This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies. To find out more, see our Privacy and Cookies policy.
Skip to the content

Free weekly newswire

Sign up to receive all our latest news direct to your inbox.

Physics on film

100 Second Science Your scientific questions answered simply by specialists in less than 100 seconds.

Watch now

Bright Recruits

At all stages of your career – whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, researcher or industry professional – can help find the job for you.

Find your perfect job

Physics connect

Are you looking for a supplier? Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide.

Start your search today

Tag archives: weather modelling

Climate change and chaos, the many faces of physics, spider-silk superlenses and more


By Tushna Commissariat

In case you have ever wondered why so many theoretical physicists study climate change, physicist Tim Palmer from the University of Oxford in the UK has a simple answer: “because climate change is a problem in theoretical physics”. Indeed, Palmer, who won the Institute of Physics’ 2014 Dirac medal, studies the predictability and dynamics of weather and climate, in the hopes of developing accurate predictions of long-term climate change. The answer, according to Palmer, lies at the intersection between chaos theory and inexact computing – which requires us to stop thinking of computers as deterministic calculating machines and to instead “embrace inexactness” in computing. Palmer talked about all this and more in the latest public lecture from the Perimeter Institute in Canada – you can watch his full talk above.

When someone says the word “physicist”, what image or persona comes to mind? That is the question the Institute of Physics (which publishes Physics World) was hoping to answer with its recent member survey based on diversity, titled “What Does a Physicist Look Like?” The Institute’s main aim with this diversity survey, which about 13% of its members responded to, was “to understand the profile of our members and gain some insights into who they are – diverse people with different ages, ethnicities, beliefs and much more”. You can read its entire results here.


Posted in The Red Folder | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Wind turbines’ effect on the wind underestimated

By Hamish Johnston

David Keith

David Keith.
(Courtesy: Eliza Grinnell, Harvard SEAS Communications)

How much energy could be generated worldwide using wind turbines? That’s the sort of back-of-the-envelope calculation that physicists love.

Estimates by scientists had put the generation rate at somewhere between 56 and 400 TW. To put that into perspective, a typical nuclear or fossil-fuel power plant churns out about 1 GW.

However, these calculations don’t tend to consider the impact of huge wind farms on the wind itself. Now, David Keith of Harvard University and Amanda Adams of the University of North Carolina have used a “mesoscale” weather model to do just that.

Their conclusion is that previous estimates of global wind capacity could be as much as 10 times too high.


Posted in General | Tagged , | 8 Comments | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile