The University of Chicago News Office
September 15, 1995 Press Contact: Steve Koppes
(773) 702-8366

"The Fabric of Space and Time": Fall Compton Lecture Series

Einstein’s theory of relativity will be the subject of a series of free public lectures at the University of Chicago, beginning Sept. 30. The series of ten lectures, titled “The Fabric of Space and Time,” will be given Saturday mornings at 11 a.m. through Dec. 2, in Room 115 of the Kersten Physics Teaching Center, 5720 S. Ellis Ave. There will be no lecture Nov. 25.

Physicist Éanna Flanagan, who will be delivering the lectures, said he will explain the basic tenets of Einstein’s theory of relativity as well as discuss its relevance to current research. “In the last ten or twenty years," he said, “relativity has started to change from a largely theoretical field to one that is very closely tied to astronomy.”

Flanagan will discuss research currently under way to detect gravity waves from outer space–phenomena predicted by Einstein’s theory but as yet undetected–and scientists’ current understanding of how ordinary physical laws cease to apply inside black holes. “Deep inside black holes and at the start of the Big Bang are the only places where the ordinary laws of physics break down,” he said.

Flanagan received his M.Sc. in mathematical science from University College Dublin in 1988 and his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1993. He is now an Enrico Fermi Fellow in the University’s Enrico Fermi Institute.

The talks are part of the Arthur Holly Compton Lectures, now in their 21st year and sponsored each fall and spring by the Enrico Fermi Institute. Arthur Holly Compton was a University of Chicago physicist and a Nobel laureate best known for demonstrating that light has the characteristics of both a wave and a particle. He was also a member of the research team that in 1942 produced the world’s first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear reaction.

The lectures are intended to make science accessible to a general audience and to convey the excitement of new discoveries in the physical sciences. Previous topics have ranged from the smallest fundamental particles of matter to the history of the universe.

All of the lectures are free of charge and open to the public. For more information, call (773)702-7823.
Last modified at 03:50 PM CST on Wednesday, June 14, 2000.

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