Public lecture by Professor Sir Roger Penrose on 18 April

Posted by mjs76 at Apr 05, 2011 09:50 AM |
One of the greatest living mathematicians comes to the University of Leicester this month.
Public lecture by Professor Sir Roger Penrose on 18 April

image: Mathematical Institute, Oxford

On Monday 18 April, the University of Leicester presents a free public lecture by the distinguished mathematician and physicist Professor Sir Roger Penrose, entitled 'Seeing Through the Big Bang into Another World'.

Penrose is Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and his areas of interest are diverse. He is well–known for his research in theoretical astrophysics, including a collaboration with Stephen Hawking which netted the two of them the Wolf Prize for Physics in 1988.

More controversial are his views on the nature of human consciousness, as espoused in his 1989 bestseller The Emperor’s New Mind. Penrose believes that computers reliant on algorithms will never achieve true artificial intelligence because, he argues, the human mind operates through aspects of quantum physics.

At a (slightly) easier to understand level, Penrose’s work on tiling has resulted in some fascinating geometric concepts and images. He also developed the constantly ascending staircase which was popularised by the artist MC Escher.


The subject of Penrose’s lecture will relate to his most recent book, Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe, in which he tackles the subject of cosmology, presenting his case for the existence of a previous universe before the Big Bang. Controversially, Penrose’s theory of Conformal Cyclic Cosmology (CCC) proposes that we might be able to find evidence within our universe of super-massive black hole collisions in the previous one.

This public lecture, which forms part of the 2011 British Mathematical Colloquium, takes place in the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre (aka the New Lecture Theatre), Fielding Johnson Building South Wing, at 5.00pm on Monday 18 April 2011. The lecture is free to attend but you are advised to register your interest in advance by e-mailing Professor John Hunton

Copies of Professor Penrose's books will be available to purchase before and after the lecture from a University Bookshop stall outside the lecture theatre.

Abstract of Professor Penrose's lecture

Roger Penrose
Professor Penrose, during his lecture.

Einstein’s general theory of relativity describes space and time as a 4-dimensional curved space with a metric which determines the measures of time and distance. This metric is a quantity determined by 10 numbers per space-time point.

Of these, 9 fix the light cone at each space-time point, determining causality and the propagation of light. The remaining number fixes the scale of space and time. The light cones themselves determine the conformal structure of space-time.

The proposal of Conformal Cyclic Cosmology (abbreviated CCC) asserts that what we presently regard as the entire history of our universe, from its Big Bang origin to its indefinitely expanding future, is but one aeon in an unending succession of similar such aeons, where the infinite future of each conformally matches to the big bang of the next.

CCC predicts that supermassive black-hole encounters in the aeon prior to ours would be observable to us as families of concentric rings of unusual temperature structure in the cosmic microwave background. Recent analysis of data from the WMAP satellite has been argued to provide possible confirmation of this signal, allowing us to ‘see through’ our Big Bang to such events occurring in the aeon prior to ours.

The status of this controversial proposal will be discussed