Prof. Bill Reinhardt, University of Washington, will present a public lecture entitled, “A Tour of Real and Imaginary Universes: Stephen Hawking meets Jorge Luis Borges.” This lecture is geared towards a general audience. Undergraduate students are particularly encouraged to attend.
Abstract: Scientific and mathematical images appear in “serious” literature, as in, for example, in the works of Borges and Thomas Mann. Scientists writing for a general audience have a great challenge in presenting quantitative mathematical ideas in verbal (non mathematical and even non-pictorial) form, Hawking’s discussions of space and time being likely the best known, or at least the best sold. In this genuinely “liberal arts” talk, intended for students & scholars of all disciplines, some illustrations, focusing on “what does it mean to be large or small?” “ what is a long time? what is a short time?” “how big is the physical universe, versus the universe of the imagination?” & “what is the difference between information and knowledge?” are given from physical, literary, and mathematical points of view. The talk includes an illustrated tour of a real (our own!) and an imagined universe (that of Borges…), and staged dramatic readings from texts by Thomas Mann, Herman Melville, Ray Bradbury, Paul Auster, John McPhee, as well as J. L. Borges.