Schedule Nov 3, 2005
Stalking the Shape of the Universe: Geometrical Structures and Physical Reality
Dr. David Morrison, KITP & Duke University

The last few decades have seen tremendous interplay between modern geometry and postmodern physics. In a search for mathematical models of physics valid at very hight energies and very small distance scales, theoretical physicists have been led deep into such modern areas of geometry as differential topology and algebraic geometry. Guided by their attempts to construct realistic physical theories, they have postulated features of the geometry which were unknown to mathematicians. Dr. Morrison will introduce his audience to this fascinating area of investigation. Among the questions he will discuss: How many dimensions do we inhabit? Is the shape of the universe dictated by the nature of physical law? What can we learn about geometry by studying physics?
David Morrison is in residence at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics for the entire fall quarter, supported in part by the Clay Mathematics Institute and on sabbatical from his position at Duke University. A fourth-generation Californian, he left the state after high school to pursue undergraduate studies at Princeton University and graduate studies at Harvard University. He returned to Princeton to teach before joining the Duke faculty in 1986. He has held visiting positions at Kyoto University, Columbia University, Cornell University, and the Institute for Advanced Study in addition to his present position at KITP. Originally trained as a mathematician, he has spent the last 14 years working alongside of theoretical physicists in an attempt to understand the shape of the universe. He has been a National Science Foundation Fellow, an American Mathematical Society Centennial Fellow, and is currently a Guggenheim Fellow.

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