# 1999 Kemeny Lecture Series

# Dr. Jeffrey R. Weeks

will present the following series of lectures

#### Wednesday, May 5, 7:30 pm, Rocky 2

**Abstract. **Is the universe really infinite? Data from a small NASA satellite may soon show
that it's not. The first half of this presentation will use computer games to show how space may
be finite, yet have no boundary. Clips from the video* The Shape of Space* will then take the
viewer on a computer-animated tour of several possible shapes for the universe. The
presentation will conclude with an explanation of the big bang, and how the radiation remaining
from it may reveal the true shape of our universe. (See the article "Is Space Finite?" in the
January 1999 issue of Scientific American coauthored by Weeks.)

## Curvature and the Universe

#### Thursday, May 6, 4:00 pm, Rocky 3

**Abstract.** Paper and scissors activities will introduce the concept of curvature. Then we'll go
on to see how the curvature of the universe is governed by the matter it contains, and how it
predicts the universe's eventual fate (eternal expansion or eventual collapse). Just when we
think we have the answer, last year's observations of distant supernovae will throw a spanner
in the works, reviving the idea of a mysterious "vacuum energy" pervading space.
**High Tea.** Will be served at 3:30 pm in the Faculty Lounge on the second floor of Bradley Hall.

## Topological Questions in Cosmology

#### Friday, May 7, 4:00 pm, Rocky 2

**Abstract**. Two years from now, data from NASA's Microwave Anisotropy Probe might reveal
the exact topology of the universe. Geometers will then repay their debt to the astronomers in
two ways, by verifying the correctness of the observed data, and, if the curvature of space is
nonzero, by using the geometry's rigidity to improve upon the observed value of Omega, the
density parameter governing the evolution of the universe.

Turning to a more speculative topic, efforts to understand the big bang tie in with cosmic
topology, and quickly lead to open questions in low-dimensional topology. The questions are
simple to state, but may or may not be simple to answer.

**High Tea.** Will be served at 3:30 pm in the Faculty Lounge on the second floor of Bradley Hall.
**Host. **Dan Rockmore is the host. Anybody who is interested in having dinner with the speaker
during his visit to Dartmouth should contact Dan at 646-3260.