The pattern of floor tiles, an intriguing street sculpture, contributions to general relativity theory and cosmology may seem unrelated but all come from the brilliant mind of Sir Roger Penrose.
UWA physicist Professor David Blair describes Sir Roger as "one of the world’s greatest thinkers on the origins of the universe".
He visited UWA to give a lecture on the Big Bang theory for UWA Extension; spent some time at the Gravity Discovery Centre and Cosmos Centre in Gingin; ran a Big Questions for Bright Minds forum for school students; and signed some of the tiles he designed that create a never-ending random pattern on the floor of the Molecular and Chemical Sciences building atrium.
At 76, Sir Roger is now retired but holds positions as an Emeritus Professor of mathematics at Oxford University and a distinguished visiting Professor of physics and mathematics at Penn State University in the US.
His research interests include various aspects of physics and geometry, with many contributions to theories including the foundations of quantum theory, the theory of non-periodic tiling and the physical basis of consciousness.
One of the designs to come from his fascination with geometry is the impossible triangle, which has been created as a public sculpture in East Perth. From one angle, it looks like a triangle, but from others it just looks like a group of randomly placed unconnected straight steel bars.
Sir Roger, whose non-repeating pattern of tiling has been used in several universities in the US, said he was impressed with the interpretation by UWA consultant architect Gus Ferguson. His design can be executed using pairs of rhombuses (as was done in the MCS building) or diamonds.
Sir Roger happily signed 30 of the tiles the Faculty of Life and Physical Sciences had made into coasters, which they will use as gifts for visitors to the faculty.