This week’s episode features Dr. Forrest Meggers, Assistant Professor in Architecture and the Andlinger Center at Princeton, who designs structures that keep humans comfortable with light, not air temperature. Humans cool themselves through convection—where cool air takes heat away from you—and through radiation, where your body emits the infrared light you can see on night-vision goggles. Because this light carries energy, having too much or too little of it can change your perception of temperature just as much as the air can.
Dr. Meggers and his CHAOS Lab have built many structures that funnel infrared light away from the occupants of a room, keeping them refreshed no matter the ambient temperature. This new way of thinking about temperature leads to huge efficiencies: instead of air-conditioning the volume of a room from floor to ceiling, we could deflect radiation to keep the ground, and ourselves, cool. Dr. Meggers explains the ways of measuring this invisible but all-too-important radiative heating in buildings, including the new SMART sensor his team is producing.
In other news:
- The famous marshmallow test measures the self-control of a participant to forgo big rewards later for smaller rewards now. But the outcome of the test is partially determined by privilege: rich kids have an easier time passing.
- The Earth is shielded from space by a layer of plasma called the ionosphere. It turns out that weather in our lower part of the atmosphere can create holes in the ionosphere, leading to dangerous implications as the planet continues to warm.
- Ancient permafrost worms have been revived, acting as time capsules from 42,000 years ago.
The playlist can be found online at WPRB.com or below.