Prof. Michael Brown
Swarthmore College, Department of Physics and Astronomy
e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
A solar array in Nevada, US direct sunlight map, solar spectrum
Forms of energy: kinetic, potential, heat, electrical, magnetic, chemical...
Energy and heat: thermodynamics, temperature, efficiency, engines
Fossil fuels: oil, coal, natural gas... when will we run out? Hubbert's peak
Nuclear energy: fission and fusion
The electric grid
Geothermal and tidal energy
Solar energy: photovoltaics, demonstration with photovoltaic array
Hydropower, wind, biomass
Transportation and buildings
Hydrogen fuel cells: demonstration with hydrogen fuel cell system
Climate and global warming: The greenhouse effect. Is the Earth warming?
The goal of the seminar is to study the state of the world's energy resources. We'll begin with an overview of the concept of energy. We'll discuss the idea of thermodynamics, then work through the various forms of energy (fossil fuels, nuclear, solar, hydrogen...). We'll close with a discussion of climate change and global warming.
With the Deepwater Horizon disaster and Gulf oil spill still in the news, we will study how oil is harvested. We will study the evidence for "Hubbert's peak" and the end of oil for the planet.
We will study the case for nuclear energy (esp in light of the Fukashima disaster), both conventional fission energy (about 100 plants in the US) and more speculative fusion energy (MB's research area).
Departmental advising open house. First seminar meeting, Monday August 29
The book we'll be using is Energy, Environment, and Climate by Richard Wolfson, and Physics for Future Presidents by Richard Muller
The seminar will feature hands-on demonstrations of photovoltaics, hydrogen fuel cell, and electrical energy.
There will be one section: Monday 1-4 PM
The seminar format means that students will play an active role in presenting material.
The seminar is open to anyone in the class of 2015. The math prerequisite is high school algebra and we will do lots of calculations.
Additional reserve reading will include the National Academies recent report on energy policy, "Energy Science" by Andrews and Jelley, "Energy and the Environment" by Ristinen and Kraushaar, "Energy" by Hinrichs and Kleinbach.
The US Energy Information Administration EIA
The National Academies America's Energy Future
CDIAC Trends for Global Change