MATRIX Online Public Lecture – Dr Marcy Robertson – National Science Week

Jan de Gier

  • 17 Aug 2022
    4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Event Time:
Wednesday, 17 August @ 1630 (AEST) (Melbourne)
Wednesday, 17 August @ 1430 (CST) (Beijing)
Wednesday, 17 August @ 1200 (IST) (New Delhi)
Wednesday, 17 August @ 0730 (BST) (London)
Wednesday, 17 August @ 0230 (EDT) (New York)
Tuesday, 16 August @ 2330 (PDT) (Los Angeles)

Presenter: Dr Marcy Robertson, The University of Melbourne

Biography:  About me      The University of Melbourne

Topic: Mathematical oranges and deep space communication

Abstract: Imagine you were trying to pack a crate full of oranges. How should you arrange the oranges in order to maximize the number of oranges you can pack into your crate?

This is one example of what mathematicians call a sphere packing problem: how to arrange spheres (or polyhedra) of various dimensions to maximize density. In general these problems are notoriously hard, but have deep implications for materials science, signals communication and physics.

In this talk I’ll explain some easy sphere packing problems, explain how the sphere packing problem in dimension 24 was key to the deep space communication that allowed NASA to transmit pictures data from the Voyager space craft, and why Maryna Viazovska just won the 2022 Fields Medal for her solution of the sphere packing problem in dimension 8.

Structure: 45 minutes seminar with 15 minutes question time

Seminar Recording and Slides:


Please click here for the recording


Please click here for the presentation slides