Speaker: Melanie Windridge
Date: 22 May 2013
Start Time: 7 pm
End Time: 8:30 pm
Venue: 27/29 South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, London, SW8 1SZ
The polar lights are a natural phenomenon, often stimulating awe and wonder in those who view them. It is not surprising, therefore, that many polar communities have their own legends or explanations for the lights.
We now know that the northern and southern lights are caused by a charged particle “wind” from the Sun interacting with the Earth’s atmosphere. The concept of Space Weather came into focus in the 1990s as satellites such as ACE and SOHO improved studies of the Sun-Earth connection, whilst the consequences of disruption were becoming apparent in the more technologically-advanced and space-dependent age.
This lecture will describe our connection to the Sun, the scientific processes behind the polar lights, and some of the unwanted technological effects of Space Weather.
Melanie Windridge is a physicist and science communicator with experience in live presenting, television and writing. She has a PhD in Fusion Energy from Imperial College London, and spent much of her research time at the JET research facility at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy. She now works for an engineering IP company making inventions for international clients, whilst also communicating science and working with the Ogden Trust to support and promote physics.
In 2010 Melanie was the Institute of Physics Schools lecturer and spoke to over 10,000 students about fusion. She continues to lecture at schools, interest groups and festivals around the country and has recently published a book on the same subject as the lectures – a basic introduction to fusion power.
Melanie makes regular TV appearances, including BBC Bang Goes the Theory, Country Tracks, My Genius Idea and James May’s Things You Need to Know About Einstein, and has presented online podcasts and pieces for HeadsqueezeTV.
One day she hopes to visit the Arctic to further study the northern lights and write her second book.
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