Lunch Time Science Talk: Prof TAN Meng-Chwan


Close to 100 faculty staff attended Prof TAN Meng-Chwan’s talk over lunch on 27 Jan. His talk titled “An Introduction to String Theory, and its Pivotal Role in the Future of Mathematics and Religion” was highly instructive and engaging.


Prof Tan, from the Department of Physics, was formerly a Major in the Air Force who completed his Ph.D. with NUS in 2007. His thesis was examined by Edward WITTEN, who is widely regarded as EINSTEIN’s successor as the greatest theoretical physicist of all time. He was invited to the legendary Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Einstein's old stomping ground, to be a member and postdoctoral mentee to Professor Witten, and subsequently, to the prestigious California Institute of Technology to be a research fellow. Prof Tan founded and currently leads the NUS String Theory Group, Singapore's first and only String Theory group.


His talk explores the fundamentals of String Theory, the leading candidate for Einstein's dream of a "Theory of Everything", a unified theory of all the four fundamental forces of the universe which can describe every physical and scientific phenomenon in nature.


In recent times, it has also inspired new ideas and directions in pure mathematics, and revived the deep relationship between physics and mathematics first seeded by Isaac NEWTON who discovered the mathematics of calculus through an attempt to understand the physics of motion.


Through its implications for cosmology, String Theory has also brought us closer to answering some of the biggest questions posed by humanity since the dawn of civilisation, like how the universe began and how it will end, or if life exists after death.


You can watch Prof Tan’s talk on our YouTube channel.