Unlimited energy production

Discover Mikaela Iacobelli, 2015 L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellow and doctorate student at the Ecole Polytechnique.

Over time, mathematics has resulted in unexpected applications: number theory is now used in encryption (credit card operations) and the Fourier theorem is used in the functioning of telephones, televisions, radios, etc. “My dream is that my research, theoretic in nature, will have future applications that will improve peoples’ lives”, Mikaela Iacobelli. A doctorate student at the Ecole Polytechnique, the young Italian is immersed in kinetic theories such as the Vlasov-Poisson equation, which models, for example, the behaviour of plasmas and galaxies. Plasma physics has applications in energy production via nuclear fusion, with some sensitive issues to be resolved, as much in applied research (finding the right material to contain the plasma) as in basic research (understanding turbulence and instability in plasmas). The result will be worth the effort because controlling nuclear fusion would allow, in theory, more or less unlimited energy production. The holy grail of modern times…

What makes plasma so important is that 99% of the material in the universe is made of plasma. Stars, the universe, interstellar medium, the sun, lightning are all made from plasma.
My area of research is to study the equation that describes the evolution in time of these particles.
I realised the boring maths you learn at school is just an alphabet to access the super beautiful maths. A book of Shakespeare when you’re young is more attractive and you can immediately understand it. To understand a beautiful problem in maths you need some time. You need the tools. So you just need patience to access the beauty of maths.
What about being a woman in maths? It takes longer to earn credibility. People still associate a feminine figure with fragility, with weakness. It is implicit. So it takes longer to convince people your brain is not different.


For Women in Science

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