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The Mystery of Our Mathematical Universe

Available via


The Mystery of Our Mathematical Universe

Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM EDT

The New York Academy of Sciences, 7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich St Fl 40, New York

Video of the full event is available on the Nour Foundation's YouTube channel.

From basic arithmetic to the calculation of rocket trajectories, mathematics provides an elegant means of systematically understanding and quantifying the world around us. Beyond its computational functions, however, mathematics serves an even more vital purpose: It illuminates the most fundamental knowledge of our universe, furnishing the tools that classical physics, quantum mechanics, and astronomy use to develop and build upon their findings.

But why should mathematics be so effective in explaining our universe, as first noted by Nobel laureate physicist Eugene Wigner? Why have fundamental laws discovered through pure mathematics turned out to describe the behavior of our physical world with such remarkable precision, from the fundamental law of gravitation to Maxwell’s electromagnetic equations? Given that our physical universe is comprised of mathematical properties, some have posited that mathematics is the language of the universe, whose laws reveal what appears to be a hidden order in the natural world. But are there also limits to what mathematics can reveal about the mystery of our universe?

Theoretical physicist S. James Gates Jr. and science writer Margaret Wertheim join Steve Paulson to explore the mystery of our universe and the uncanny potential of mathematics to reveal the laws of nature.

*Reception to follow


This event also will be available via Livestream.

This event is part of the Conversations on the Nature of Reality series.

Moderated by journalist Steve Paulson, Executive Producer of Wisconsin Public Radio’s To the Best of Our Knowledge, this three-part series at the New York Academy of Sciences brings together leading scientists and thinkers to explore the fundamental nature of reality through the lens of personal experience and scientific inquiry.

To learn more about each lecture and to purchase tickets, click on the links below.


Nonmember Student, Undergrad, Grad, Fellow
Member Student, Post-Doc, Fellow


Steve Paulson, Wisconsin Public Radio
Steve Paulson, Wisconsin Public Radio


S. James Gates, Jr., PhD, Brown University
S. James Gates, Jr., PhD, Brown University
Margaret Wertheim, Institute For Figuring
Margaret Wertheim, Institute For Figuring

Presenting Partners

The New York Academy of SciencesTo the Best of Our Knowledge