First Ko Lecture a Success

Veronika Hubeny
Veronika Hubeny

One new black hole appears every second, physics professor Veronika Hubeny told a rapt audience on Monday (May 9) during the first lecture in the new Winston Ko Frontiers in Mathematical and Physical Sciences Public Lecture series. In all, there are more black holes in the universe than grains of sand in the Sahara Desert, she said.

Researchers such as Hubeny hope to better understand the universe by studying black holes. These mysterious, mathematically elegant objects point the way toward resolving conflicts between Einstein’s theory of general relativity and modern quantum physics.

“Black holes provide hints about the nature of space-time itself,” Hubeny said during her talk. “The deeper we go, the more fascinating nature turns out to be.”

Hubeny is a key member of the new UC Davis Center for Quantum Mathematics and Physics, or QMAP, an initiative aimed at fostering a vibrant research environment exploring the forefront of modern theoretical physics and mathematics. QMAP researchers work in concert to tackle questions such as the origin of space and time, quantum gravity and string theory.

More than 200 people attended the talk. The Ko Lecture series was endowed by former dean Winston Ko upon his retirement from the UC Davis Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. Both Ko and his wife Katy attended Hubeny’s talk.

“Professor Ko is a legendary agent for change in our mathematical and physical sciences,” said acting chancellor Ralph Hexter. “Winston devoted his 41-year career at UC Davis to pushing new frontiers in discovery.”

Ko’s gift is part of a challenge grant to establish a Professorship in Science Leadership to recognize an outstanding faculty member in the division. Fundraising for the Winston Ko Professorship in Science Leadership continues — contributions of any size are welcome toward this goal. Make a gift.

— Becky Oskin, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science