North Carolina Harper Lecture with Benson Farb: Through the Looking Glass: Symmetry, the Fourth Dimension, and Beyond


The Harper Lecture series is 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.


The Franklin Hotel
311 W. Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Event Details

Why are our mirror images reflected left–right but not up–down? What does the fourth dimension look like? How is it possible that a square box can be big enough to hold only one round marble, but the marble only takes up a trillionth of the space in the box? This talk will explore these questions and, perhaps more surprisingly, explain how they have a profound influence on our everyday life.

Benson Farb is a professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago, where he studies geometry, topology, group theory, representation theory, and their interactions. He arrived at Chicago as a postdoc in 1994, just after getting his PhD from Princeton. He has had 30 PhD students, including 13 women. Farb's awards include a Sloan Foundation Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Career Award. He was elected a fellow of the American Mathematics Society in 2012 and is invited to speak at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul in 2014.


$20 general admission; $10 recent graduate (College alumni of the past ten years and graduate alumni of the past five years).


Register Online

Deadline: 9/5/2013

Speaker Profiles

Benson Farb (Speaker)
Professor of Mathematics, The University of Chicago

A pure mathematician, Benson Farb 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. Farb is the former managing editor of the journal Geometriae Dedicata. His publications include two books: he co-authored Noncommutative Algebra (1993) and edited Problems on Mapping Class Groups and Related Topics (2006). He also participates in the University's SESAME (Seminars for Elementary Specialists And Mathematics Educations) program for elementary school teachers. Farb received the University's 2002 Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching. Informal study gatherings of his graduate students have been known as "Farbeques." - See more at:>


Kelly Doody