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Brian Greene to deliver sold-out lecture on space, time and string theory

March 05, 2012 • Categories: News

By Lisa Chin

Award-winning author, string theorist and physics professor Dr. Brian Greene will deliver a sold-out lecture on “The Fabric of the Cosmos” on Tuesday, March 6 at Notre Dame.  Greene took a moment to discuss his life, work, and the future of string theory with Notre Dame students.   

“My goal is to make science accessible, exciting, and wondrous, because that’s what it is,” said Greene concerning his unique interest in conveying matters of physics to the general public. 

“To me it feels like the work that we’re doing is so vital that for it to be hidden behind the doors of the academy is tragic.  People need to have an input, as opposed to shy away from joining the conversation because of a fear of science.”  Greene has worked diligently to reach the non-physics public through a number of books as well as two NOVA television series.

During the interview, Greene spoke to problems in the long-held notion of three dimensions of space and one of time.  “Shockingly we find that if we allow for more dimensions of space, say nine dimensions of space, and one of time, internal inconsistencies cancel out.  So it’s a mathematical conclusion that speaks to the nature of reality,” explains Greene.  “It tells of a reality very different from what we would have anticipated.”  These ideas and theories surrounding alternative dimensions have unbounded potential for future discoveries not only in the field of physics, but in the general laws of the universe.   

When asked about his research on string theory, Greene expressed how far the field has yet to go in experimentally confirming the theory.  Astronomical data, as well as research being done by Notre Dame and others at the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, could provide invaluable information.  However, Greene considers these possibilities a “long shot” as of today. 

“There is no fundamental reason string theory can’t be experimentally tested, it’s just difficult.  And it’s our job to make it less difficult by understanding the theory better,” says Greene. 

Given what is known about string theory, Greene conveys the difficulty in predicting where the field will stand in fifty years, let alone in the next two.  Ultimately, Greene hopes to deepen our understanding of space and time through his research and exploration of string theory. 

Greene will discuss the essential features of string theory, and offer an assessment from a variety of perspectives on attempts to unify physics, in his public lecture, “The Fabric of the Cosmos” at 7:30pm at Debartolo Performing Arts Center.

Contacts: Chris Kolda, ckolda@nd.edu; Arnel Bulaoro, abulaoro@nd.edu

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