A special event recently took place in the Theatre of the Rizzi Academy in Siena to celebrate the life and work of Prof Enzo Tiezzi of the University of Siena, an internationally renowned scientist for his achievements in the field of ecological systems.
The event presented an opportunity to review Enzo’s prolific work in areas other than sciences and focused on three of his most important books, ie “City out of Chaos” (published in English by WIT Press, ISBN 978-1-84564-133-7, 2009); “Canto e Contracanto” (a book of poetry); and “Asmara”, a recent novel, the latter two published only in Italian to date.
The 500 seat Theatre was full, reflecting the popularity of Enzo’s work, not only among his scientific colleagues but also within the Siena community.
The event opened with a selection of classical and other pieces of music played by a guitar and flute duo. The standards of the musicians was outstanding and their selection of pieces most appropriate for the beautiful 18th Century Theatre.
The concert was followed by a video showing an interview that Tiezzi gave to the reporter Christopher Slatter, which has been shown all over the world. Enzo pointed out the need for our civilisation to understand the limits to grow and the urgency of returning to nature to find a new type of development based on a better understanding of the laws of nature, particularly relating to the thermodynamics of living systems and the way evolutionary processes work.
The next speaker was the Italian publisher of many of Enzo’s books, including his latest Asmara novel. She expressed her gratitude to Enzo for the number of excellent books her publishing firm has been involved with.
Professor Carlos Brebbia, Director of Wessex Institute of Technology (WIT) and Chairman of its associated academic publisher, WIT Press, spoke next. He said that WIT Press has published the English edition of several of Enzo’s books, including City out of Chaos.
He spoke as follows:
“In the first place, I would like to stress how important Enzo’s work has been in the development of our research. Meeting Enzo for the first time 10 years or so ago at a Conference chaired by Ilya Prigogine opened up new lines of research for us, in addition to being the start of a programme of collaboration that continues to this day.”
“Of the many academic initiatives resulting since then, I would like to mention just one: the launching of a new prize, The Prigogine Gold Medal, awarded by the University of Siena and our Institute to the best scientists in the field of Ecological Systems, with particular reference to those who have developed further the ideas of Prigogine.”
“I could continue referring to many other initiatives, especially in research, resulting from Enzo’s ideas, but it is my intention here to focus on the English versions of some of his most important books published by our academic press.”
“We started by producing the English version of his book “The End of Time” (ISBN 978-1-85312-931-5, 2002) which focuses on the coupling of historical, philosophical and scientific aspects of the struggle towards a new ecological culture”.
“That book was followed by “The Essence of Time” (ISBN 978-1-85312-949-0, 2002) where the bases was set up of an evolutionary physics; a concept that he further developed in his other book “Steps Towards an Evolutionary Physics” (ISBN 978-1-84564-035-4, 2006). The importance of this book is that it gave a new coherence to the dynamics of life on earth. It is a seminal work based on Prigogine’s Ecodynamics Theory proposing cross fertilisation between his ideas and those of Charles Darwin.”
“A further book published by our WIT Press and entitled “Beauty and Science” explains that the aim of science should be to live in harmony with nature.”
“Enzo has edited many books, some of them published by us. I cannot refer to all of them in this brief talk, but I would like to mention “The Road to Sustainability” (ISBN 978-1-84564-140-5, 2008) because of the importance of its contents. This is an interdisciplinary book with different authors investigating the physical conditions for sustainability and pointing out the limits that humans can no longer ignore.”
“More recently, we published a volume that is becoming a best seller, ie “City out of Chaos” (ISBN 978-1-84564-133-7, 2009). It is based on thermodynamics concepts, non-equilibrium organisation theory and evolutionary physics; concepts all applied to study the contemporary city.”
“Finally, I would like to mention the latest of Enzo’s publications in English, the charming story of Rosaluna (ISBN 978-1-84564-399-7, 2009). Built upon his previous book “Beauty and Science” (ISBN 978-1-85312-740-3, 2004), it takes those contents to a higher level, producing a scientific allegory with elements of evolutionary physics. Its added merit is that it introduces the general public to current scientific ideas in a beautifully written manner.”
“I trust that this brief summary of Enzo’s book in English helps to convey the depth of his knowledge, the breadth of his interests and the originality of his thoughts.”
“Enzo is a truly Renaissance man and a worthy disciple of Prigogine. His curiosity – the trademark of good scientists – leads him to broaden the scope of his research in an effort to seek the links and interaction of different agents; finding patters and laws in the midst of apparent random chaos.”
“WIT and WIT Press are proud to be associated with Enzo and hope that our links will continue to develop for many years to come.”
“Thank you Enzo for the confidence you have deposited in us!”
At the end of his talk, Carlos gave Enzo an antique map of Tuscany printed in Leiden in 1714, as a token of his personal esteem and in gratitude for his friendship. Carlos hoped that the present would remind Enzo of his happy occasion.
Enzo then spoke briefly, referring to his work and in particular to the books to be described at this event.
Emilio del Giudice (Prigogine Medal winner, 2009) discussed the importance of the book “City out of Chaos”, in which thermodynamics concepts are applied to study the way in which cities grow and in particular how they can be applied to determine sustainability. He explained that the work describes how a sort of rapport within an essentially chaotic system can be established. Cities can be loved or hated by their inhabitants; some remaining alive while others die out. In order to remain alive, a city needs a flow of energy and a degree of interaction with its surroundings. These actions can be interpreted in thermodynamic terms and interaction with the complexities of nature. Understanding those principles can lead to substantial savings in the amount of energy required to run our modern cities for instance.
The book – Emilio said – is also an important example of cooperation between a younger scientist (Riccardo Pulselli) and his older mentor (Enzo) and hence a bridge between different generations. Collaboration is the essence of the book, dedicated to the laws of cooperation that ought to shape future cities.
Next, the Oscar winning actor Giuseppe Cederna read poems from “Canto e Contracanto”. The Canto represents the optimism of Enzo, while the Contracanto refers to the melancholic outlook of his co-author Giorgio Moro. The excellent performance by Giuseppe deeply moved the audience. (Giuseppe Cederna is well known through his acting in the films “Marakesh Express”, “Scola’s Family” and “Mediterraneo”, the film for which he received his Oscar.)
Finally, the new novel Asmara was introduced. The name refers to the capital of Eritrea, a country famous for its art-décor architecture as well as being the name of the heroine. The book was written by Enzo and another Sienese, Aldo Bolonini.
The evening concluded in this manner, followed by a cocktail reception; ending a most enjoyable evening in the beautiful city of Siena.
Note: For more news about other associated events, see the Press Releases of the Prigogine Awards: