Arlie Petters: 2014 Math Is Key

Arlie Petters

Arlie Petters is the Benjamin Powell Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and a Professor of Physics and Economics. He was also Dean of Academic Affairs for Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Duke University (2016-2019). 

Dr. Petters began his career at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where he was part of an accelerated B.A./M.A. program in mathematics and physics for undergraduates. He graduated from Hunter in 1986 and was the recipient of several awards in mathematics and physics. Hunter College honored Dr. Petters by inducting him into the Hunter College Hall of Fame (1999) and awarding him an honorary Doctor of Science degree (2008). 

Among the many awards Dr. Petters has earned for his innovative research are an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the first Blackwell-Tapia Prize in the Mathematical Sciences. He was also selected in 2006 by the National Academy of Sciences to be part of a Portrait Collection of Outstanding African Americans in Science, Engineering, and Medicine. The collection is on permanent display at the Keck Center in Washington, DC. 

In recognition of Dr. Petters’ outstanding scientific and educational work, the Queen of England named him to Membership in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2008, his birthplace, Dangriga, Belize, honored him in 2009 with a street in his name, and the Prime Minister of Belize appointed him in 2010 as the inaugural Chairman of the Council of Science Advisers to the Prime Minister of Belize.

Cosmic Shadows and a Fifth Dimension

Shadow patterns are all around us. We drive through them on the way to work and swim among them in pools. Similar patterns are also cast throughout the universe by the gravitational fields of matter and black holes. This talk unveils some of the cosmic and mathematical secrets of these mysterious and beautiful patterns.

Interestingly, the shadow patterns cast by microscopic black holes touch on a rather deep question. Is there a fifth dimension? In other words, is there an extra dimension of physical space beyond length, width, and height? If so, how would we know it is there? If true, this provocative idea would profoundly impact our perception of the natural world, analogous to how we no longer think of the earth as flat

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2014 Math is key

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