Held at the Aula Magna of Palazzo Bo, the Usefulness of Useless Knowledge round table is part of the international conference hosted in Padua from May 23 to 27 celebrating 100 year of the Italian Mathematical Union and the University of Padua’s 800th Anniversary.
The round table will discuss the role of basic research in innovation and technological transformations with a focus on mathematics to comprehend and address complex current and long-term social, cultural, climate and environmental challenges.
The round table welcomes Jean-Pierre Bourguignon (French mathematician, former European Mathematical Society President 1995 – 1998, former Institut des hautes études scientifiques Director 1994 – 2013, former ERC President 2014 – 2019, ad former ERC ad interim President 2019-2021), Domitilla Benigni (CEO of Electronics, President of Cy4Gate and founding member of Women4cyber), Alberto L. Sangiovanni-Vincentelli (Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, CTA, member of the Board of Directors of Cadence Design Systems and an globally renowned innovation pioneer), Ingrid Daubechies (Belgian mathematician and physicist, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University, and first female president of the International Mathematics Union 2011 to 2014). University of Padua professor and evolutionist Telmo Pievani will moderate the discussion.
The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge round table is inspired by the classic 1939 essay by Abraham Flexner, the founding director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. The essay of the same name defends the pursuit of useless knowledge and the search for answers to deep questions motivated solely by curiosity and without concern for its applications. Arguing that throughout the whole history of science most of the really great discoveries which had ultimately proved to be beneficial to mankind had been made by men and women who were driven not by the desire to be useful but merely the desire to satisfy their curiosity.
L’event is open to the public. Registration is required.