Science + Technology

UCLA mathematician Terence Tao to deliver Einstein Public Lecture on campus Oct. 9

UCLA mathematics professor Terence Tao will present the American Mathematical Society's Einstein Public Lecture in Mathematics at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall on Saturday, Oct. 9, at 6:15 p.m.
Tao, the first faculty member in UCLA's history to win the prestigious Fields Medal, often described as the "Nobel Prize in mathematics," is widely considered one of the world's leading mathematicians.
Tao's lecture, "The Cosmic Distance Ladder," will explore how we know the distances from the Earth to the sun and the moon, and from the sun to other planets, stars and distant galaxies. While such distances cannot be measured directly, indirect methods, combined with basic mathematics, can give convincing and accurate results without the need for advanced technology. In fact, the ancient Greeks were able to compute the distances from Earth to the sun and moon with moderate accuracy. These methods rely on a "cosmic distance ladder," in which measurements of nearby distances are used to deduce distances slightly farther away.
Tao has received numerous national and international honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship and the National Science Foundation's Alan T. Waterman Award, the highest honor the NSF bestows. He was named among the "Best Brains in Science" by Discover magazine, which praised him as "one of the most prolific and esteemed mathematicians in the nation," and was honored as one of science's "Brilliant 10" by Popular Science magazine, which called him "math's great uniter," to whom "the traditional boundaries between different mathematical fields don't seem to exist."
In awarding Tao a "genius" grant in 2006, the MacArthur Foundation said his work was "characterized by breadth and depth, technical brilliance, and profound insight, placing him as one of the outstanding mathematicians of his time."
Tao holds UCLA's James and Carol Collins Chair in the College of Letters and Science.
Those interested in attending the lecture must R.S.V.P. before Oct. 8 at Because the hall is expected to be full, the lecture will also be shown live on a screen in an overflow room, which may also fill up. Admission is not guaranteed.
The American Mathematical Society has sponsored the Einstein Public Lecture in Mathematics since 2005. The lecture is aimed at the general public, as well as mathematicians and other scientists. A reception hosted by the UCLA Department of Mathematics and the AMS will follow. This lecture is part of the AMS Western Sectional meeting, which takes place at UCLA on Oct. 9 and 10.
UCLA is California's largest university, with an enrollment of more than 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university's 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer 328 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Five alumni and five faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.
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