ARB Research Seminar
This page updated June 19, 2013
Energy, Entropy and Climate
David L. Goodstein, Ph.D, Vice Provost and Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
October 21, 2002
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA
Also presented in El Monte on June 4, 2002
Why are we asked to conserve energy when one of the most fundamental laws of physics is that energy is always conserved, no matter what we do? In a talk designed for non-technical audiences (and therefore possibly comprehensible to technical ones), I will explain the flow of energy from the Sun to the Earth and back out into space again, how that affects the climate, including the Greenhouse Effect. This leads to a discussion of our use of fossil fuels and a startling prediction that the Age of Oil is about to end.
David L. Goodstein is vice provost, and professor of physics and applied physics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, where he has been on the faculty for more than 30 years. In 1995 he was named the Frank J. Gilloon Distinguished Teaching and Service Professor.
His book, States of Matter, published in 1975 by Prentice Hall and reissued by Dover Press in 1985, was hailed by Physics Today as the book that launched a new discipline, Condensed Matter Physics. His research, in experimental condensed matter physics, has dealt with phases and phase transitions in adsorbed, two-dimensional matter, ballistic phonons in solids, superfluidity in liquid helium, and critical point phenomena. This work has led to nearly 200 scientific publications. He is currently working on a future flight experiment that will examine the dynamics of the superfluid phase transition in the absence of gravity.
Dr. Goodstein has served on numerous scientific and academic panels, including the National Advisory Committee to the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate of the National Science Foundation. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the California Council on Science and Technology.
Dr. Goodstein was the host and project director of The Mechanical Universe, a 52-part college physics telecourse based on his popular lectures at Caltech. The project, which has been adapted for high school use and translated into many other languages, has been broadcast on hundreds of public broadcasting stations and has garnered more than a dozen prestigious awards, including the 1987 Japan Prize for television. Dr. Goodstein has been awarded the 1999 Oersted Medal of the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the 2000 John P. McGovern Medal of the Sigma Xi Society.
In recent times, Dr. Goodstein has become interested in some of the larger issues that affect science as a profession. In a series of articles, colloquia, and speeches, he has stressed and analyzed the profound changes in science that became inevitable in the last few decades when its long period of exponential expansion came to an end. He has also turned his attention to issues related to conduct and misconduct in science. Prompted by the need to compose a set of regulations governing possible misconduct at Caltech, he has developed an academic sub-specialty in this area, writing and speaking about it in a variety of forums. Together with his colleague, Professor of Philosophy James Woodward, he has developed a course, Research Ethics, which has been taught each year at Caltech since the early 1990s.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Goodstein attended Brooklyn College and received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Washington. He lives in Pasadena with his wife, Dr. Judith R. Goodstein, who is a faculty associate in history at Caltech where she serves as archivist and registrar. The Goodsteins have two grown children, two grandchildren, and have recently coauthored a best-selling book, Feynman's Lost Lecture.