Cosmic Shadows, Other Worlds, and a Fifth Dimension
Dr. Arlie Petters
Benjamin Powell Professor of Mathematics, Dean of Academic Affairs for Trinity College of Arts & Sciences at Duke University
Shadow and illumination patterns are all around us. Similar patterns are also cast throughout the universe by the gravitational fields of stars and galaxies. This talk will unveil how these cosmic shadows carry clues about the existence of extrasolar planets and a possible fifth dimension.
About Dr. Petters
Arlie O. Petters is the dean of academic aﬀairs for Trinity College of Arts and Sciences at Duke University. He is the Benjamin Powell Professor of Mathematics and a professor of physics and economics. Before coming to Duke, he was an assistant professor of mathematics at Princeton University from 1993-98 and an instructor of pure mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1991-93. Dr. Petters received his Ph.D. in mathematics from MIT in 1991, with a specialization in mathematical physics.
Petters’ research explores how gravity acts on light. He was the first to develop the mathematical theory of gravitational lensing, which brought powerful methods from pure mathematics to bear on astronomy. Petters also pioneered new applications of gravitational lensing in physics, predicting eﬀects that probe the nature of spacetime around black holes and developing tests of Einstein’s general relativity and modified gravity models. He has written five books and is currently co-authoring a monograph on gravitational lensing and black holes.
Among the many awards Petters has earned for his innovative research are an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, a National Science Foundation CAREER Grant and the first Blackwell-Tapia Prize in the mathematical sciences. He was also selected in 2006 by the National Academy of Sciences to be part of a portrait collection of outstanding African Americans in science, engineering and medicine.
In recognition of Petters’ outstanding scientific and educational accomplishments, the Queen of England appointed him a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2008 and his birthplace, Dangriga, Belize, honored him in 2009 with a street in his name.