Australian Institute of Physics

South Australian Branch

Joint AIP/AustMS Public Lecture
Date: Tuesday, 16th October, 2001
Time: 7:30pm
Place: Union Hall, University of Adelaide

Emeritus Prof. Roy Chisholm
(University of Kent)
"Space, Time and Matter"

Over the ages, philosophers have asked why space and matter share the same arithmetic properties of distance measurement, or 'metric'. Newton`s postulates of absolute space and an evenly-flowing time complicated the question, since this space and time are not experimentally verifiable concepts. The simple metrical properties of distance hold in any direction in physical space. In the nineteenth century, Hamilton and Clifford showed how to extend these simple metrical rules to the geometry of spaces of three and arbitrarily high dimensions. Clifford`s algebras not only describe the geometry of three-dimensional space and relativistic space-time: they are also fundamental to the theory of elementary particles. Together with Einstein`s identification of gravitation with curvature of space-time, they point a way forward to developing a unified picture of space, time and matter.