The Physics of the City Laboratory
In this preface we propose a synthetic survey of the main ideas which are in our aim at the origin of the “Physics and the City” Symposium (Bologna-Italy, 15-17 December 2005). These ideas are developed from different point of view in the collected papers, also with different scientific languages, from the sociological or planning to the mathematical or physical ones. Very schematically we think that the present proceedings could prefigure the emergence of a new “science of the city”, really multidisciplinary and with possible spin-off on every single science concerned. Moreover with a large range of possible applications to the actual social life, in order to contribute to a better quality of life. Surely we are at the beginning and the topology of this “science of the city” it is not still well defined, but as H. Poincaré said:
Pour obtenir un résultat qui ait une valeur réelle, il ne suffit pas de mettre les choses en ordre; ce n'est pas seulement l'ordre, c'est l'ordre inattendu qui vaut quelque chose .
Urban Dynamics and Mobility Dynamics
The Physics of the City studies phenomena of urban dynamics, in particular the mobility dynamics. Mobility is considered as an individual motivation (tendency) to move on an urban topology. The urban topology is the system considered by the physics of the city and the elementary components belonging to this system have physical and cognitive properties. They are particles able to process informations making the system composed by two types of microscopic dynamics:
- a physical one, defined by some physical process like as collisions, forces and so on;
- a decisional, motivational dynamics, defined by the some perceptive properties, some states of mind, memory and so on.
Furthermore physics of the city investigates the mesoscopics dynamics: the mobility of citizens aggregations (students, workers, tourists...). Finally the physics of the city would understand the evolution of the whole mobility as a complex system.
The Automobile Civilization
The "automobile civilization" is today in front of a bifurcation. Problems as pollution and jams risk to end the glorious life of the motorcar. But at the same time, the car was and is the symbol (and a real possibility) of individual freedom (an ancient philosopher said that the human freedom is essentially the movement freedom). So it is necessary to develop the research in two main directions:
- the technological car renewal reducing drastichally the pollution;
- the mobility e-governance because also if the car pollution will be reduced to zero, the finite car volume remains and with the volume the traffic jams problem.
Roughly speaking, when the traffic reaches the maximum, often the mobility tends to zero (transition from the fluid state to the solid one). This is the contradiction that Physics of the City Laboratory likes to govern with a surplus of information injected into the mobility system.
Also see: Vehicles Mobility.
A quote on Sciences
There are fields of scientific exploration which have been explored from different sides of pure mathematics, statistics, electrical engineering and neurophysiology in which every single notion receives a different name from each group...
It is these boundary regions of science which offer the richest opportunities to the qualified investigator.
(N. Wiener, Kybernetics 1949)