Saturday, March 05, 2016

Malaysia-Italy Collaboration@INSPEM

A few days ago, I would have kept what I'll be writing below under the wraps. However since the following 'poster' was leaked out in social media, I thought it could use some publicity and perhaps some explanation.

On 10 March 2016, there will be an inauguration ceremony of Malaysia-Italy Centre of Excellence for Mathematical Sciences (MICEMS) initiative, officiated by the Malaysian Deputy Minister of Higher Education, YB Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching. The Italian ambassador to Malaysia, His Excellency, Mr. Mario Sammartino will be coming and I'm informed that there will be a video message from the Italian Minister of Education, University and Research, Her Excellency, Prof. Stefania Giannini during the officiation ceremony.

The origin of the idea goes as far back as in March 2014 when we had an MoU signed with Politecnico di Torino (Polito; see also here). We were very pleased to had this signed as Polito is the oldest technical university in Italy and unlike commonly perceived ideas of technical universities like we have here, Polito is a top-notch research university that boasts of many research alliances with industries world wide (including Malaysian industries). At that time, we had our researchers (Santo Banerjee and Muhammad Rezal Kamel Ariffin) collaborating with Lamberto Rondoni from Polito. When the MoU was signed, talks of possibly forming a joint institute and thoughts of ICTP-like institute were floating around but one which is based more broadly on mathematical sciences. This is indeed ambitious and of course we proceeded cautiously with the proposal for some time. Well, it took about two years to come to this form of realization of MICEMS.

Now MICEMS is a kind of endorsement made from the Italian government through INSPEM in UPM. I likened it very much like European Mathematical Society (EMS) endorsement of INSPEM as an Emerging Regional Centre of Excellence in May 2014 (see here). The difference is that MICEMS will now have an office in INSPEM. Things are very much fluid at the moment, as far as I can understand, and MICEMS will be led from the Italian side with Malaysians involved in research projects in INSPEM. This may of course grow to something bigger to like what we had envisaged in the very beginning but presently we will let it run its natural course.

Personally, I'm very much committed to the idea and I saw plenty of opportunities here for us to grow scientifically. Those who knew about history of science in Europe, much of it began in Italy and today we can see many Italians leading reputable research organizations and groups (like CERN, for example). In my own small way, I would indeed like to collaborate in someway with Prof. Rondoni who is well known for his work on nonequilibrium statistical physics. I would be very interested in ideas of irreversibiity and other fundamental ideas in nonequilibrium statistical physics. We had of course also discussed other more applied ideas, some of which are quantum thermodynamics in flavour and others in the direction of complex networks. We would also like others to explore ideas with their Italian counterparts as we hope to make this initiative bigger as it should be. Now for those who are interested in what Prof. Rondoni is doing (partly), he will be giving a public talk on Tuesday, 8 March 2016 at 9 am in al-Farabi Seminar room, INSPEM, on the topic of "On Irreversibility, the Arrow of Time, and Cosmological Implications". The abstract is given below:

"Our understanding of the structure of matter tells that reversible microscopic mechanical laws lead to irreversible macroscopic laws, that can be verified in our daily life. We will illustrate how the transition from the reversible microscopic realm to the irreversible macroscopic world is realized in microscopic models of macroscopic phenomena, discussing the relation between the different levels of description of Nature. We will see how the ultimate explanation of these issues has been connected with the evolution of the Universe, of which the recently observed gravitational waves constitute a most intriguing aspect."

I would recommend all to come to this talk.

Now, I leave this post with some photos from our photo shoot yesterday taken at the MICEMS office, meant to be partially included in some multimedia presentations (and, we giggled through our photoshoot poses).

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