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Mathematical Sciences

General relativity: The beautiful beast

Date: 3:30pm - 4:30pm PST March 8 Location: John Howard 254

John Howard 254

General relativity is Albert Einstein’s beautiful theory which combines the space-time continuum, its geometry and its interaction with matter into a unified notion of gravity. It is currently the best experimentally confirmed theory which describes our cosmos as a whole, as well as astrophysical systems consisting of black holes and/or neutron stars.

However, even 100 years after its invention, there are still fundamental outstanding theoretical questions: For example, regarding the existence and properties of “singularities” within this theory, whether these “singularities” are always hidden inside “horizons”, or, whether “time travel” is, in principle, possible.

In this talk, I will discuss some of these issues in the context of cosmology. Many of these problems turn out to be tremendously complicated mathematically – and we therefore often do not even know how to attack the beast. Having said that, it is an exciting prospect that the recent experimental discovery of gravitational waves may allow us to test any of our theoretical resolutions to such problems in the not so distant future.

This talk does not assume that you know about mathematical cosmology or general relativity. So everyone is welcome.

Dr. Florian Beyer from the University of Otago in New Zealand will be presenting.

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