Black Hole Pioneer to Speak

Nagle Lecture Series Cosmologist Focuses on Einstein, Higher Dimensions

By Vickie Chachere 


TAMPA, Fla. (March 30, 2010) – World-class mathematician and cosmologist Arlie O. Petters, who pioneered research on black holes and gravitational theories, will speak Thursday, April 1, on the provocative idea of a fifth dimension on space, in USF’s Kent Nagle Lecture Series.


Petters, a Duke University professor, will lecture on Einstein's theory, which assumes that we live in a four-dimensional universe: one dimension of time and three dimensions of space (length, width, and height). But Petters will challenge his audience to consider if there is a fifth dimension to physical space and whether such a dimension could change humankind’s perception of the natural world.


The talk will address this intriguing thought through examining the gravitational action of tiny black holes on light.


The talk begins at 8 p.m. in Room 100 of the Bio-Science Building (BSF). The lecture is free and free parking also is available in Collins parking garage, levels 3 - 5.


The lecture will be followed on Friday, April 2, with a workshop on gravitational lensing from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room 104 of the Natural and Environmental Sciences building.


Petters is the Benjamin Powell Professor and Professor of Mathematics, Physics, and Business Administration at Duke University. He was the first to develop the mathematical theory of gravitational lensing, which brought powerful methods from pure mathematics to bear on astronomy.


Petters also pioneered new applications of gravitational lensing in physics, predicting effects that probe the nature of spacetime around black holes and developing tests of gravitational theories like Einstein's general relativity and hyperspace gravity models.


He is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, an NSF Career Grant award, and the first Blackwell-Tapia prize in the Mathematical Sciences. He was also selected in 2006 by the National Academy of Sciences to be part of a Portrait Collection of Outstanding African-Americans in Science, Engineering, and Medicine and in 2008 he was named by the Queen of England to Membership in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.


The Nagel Lecture Series is sponsored by the USF Department of Mathematics and Statistics and the College of Arts and Sciences. For more information on the lecture, call (813) 974-2643.



The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.