回首頁 | English
講座大師 - 第十三屆


Climate Change and Energy Solutions

The greatest challenge facing civilization in the twenty-first century is climate change induced by the net emission of carbon dioxide by human activity. We review the science behind this subject from an astronomer’s perspective, using well-understood principles underlying the balance of heating by the light from the Sun and the cooling of the Earth’s infrared radiation back to space. We investigate the evidence locked in Antarctic ice cores of past cycles of runaway warming and cooling (interglacial periods and ice ages) and their relationship to astronomical phenomena (the Milankovich cycle), and we point out why current events are different.   We also discuss the alarming possibility that the Earth has already passed the tipping point for the melting of the polar ice. We then give order of magnitude arguments for the maximum amount of power that we can derive from alternative sources of energy. Compared to projected needs by mid-century, there are only five realistic energy choices to reduce or eliminate net carbon-dioxide emissions: (1) fossil fuel with carbon capture and sequestration, (2) biofuels, (3) solar photovoltaics/ solar thermal, (4) wind, and (5) nuclear. We point out the drawbacks of the first four. We then explain the basics of nuclear fission, concluding that reprocessing and breeding are necessary to remove public concerns about waste management, safety, and sustainability of the nuclear option. In particular, we point out why the long overlooked technologies of molten salt reactors coupled to the thorium fuel cycle is superior in terms of cost, passive safety, and weapons non-proliferation to the current usage of nuclear power. In particular, we discuss an approach using novel materials to build two-fluid molten salt reactors on a rapid enough schedule to make America and the world free of plutonium and net CO2 emission by mid-century. Of particular interest may be the possibility of leveraging the capacity of such facilities by coupling nuclear power to the production of artificial coal. The latter holds the promise of making existing coal-fired power plants not only carbon neutral, but even carbon negative. In this manner, it may be possible to reverse human-induced climate change and pass on to future generations a mode of living compatible with satisfying the economic aspirations of billions of people now living in poverty and a greener, more benign, and more bountiful planet
The Relation Among Physics, Chemistry, And Biology In The Natural World
Physics, chemistry, and biology are taught in high school and college as if they were separate disciplines.  However, the separation is more an accident of human history than a part of the natural world.  The division was not so important when we humans were just learning to understand and control the seemingly chaotic elemental forces all around us, but as we have gained more and more power over the natural world, the failure to see the systems aspects of nature rather than just its component parts is proving ever more restrictive and dangerous.  As an example of these deep connections, I review the history of human thought on the elemental building blocks of the universe and the forces that exist among them, from their beginnings in mystical thought to our current understanding of their origins in the early universe and the deep interiors of stars, and to the role that these same building blocks and forces play in the origin and sustenance of life on Earth.  Despite this progress in scientific understanding, however, most people still project mystical ideas onto the natural world that they inhabit.  Only if we have an appreciation of the true scope and scale of the marvelous processes that created the Earth and the life forms that exist on it, can we do long-range planning beyond election cycles and the brief lives of individual humans.


電話:02-23970955 傳真:02-23215937 通訊地址:台北市大安區和平東路一段77號12F之1 電子郵件:wcsedfnd@ms21.hinet.net