The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Wed May 13, 2009
234 Moses Hall, 6–8 PM
Working Group in the History and Philosophy of Logic, Mathematics, and Science
David Malament (UC Irvine)
How Space Can Be (and Is) Finite

The goal of the talk is to clarify certain points about “space” and “spatial geometry” within the framework of general relativity. (Within that framework, talk about four-dimensional spacetime geometry is perfectly unambiguous, but not so talk about three-dimensional spatial geometry.) So, for example, consider this question: “How big was space just after the big bang.” It is a trick question because it depends on what one means by “space”. Indeed, if the universe is described by a standard Friedmann-Robertson-Walker cosmological model in which k = 0 or k = -1, then the answer is “infinitely large” in one sense of “space”, but “incredibly small” in another sense of “space”.