Emeritus Faculty Association news December 2012
Friday December 7, 10.30am Javits Room, 2nd floor library. Miriam Forman will speak on Space Weather: the discovery, effects, monitoring and preparations for storms in the solar wind on electrical systems and electromagnetic communications on Earth and in space. The solar wind is the only accessible laboratory on a scale to observe the full details of these processes - the thermal ions, magnetic field, and their fluctuations which make up a stellar wind, plus the variety of more energetic ions the wind (and the Sun) accelerates out of itself, plus the wind's effect on the Cosmic Rays which come from other stellar systems in our galaxy.
Bio: Miriam Foreman been at Stony Brook since 1968, getting the Ph.D in physics here in 1972. She stayed on as an adjunct on her own NASA grant support for Cosmic Rays in Interplanetary Space in the former Earth and Space Sciences Department until 1985. From 1985 to 1991, she was the deputy Executive Secretary of the American Physical Society, commuting to NYC four days a week, supporting physics meetings, committees and membership. From 1991 to 1998 she was at NASA HQ in Washington DC managing the heliospheric section of the Science Division: organizing calls for research, selection panels, and grant awards, supporting on-going solar-heliospheric science missions and planning for future heliospheric missions. They succeeded in keeping the two Voyager spacecraft alive for their Interstellar Mission phase, which has now discovered the termination shock of the solar wind and probably the interstellar medium at more than 120 astronomical units from the Sun. In 1998 she was delegated by NASA to the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Clinton White House for one year. Since 1999, she is back at Stony Brook as an adjunct professor of Physics, using the physics department as home for her current collaborative research into the nature of the magneto-hydrodynamic turbulence in the solar wind. She uses data from spacecraft at different places to study magnetic turbulence in the solar wind, and to study how the observed magnetic turbulence dissipates (as turbulence always ultimately does) as heat, in locally re-heating the solar wind. She also collaborates with other researchers at Imperial College in London, UK; the University in Waikato, NZ; and the NASA-Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland, to describe the evolution of three-dimensional structure in the turbulence observations. This is important for understanding how the very thin, collisionless ionized gasses in space (a few particles per cc) can act like fluids and even have shock waves that accelerate ions and electrons, and determine the flow of more energetic particles (aka Cosmic Rays).
Emeritus and Sandy:
We hope that no members tried to attend the meeting for November 2nd. The university was closed all that week due to the hurricane and the library doors locked. We could not communicate since our power was out and our cell phone intermittent. Charlie Backfish will be happy to give his talk next autumn.
Our sympathies go out to the emeritus members whose house had part of a tree smash through the living room ceiling and another through the bedroom ceiling to within feet of the bed. A 96 year old relative (in lower Manhattan) was effectively confined to his small cold and dark apartment 24 floors up with little food. I spoke with an alumnus who lives in Babylon, not on the shore but by a canal. His whole house was swept away together with the family cars (except the one they used to escape).
No doubt there are other members like me for whom all the candles brought back memories of WW2 days. In that time after power stations and lines were repeatedly bombed, we well remember how we had to help each other. In this neighborhood some took a different approach. Such as the 17 year old in Setauket who when told there was no high-octane gasoline, pulled a knife on the attendant. And the man in Stony Brook whose contribution to the long gas line behind him was to pump 200 gallons without paying. Unlike most other parts of the world, people here are accustomed to creature comforts and after less than two weeks were calling for heads to roll. Line workers from other states drove in long distances to help, and I for one am not joining the chorus of criticism. It is not that I am unsympathetic to the residents of that nursing home shipped out by ambulances to hospitals far and wide where relatives couldn't locate them. Indeed the exact same thing happened to my grandfather on a day when the siren went off with time only to wheel him under the stairs before running. Returning to the damaged house, nobody could find out where he was for weeks. And we had to put up with the cold, dark, and damp (in our case below as well as above ground), on and off for 5 years. After Sandy had done its worst the repair job was overwhelming and I can't see how most of it could have been avoided. In my area most of the line damage was done by whole large healthy trees coming down. And after all, this was during an election campaign in which there was not even a mention of global warming, a subject which our Emeritus speakers have been hammering for years.