Walter Hermann Nernst (1864-1941), the great German scientist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1920) and father of the third principle of thermodynamics, had a Florentine pupil, Giorgio Piccardi (1895-1972), professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Florence. Piccardi launched the studies of oscillating phenomena, which were then undertaken by Ilya Prigogine (1917-2003), the scientist awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977. Piccardi’s best pupil and scientific successor was Enzo Ferroni (1921-2007), who took over his chair at the Department of Physical Chemistry at the University of Florence. Enzo Ferroni had a young, enterprising researcher from Siena as his pupil, Enzo Tiezzi, who then became Full Professor of Physical Chemistry and founder of the Sienese school of chemistry. Mindful of this lineage and extremely respectful of the role of his teachers, Enzo Tiezzi often spoke proudly of having been a pupil of Giorgio Piccardi, Enzo Ferroni, and Ilya Prigogine.

Enzo passed away June 25th, 2010.

Enzo Tiezzi was a scientist, an internationally famous physical chemist. In order to tell about his academic career, we would have to mention hundreds of publications and university lectures. His research was a journey, a series of adventures undertaken with the spirit of a passionate pioneer. From his years studying magnetic resonance imaging to his research in the sectors of evolutionary and ecological sciences, Enzo Tiezzi was an authentic precursor of the sciences and new disciplines for the environment, up to his recent studies on the complex properties of water [1].

It is impossible to summarize, in just a few lines, the work of Enzo Tiezzi, and the immense, protean, colorful baggage of knowledge gained and transmitted in these years of passionate scientific research. Wishing to identify a general, preeminent aspect of his thought, we believe we must refer to his great ability to observe and explain, in theoretical terms, the behavior of complex dynamic systems. In his thought, thermodynamics is the science that predominantly allows for the explanation of the general processes that regulate the functions of living systems, and that allows us to face existential issues such as the origin and maintenance of life on planet Earth, or the complexity and emergence of novelties in nature. With this basic direction, the scientific investigations of Enzo Tiezzi have ranged from laboratory studies of a number of particular oscillating chemical reactions, to the systemic vision of networks of processes in living organisms, ecosystems, economic and social systems. An accurate and articulate scientific treatment of the recent developments of evolutionary sciences and the epistemology of science is gathered in the volume “Steps Towards an Evolutionary Physics”[2], which furthers the work undertaken by Prigogine.

Prigogine defined these systems as dissipative structures for their ability to organize themselves into coherent forms and to maintain them over time. These properties are due to two essential and necessary characteristics. The first is that a dissipative system is an open system, that is related to the external environment with which it activates exchanges of energy and matter. The second is that a dissipative structure is a complex system with a group configuration that is coherent and able to adapt itself to stimuli from the surrounding environment and to self-organize. Tiezzi investigated the main properties of living systems, starting with the thermodynamics of Prigogine. In recent years, in order to more simply identify and communicate the basic principles of an ecological theory of systems that is able to orientate new techniques for observing nature, Tiezzi focused attention on a concept that he synthetically expressed with the acronym COOS, with reference to the name of the Greek island that is the home of Hippocrates. COOS means “Confined Ontic Open System”, indicating that every living system or grouping of living systems – which could be a garden or a barena in the lagoon of Venice – is one of a kind, insofar as it is the result of an epigenetic evolutionary process in which different elements and systems have combined in a succession of random choices and events. The self-organization of a system is guaranteed by the presence of a border, an interface that allows for the modulation of the relations and exchanges between the system and the external environment and conditions its evolution. The idea was born in Morocco, in February 2009, when Enzo was in the house of his friend Sergio Caroli, built renewing an ex-caravanserai in the Tighmert oasis.

While speaking of Tiezzi’s work, a colleague and friend, Prof. Enrico Falqui, said, “his last years were spent in attempting to track down ‘universal values’ in the field of his complex and countless investigations into the link between Biology and Development; when Enzo did track them down, he then chose new tools and new means for ‘communicating’, to an increasingly wider audience, his ideas for the future and the ethics of responsibility, which he always knew how to convey to his pupils.” In these years, Enzo Tiezzi founded and directed the Ecodynamics Group. Today, this group has the honor of availing itself of the strong imprinting that Enzo Tiezzi entrusted to his pupils in these years of collaboration and research. Enzo Tiezzi’s perspective and inheritance, gathered in particular in his books and publications, is today the common key for interpreting all the interdisciplinary works and projects undertaken by this research group, in remembrance of his first teachings (quoting Seneca): “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”

In these years of passionate collaboration, we have seen Enzo Tiezzi receive all kinds of awards and recognitions, each time with the pride and gratitude of one who still knows how to be amazed by the approval he has gathered. He always held this spirit, for occasions of great prestige among international scientists – such as for the Blaise Pascal Medal of the European Academy of Science, or for the Prigogine Medal of the Wessex Institute of Technology – as much as for all other cases, which were just as important in his eyes – such as for the Mantova Award for Arts and Sciences, or the ‘Mangia d’Oro’, a recognition granted by the city of Siena to its greatest representatives.

Books by Enzo Tiezzi, scientific essays written with the sensibility of a narrator enchanted by nature – such as “The End of Time” [3], “Beauty and Science” [4], “The Essence of Time” [5], among others [6-8] – have influenced hundreds of young researchers and have been translated and published all over the world. An interview with him was included in the International Show “Les Yeux ouverts. Stock exchange visions” [9] and presented at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, at the Milan Triennial, and at the Shanghai Arts Festival: this is a set of interviews of 54 personalities, including scientists and world-famous intellectuals, accredited with and chosen for giving a “vision of the future world”.

His journeys, from India to Patagonia, from Guatemala to Cappadocia, and his observations of the infinite diversities among nature, cultures, and civilizations, always inspired his work, aimed at the constant search for beauty in this “blue orange” – as Enzo defined our magnificent planet – and at an authentic harmonious relationship with it. His wisdom was expressed in a thousand ways, with great coherence, such as in his photographs [10], which have often been exhibited in various cities in Italy, and in his poetry [11,12], which testifies to his being both a meticulous scientist and a passionate creative artist.

In order to give an idea of the eclectic personality of Enzo Tiezzi, we must refer to numerous meetings with him and how much was absorbed from each of them, if they were with Nobel Award-winners or world-famous intellectuals and scientists, or with his youngest pupils. Many have treasured his teachings for studies and applications in numerous sectors and disciplines, grateful for the passion for science and life that he was able to convey.

Much of his exuberant nature manifests itself between the lines of his stories. Enzo is in all and in none of the various characters, only partly real or completely imaginary, that populate the pages of his novels [13-15], each of which, in some way, represent an aspect of his multifaceted personality. In order to tell you about him, we would have to quote Rosaluna, born February 4th in a thermal tub, Altair the horse, the sketched character Indaco de Lunas, the city and the young girl Asmara, a talking pelican named Polibio, the dreamer Isidro Pavòn, the king of the gypsies and the pirate Morgan, and, finally, we would have to tell you about his casual encounter with a two-tailed mermaid.

The Pupils – Ecodynamics Group

Text taken from “The Planet Earth, a Blue Orange in the Thoughts of Enzo Tiezzi”. International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics. WITpress, Southampton 2010.

[1] Special issue of the International Journal of Ecodynamics, 5 (1), 2010.
[2] E. Tiezzi. Verso una fisica evolutiva. Donzelli, Roma, 2006; Steps Towards an Evolutionary Physics. WIT Press, Southampton (UK), 2006.
[3] E. Tiezzi. Tempi Storici, Tempi Biologici: venticinque anni dopo. Donzelli, Roma, 2005; The End of Time. WIT Press, Southampton, 2003.
[4] E. Tiezzi. La Bellezza e la Scienza. Cortina, Milano, 1998; Beauty and Science. WIT Press, Southampton (UK), 2004.
[5] E. Tiezzi. Fermare il Tempo. Un’interpretazione estetico-scientifica della natura. Raffaello Cortina, Milano, 1996; The Essence of Time. WIT Press, Southampton, 2003.
[6] E. Tiezzi e N. Marchettini. Che cos’è lo sviluppo sostenibile? Donzelli, Roma, 1999.
[7] F. Pulselli, S. Bastianoni, N. Marchettini, E. Tiezzi. La Soglia della Sostenibilità. Ovvero quello che il Pil non dice. Donzelli, Roma, 2007; The Road to Sustainability. GDP and the Future Generations. WIT Press, Southampton (UK).
[8] R. M. Pulselli, E. Tiezzi. Città Fuori dal Caos. La sostenibilità dei sistemi urbani. Donzelli, Roma; City Out of Chaos: Self Organization and Sustainability. Wit Press, Southampton (UK).
[9] Les Yeux ouverts. Stock exchange visions. Available at: http://www.stockexchangeofvisions.org/
[10] E. Tiezzi. Lo sguardo sul pianeta. Immagini di biodiversità planetaria tra sostenibilità ambientale e sacralità naturale. Laris ed., Colle Val d’Elsa (SI), 2010.
[11] E. Tiezzi. Di terra, di aria, di mare. Marcos y Marcos, Milano, 2006.
[12] G. Moro, E. Tiezzi. Canto e controcanto. Marcos y Marcos, Milano, 2009.
[13] E. Tiezzi. Rosaluna. Donzelli, Roma, 2006; Rosaluna. WIT Press, Southampton (UK), 2010.
[14] E. Tiezzi. Isidro Pavòn. Ovvero la storia del canale che mai fu. Donzelli, Roma, 2008.
[15] E. Tiezzi. Asmara. Donzelli, Roma, 2009.