Can maths keep the lights burning

Mathematicians are teaming up with engineers to keep the lights on across the world. Jacek Brodzki gave fascinating account of how careful calculation could stop massive cross-border blackouts at the last must-attend Digital Economy lunch at the University of Southampton.

Dare we say it, the Professor of Pure Mathematics electrified his audience by outlining how you can come up with new ways of isolating transmission areas if the worst happens, through the ingenious use of maths. He used the example of a major power failure, which spread across the north east of USA and Canada on 14 August 2003, after a tree shorted a line. Jeremy Frey, Professor of Chemistry, told people at the lunch he had been there at the time and became stranded in Toronto.

Jacek leads a research group investigating applications of modern Pure Mathematics, especially geometry and analysis, in a variety of problems emerging in Data Science and Energy.