Jordi Valls defends the role of mathematics in the fight against fake news and the defence of democracy

15/03/2024 - 10:31 h - Science Ajuntament de Barcelona

Yesterday Barcelona City Council celebrated International Mathematics Day for the first time in conjunction with the Catalan Mathematics Society (SCM). Various events were organised throughout the day, culminating in an institutional event in the Saló de Cent, which featured a talk by the Barcelona mathematician Ariadna Farrés, who gave an overview of her career and how she applies mathematics in a field such as space and NASA. The event was also attended by the President of the Catalan Mathematics Society, Montserrat Alsina, and the Deputy Mayor for Economy, Finance, Economic Promotion and Tourism, Jordi Valls.

During the event, Valls said that “science and mathematics are fundamental for democracy”. “Mathematics are our most powerful allies in the fight against fake news and the defence of democracy against populism”. Mathematics is much more than numbers and equations. It is an invaluable tool for critical thinking and objective evaluation. It provides us with the tools to analyse data, detect patterns and distinguish truth in a world of misinformation, and it is therefore crucial to promote mathematical literacy and foster critical thinking in our society.

Valls wanted to highlight “the commitment of the City Council to put science and mathematics at the centre, convinced of their value as a tool for social progress”. A commitment that was seen during yesterday’s event, with workshops for young people from high schools in Ciutat Vella, which we hope to extend to other neighbourhoods in future educational events for young people, and a symbolic act in the Plaça del Pi. “From the City Council we want to consolidate this day and our commitment to science in general and mathematics in particular, and we will work to ensure that Barcelona is the venue for major mathematical meetings around the world, such as the Congress of the International Mathematical Union”, he said.

The lieutenant recalled that the Catalan mathematical community had already organised the 3rd European Congress of Mathematics in Barcelona, in 2000, with great success, and for this reason he asked for the help and complicity of the Catalan mathematical and scientific community to “be ambassadors and help us to make our city better known to the great mathematicians and mathematicians of the world”.

During her speech at the institutional event, Ariadna Farrés explained why this science is so important and promoted mathematical vocations. She also shared the applications of mathematics in the field of space, in professions such as physics or aerospace engineering, with examples of how mathematics enabled the resolution of problems in this field. Finally, he explained how he became part of the Hypatia crew and how mathematics is crucial in a manned mission to a planet like Mars.

Educational day with students from Ciutat Vella secondary schools

Throughout the morning there was an educational day with students from five secondary schools in the district of Ciutat Vella, with the participation of 210 boys and girls in the 1st year of ESO. Students from the Elisabets Secondary School, Sant Felip Neri Secondary School, Miquel Tarradell Secondary School, La Salle-Comtal and Vedruna-Àngels Secondary School participated in groups in three workshops that took place in different spaces such as Plaça del Pi, Plaça del Pi and Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol.

The three proposals and workshops carried out by the students of 1st ESO were Leonardo’s dome, which consists of the collective construction of one or more domes of about 4 metres in diameter and approximately 1 metre high. Secondly, the proposal referring to Where is mathematics in Plaça del Pi, a gamified version of the exhibition #JovesMatemàtiquesCatalanes designed to discover where mathematics is today, organised by the Catalan Mathematics Society. And finally, different mathematical playful workshops to make people think and learn geometry, enigmas or mathematical magic.

The organisation and coordination of these educational activities was promoted by the City Council’s Education Department and involved the Ciutat Vella district, the Barcelona Education Consortium, CESIRE-CREAMAT, the Ciutat Vella Educational Resources Centre, the Mathematics Museum of Catalonia (MMACA), the Catalan Mathematics Society and the Barcelona Association for the Study and Learning of Mathematics (ABEAM).

Symbolic act to turn the Plaça del Pi into the square of the number pi for a day

At midday, in Plaça del Pi itself, there was a symbolic act of unveiling a plaque with the number Pi. The event was attended by the mathematician Núria Fagella and the mathematician Enrique Gracián.

The event, which was open to all citizens, was attended by the students who had previously taken part in the workshops and various organisations from Ciutat Vella, as the district was involved in its organisation.