during the next few years she rose above her station as a tabulator of data and discovered a new law, one that would change forever our view of the universe.
The universe computes: every atom, electron, and elementary particle registers bits of information, and every time two particles collide those bits are flipped and processed. By hacking the computational power of the universe, we can build quantum computers which store and process information at the level of atoms and electrons. This computational capacity underlies the generation of complex systems, and provides insight into the origin of life and its future. Seth Lloyd is a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
An expected 90 day robotic odyssey on Mars has stretched into a two year scientific marathon. Dr. Grant, a geologist with the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, helped pick the landing sites and works on day-to-day operations of the Spirit and Opportunity Rovers. Youll see the latest photos, learn what Martian mysteries have been uncovered and find out how scientists plan to push the limits of future robots in space. Dr. John A. Grant, III joined the Smithsonian in the fall of 2000 as a Geologist at the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the National Air and Space Museum.
The scientific approach to consciousness is a relatively new pursuit, but it has already revealed some startling facts about the cavalcade of feelings, images and thoughts that stream through our heads every waking moment. Jay Ingram will present some of the most surprising of these in a talk based on his best-selling book, Theatre of the Mind. Jay Ingram is the author of several bestselling books, including The Science of Everyday Life, The Barmaids Brain and The Velocity of Honey.
How do you advise a scientist who says she has information that could be vital to the event health but shes been told to keep it a secret? In this talk Dr. Shuchman will discuss the dramatic act of blowing the whistle in science. Drawing on the extensive information in her best-selling book including interviews with whistleblowers, surveys of scientists and public testimony - and adding new material that isnt in the book Shuchman will outline the benefits of scientific whistleblowing over the past 40 years. Then she will describe its aftermath.