Perimeter Public Lectures
Imagine medicine that is predictive, personalized, preventive and participatory
Space and time are two of the universe's most fundamental elements. Relativity combines these two into the unified notion of space-time, but twistor theory goes beyond this replacing both by something entirely different, where the basic elements are the paths taken by particles of light or other particles without mass.
Twistor theory has already found powerful applications in the field of high-energy physics.
Did you know you could fit the entire human race in the volume of a sugar cube? Or that, if the Sun were made of bananas, it wouldn't make much difference? Or that 98 per cent of the Universe is invisible? Award-winning science writer Marcus Chown invites you to come along and discover how the Universe we live in is far stranger than anything we could possibly have invented.
For thousands of years people have wondered, "Are we alone?" Out of the 500 planets so far known to orbit nearby stars, about 100 transit their host stars, that is, the planet goes in front of its star as seen from Earth. The transiting planets are "goldmines" for astronomers, because the planetary sizes, masses, and atmospheres can be routinely measured. NASA's Kepler Space Telescope is further revolutionizing transiting exoplanet studies with its unprecedented photometric precision. Dr.
Time is of philosophical interest as well as the subject of mathematical and scientific research. Even though it is a concept familiar to most, the passage of time remains one of the greatest enigmas of the universe. The philosopher Augustine once said: "What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks me, I do not know." The concept time indeed cannot be explained in simple terms. Emotions, life, and death - all are related to our interpretation of the irreversible flow of time.
Recent experimental evidence suggests that living organisms are using quantum mechanics in a sophisticated fashion to enhance the efficiency of photosynthesis. Bacteria are essentially performing a quantum computation to extract energy from light. I will show how plants and bacteria perform quantum information processing, and will discuss how living creatures engage in all sorts of quantum hanky-panky in their efforts to survive and reproduce.
Isaac Newton is known today as one of the most profound scientists to have ever lived. Newton's discoveries in physics, optics, and mathematics overturned a variety of fundamental beliefs about nature and reshaped science in ways that are still powerfully with us. But this is only part of Newton's fascinating story. Research over the last generation has revealed that the famous scientist spent over thirty years composing, transcribing, and expounding alchemical texts, resulting in a mass of papers totaling about a million manuscript words.
The Bell Curve is an extremely beautiful and elegant mathematical object that turns up – often in surprising ways – in all spheres of human life. The Curve was first used by astronomers to correct errors in their observations, but it soon found important applications in the social and medical sciences in the eighteen hundreds. Some philosophers believe that a new kind of human being was created around this time largely due to the growth of statistical reasoning in the arts and sciences. Dr.
Einstein's theory of General Relativity has taught us that empty space (or, more precisely, spacetime) is in itself a dynamical and wonderfully rich entity for both theoretical physicists and science fiction authors alike. Although it may stretch our imagination, astrophysical observations leave little doubt that spacetime can bend, move and vibrate. If we want to explain these phenomena from an underlying microscopic and more fundamental structure, we need to bring in quantum theory, leading to even more exotic possibilities such as spacetime foam and wormholes.
Since its launch in 2007, the website Galaxy Zoo (www.galaxyzoo.org) has become the largest astronomical collaboration in history, involving more than 250,00 volunteers in classifying galaxies. Humans outperform computers at this kind of visual classification, and the results from Galaxy Zoo have been spectacular.