Posts Tagged ‘gas’

Dr. James E. Lovelock, 1996

October 7, 2009


The true opposite of a reductionist

The Prize Jury´s citation:

The Volvo Environment Prize for 1996 is awarded to Dr. James E. Lovelock, F.R.S., for his invention of the Electron Capture and Photo-ionisation Detectors, nowadays indispensable tools in modern analytical chemistry and essential for the recognition and measurement of minute traces of pollutant substances and other chemical compounds in the environment

Doomsday Pending? James Lovelock on The Hour, 27 May 2009

Lovelock’s scientific contributions, beginning with his early work in the medical sciences, is particularly rooted in two, as it would first appear, unrelated scientific fields: instrumental engineering and biochemistry. An important part of his work has been inventions. In total, Lovelock has filed more than 30 patents, mostly for detectors for use in chemical analysis. He worked with NASA in their preparations for the first lunar landing. NASA wanted Lovelock to design a device to detect if there might be substances dangerous to man on the surface of the moon.  It was while working as a consultant for NASA that Lovelock developed the Gaia Hypothesis, for which he is most widely known.

Lovelock invented the electron capture detector, which ultimately assisted in discoveries about the persistence of CFCs and their role in stratospheric ozone depletion. After studying the operation of the Earth’s sulfur cycle, Lovelock and his colleagues developed the CLAW hypothesis as a possible example of biological control of the Earth’s climate.

Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962 had a massive impact on the environmental debate and movement. It is not equally well known that James Lovelock’s invention the Electron Capture Detector was used by scientists to reveal the core information, on the distribution of pesticide residues and other halogen-bearing chemicals, of the book.

Gaia hypothesis
Author of the GAIA theory, named after Gaya greek godess of the world, which states that life on Earth functions as a single organism. Basically Lovelock says that the earth is one giant interdependent living system that regulates itself. It keeps chemical levels temperature and other conditions optimal to keep life going. Until the humans came along…

Lovelock is also renowned for supporting nuclear power as a way of cutting carbon emissions

Lovelock is an independent scientist working out of a lab in Cornwall, England, that used to be a barn. For years he has been sounding the alarm on climate change.
New book: The vanishing face of Gaya: A final warning

“We have passed the point of no return. We have reached a point where civilization itself is threatened and we have no one to blame but our own ignorance and greed.”

 On his work at the National Institute of Medical Research:
“Physicists, chemists, biologists and medical scientists talked and planned together in the coffeeroom or the cafeteria. For a while the institute was a fertile island of creativity in a sea of mediocracy…At the institute it was the tradition of those days never to read the literature, especially not textbooks. Senior scientists warned that our job was to make the literature, not read it, which was a recipe that worked well for me. Had I read the literature on ionization phenomena in gases before doing my experiments, I would have been hopelessly discouraged and confused. Instead I just experimented.”

More information:
Read more on James Lovelocks facinating life as an independent scientist & environmentalist and about the Gaia theory:

Professor Paul Crutzen, 1991

September 10, 2009

A scientists’ scientist who always seems to be one step ahead

The 1991 Prize was awarded to Professor Paul Crutzen of the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, one of the world’s leading research scientists in the field of atmospheric chemistry. Professor Crutzen has achieved this eminence by undertaking a series of major research projects over a period of more than 20 years, including studies of ozone layer depletion and the greenhouse effect. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995.


The Prize Jury’s Citation:
Professor Crutzen was awarded the Prize for an outstanding ability to identity and elucidate critical features governing the chemical behaviour of the atmosphere. He has shown great ability to excel in a wide scope of interrelated researh activities in topics relevant to atmospheric science.

Most known for:
Paul Crutzen, has made pioneering work for our understanding of ozone formation and destruction in the atmosphere, how it affects the green house effect with a potential risk for global warming and the ozone layer in the stratosphere, leading to increased ultraviolet radiation on the earth surface and thereby increased risk for cancer and damages to the microbial life in the ground. He has also studied how sulphur emissions affect the climate and the formation of clouds.

“It was thanks to Paul Crutzen that we skirted a previous global atmospheric threat: the destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer. If the warnings from him and his fellow winners of the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry, Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina, hadn’t come when they did, the Antarctic ozone hole might have proved disastrous.” James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

In 1982 Paul crutzen pointed out that a nuclear war might cause extensive fires with accompanying disastrous effects on the climate of the earth. The smoke from the fire is expected to efficiently shield the lower parts of the atmosphere and the surface of the earth from a large fraction of the sun radiation. This will cause a drastic cooling which we know under the name “nuclear winter”.

Nobel Prize
Four years after being a Volvo Environment Prize laureate Paul Crutzen was awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with Mario Molina (Volvo Environment Prize laureate of 2004) and Sherwood Rowland “for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone”.

He caused a stir with the publication of a paper in 2006 suggesting that injecting the common pollutant sulfur into the stratosphere some 10 miles above the earth could snuff out the greenhouse effect. He believes that dispersing 1 million tons of sulfur into the stratosphere each year, either on balloons or in rockets, would deflect sunlight and cool the planet. Scientists observed that world temperatures dropped by 0.5 degrees centigrade on average when Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted in 1991, spewing sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.

2008: Atmospheric scientist Paul J Crutzen said clouds gathering over the world economy could ease the earth’s environmental burden.
“Slower economic growth worldwide could help slow growth of carbon dioxide emissions and trigger more careful use of energy resources, though the global economic turmoil may also divert focus from efforts to counter climate change”, Global Environment 08

Paul Crutzen will attend a seminar at Chalmers Technical University 2 November 2009 together with this year’s laureate Dr Susan Solomon a former graduate student of Crutzen´s. More information about this seminar will be posted later.

More Crutzen:
Personal home page
Autobiography, Nobel Prize winners
Heros of the Environmnet, Time/CNN