THE UNREASONABLE EFFECTIVENESS OF QUANTUM PHYSICS IN MODERN MATHEMATICS
ROBBERT DIJKGRAAF, INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDY
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5, 2014 AT 7:00PM
WATERLOO COLLEGIATE INSTITUTE
300 HAZEL STREET, WATERLOO
Mathematics has proven to be "unreasonably effective" in understanding nature. The fundamental laws of physics can be captured in beautiful formulae. In this lecture I want to argue for the reverse effect: Nature is an important source of inspiration for mathematics, even of the purest kind. In recent years, ideas from quantum field theory, elementary particle physics, and string theory have completely transformed mathematics, leading to solutions of deep problems, suggesting new invariants in geometry and topology, and, perhaps most importantly, putting modern mathematical ideas in a "natural" context.
Robbert Dijkgraaf is a Director and Leon Levy Professor of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. The Institute is one of the world's leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry and exists to encourage and support fundamental research in the sciences and humanities.
Dijkgraaf is a mathematical physicist who has made significant contributions to string theory and to the advancement of science education. His research focuses on the interface between mathematics and particle physics. In addition to finding surprising and deep connections between topological string theory and matrix models, supersymmetric quantum field theory, Dijkgraaf has developed precise formulas for the counting or bound states that explain the entropy of certain black holes.
He is Past President (2008-12) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and Co-Chair (since 2009) of the InterAcademy Council, the global alliance of academies of sciences advising the United Nations and other international organizations.
Dijkgraaf is a distinguished public policy adviser and passionate advocate for science and the arts. Many of his activities – – which have included frequent appearances on television, a monthly newspaper column in NRC Handelsblad, several books for general audiences, and the launch of the science education website Proefjes.nl – – are at the interface between science and society. For his contributions to science and his leadership and outreach in science education and public policy, Dijkgraaf was awarded the Spinoza Prize, the highest scientific award in the Netherlands, in 2003.
He was named a Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion in 2012 and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.
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Public Lectures are held at Waterloo Collegiate Institute 300 Hazel Street, Waterloo. Attendance to the lecture is free, but advance tickets are required. Due to the overwhelming response to past lectures, tickets will be honoured until 6:45 pm only. If you have not arrived by 6:45 pm your reservation may be filled by guests in our waiting line, and you may be asked to join the end of the waiting line.
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