The Shape of the Universe: Swagatta Datta ’23
Eratosthenes of Cyrene was the first person to prove that the earth was a sphere and to calculate its circumference. Swagatta Datta ’23, who studied theoretical mathematical physics at Bennington, is following in his footsteps. Only Datta is interested in the universe.
To people outside the field, Datta describes it this way: Before we came to understand that the earth was round, our only observations, what we could see in the immediate environment, pointed to the idea that it was flat. Eratosthenes used a mathematical formula to prove that it was round. Once we were able to get off of our planet, we could easily see that it was round.
“Locally, just around us, [the universe] looks like four dimensions, three dimensions of space and a fourth dimension of time, but the universe as whole, we don’t really know what [shape it] is,” Datta explains. “We can’t really zoom out to see what it looks like.”
While Datta accomplished other physics-related work during field work term, his mathematical work defining the unseeable properties of spheres and cubes is the subject of his senior work.
He was accepted to University of Alberta in Canada, where he is pursuing a master’s degree in mathematical physics. He aims to get a PhD and to teach mathematics and physics at the college or graduate level.
Learn more about studying mathematics at Bennington.