Theoretical physicist to speak at UNR |

Theoretical physicist to speak at UNR

by Mike Wolterbeek
University of Nevada, Reno

Theoretical physicist Sylvester James (Jim) Gates Jr. is coming to the University of Nevada, Reno, on March 8 for the Discover Science Lecture Series. The lecture series is designed to bring science to the community and the event is free and open to the public.

Gates is widely known for his research in the field of theoretical physics, particularly on the topic of supersymmetry – a theory which builds on the Standard Model to create a more comprehensive picture of the universe.

Gates is also a strong proponent of diversity in education, a perspective rooted not only in personal experience, but also in the scientific and historical perspectives that illustrate how racial diversity and closing the equity gap in STEM fields is essential for scientific excellence.

For his talk on March 8, he will discuss the theoretical physics question that he calls his “white whale.” His lecture titled “An Inchoate Epoch: Possibility of Evolution in Mathematics Laws of The Universe” explores Gate’s discovery of error-correcting codes found in the mathematical laws that describe our universe.

These systems have led him to believe that the laws of physics may have gone through a process similar to evolution in genetics – the only other place where these error-correcting codes can be found. As Gates explains it, understanding this new description of the universe could lead to fresh insights into the theory of supersymmetry, and perhaps even the very nature of reality.

Gates is the author of over 200 research papers, and has been featured in dozens of video documentaries, including the PBS’s NOVA series. Gates was appointed to the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the National Commission on Forensic Science by President Obama in 2009. For his contributions to science, Gates was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and awarded the National Medal of Science by President Obama in 2013.

He was recently named Ford Foundation Professor of Physics at Brown University, where he will begin teaching in fall 2018. Previously, he served as professor at the University of Maryland, where he was named a Distinguished University Professor, University System of Maryland Regents Professor and John S. Toll Professor of Physics.

The Discover Science Lecture Series was founded by the University’s College of Science in 2010, with the goal of bringing the country’s top scientists to the University to share their knowledge, research and wisdom with the community.

Gates’s lecture is the third in the 2017-2018 series. The final speaker of the academic year will be University trustee and bio-pharmaceutical researcher Mick Hitchcock on April 5.

Past speakers in the series include astrophysicists Michio Kaku and Neil deGrasse Tyson; Robert Ballard, who discovered the wreck of the Titanic; and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Discover Science Lectures are always free to the public. They are held at the Redfield Auditorium in the Davidson Mathematics and Science Center on the University’s Reno campus at 7 p.m.

Free parking for the event is available in the lot south of the Davidson Mathematics and Science Center on the south-east corner of Evans Avenue and Record Street. For more information, call the College of Science at 775-784-4591 or visit the Discover Science Lecture Series website.