A couple of days ago I begged for help with a math colloquium talk I’m giving this Wednesday at Hong Kong University.
The response was immediate and wonderfully useful. Thanks, everyone! If my actual audience is as knowledgeable and critical as you folks, I’ll be shocked and delighted.
But I only showed you the first part of the talk… because I hadn’t written the second part yet! And the second part is the hard part: it’s about “what mathematicians can do”.
Here’s a version including the second part:
I include just one example of what you’re probably dying to see: a mathematician proving theorems that are relevant to environmental and energy problems. And you’ll notice that this guy is not doing work that will directly help solve these problems.
That’s sort of on purpose: I think we mathematicians sit sort of near the edge of the big conversation about these problems. We do important things, now and then, but their importance tends to be indirect. And I think that’s okay.
But it’s also a bit unsatisfying. What’s your most impressive example of a mathematically exciting result that also directly impacts environmental and energy issues?
I have a bunch of my own examples, but I’d like to hear yours. I want to start creating a list.
(By the way: research is just part of the story! One of the easier ways mathematicians can help save the planet is to teach well. And I do discuss that.)