Still warming to my favourite topic of climate change. Find below a complete story about how we are able to measure atmospheric temperatures from millions of years ago. Use this as a lesson starter or discussion topic with students.
400 years ago:
Johannes van Helmont (born Brussels, Spanish/Dutch citizen), an early experimentalist, first coins the word gas. Probably from Greek chaos and his particular use of Flemish.
Also famous for his 5 year tree experiment and for perhaps the first idea of an enzyme.
300 years ago:
Réamur, French, invents the cupola furnace, similar to a modern blast furnace, for melting and smelting iron. A major by-product of extracting iron from its ore is of course carbon dioxide. The industrial revolution is now of course history!
Also famous for his Reamur temperature scale.
200 years ago:
The continent of Antarctica, a huge sheet of ice nearly 5 kilometers thick at one point, is sighted for the first time by three explorers independently. A Russian, von Bellingshausen, an American, Palmer and an Englishman, Bransfield. In the same year, electromagnetism is discovered by Oersted, Danish. Arago and Ampere, both French contribute with Ampere's Law and magnetization, while Schweigger, German, invents the galvanometer. These developments underpin all scientific efforts to make measurements, and in particular the mass spectrometer.
100 years ago:
Aston, British, invents the first mass spectrometer for measuring the isotopic composition of the elements and discovers the whole number rule for atomic masses.
Antarctica is an area of enormous experimental interest, with many countries collecting data on the atmosphere, ice and the oceans, not to mention data about past climates. Many nationalities over four centuries have contributed to this scientific enterprise.
We measure carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere millions of years ago by examining tiny bubbles of air trapped in ice-cores. We can also measure the isotopic composition of gases trapped in these bubbles to determine past climate temperatures. In this way carbon dioxide concentrations can be correlated with atmospheric temperatures.
I have been thinking about the sustainability goals of the EU and our new content project, Sustainability in STEM education.
Today is the birthday of Maria Goeppert-Mayer, Nobel Laureate in Physics 1963. After Marie Curie’s award in 1903, Maria is the second woman to win a Nobel in physics. Donna Strickland became the third woman Nobel prize-winner in physics in 2018. Roughly half a century between them!
Goeppert-Mayer won her award for finding a mathematical model for the structure of the nucleus. Interestingly she submitted her paper to the Physical Review 3 months before a group of three male scientists submitted similar work. Their work was published first! Maria Goeppert-Mayer endured many years of working for nothing because she was a woman and did not obtain a paid university position until 1942, twelve years after winning her doctorate. When offered a position at the Argonne National Laboratory in 1946, she replied, “I don’t know anything about nuclear physics”. Despite this self-deprecation she had already predicted that the undiscovered trans-uranic elements would form a series similar to the rare earth metals, would go on to programme the first electronic computer ENIAC to solve complex problems on nuclear reactor cooling and later develop her model of the nucleus.
Maria was educated at Gottingen University and would have met Emmy Noether, described by Einstein and others as the greatest woman mathematician in the history of mathematics. Few people know about Noether’s work. I never heard about her during my own studies in physics at university, yet Noether’s theorem concerns all the conservation laws. Essentially she proved that the Law of Conservation of Energy must exist. She provided the mathematical logic to explain why there is a law of conservation of momentum. In principle, Noether’s theorem explains why there is any physics at all, so it is worth pondering why we know so little about her.
Thinking about Goeppert-Mayer’s work in nuclear physics reminded me that another famous woman in STEM working on the nucleus was born just 100 years ago. Her work was not about the atom’s nucleus but was on nucleic acid, DNA, and she was of course Rosalind Franklin. Franklin presented a paper at King’s College London in November 1951 suggesting the twin helical structure of DNA, two years before Crick and Watson published their work. Rosalind Franklin, who died in 1958, is perhaps the most famous ever non-recipient of a Nobel Prize. She was overlooked by the Nobel Committee for 1962 at a time when the current rule about not awarding prizes posthumously did not exist, meaning that she was almost certainly disregarded because she was a woman.
STEM & Makers Fest/Expo
23-24 March 2019, Adıyaman University
Provincial Education Director Ahmet Alagoz, Adiyaman University Rector Prof. Dr. Mustafa Talha Gonullu, Hacettepe University representatives, students, teachers, and parents, merhabalar. I am honored to be here in Adiyaman for the first time for the STEM Makers Fest and Expo.
On behalf of the U.S. Embassy, I’d like to thank all of the partners who made this expo possible – Adiyaman University, Hacettepe University, Turkish STEM Alliance, Texas Instruments, STEM News Aggregator (bilimiletisimi.com), and especially Prof. Dr. Gultekin Cakmakci for his steadfast efforts to coordinate this impressive event.
Atatürk once said, “Hayatta en hakiki mürşit ilimdir.” The truest guide in life is science. He also said “Bütün ümidim gençliktedir.” All of my hope is in the youth. Here we are today in a room bursting with the enthusiasm of a new generation fully engaged in scientific discovery and innovation. In your lifetime, your generation will face unprecedented challenges. Can humans travel to – or even live on – Mars? What can we do to reduce the effects of climate change or adapt ourselves to new environment? How will new computer technologies like social media and artificial intelligence affect human experience? As Ataturk said, we place our hope in you to address these challenges and many more. Studying STEM will help you to do that.
Unfortunately, many students’ only exposure to STEM fields is in the classroom—poring over textbooks, memorizing formulas, or at best, staring into beakers in dreary laboratories. These experiences aren’t likely to spark the passion and drive necessary to dedicate one’s life to solving the world’s greatest challenges through STEM. This STEM Makers Fest/Expo is different. In today’s workshops, kids get going right away with coding, building, experimenting, and more. We hope these experiences will spark a life-long love of STEM and a strong sense of empowerment.
From the factories that produced the Ford Model T automobile to NASA’s lunar landing; from Thomas Edison’s invention of the lightbulb to the ever-emerging innovations of Silicon Valley, the United States has been at the cutting edge of technological discovery. We at the U.S. Embassy are pleased to partner with Hacettepe University and their partners to foster this same spirit of innovation and discovery here in Adiyaman. We thank you for your dedication to STEM and to the students of Adiyaman. Enjoy the festival!
Jen Curatola-Wozniak, U.S. Consulate
STEM & Makers Fest and Expo, December 15, 2018, 12:00 p.m, Inonu University
Representatives of the Ministry of National Education, İnönü University, and Malatya municipalities, students, teachers, and parents, merhabalar. I am honored to be here in Malatya for the first time for the STEM & Makers Fest and Expo. The room is buzzing with excitement as you anticipate all the exciting skills you will learn – or is that just the whirring of the robots?
On behalf of the U.S. Embassy, I’d like to thank all of the partners who made this expo possible – Hacettepe University, Inonu University, Turkish STEM Alliance, STEM News Aggregator, and especially Prof. Gultekin Cakmakci for his steadfast efforts to coordinate this impressive event.
Ataturk once said, “Hayatta en hakiki mürşit ilimdir.” How right he was. His words were never truer than they are today. Our world is becoming more and more technological. Our problems are increasingly complex. Even just the next thirty years hold boundless challenges, and your generation will be leading the way to address them. Can humans travel to Mars, and if so, can they tame its harsh environment for tourism or even habitation? What is the consequence of social media on our privacy, friendships, and access to accurate information? How will artificial intelligence impact our lives and our understanding of what it means to be human? We need people with the ingenuity and technical know-how to answer these questions and many more for the next century and beyond.
Unfortunately, the demand for STEM experts still far outpaces the supply. Many students’ only exposure to STEM fields are in the classroom—poring over textbooks, memorizing equations, or at best, staring into beakers in dreary laboratories. These experiences aren’t likely to spark the passion and drive necessary to dedicate one’s life to solving the world’s greatest challenges through STEM. That’s why this STEM & Makers Fest and Expo is important. By engaging with STEM in an interactive, hands-on way, kids will feel inspired and empowered at what they can achieve.
Hacettepe University and their partners show great vision in bringing hands-on experiences with STEM to students in Malatya and their families. We at the U.S. Embassy are pleased to support them. Teşekkürler.