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Dwight Vincent Colloquium

Fri. Mar. 10 12:30 PM - Fri. Mar. 10 01:20 PM
Location: In Person 3M69 & via Zoom

dwight at oxford in front of Einstein's chalkboard

Associate Professor, Department of Physics, University of Winnipeg

Einstein's Oxford Blackboards: Portals to a time when the universe started to expand

In 1931 Albert Einstein changed his mind about whether the universe was expanding in size or not. Following new developments in astronomy, he abandoned his 1917 model of the universe, which was designed mathematically to be unchanging. In May of that year, he was invited to stay at Oxford University for three weeks to interact with faculty and students plus give three lectures about his work. In the second lecture he took the opportunity to describe a new up-and-down model for the universe. In this model the universe expanded until it reached a maximum size and then shrank back to zero size again. This talk discusses how he presented this cosmological idea on two small blackboards to an audience that had up to 500 people in attendance.

The following questions are answered: what the equations on the two blackboards represent; why the audience loved being present at the lecture but understood hardly anything Einstein said; why the readers of the New York Times on the morning following the talk had a better chance of understanding what Einstein said than almost anyone at Oxford; why both of the blackboards were taken after the lecture but only one is on display at Oxford University; and why the estimated universe characteristics calculated by Einstein for his model on the displayed blackboard are nearly all wrong.


For a Zoom invitation to this event, please email: an.wiebe@uwinnipeg.ca