Entrance hall of the ICMSTrapped waves and wave radiation in fluid mechanics

In July 2016, ICMS hosted a workshop on Trapped waves and wave radiation in fluid mechanics

Trapped wave phenomena are challenging to analyse and predict, as they usually require the study of partial differential equations (PDEs) with one or more complications from complex boundaries, variable co-efficients or non-linearity.  

The workshop brought together researchers whose expertise spans geophysical flows surface water waves, complex dynamics and experiments, and the underpinning theory of waves in
fluids. These specialists come from different fields: pure and applied mathematics, atmospheric and ocean scientists, experimentalists and industry representatives with common interests in these problems. fields, and start inter-disciplinary collaborations.

The delegates had a busy week both at ICMS and around Edinburgh.  There was a trip to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Leith, a visit to Maxwell’s birthplace courtesy of the Maxwell Foundation and an opportunity to view the Crawford collection at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.  Whilst at ICMS there were 25 talks, and an Industry Day with participants from Offshore CG, Atkins, Flowave TT Ltd and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.  There was even time for a public lecture by Paul Milewski, University of Bath, When water waves act up: hydrodynamic laser and quantum analogues, which showed how the behaviour of water waves can provide insight to the world of quantum mechanics.

Delegates at the Trapped waves and wave radiation in fluid mechanics workshop, 2016


Whilst the workshop was on, we took the opportunity to speak to the delegates in a bit more detail.

Esteban Tabak, Courant Institute, NYU

Esteban is from Argentina where he studied Hydraulic Engineering before moving to MIT to do a PhD in Applied Maths.  He then spent 2 years at Princeton as a PhD before moving to Courant Institute, NYU, where he is professor of Mathematics.  He has been there for 21 years and considers himself fortunate to be living in his favourite place.

Tell me about today's event and your role in it

I am a speaker at this workshop, I find this topic very, very interesting.  My own research area is geophysics and issues such as trapped waves in the tropics may explain why we have the tropics, how waves behave out of the troposphere – may explain our weather.

What brought you to this area of research?

Mostly serendipity.  Projects lead to other projects, Conversations lead to projects.  In fact, I’ve had interactions with 2 of the organisers of this meeting.  Trapped Waves with Paul Milewski (University of Bath) and Radiation Waves with Lyuba Chumakova (University of Edinburgh).  However my interest in this area is also sparked by work on data, originally from working with medical doctors on extracting data which has moved on to how to extract data from observations of the weather and what that can tell us about waves in the atmosphere.  So I’ve taken the original application (medical) and returned to geophysics.    In Applied Maths people should explore a variety of field.  Maths underlies so many field, the tools are similar.  The tools can be applied to different fields, and work in different field enriches the tools. I have found this has occurred repeatedly thought my research.

Other than exploring maths, what are the benefits of taking part?

It is a beautiful topic with a broad remit.  I knew the organisers and I knew it would be an opportunity to meet lots of interesting people.

What will you take back to your [day job/research/studies]?

I’m talking about what I do every day.  I have new knowledge in a number of topics.  The scope of the workshop is quite broad.  I’ve learnt about interaction between waves, and at today’s Industry talks I’ve learned about engineering applications.  The mix between academic and industry talks has been very well balanced and really nice.  I’ve learned new things from every talk.

Have you met interesting people, and if so, what connections have you made?

I knew a good proportion of the delegates beforehand.  However, I’ve met new people.  They are a great diverse group.  Especially regarding age, we have new students ranging through to senior academics.  I’m not sure it is going to lead to new collaborations but I’ve got lots of new people’s research to follow.

Do you have any advice for first-time ICMS attendees?

For me it has been wonderful, so my first piece of advice would be “If you are invited, Go!” The structure of the meeting, with plenty of breaks means that you talk to people, so the interactions happen naturally.

Have you been to many other conferences? How does ICMS differ?

Over the years I’ve been to lots of meetings and conferences.  ICMS falls in to the class of small conferences which I prefer to attend. You get the chance to speak to everyone and interact with all the delegates.

If you could solve one maths problem, what would it be?

In the old days I would have answered the Von-Neumann Paradox, but now I’m not sure I’d want to focus on any particular problem.  Rather I’d like to grow Mathematica so that is makes more connections.

Do you have any thoughts regarding how we can raise the profile of maths?

I have not got a solution but I think people’s fear of maths relates back to maths teaching at elementary level.  How can you make it friendlier, perhaps by giving teachers more freedom?  I’m not sure. 

Do you have any thought on how diversity in mathematics can be improved?

In maths I think that gender balance is particularly important and obvious. We need to make female mathematicians feel they belong in the mathematics world.  Being proactive helps.  It relates to the previous question where I think many feel excluded from early on.

Who is your favourite mathematician and why?

I’m not sure he is my favourite, but I particularly admire Newton, his creativity, work in the natural sciences.   He was an amazing character and he shaped the future of mathematics.