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Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics

Infinities and Cosmology


Image copyright Sven GeierDate: 18-21 March 2013; a three-day miniseries followed by a one-day workshop


Venue: Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Wilberforce Road, Cambridge CB3 0WA

Cosmology involves infinities, or at least the prospect of infinities, in various ways: the most obvious being the potentially infinite age and size of the universe, and the possible occurrence of actual infinities at local spacetime singularities or at the beginning of the Universe. But there are also other kinds of infinity to consider; for example, the possibility of enhanced spatiotemporal scope for computation, or the unlimited proliferation inherent in the concept of the multiverse and the problems encountered in defining probabilities in this context.  These topics will be explored in this three-day series and the following full-day workshop.

Talks will be aimed at both physicists and philosophers of science: all are welcome.


Organisers: Professor John D Barrow FRS, Dr Jeremy Butterfield FBA, Dr David Sloan. Part of a joint University of Cambridge/University of Oxford research project on 'Establishing the Philosophy of Cosmology'. 



Registration is now open: please complete the online booking form. The registration fee is £50 (£20 for students), payable by credit/debit card online when booking. Lunch and coffee on all days (18-21 March) are included for registered participants. (Please note that the registration fee does not include accommodation - if this is required please see the Practical Information section below for links to accommodation information and booking websites).





Outline Programme



Speakers (Infinities and Cosmology miniseries, 18-20 March 2013):

Anthony Aguirre, University of California Santa Cruz

Mihalis Dafermos, University of Cambridge / Princeton University

Michael R Douglas, Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, Stony Brook University

George Ellis, University of Cape Town

Mark Hogarth, University of Cambridge

Simon Saunders, University of Oxford


Monday 18 March Tuesday 19 March Wednesday 20 March
09.00 - 10.00 Registration (09.00-09.45) 
Welcome and introduction (09.45 - 10.00)
09.30 -10.30 George Ellis: Infinities of age and size (including global topology issues) (ii) 09.30 - 10.30 Simon Saunders: At home and at sea in an infinite universe: Newtonian and Machian theories of motion
10.00 - 11.00 George Ellis: Infinities of age and size (including global topology issues) (i) 10.30 - 11.00 Coffee 10.30 - 11.00 Coffee
11.00 - 11.30 Coffee 11.00 - 12.00 Anthony Aguirre: Infinite and finite state spaces 11.00 - 12.00 Mark Hogarth: Infinite computations and spacetime
11.30 - 12.30 Anthony Aguirre: Infinite and finite spacetimes 12.00 - 13.00 Michael Douglas: Can we test the string theory landscape? (ii) 12.00 -13.00 Mihalis Dafermos: Singularities and cosmic censorship in general relativity (ii)
12.30 - 14.00 Lunch 13.00 - 14.15 Lunch 13.00 - 14.15 Lunch
14.00 - 15.00 Michael Douglas: Can we test the string theory landscape? (i) 14.15 - 15.15 Mihalis Dafermos: Singularities and cosmic censorship in general relativity (i)    


Please note this timetable is provisional and may be subject to slight change

Thursday 21 March - Workshop

Confirmed speakers are Professor Gary Gibbons (University of Cambridge), Dr Martin Sahlen (University of Oxford), Professor Philip Welch (University of Bristol), Dr Laura Mersini-Houghton (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Dr Francesca Vidotto (Radboud University Nijmegen) and Dr David Sloan (University of Cambridge). The timetable for the workshop programme will be confirmed shortly.

09.30 – 10.15 Talk

10.15 - 11.00 Talk

11.00 - 11.30 Coffee

11.30 – 12.15 Talk

12.15 – 13.00 Talk

13.00 – 14.15 Lunch

14.15 - 15.00 Talk

15.00 - 15.45 Talk




Practical information

Registration form: please complete the online registration form to book your place. The conference fee is £50 (£20 for students) payable by credit/debit card online when booking. Lunch and coffee on all days (18-21 March) are included for registered participants.

Directions and travel information for the Centre for Mathematical Sciences can be found here.

Accommodation: Conference Cambridge provides an online search and booking portal for accommodation in college rooms for individual visitors. The Visit Cambridge website provides an accommodation search and booking facility for local B&B and hotels. Alternatively, the University of Cambridge Accommodation Service provides information on some short-stay accommodation options.


We are grateful to the John Templeton Foundation for their support for this event.