Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Tribute to Nelson Mandela

One of the most visible icons in human history, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, passed away on December 5, 2013. 

The world was instantly plunged into a black hole of sorrow and sadness, for it lost one of its most courageous, kind, forgiving and charismatic citizens and leaders. Mandela is such a unifying figure that he commands revere from the entire political, racial, religious spectrum. Many countries (including the U.S.) ordered their flags to half-staff to honor Mandela.

The enduring image of Mandela which is still fresh in my mind was him walking to freedom with his wife from the prison that jailed him for over two decades. One can only imagine his joy, triumph and hope at that historic moment. His incredible journey took him from a layer, to an African National Congress (ANC) leader, a prisoner, and finally the first black president elected in a fully representative democratic election. He dedicated his life to the fight for freedom and justice for all South Africans.

Why is Mandela so adored by so many people? I believe he touches many at a personal level. Millions admire his many great qualities: dedicated, courageous, persistent, optimistic, kind, and forgiving. My favorite story about Mandela was something like the following.

Because of severe turbulence (CFD?) during a routine flight, the airplane he flew in was so bumpy that everybody went panic thinking the plane would crash. The passengers looked up to Mandela, and found him totally unaffected and still working on his speech at the destination. They instantly drew strength from Mandela and calmed down themselves. When the plane safely landed, Mandela was asked why he was so calm. He replied that he was scared to death too.

When I read the story, I could almost hear the hero from a movie saying "I just have no fear".

Mandela is perhaps the greatest leader in history. Can you think of another great leader giving up his power willingly at his pinnacle?

Finally as a tribute to Nelson Mandela for his fight for democracy,  I give you two papers with different views on high-order CFD methods, which are published by the same journal:
  • Z.J. Wang, K. Fidkowski, R. Abgrall, et al, High-order CFD methods: current status and perspective, Int. J. Numer. Meth. Fluids, 2013; 72:811–845.
  • R. Löhner,  Improved error and work estimates for high-order elements, Int. J. Numer. Meth. Fluids 2013; 72:1207–1218.
Democracy is live and well in CFD. Now are you for or against us? Let me know using comments below.