One of the world's leading young mathematicians, Professor Terence Tao, will deliver the Clay-Mahler Lecture "Cosmic Distance Ladder" at UWA this Thursday.
Professor Tao will look at how we work out the distances from the earth to the sun and moon, from the sun to the other planets, and from the sun to other stars and distant galaxies.
"While we cannot measure these directly, there are many indirect methods of measurement, combined with basic high-school mathematics, which can allow us to get quite convincing and accurate results without the need for advanced technology," he said.
"For instance, even the ancient Greeks could compute the distances from the earth to the sun and moon to moderate accuracy. These methods rely on climbing a ‘cosmic distance ladder', using measurements of nearby distances to then deduce estimates on distances slightly further away. We shall discuss several of the rungs in this ladder in this talk."
Professor Tao won the prestigious Fields Medal, often regarded as the Nobel Prize in mathematics in 2006 and was described as an "extraordinary mathematician" in his citation.
Born in Australia, Professor Tao graduated from Flinders University at the tender age of 16, went on to obtain his PhD from Princeton University at 21, and was appointed professor of mathematics at the University of California in Los Angeles at 24.
Professor Tao is in Australia as part of the Clay-Mahler Lecture series, funded by the Australian Mathematical Society and the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute.
WHAT: Public Lecture - ‘Clay-Mahler Lecture "Cosmic Distance Ladder
WHEN: Thursday, September 3, 6.00pm - 7.00pm
WHERE: Social Sciences Lecture Theatre, UWA (Hackett Drive Entrance 1, car park 3)