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Lecture series: how maths is helping solve today’s problems

News release from the Royal Society of New Zealand

For immediate release

20 March 2013

Lecture series to explore how maths is helping solve today’s problems

Ten mathematicians will speak in ten locations over ten months for the Royal Society of New Zealand’s 10x10 Lecture Series.

The series explores how mathematics can help us face the challenges facing our planet and society– population growth, dramatic meteorological events, climate change, epidemics and invasive species, global financial crisis – to name but a few.

Dr Di McCarthy, Royal Society of New Zealand Chief Executive, says that mathematicians, with their expertise in modelling and solving problems, play a central role in the drive to understand and to deal with these challenges.

“People may visualise mathematicians as working away on esoteric theories or equations that have no relevance to everyday life, but nothing could be further from the truth.

“Rather, mathematics underpins nearly every field of scientific enquiry today from medicine to weather systems. Mathematics gives us a window into understanding the problems facing us all.

“We hope this lecture series will allow the public of New Zealand to gain a new insight into the importance of mathematics to their lives. It will also provide an opportunity for some of our top mathematicians to share with a wider audience the vital work that they are doing.”

The 10x10 Lecture Series is one of the activities planned to mark 2013 as the Year for Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE2013), a worldwide designation recognised by more than a hundred scientific societies, universities and research institutes.

New Zealand participants in MPE2013 include the New Zealand Mathematical Society, the New Zealand Association of Mathematics Teachers and the New Zealand Mathematics Research Institute together with the Royal Society of New Zealand.

To launch the series, the first lecture will be given in Wellington on Thursday 21 March by James Sneyd FRSNZ, Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Auckland.

He will show that mathematics can give insight into how human cells work and how chemical networks inside human cells are regulated. This area of research is called mathematical physiology, and its ultimate goal is to understand human disease – what happens when these pathways do not work or when cells behave badly.

Visit for a full list of speakers, venues and dates.


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