Public Lecture: “The Shape of Inner Space: String Theory and the Geometry of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions” by S. T. Yau

January 14, 2011

The Lecture

Please join us for an IPAM public lecture and reception, cosponsored by UCLA’s Department of Mathematics and the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

3:00 pm
Haines Hall, room 39

Presented by Shing-Tung Yau, Professor of Mathematics, Harvard and Director, Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chinese University of Hong Kong


One of the smallest things you can possibly imagine—six-dimensional geometric spaces that may be more than a trillion times smaller than an electron—could, nevertheless, be one of the defining features of our universe, exerting a profound influence that extends to every single point in the cosmos. In his book, Yau tells the story of those spaces, which physicists have dubbed “Calabi-Yau manifolds.”  Yau managed to prove the existence, mathematically, of those spaces, despite the fact that he had originally set out to prove that such spaces could not possibly exist. This mathematical proof, which had initially been ignored by physicists (partly because it was steeped in difficult, nonlinear arguments), nevertheless made its way into the center of string theory, which now stands as the leading theory of the universe and our best hope yet of unifying all the particles and forces observed—and yet to be observed—in nature.


A reception will follow the lecture at IPAM, where Yau’s book will be available for purchase.