Geometry and the Imagination


Renaissance Seattle Hotel
515 Madison Street
Seattle, Washington

Event Details

Geometry and geometric reasoning underlie all of science. In this talk, Professor Benson Farb will explore a few fundamental geometric notions, including symmetry, dimension (including dimensions bigger than 3), and orientation (e.g., left-handed vs. right-handed). He will illustrate important applications in chemistry, biology, and physics, from the weak nuclear force to understanding the Thalidomide tragedy. Some questions to ponder before the talk: How can you turn a left sneaker into a right sneaker without ripping or bending the sneaker at all? Why do mirrors reflect left/right but not up/down? This talk is intended for all who are interested in mathematics.

Benson Farb, professor in mathematics, specializes in the interaction between geometry, topology, and group theory. A common theme of these subjects is how complicated objects are sometimes determined by very simple data. He has also worked with the University's SESAME (Seminars for Elementary Specialists And Mathematics Educators) program for elementary school teachers. Farb received the University's 2002 Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching.

This lecture is part of the Harper Lecture series offered to the University community across the country and around the world by the University of Chicago Alumni Association. Named for the University's first President, William Rainey Harper, the series carries on his vision of broadly accessible and innovative education. For more information about Harper Lectures, as well as details regarding travel and education opportunities for alumni and friends of the University, visit the alumni website at


$20/person for general admission; includes program and refreshments. $10/young alumna or alumnus (College graduates of the past ten years and professional school graduates of the past five years).


Register Online
Register By Phone: 773.702.5646

Deadline: 4/29/2011


2:00 PM-4:30 PM: Reception, Lecture, Q&A


Lucie Sandel