Scientists attending a latest mesoscience conference, The Preparatory Meeting of the International Panel of Mesoscience, call for more people to engage in the study, and to verify its generality with more case studies.
From May 27 to 29, over 30 distinguished scientists from Australia, China, France, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, Britain, and USA met in Beijing to discuss the status and pathways forward for an emerging interdisciplinary research area: mesoscience.
The participating scientists, from different disciplines, including chemistry, mathematics, psychology, and chemical engineering, gathered as members of the International Panel of Mesoscience at its first meeting and announced “A Call for Work on Mesoscience”.
Mesoscience is coined by Chinese scientists to represent the common principles behind a wide range of problems where competing mechanisms result in spatiotemporal complex structures at the scales between the element and the whole system of the level of consideration, that is, the mesoscales. Successful models have been established in systems such as gas-solid fluidization, gas-liquid bubbling flows and turbulent flows by formulating the compromise between the involved competing mechanisms as a multi-objective variational problem mathematically. There are an increasing number of evidences on the applicability of the same principle in other systems such as granular flow, reaction-diffusion systems and bio-macromolecules. Models and simulation methods based on this principle have shown great values for designing, optimization and modulation of industrial processes and engineering. The promising field deserves much more awareness and attention from the scientific community for future development.
Attendants from the Chinese Association of Science and Technology (CAST), National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), and Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) showed willingness to continue supporting the development of mesoscience.
The following is the full text of the consensus:
A Call for Work in Mesoscience
Our World is filled with complex challenges whose solutions matter deeply to society. These challenges are characterised by multiple scales in time and space, involving mechanisms at different levels. A number of modelling approaches have been used in the past. One such approach is based on building blocks, or fundamental constituents, put together to capture system characteristics. Another approach looks at the average properties of a limited sample to infer how the system behaves. Although these approaches have had some successes, there is an alternative; this we call ‘mesoscience’.
Mesoscience proposes that complexity arises from an inevitable compromise between competing factors, such as different mechanisms striving for dominance. Mesoscience bridges bottom-up and top-down approaches through multi-objective optimisation under constraints.
There have been notable successes in a number of chemical processing applications, and the question we are raising is whether this new methodology can be applied more widely. An International Panel has met and considers the approach may well be applicable to several other fields.
This Panel calls for more studies to be made for the application of mesoscience and to look for underlying common themes amenable to the development of a research methodology that we believe, in time, may well become a new branch of science, engineering and technology.
Reported by HUANG Yan, a news reporter at Xinhua News Agency, China.
(National Science Review, https://doi.org/10.1093/nsr/nwy071)