The National Institute of Advanced Mathematics (INdAM) has organized a Workshop on “Mathematical models and methods for Planet Earth,” which will take place in Rome, Italy, on May 27-29, 2013. This MPE2013 event is organized by Alessandra Celletti (Università di Roma Tor Vergata), Ugo Locatelli (Università di Roma Tor Vergata), Tommaso Ruggeri (Università di Bologna) and Elisabetta Strickland (Università di Roma Tor Vergata). An international group of mathematicians with expertise in a wide range of application areas will present results on several themes related to MPE2013. Information on the workshop is available on the Workshop Web site.
The National Institute of Advanced Mathematics (INdAM) is an Italian partner of MPE2013. Founded in 1939 by the noted mathematician Francesco Severi, INdAM aims to train researchers in mathematics, especially in emerging areas of research; to foster the transfer of knowledge to technological applications; and to support contacts between Italian and international mathematical research. To achieve its objectives, INdAM promotes fellowships from the undergraduate level to experienced researchers and organizes workshops, meetings and schools.
Speakers at the workshop will discuss mathematical methods and stochastic models to understand emerging collective behavior in complex systems arising, for example, in the social, economic and behavioral sciences, where large numbers of units interact. They will illustrate the important role of mathematical modeling and simulation in biology and medicine, with applications ranging from the behavior of cells and tissues to the description of tumor growth. The leading role of mathematics to support our planet will be further illustrated by the attribution of authorship of literary texts and by models for future internet information dissemination.
Besides the investigation of human related aspects, mathematics enables the study of the physical characteristics of our planet. Most notably, some talks will be devoted to the calibration of geological time scales (a crucial aspect which allows us to retrieve specific events in Earth’s history), to the investigation of boundary layers associated with large-scale ocean circulation and, going up in the atmosphere, to study Earth’s climate variability and changes using the theory of dynamical systems.
Safeguarding planet Earth is not limited to our planet and its atmosphere. Since the Earth is a part of the solar system, we must also investigate the interaction of the Earth with the other neighboring bodies populating our universe. The N-body problem enables us to study the stability of the Earth’s dynamics as well as to devise new interplanetary trajectories. The recent impact of the meteorite at Chelyabinsk (Russia) signaled the necessity to develop mitigation strategies to safeguard planet Earth from near-earth asteroid hazards. Lastly, we must also be concerned about the space debris from dismissed satellites and fragments which form a dangerous envelope surrounding the Earth: a mathematical investigation of the dynamics of space debris has become urgent.
A special event at the workshop will be the public lecture by Christiane Rousseau (Université de Montréal), vice-president of the International Mathematical Union. The title of the lecture is “Mathematics of Planet Earth”. The talk will deal with the complexity of the Earth as a whole and will highlight the role of mathematics in protecting and discovering our planet.
The joint effort of all scientists participating in MPE2013 will show that our planet is the setting for all sorts of dynamic processes. The challenges facing our planet and our civilization are multidisciplinary and multifaceted: the mathematical sciences play a central role in the scientific effort to understand and deal with these challenges. MPE2013 will also enable us to train a new generation of researchers working on scientific problems that will motivate students by providing stimulating answers to questions like “What is mathematics good for?”
We conclude by quoting Marta Sanz-Solé, President of the European Mathematical Society, who pointed out, at the MPE Day held at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on March 5, that “The MPE2013 initiative will expose mathematicians to the whole world, by showing their usefulness and stimulating research. From now on, mathematics can be no more associated to pure intellectual exercise without connection to the most important problems of mankind.” We hope that the INdAM workshop will contribute to the goals of MPE2013.
Alessandra Celletti and Elisabetta Strickland
Università di Roma Tor Vergata