Hello there Matteo Colangeli...
...Where do you work and what do you work with?
I am a Senior Lecturer in Mathematical Physics at the University of L’Aquila, Italy.
I do research in a field, called Statistical Mechanics, which aims at connecting the microscopic realm of atoms and particles to the large scale phenomena occurring in Nature.
What have you studied?
I graduated in Engineering at “Sapienza" University of Rome (Italy), then I obtained my Ph.D. in Science at ETH Zurich (Switzerland), then I made some postdocs in U.K. and Brazil and finally moved back to Italy, where I got my National Scientific Habilitation as an Associate Professor in Mathematical Physics.
Why is it that math is so fun?
Because Maths is the language of Nature. No matter your mother tongue, your ethnicity, your original culture: using Maths, you can communicate with colleagues worldwide using such a universal language. You know, some people even like to think (and it might well be true!) that Maths would exist even if men had not invented all those symbols we use to talk Maths.
In what way do you work with math within you profession?
One of the ultimate challenges of Statistical Mechanics is, for instance, to prove mathematically the validity of those equations ruling the macroscopic behaviour of physical systems, starting from the microscopic laws of the motion of the small atoms.
As an example: we all experienced the fact that putting a metal bar in contact, at its extremities, with two heat sources at different temperatures, heat starts flowing from the hot to the cold source.
Well, proving this seemingly simple phenomenon in a rigorous mathematical way has never been done!
What in your career has been challenging?
The life of a researcher is typically made of periods in which nothing new pops up in your mind: this can be quite frustrating.
Yet, a researcher knows how to cope with those periods of “calm sea".
Then, all of the sudden, some new idea, maybe a new method to solve an old puzzling problem, comes as a ray of light beaming into the fog of those unsolved equations standing on your sheets of paper. And your research in mathematics proceeds further.
What topic are you going to talk about on the Sonja Kovalevsky days?
I will discuss some general aspects about equilibrium and “out of equilibrium” systems.