Warped spaces – A Virtual Reality Journey with Prof Sabetta Matsumoto

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A public lecture in Murdoch University’s “Future Earth” series of talks and films, presented by visiting guest lecturer Professor Sabetta Matsumoto.

Warped Spaces – A VR journey through a space that technology has yet to explore

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Abstract: Last year’s confirmation of Einstein’s prediction of gravitational waves have put the spotlight back on the importance of curvature for the physics of the universe. While the ability of mass to curve our space has fueled the imagination of many, it is by far not the only instance of warped spaces being important for physics: The materials science of the very small scale -the science of nanostructures and nanoengineering- is one of them. In fact, often these ‘small’ spaces are very strongly curved, far from what mathematicians call ‘Euclidean’; for example two parallel lines may no longer only meet at infinity. Bizarre and exotic spaces with very unusual properties. Until recently, many of these complex spaces defied most people’s imagination, but Virtual Reality technology has now been developed to help us immerse in them. Prof Sabetta Matsumoto will take us on a tour -enabled by the latest in Virtual Reality technology- into the innate beauty and mystery of some spaces, such as the cross between a Euclidean straight line and Poincare’s hyperbolic plane made popular by Escher’s artwork. Real-world applications or technological uses of these mathematical insights may seem to be light-years off, but don’t worry, the real world will catch up with the imagination faster than we think. Prof Matsumoto is a prolific communicator, and will pass on the fascination for these warped worlds without a single equation – promise!

Bio blurb: Prof Sabetta Matsumoto has been on a stellar career trajectory through some of the world’s finest physics departments, including both Princeton and Harvard University, but she is not your typical physics SabettaMatsumoto_portraitgeek. Her love of space and geometry has not only let her understand the complex structures of liquid crystals in unprecedented ways and predict the spontaneous formation of structures that spontaneously nano-engineer themselves from simple molecules. It has also led her to explore some of nature’s most intricate geometries for 3D printed jewelery and symmetry principles for knitted designs and fashion. Prof Matsumoto holds a PhD degree from the prestigious physics department at the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently building her soft matter research group at the Georgia Tech University in Atlanta. She has won several awards, including the Glenn Brown Prize by the International Society for Liquid Crystals. Herr work regularly appears in the leading scientific journals (e.g. her topic today was covered by Nature only a few weeks ago). Prof Matsumoto is stopping by in Perth after delivering an invited lecture at the Congress on Computational Geometry in Brisbane.

Here are some links to the work she’ll be talking about to us in Perth:

https://youtu.be/ztsi0CLxmjw
http://www.nature.com/news/mathematicians-create-warped-worlds-in-virtual-reality-1.21689

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