Friday, February 24, 2012

From Single Scattering Albedo to Radiative Smoothing; Having Fun with Radiative Transfer by Alexander Marshak


Sasha in action
Walking out of the seminar room I was filled with enthusiasm and an urge to walk right back to my desk and write up 5 pages of my research - It was like rediscovering my love and passion for the science I do. Such was the effect of Alexander Marshak's maniac talk! A talk that got the audience thinking and excited about science. A talk that aptly represented what maniac talk is all about! A talk that covered the entire spectrum of the theory, equations, observations and experimentation behind estimating SSA for clouds from measurement at one wavelength and extrapolating it to other wavelengths - a piece of science that has unmatched importance in remote sensing of cloud drops and in studying its effects on earth's radiation budget and climate. Sasha is a pioneer in the field of radiative transfer. He is a physical research scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. In his maniac talk, he not only presented the results of his research but also demonstrated it to the audience in the form of simple experiments. He brought with him cups and milk and a laser pointer and mesmerized the audience by showing a very simple demonstration of no scattering, single scattering and multiple scattering of laser light in clear water, water made turbid by one drop of milk, and a more turbid medium with couple of drops of milk, respectively. He then exemplified what happens to photons traveling within clouds of varying thickness by using milk of different densities (2% vs. half-&-half etc.). This was a talk that will be remembered by many in the audience not only for the scientific passion of the speaker (Sasha) but also for its scientific content - very few will forget what multiple light scattering in a cloud like medium looks like, what is the governing equation to estimate the spot size of scattered and transmitted light in a cloud and what it depends on. Sasha's talk reminded us that there needs to be a mania for the science we do in order to love it and bring a closure by achieving meaningful application of our research work/science. 
(February 28, 2012, summary and pictures by Falguni Patadia)
if this is too much to believe …… check out the pictures from Sasha’s talk!
Queue outside seminar room -- forced the seminar to be moved into a bigger room
Setting up in the bigger room
and fun with equations started again
Last item of the show -- demonstration of light scattering in clouds 

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