EKU Update HomeA Newsletter for Eastern Kentucky University Faculty & Staff
Volume 12 • Number 15
Feb. 7, 2011
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Karen Lynn, editor
 
News
Renowned Scientist/Author to Present MacLaren Distinguished Lecture

Renowned scientist and author Brian Greene will present the first Bruce MacLaren Distinguished Lecture on campus Thursday, Feb. 17.

Greene, whose talk is part of the University’s year-long Chautauqua series on “Nature’s Humans,” will speak on “Breakthrough Thinking: Challenging What We Know” at 7:30 p.m. in O’Donnell Hall of the Student Success Building (formerly known as the Student Services Building). The event is free and open to the public.

MacLaren, the founding director of the annual Chautauqua series at EKU, stepped down from that role a year ago.

In explaining the title of his talk, Greene said, “By showing how easily hidden assumptions can be overlooked, by showing the power of asking seemingly simple-minded questions to which everyone already ‘knows’ the answer and by showing how diverse viewpoints can complement each other and produce what no single perspective could yield on its own, attendees will gain an understanding of what constitutes breakthrough thinking, examine crystal clear examples of mind-set changes that yield revolutionary insights, learn how individuals and organizations can cultivate critical, creative thinking, and acquire the inspiration to overcome daunting challenges by breaking previously unforeseen ground.”

The presentation is sponsored by the University’s Office of Quality Enhancement Programs, the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity and the Office of Graduate Education and Research.

As a physicist who has been working on quantum gravity and unified theories for nearly two decades, Greene is widely recognized for a number of groundbreaking discoveries in the field and also for his lucid presentations of cutting-edge research to scientists and fellow physicists as well as to general audiences.

His books, “The Elegant Universe” and” The Fabric of the Cosmos,” both spent six months on The New York Times bestsellers list and have received much critical acclaim. “The Elegant Universe” was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and the winner of the 2000 Aventis Prize for Science Books. It has sold more than a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 35 languages. In its starred review of “The Fabric of the Cosmos,” Publishers Weekly hailed Greene’s “unparalleled ability to translate higher mathematics and its findings into everyday language and images, through the adept use of metaphor and analogy, and crisp, witty prose.” It is currently being adapted into a four-part NOVA mini-series slated for broadcast this year.

Greene’s book, “Icarus at the Edge of Time,” is a futuristic retelling of the Icarus myth.

Since 1996, Greene has held a full professorship in both the physics and the mathematics departments at Columbia University. He has lectured in more than 25 countries at both a general and a technical level.

His research interests focus on the quantum mechanical properties of space and time. In 1990, Greene and a Harvard colleague discovered mirror symmetry — a remarkable property of string theory that has launched a vibrant field of research in both mathematics and physics. In 1993 and subsequently in 1995, Greene and his colleagues discovered topology change. Whereas Einstein’s general relativity shows that the fabric of space can stretch in time (resulting in an expanding universe), it does not allow the fabric to rip. To the contrary, Greene and his colleagues showed that in string theory — by including quantum mechanics — the fabric of space can tear, establishing that the universe can evolve in far more dramatic ways than Einstein had envisioned.

In 2003, Greene hosted the three-part NOVA special “The Elegant Universe,” which won an Emmy Award and a 2004 Peabody Award for broadcast excellence. The NOVA website received nearly 2 million hits during the three-day airing of the show.

He also co-founded the first annual World Science Festival, a weeklong extravaganza that enabled the general public to explore science, from cutting-edge research to works in theater, film, and the arts inspired by scientific ideas. The hugely successful festival was held in New York City in 2008 and hosted more than 120,000 visitors.

Greene’s most recent book, “Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and The Deep Laws of the Cosmos, was published last month.

For more information about EKU’s Chautauqua Series, visit www.chautauqua.eku.edu or contact coordinator Dr. Minh Nguyen at minh.nguyen@eku.edu.