Devadoss Takes Students Across Dimensions

Photo Credit: Kaatje White

Photo Credit: Kaatje White

On  Tuesday, November 4, 70 students piled into the meeting room for the second in the series of Greylock Talks rolling out this year. Williams College Professor of Mathematics Satyan Devadoss explained how to draw in the fourth dimension in a talk described by many as  “mind-blowing.” Riddled with humor, Professor Devadoss’ lecture took the audience on a journey through dimensions. He started by showing what a two dimensional being would look like, and how humans, as three dimensional beings, have the ability to rip the heart out of one of these two dimensional beings. Even though the topic in question may have been hard for high school students to wrap their heads around, Devadoss made visualization easier by showing 4-D shapes as they would appear in 3-D. A 4-D sphere drawn in  the third dimension looks more like the blueprint for a steam engine than a circular object. Professor Devadoss left the audience with the idea of how one can cut 3-D shapes along the edges and flatten them out to form a 2-D shape. Using this idea, Devadoss proposed that 4-D shapes could be similarly cut and flattened to make a three dimensional figure. The professor’s vibrant energy and animated teaching style made for an entertaining and informative talk. Students can look forward to the next installment of Greylock Talks, coming in the next few weeks.

[Advisor’s Note: Author Zach Armet hoped to include in his story an animated .gif of how to create a tesseract from a point. This image does not display properly within our webpage. The intended image can be found by following this link to wikipedia’s article on hypercubes.]

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