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The PPPL function that reaches out to students, teachers and the general public through programs ranging from student internships to weekly talks on scientific topics from January through April.

COLLOQUIUM: The Fate of the Land Carbon Sink

Models of the global terrestrial biosphere in current Earth system models (climate models with coupled atmosphere, ocean and biosphere) uniformly predict a large current carbon sink caused by CO2 fertilization of terrestrial vegetation that sequesters 1-2 GtC/y.   Models with a nitrogen cycle generally predict that a large fraction of the sink will disappear by midcentury because of nitrogen limitation.  The models all include some form of Liebig’s Law of the Minimum for nitrogen.  All models currently predict that water limited systems will see large and sustained sinks because water use e

COLLOQUIUM: Extrasolar Planets with Small Telescopes

We now know more than one thousand extrasolar planets (exoplanets), and another two thousand exoplanet candidates.  Many of the best understood ones are so-called transiting exoplanets, and many were discovered by small telescopes.  I will review two currently running small telescopes projects (HATNet and HATSouth) that have altogether yielded 60 exoplanets.  I will highlight some of the discoveries and recent scientific results from these projects.

COLLOQUIUM: Quantum Mechanics and Spacetime Geometry

Quantum mechanics is important for determining the geometry of spacetime. We will review the role of quantum fluctuations that determine the large scale structure of the universe. In some model universes we can give an alternative description of the physics in terms of a theory of particles that lives on its boundary. This implies that the geometry is an emergent property. Furthermore, entanglement plays a crucial role in the emergence of geometry.

Science on Saturday starts Jan. 11

Science fans of all ages can explore a rich variety of science and technology topics at the popular Science on Saturday lecture series hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The series marks its 30-year anniversary when it begins on Saturday, Jan. 11.

Science on Saturday offers free lectures about current topics from “The physics of cancer,” to “What art can tell us about the brain,” that are aimed at the general public from high school age and up.

COLLOQUIUM: "The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge”: The History of the Institute for Advanced Study

A private, independent academic institution in Princeton, New Jersey, the Institute for Advanced Study is one of the world's leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. Founded in 1930, it exists to encourage and support curiosity-driven research in the sciences and humanities. Diverse scholars including Albert Einstein, Erwin Panofsky, John von Neumann, J.

COLLOQUIUM: Human Impacts on the Earth’s Geologic Carbon Cycle

When fossil fuel CO2 is released to the atmosphere, it essentially accumulates in the relatively rapidly cycling atmosphere / ocean / land biosphere carbon cycle.  The atmospheric concentration of CO2 spikes through a time period of CO2 emissions, then is expected to slowly decline over the centuries as CO2 invades the ocean. The “lifetime” of fossil fuel CO2 in the atmosphere is a complicated question because there are multiple processes operating, but in general the CO2 concentration will be higher than natural for hundreds of thousands of years.

Princeton and PPPL launch center to study volatile space weather and violent solar storms

Researchers at Princeton University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have launched a new center to study the volatile heliosphere — a complex and frequently violent region of space that encompasses the solar system. This region is carved out by the solar wind — charged plasma particles that constantly stream from the sun — and gives rise to space weather that can disrupt cell phone service, damage satellites and knock out power grids.

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