by Judith Curry
There are some climate-relevant stories associated with the 2011 Nobel Prize winners in Physics and Chemistry.
Nobel Prize in Physics
From Fox News:
Three U.S.-born scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics Tuesday for discovering that the universe is expanding at an accelerating pace, a stunning revelation that suggests the cosmos will eventually freeze to ice.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said American Saul Perlmutter would share the award with U.S.-Australian Brian Schmidt and U.S. scientist Adam Riess. Working in two separate research teams during the 1990s — Perlmutter in one and Schmidt and Riess in the other — the scientists raced to map the universe’s expansion by analyzing a particular type of supernovas, or exploding stars.
The Australian Conversation reports Brian Schmidt’s statements in a press conference:
“I think that [the carbon debate] has, maybe in the short term, diminished in some people’s minds the standing of science but to my mind it is part of the scientific debate,” he said at a press conference in Canberra this morning.
“I think that science should inform public policy. Public policy needs to take it as an input. It doesn’t mean it’s the only input.”
Professor Schmidt’s comments follow fierce public debate around the science of global warming and an emboldened climate change skeptics movement. Australian climate scientists said earlier this year they have been the target of hate mail and death threats.
“Science is never absolute, that’s the problem. You have different levels of assurity. I have won the Nobel Prize with my team today for discovering the accelerating universe. We are pretty certain that’s correct but you are never absolutely certain. The carbon debate is centred around the science, is the science right? Well there are uncertainties in the science,” said Professor Schmidt.
“I think the evidence is quite strong that change is happening,” he said. “The science behind climate change predicts there should be a little change right now but in future, the prediction is it will be much more. I think we are going to do that experiment, so in 20 years from now we will see how good those models are.”
The Daily Californian has a big write-up on Saul Perlmutter. The climate-relevant angle is that Saul Perlmutter is a member of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Team. So I have the rather unexpected honor of sharing coauthorship with a Nobel Prize winner on several papers (which are of course totally unrelated to his Nobel Prize).
A quick update on the Berkeley project: papers have been submitted and are under review, and plans are underway for making the data set public. So, coming soon (I don’t know exactly when).
Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Dan Shechtman
Yahoo News reports:
Israeli scientist Dan Shechtman was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday for a discovery that faced skepticism and mockery, even prompting his expulsion from his U.S. research team, before it won widespread acceptance as a fundamental breakthrough.
“The main lesson that I have learned over time is that a good scientist is a humble and listening scientist and not one that is sure 100 percent in what he read in the textbooks,” Shechtman, 70, told a news conference Wednesday at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel.
“Only later did some scientists go back to some of their own inexplicable findings and realized they had seen quasicrystals but not realized what they had, Jackson said.”