In 1977, Jimmy Carter was sworn in as president, Elvis died, Virginia park ranger Roy Sullivan was hit by lightning a record seventh time and two NASA space probes destined to turn planetary science on its head launched from Florida.
Physicists at JILA on the CU-Boulder campus have for the first time observed chemical reactions near absolute zero, demonstrating that chemistry is possible at ultralow temperatures and that reaction rates can be controlled using quantum mechanics, the peculiar rules of submicroscopic physics.
Using skills passed down through generations, Inuit forecasters living in the Canadian Arctic look to the sky to tell by the way the wind scatters a cloud whether a storm is on the horizon or if it’s safe to go on a hunt. Thousands of miles away in a lab in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, scientists take data measurements and use the latest computer models to predict weather. These are two practices serving the same purpose that come from disparate worlds.
CU-Boulder professors Margaret Murnane and Henry Kapteyn lead an interdisciplinary research group at JILA, a joint institute of the university and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where they have made groundbreaking strides in laser science by developing new ultra-fast lasers and X-ray sources for experiments in physics, chemistry, materials science, and engineering. Their pioneering research resulted in the development of ultra-fast optical and coherent soft X-ray sources.
A new approach to social media called “Tweak the Tweet,” conceived by CU-Boulder graduate student Kate Starbird and deployed by members of CU’s Project EPIC research group and colleagues around the nation, helped Haiti relief efforts by providing standardized syntax for Twitter communications.
Through consistent use of specially placed keywords, or “hashtags,” in Twitter posts to communicate critical information such as location, status, and road conditions, the “Tweak the Tweet” approach made information computationally easier to extract and collate.
Why has the world been unable to address global warming? Science policy expert Roger Pielke, Jr., CU-Boulder professor of environmental studies, says it's not the fault of those who reject the Kyoto Protocol, but those who support it and the magical thinking that the agreement represents.
In his book The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming, Pielke offers a way to repair climate policy, shifting the debate away from meaningless targets and toward a revolution in how the world's economy is powered.