Today is the official US launch of Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 at the Joint Mathematics Meeting, with a special celebration at the Open House of the Institutes this Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. It is an excellent opportunity to recall the North-American origin of MPE2013. Here, we all share the passion of mathematics. Most probably, we also share passion for nature and our planet. MPE2013 is an opportunity to put together our two passions.
I had the idea of MPE2013 in 2009, a dream, on a long training day on my cross-country skis that left me plenty of time to sketch its main characteristics: an extremely broad and important theme, an exceptional opportunity of collaboration between mathematicians and researchers from other scientific disciplines, a great theme for outreach to the public and the schools. The next Monday, I shared the idea with the directors of the Canadian institutes and we immediately wrote a one-page draft of the project. By the end of the week, the draft was sent to the directors of the North-American institutes. A few minutes later, at 6:00 a.m. Berkeley time, the first answer from MSRI arrived and, by the end of the day, nine American institutes had agreed to go. It was then time for hard work. So I use this opportunity to thank all my American colleagues who have worked so hard for MPE2013, especially Brian Conrey, Director of American Institute of Mathematics, and Mary Lou Zeeman from Bowdoin College.
In 2010, I was asked information about MPE2013 by David Wallace, Director of the Isaac Newton Institute (UK) and by Cédric Villani, Director of the Institut Henri–Poincaré (Paris). We immediately decided to open the initiative to the world. MPE2013 was announced at the General Assembly of the International Mathematical Union in Bangalore in 2010, and at the meeting of the Institutes’ Directors at ICM 2010.
American Institute of Mathematics (AIM) was instrumental in giving a great impulse to MPE2013 by bringing people together for two organizational workshops in Palo Alto in March 2011 and March 2012. The first workshop was concentrated on the planning of long-term programs and workshops, while the second workshop included the planning of meetings and outreach activities.
The 2013 Joint Mathematics Meeting will start brilliantly with a plenary lecture by Emily Shuckburgh and end, not less brilliantly, with the Porter Lecture by Ken Golden. Both Emily and Ken incorporate field work in their research and spent significant periods of time in Antarctica. Have you already learned that the structure of sea ice is very different from that of regular ice? Ken is a specialist of sea ice. He spent the fall of 2012 in Antarctica, studying ice and what we can learn from it.
My dream is now shared with so many people that MPE is developing on its own. Since the international launch on December 7 2012, no less than 20 new partners have joined. In parallel to the MPE blog chaired by Hans Kaper, a French blog with MPE nuggets has started on January 1st. The spirit of MPE2013, including the exceptional collaboration at the world level is here to last.
Christiane Rousseau, International Coordinator of MPE2013