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Discover interviews Shing-Tung Yau


The Math Behind the Physics Behind the Universe (click)
The interview looks at this exceptional mathematician in a somewhat more positive and more fair light than various recent anti-scientific diatribes.

It talks about young Yau's gang and fistfights, his modest background, the influence of his father, Yau's contributions to the unification of geometry and physics, clarification of hidden dimensions in string theory, efforts to reform the Academia in China and beyond, early love with maths, first happy encounters with California, the meaning of topology, the complexity of nonlinear equations, important teachers in Yau's career, the special beauty of complex manifold, the importance of Ricci curvature, his early opinions that the Calabi conjecture had to be wrong, the new air when it was known it was right, the way how string theory non-trivially solves many old puzzles, Chinese institutes influenced or founded by Yau, Chinese-U.S. relations, degree to which Perelman's proof was complete, and his viewpoint on the beauty of maths.

Quite a lot of things to cover! Recommended.

Hat tip: Wilie Soon

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reader Brian G Valentine said...

Yau had a nice proof of the Calabi conjecture, reducing by homotopy the equations satisfied by the geodesics on complex manifolds to PDE that could be solved by Monge-Ampere methods (of descent, actually).

I wasn't sure that all of the system for which the hyperbolic (parts) that could exhibit "shock" discontinuities of the derivatives were picked up by his method, but I guess it doesn't matter because the dual satisfies the conditions at least weakly

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