Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 Simons Public Lecture Series

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About Simons Foundation Lectures

Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.

The Simons Foundation is pleased to support the Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 (MPE2013) Simons Public Lecture Series as a part of Mathematical Sciences Research Institute’s MPE2013 project.

These lectures showcase the relevance of mathematics in meeting the global challenges facing our planet today. The Simons Foundation, along with others, has worked to create a comprehensive and accessible series featuring some of today’s most pressing issues. This series will not only inform the public about the connection between math and sustainability but will also encourage progress toward solving some of planet Earth’s fundamental problems and foster communication between science and mathematics educators.

Though the MPE2013 lectures are targeted to a mathematically literate audience, they are also intended to be accessible to a broad lay audience. The lectures, now begun, will be held in nine locations around the world and cover a broad range of topics. MPE2013 features top researchers in mathematics, climate science and sustainability, who will discuss themes ranging from the relevance of mathematical models in climate prediction to the importance of social cooperation in overcoming global sustainability problems.

The series launched with an inaugural lecture on January 29, 2013, at the Sidney Myer Asia Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Geoff Prince, director of the Australia Mathematical Sciences Institute, and Ian Chubb, Australia’s chief scientist, introduced speaker Professor Simon Levin, George M. Moffett Professor of Biology and director of the Center for BioComplexity at Princeton University.

Levin’s lecture, “The Challenge of Sustainability and the Promise of Mathematics,” focused on how mathematical models may be used to explore and predict behavior within financial, ecological and governmental systems. The Melbourne lecture was attended by a combination of mathematicians and the general public, and it was followed by an engaging question and answer session with the speakers.

Past lectures:

Quantum mechanics and the future of the planet
Speaker: Emily Carter
November 4, 2013
Hosted by: Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics
Los Angeles, California


The challenge of sustainability and the promise of mathematics
Speaker: Simon Levin
January 29, 2013
Hosted by: Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI)
Melbourne, Australia
Simon Levin, director of the Center for BioComplexity at Princeton University, considered how mathematical tools can help us understand systems from bacterial biofilms to the biosphere and how mathematical models can predict various human behaviors.


Climate disruption: What math and science have to say
Speaker: Emily Shuckburgh
March 4, 2013
Hosted by: American Institute of Mathematics and Mathematical Science Research Institute, San Francisco, California
Renowned climate scientist Emily Shuckburgh discussed the implications of climate disruption and how mathematical and scientific models can be used to predict scenarios for the Earth’s future.

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Climate Math
Speaker: Inez Fung
March 26, 2013
Hosted by: African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS)
Cape Town, South Africa
Inez Fung, a leading climate expert, reviewed the basis of climate modeling and discussed new challenges to projecting future climate change<i>.</i>

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Les mathématiques pour faire parler la Terre (Images, Earthquakes and Plumes)
Speaker: Ingrid Daubechies
April 10, 2013
Hosted by Centre de recherches mathématiques (CRM)
Montréal, CanadaMathematician
Ingrid Daubechies discussed how she has developed methods to extract information about Earth’s structure from global seismic data.


The Public Health Impact of Air Pollution and Climate Change
Speaker: Francesca Dominici
April 24, 2013
Hosted by: Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI)
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Biostatistician and public health expert Francesca Dominici reviewed statistical modeling methods for estimating the public health impact of air pollution and extreme heat.


CliMathematics: Models, data, structures
Speaker: Rupert Klein
May 23, 2013
Hosted by: Berlin Mathematical Network
Berlin, Germany
Rupert Klein, who has made a career of finding connections between mechanical engineering and climate, explained how physics, informatics and statistics can quantitatively characterize observational data about our planet.


On growth and form: Mathematics, physics and biology
Speaker: L. Magadevan
September 24, 2013
Hosted by: Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics
Providence Rhode Island


The evolution of cooperation: Why we need each other to succeed
Speaker: Martin Nowak
October 8, 2013
Hosted by: Institute for Mathematics and its Applications
Minneapolis, Minnesota

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