Thursday, 13 January 2011

Pierrehumbert - Physics Today article

Raymond Pierrehumbert (Louis Block Professor in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago) has an article published in this months 'Physics Today' magazine called 'Infrared Radiation and Planetary Temperature'.  The magazine is published by the American Institute of Physics and is one of the most popular physics magazines worldwide.

The article can be downloaded from the University of Chicago web site. Note it is a PDF file, so you need an appropriate reader.

It isn't new research, but is a very nicely written appraisal of the science as it stands today. The main focus is on the science that underlies the phenomena called 'The Greenhouse Effect'.
Although the article does have a few equations, the bulk of the text is readable by most people who have at least some understanding of physics. I think if you are a keen watcher of TV science and like programmes such as the BBC Horizon series, or you subscribe to Discovery, you would be able to understand some of it, maybe quite a lot.

I suspect most physics teachers would have no difficulty in understanding the full article.

The article covers a lot of ground, ranging from the historical context to Kirchhoffs Law, energy balance, theory, experimental evidence and atmospheric observations, the properties of different gases and why some planets are warmed by the Sun + greenhouse gases and others aren't.

Take a look it might open a whole new world to you!

No comments: