Hello there Florin! Where do you work and what do you work with?
Hi there! I teach mathematics and do research at the University of Victoria, on Canada’s west coast.
What have you studied?
I studied mathematics, obtaining a diploma at the University of Bucharest, Romania, and a Ph.D. at the
University of Heidelberg, Germany.
Why is it that math is so fun?
Mathematics challenges you to make connections that are not easy to understand, so when you
finally surmount all the difficulties you have that “Eurika!” moment that gives you a lot of joy and
intellectual satisfaction. Moreover, trying to explain what you are doing to others, and seeing how
their eyes shine when they understand what you are conveying to them, is equally satisfying.
In what way do you work with math within you profession?
I both teach and research the subject, focusing on applications of mathematics to celestial
mechanics, the science that deals with how celestial objects (planets, stars, galaxies, etc.) move in space.
What in your career has been challenging?
I meet mathematical challenges every day. Some problems seem easy, but once I think more
about them I find obstacles I didn’t see before. Then the desire to surmount those difficulties
takes over, and I am doing all my best to find a solution to the problem. I don’t always succeed,
but I always learn something new from my endeavours. Success usually leads to a research
paper that I publish in some mathematics journal.
What topic are you going to talk about on the Sonja Kovalevsky days?
Celestial mechanics has been used to date old historical events. Solar and lunar eclipses, occultation of stars, or the passage of comets close to Earth can be computed back in time, so when some historical event gets associated to such astronomical appearances, we have a mathematical way to find out when those events happened. My talk will get into details about this intriguing process.