Europhysics Conference: The Dynamics of Complex Systems

By . Published on 27 September 2016 in:
September 2016, , ,

There was an expectant atmosphere as the 120 participants gathered on Wednesday, 18 May 2016 in the Lecture Theatre of the Zeeman Building at the University of Warwick at the start of the Europhysics conference on the Dynamics of Complex Systems. The meeting, held in honour of the forthcoming 60th birthday of Professor Robert MacKay FRS, had a line-up of speakers drawn from the greats of pure and applied dynamical systems, mathematical physics and complex systems science, all areas in which Robert MacKay has made significant and lasting contributions.

The programme was grouped into themes, with sessions on Hamiltonian dynamics and K.A.M. theory, waves and turbulence, biological modelling, dynamics on lattices, social dynamics, renormalization, billiard systems, topology and astronomy, as well as general dynamical systems.  Keynotes (amongst a total of 43 invited talks) included (in chronological order) Jean-Pierre Eckmann (Geneva), Tom Bridges (Surrey), Raphael Douady (Stony Brook and Paris I), Jim Meiss (Colorado), Rafael de la Llave (Georgia Tech), Alessandra Celletti (Rome – Tor Vergata), Serge Aubry (CE Saclay), Kostya Khanin (Toronto),  Jacques Laskar (Observatoire de Paris), Charles Tresser (Ramat Hahayal), Robert MacKay (Warwick), Henk Broer (Groningen), Jaume Llibre (Autonoma Barcelona), Sergey Bolotin (Winconsin Madison and Steklov), John Guaschi (Caen), and Phil Boyland (Florida Gainesville).

There is insufficient space to describe in detail all the keynote talks, let alone all the excellent contributions by other participants. Three highlights: Jacques Laskar showed how the approximate unidirectionality of eccentricities in the orbits of asteroids in the far solar system provided strong evidence for the existence of a new planet which might replace the now demoted Pluto. Robert MacKay himself revealed his ideas towards a spectral interpretation of the Riemann zeroes, corresponding to the quantum dynamics of a charged particle on a surface of curvature -1 with a magnetic field 9/4.  Phil Boyland in a talk with the title ‘When topology forces dynamics’ demonstrated both mathematically (using the theory of pseudo-Anosov maps) and experimentally (using a mechanical device) how dynamical complexity arises from the underlying system topology.

The lively poster session was of a particularly high standard. The Chairman of the Statistical and Nonlinear Physics Division of EPS, Christian Beck, awarded the EPS poster prizes. The first and second prize were deservedly won, respectively, by PhD students Jake Shipley (Sheffield) with a poster on “Binary black hole shadows, chaotic scattering and the Cantor set” and Aine Byrne (Nottingham) with a poster on “Next generation neural mass modelling”.

The organisers of the meeting were Claude Baesens (Warwick), Christian Beck (Queen Mary, University of London), Ben Mestel (Open University), and Mark Muldoon (Manchester).

Further information on the meeting is available from

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The Community of European Solar Radio Astronomers [CESRA,] held its triennial workshop in Orleans, France,  from 13-17 June 2016.

The CESRA2016 workshop was attended by around 60 participants from 20 countries, and had a special emphasis on the complementarity of space-based and ground-based radio observations, and provided the community a place to discuss the exciting new science opportunities that arise from, for example, the Solar Orbiter and Solar Probe Plus missions, the new and future radio instruments like ALMA, E-OVSA, EVLA, LOFAR, MUSER, and SKA, and the plans to design and build a European spectroheliograph.