Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Angel Hair, Ice Cream Castles, Dripping Faucets & Euler Fractals

Dr. Robert Cahalan presented a Maniac Talk on October 24, 2012 at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Dr. Robert Cahalan gave an interesting and stimulating talk entitled ‘Angel Hair, Ice Cream Castles, Dripping Faucets & Euler Fractals’. He combined anecdotes from his life and career with insights into the world around us from symmetry, fractals, and chaotic systems. This began with a look at the mathematics of rotations, topology, and prime numbers, with demonstrations including a hexaflexagon.

The mathematics then became a background for Bob’s experiences growing up in the middle part of the previous century, including being forced to do arithmetic by nuns at Catholic school as punishment for bad behavior, and through his career as a scientist, moving from the world of particle physics (heavily entwined with symmetry) through to the work on radiation and climate he is known for here at GSFC. We learned about the common themes which have underlined many aspects of this work. The talk renewed our sense of wonder and amazement at the beautiful complexity of nature and mathematics. -- summary by Andrew Sayer

Advancing the Forecast Enterprise

Dr. Louis W. Uccellini presented a Maniac Talk on September 12, 2012 at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Abstract:Over the past 20 years, the entire weather enterprise has made revolutionary advances in the prediction of weather.  Remarkably, even greater progress has been made in the prediction of extreme weather events out to 7 days in advance (in some cases).  In this presentation, Dr. Louis W. Uccellini, Director of the National Weather Service’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction, will review the advancements that have been made in the prediction of extreme events.  He will then trace the revolutionary transformation of forecasting from a subjective “art” in the 1940’s to the applied physical science that it is today.  Today’s forecast process is based on 1) an integrated global observing system, 2) numerical weather prediction models and 3) the world’s fastest computers.  He will also describe how climate, weather and water predictions arebeing linked to decision makers, including the emergency management and water resource communities.  The linkage of these developments to an improved “Research to Operations” (R2O) transition process will be highlighted in this presentation including some recent developments in accelerating the use of satellite data in advanced numerical models involving the Goddard Space Flight Center.  The talk will conclude with a discussion of what is (and is not) working as this larger climate, weather, and water enterprise is attempting to improve the R2O process and accelerating the transition of research, observations and technology advancements into operations.