Readers respond to the December 2021 issue



In «Women on ice” [Observatory], Naomi Aresquez describes how she applied for a position as a geologist at the British Antarctic Service (BAS) in 1981 and was turned down because she was a woman. I applied to the BAS in 1972, when they were looking for meteorologists. I got an answer similar to Aresquez. The tents were not mentioned, but the letter essentially said, “It’s not that we’re misogynists, but we don’t have rooms for women.” Oh, good. I went and did something else!

CHRISTINE VIBERT Jersey, British Isles

I am still angry at the way women are treated in science. I am reminded of the former student’s experience with her male high school counselor: when she told him she intended to study biochemistry at university and then head to medical school to pursue a career in research, he shrugged and asked, “There will be no is it easier to be a nurse? ” Although I teach the humanities, I will forever stand up for young women in whatever direction their dreams lead them. I heard from my former student a few years later: she is preparing to graduate from medical school and get a doctorate. in Biochemistry.

VERGILIL MILER Madison College of Technology


I was worried when I read “Spying on your emotions”, An article by John McQueed about companies that use artificial intelligence to analyze people’s feelings. As an autistic person, I am well aware of the discrimination that autistic people face in the workforce for what is essentially the cultural differences between them and their neurotypical counterparts. The emotion reading technology described seems to reinforce deep, albeit often unconscious, prejudices against people with autism that already exist.

Lack of eye contact is a common trait of autism, which is believed that most neurotypical people indicate a lack of trust. The article did not allay my concerns when researcher Rosalind Picard told an anecdote about a colleague who disagreed with her and, to illustrate her ignorance, said the man “kept looking at my feet.”


Unification of galaxies

«Space crashes, ”By Aaron S. Evans and Lee Armus, shows a simulation of the collision of the Milky Way and Andromeda. Dark matter is not mentioned, but it should have a significant impact on the dynamics of mergers of galaxies. Do we know enough about this to make such detailed merger models?


Until now, I did not believe that galactic “collisions” only minimally involve constituent stars. As Evans and Armus explain, “most of the stars just pass each other during the event.” I’m curious about those other poor stars who don’t pass by. What impact do they have on the event?

PHILIP JAN ROTSTEIN Brookfield, Cannes.

THE AUTHORS ANSWER: I answer Colburn: much is still unknown about dark matter, but it is believed that galaxies are surrounded by a halo of dark matter that explains the motion of their stars and galaxies in groups and clusters. Dark matter makes up the vast majority of all matter, but manifests itself only by gravity. Fusion models typically include simple models of dark matter distribution, which greatly improves their ability to reproduce the observed properties of galactic mergers, such as absorbing most of the orbital energy during a collision..

As for Rothstein’s question: do stars feed synthesis reactions into their nuclei. The sun gets its energy by merging hydrogen into helium. Star collisions can increase the mass of the rest of the star, and more massive stars burn brighter and hotter, producing more energy. This occurs in dense star clusters and can be amplified by merging galaxies. However, these rare collisions would be energetically insignificant, compared to the energy generated by a nuclear starburst – or the rapidly growing supermassive black hole that has just gained fuel from a galactic fusion. Both phenomena can easily exceed the luminosity of the sun by 100 billion times.


In «IPCC, your work is partially done” [Observatory, November 2021], Naomi Aresquez calls for the closure of the Working Group on Physical Sciences I (WGI) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). She argues that because human impact on global temperature is now apparent, WGI’s work is over. We couldn’t disagree anymore.

The world has just been hit by a series of extreme climate events. Quantifying the role of man in global warming is the beginning, not the end, of assessing current and future risks to communities. Scientific assessment of these risks is a cornerstone for societal action.

The main function of the IPCC is to assess scientific information, which is essential for progress under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its policy instruments, in particular the Paris Agreement. Closing the WGI would be a serious mistake and counterproductive in tackling the problem for three reasons.

First, attribution studies have evolved from global indicators to regional and local extreme climate events. These findings are extremely relevant to policy when discussing losses and damage at the UNFCCC level and beyond. Second, new global and regional climate models on a kilometer scale have not yet been evaluated, but they are a prerequisite for the next generation of the WGI’s interactive atlas on regional climate change, a key tool for policymakers. Third, quantitative information to assess adaptation and mitigation options requires a combination of physical and impact models. When vulnerable countries are asked, for example, how their water resources will change in the coming decades, only carefully assessed information on the climate model can provide the key figures on which policies should be based. The presence of the IPCC WGI community, which provides this framework, remains essential for Working Groups II and III to carry out their tasks.

The burden on WGI scholars really needs to be reduced so that they can confidently focus on the physical understanding needed to best meet these policy needs. In our view, the challenge is to spread the scenarios and expect them to be used with the latest and most expensive climate models. Since the fourth cycle of the IPCC evaluation, this has created an unnecessary spiral in which valuable resources have been wasted. But comprehensive scientific assessments, including the physical sciences, will continue to explain, inform, and help shape the political will needed to address this global challenge.

Thomas F. STOCKER University of Bern and WGI Co-Chair, Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), IPCC

Susan Solomon Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Co-Chair of the WGI, Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), IPCC

TIN DAHE China Meteorological Administration and Co-Chair, WGI, AR4 and AR5, IPCC

VALERI MASON-DELMOT University of Paris-Saclé and co-chair of the WGI, Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), IPCC

PANMAO ZHAI Meteorological Administration of China and co-chair of WGI, AR6, IPCC


«Radioactive processing”By Nick Ogas [Advances], it is incorrectly said that americium and curia have forms that decay much more slowly than uranium. The most stable isotopes americium and curium decay faster than the most stable isotopes of uranium.

Readers respond to the December 2021 issue

Source link Readers respond to the December 2021 issue