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16. Public lecture: 'The cosmic distance ladder', multiple centres

The MacLaurin Lecturer 2013 Terry Tao is touring the country in August and will give a public lecture 'The cosmic distance ladder' in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.

How do we know 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? Clearly we cannot measure these directly. Nevertheless there are many indirect methods of measurement, combined with basic high-school mathematics, which can allow one to get quite convincing and accurate results without the need for advanced technology (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; several of the rungs in this ladder will be discussed in this talk.

Terence "Terry" Tao FRS was born on 17 July 1975 in Adelaide. Terry is an Australian mathematician working in harmonic analysis, partial differential equations, additive combinatorics, ergodic Ramsey theory, random matrix theory, and analytic number theory. He currently holds the James and Carol Collins chair in mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles, and has joint US and Australian citizenship. He was one of the recipients of the 2006 Fields Medal, the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

Details:

ยท Wellington: 5.30-6.30pm Thursday 29 August, Royal Society of New Zealand, 11 Turnbull St, Thorndon.

For more information see New Zealand Mathematical Society website.