Michael Starbird, University of Texas at Austin
Abstract: The fourth dimension sounds eerie, mysterious, and exciting; and it is. Untying knots, stealing gold bricks from closed iron safes, unfolding hypercubes and linking spheres are all part of the journey.
We are transported to this abstract domain by a powerful method of creating ideas, namely, thinking insightfully about the world that we know well. A deep understanding of the simple and familiar is the key to exploring the complex and mysterious, and the fourth dimension illustrates that principal magnificently.
Biography: Michael Starbird is a University Distinguished Teaching Professor at The University of Texas at Austin and a member of UT’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers. He received his B.A. degree from Pomona College and his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has been in the Department of Mathematics of UT except for leaves including one to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and one to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
He has received more than a dozen teaching awards including several that are awarded to only one professor at UT annually and including the Mathematical Association of America’s 2007 national teaching award. He is a popular lecturer, having presented more than a hundred invited lectures since 2000. Starbird’s books include, with co-author Edward B. Burger, the award-winning mathematics textbook for liberal arts students The Heart of Mathematics: An invitation to effective thinking and the trade book Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz: Making Light of Weighty Ideas. With David Marshall and Edward Odell he co-authored Number Theory Through Inquiry. His Teaching Company video courses in the Great Courses Series include Change and Motion: Calculus Made Clear, Meaning From Data: Statistics Made Clear, What are the Chances? Probability Made Clear, and Mathematics from the Visual World. These courses reach tens of thousands of people in the general public annually. In 1989, Starbird was UT’s Recreational Sports Super Racquets Champion.