Hyperbolic Space Workshop with Margaret Wertheim

30 November 2017
10.00 am – 12.30 pm

Deakin Downtown

Join internationally noted writer, artist and curator Margaret Wertheim for a conversation and workshop about the history of hyperbolic math, and its relevance to physics and biology.

Event details

We have created a world of recti-linearity: The rooms we inhabit, the skyscrapers we work in, and the streets we drive on speak to us in straight lines. But outside our boxes nature teems with swooping and crenelated forms.

From the curling structures of corals, kelps and nudibranchs, to the filled surfaces of lettuces and cacti, nature has a love affair with hyperbolic geometry – an alternative to the Euclidean variety we learn about in school. Yet while nature has been playing with hyperbolic forms for hundreds of millions of years, human mathematicians spend centuries trying to prove they were impossible. Ultimately the discovery of this "pathological" geometry ushered in a geometric revolution that led to the mathematics underling general relativity, which tells us about the structure of space-time and the universe as a whole.

All materials supplied. No prior experience needed. Suitable for all ages and audiences: mathematicians, artists, architects, teachers, students (recommended for over 12 years of age).

Lunch will be provided following the workshop.

About the speaker

Margaret Wertheim is an internationally noted writer, artist and curator whose work focuses on relations between science and the wider cultural landscape.

A two-fold perspective animates her work: on the one hand science can be seen a set of conceptual enchantments that delight our minds and senses; on the other hand science is a socially embedded activity intersecting with philosophy, culture and politics.

Wertheim aims to illuminate both dimensions of science and mathematics through her books, articles, lectures, workshops, and exhibitions.

Wertheim is the author of six books including Pythagoras Trousers, a history of physics and religion; The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace, a history of scientific concepts of space; and Physics on the Fringe, a ground-breaking exploration of outsider science. She has written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Aeon, Cabinet and many others.

In 2003, with her twin-sister Christine, Margaret founded the Institute For Figuring (IFF), a Los Angeles based practice devoted to the “aesthetic and poetic dimensions of science and mathematics.” Through the IFF she has designed art & science exhibits for galleries and museums around the world, including the Hayward Gallery (London) and Science Gallery (Dublin). Her Crochet Coral Reef project is a global participatory art & science endeavour that's been exhibited at the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburg), Museum of Arts and Design (New York), Deutsches Museum (Munich), the Smithsonian (Washington D.C.), and elsewhere.

Throughout her career Margaret has been a pioneer in communicating STEM subjects to women. She lectures widely at universities, colleges, and conferences internationally. With degrees in physics and math, she has worked on all seven continents and stood on the South Pole.

Margaret Wertheim is a PhD candidate in Deakin University’s Faculty of Arts and Education.

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Key information

Date and time

10.00 am – 12.30 pm


Deakin Downtown
Level 12, Tower 2
727 Collins Street
Melbourne, Victoria 3008