November 1, 2019 at 10:15 pm

Physics Colloquium | Physics and Energy, Nov. 8

The Physics & Astronomy Colloquium Series presents Robert Jaffe of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on “Physics and Energy”, on Friday, Nov. 8, at 4:10 p.m. in Clippinger Labs 194.

Robert Jaffe

Abstract: Energy is a central concept in physics.  Because energy is conserved, it is possible to understand the behavior of complex systems by tracing the flow of energy through them.  On the other hand, we humans “consume” energy, degrading it into less useful forms, as it powers modern societies.  Providing energy for the world to use in a sustainable fashion is a major, perhaps existential challenge for humankind in the 21st century.  The scale and scope of the problem is enormous.  The implications for Earth and human societies are profound.

In response to this challenge, Washington Taylor and I developed a physics course for MIT undergraduates and an associated textbook — “The Physics of Energy” –– that focus on the sources and uses of energy, and on energy systems and externalities associated with energy use, including climate change.  After setting out the nature of the problem, I will describe the motivation for and structure of an energy-centered university physics course and relate some of the insights that we uncovered along the way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *