search articles: 

   from the issue of October 13, 2005

World-renowned mathematician to offer public lecture Oct. 21


A celebration marking the 100th year since the publication of Albert Einstein's first paper on relativity will bring one of the most prominent mathematicians of the 20th and 21st centuries to UNL.


Sir Michael Atiyah of the University of Edinburgh will give a public lecture on "The Nature of Space" at 4 p.m. Oct. 21 at Kimball Recital Hall. The talk is free and open to the public. A reception at the Van Brunt Visitors Center will follow the talk.

Philosophers, mathematicians and physicists have struggled for centuries to understand the nature of space. In the lecture, Atiyah will review this history in light of Einstein's theories and of modern exotic scenarios where, for example, particles are replaced by vibrating strings in 10-dimensional space-time.

Einstein's concepts - of the speed of light, a curving four-dimensional framework for space-time, the equivalence of mass and energy - still form the foundation of scientific understanding. Researchers, however, have a wealth of new information about the universe and a complex assortment of new theoretical tools for its description.

Atiyah has won many awards, the most recent being the Abel Prize in 2004 (jointly with I.M. Singer) for the discovery and proof of the Index Theorem, which connects geometry and analysis in a surprising way, and for a leading role in building new bridges between mathematics and theoretical physics.

"It is a huge honor for the university, Lincoln and the state of Nebraska that the American Mathematical Society chose UNL for this upcoming first Einstein lecture," said John Meakin, chair of the UNL Department of Mathematics. "We are encouraging students at UNL and local high schools to attend the lecture."

Meakin said a major departmental goal is to improve the training and mentoring of the next generation of students. Over the past two years, the department has received around $9 million in federal funds to support its many projects to mentor student achievement at all levels.

Atiyah's talk is part of the American Mathematical Society's fall Central Section meeting Oct. 21-23 at UNL. Approximately 500 mathematicians will gather for the meeting, including more than 350 speakers from 41 states and 19 countries.

Eight faculty in the UNL Department of Mathematics will give talks, including Luchezar Avramov, Jonathan Cutler, Steven R. Dunbar, Cynthia Farthing, Mikil Foss, Glenn Ledder, John Lindsay Orr and Judy Walker.

For more information, go online to



Alumnus vies to protect UNL network
NU Values program takes shape
Workshops offer tech lessons to faculty
Lecture explores nutrition, genes, health
Speaker outlines methods to enhance collegiate general education programs
World-renowned mathematician to offer public lecture Oct. 21