Professor Martin Bridson: Flat earths, curved universes and the undecidable

Flat earths, curved universes and the undecidable

Wednesday 1 November
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

University of Oxford North American Office
Address to be provided upon registration

Please RSVP by 27 October to

maths Without photographs from space, how did we know what shape the earth was?
And what shape is the three-dimensional universe that we live in?

In this talk, which assumes no knowledge of mathematics, Professor Martin Bridson, Head of Oxford’s Mathematical Institute, will take us on a journey that begins with these questions and, through an exploration of the symmetry of naturally occurring objects, ends with an explanation of what it means for a mathematical problem to be undecidable.

He promises that students of the Arts will not despair along the way!

Martin Bridson is a mathematician renowned for his work in geometry, topology and group theory (the study of symmetry). He is the Whitehead Professor of Pure Mathematics at the University of Oxford, Head of Oxford’s Mathematical Institute, and a Fellow of Magdalen College.

Born in the Isle of Man, Martin was an undergraduate at Hertford College, Oxford and did his graduate work at Cornell University in New York, earning a PhD in 1991. He subsequently held faculty positions at Princeton University, the University of Geneva, and Imperial College London.

Martin’s honours include the Whitehead Prize of the London Mathematical Society (1999), the Forder Lectureship of the New Zealand Mathematical Society (2005), and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2012). He gave an Abel Prize Lecture in Oslo in 2009 and was an Invited Speaker at the quadrennial International Congress of Mathematicians in Madrid in 2006. Martin was elected a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2015. In 2016 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, in recognition of his “leading role in establishing geometric group theory as a major field of mathematics.

Martin and his wife, Julie Lynch Bridson, a native of New York, live in Oxford with their three children. He enjoys spending time with family, poetry, chess and ball games.


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