A Theme for the Week–And Beyond

Seat back in the upright position, tray table latched, seatbelt tightened, cell phone off. Time to relax and think about something unrelated to work? Nope. In fact it’s time for proof that AMS President Jon Malay picked a great theme for this year’s Annual Meeting .
If you’re flying to New Orleans on United Airlines (yeah, carbon offsets and all), reach into that seat pocket in front of you and pull out Hemispheres magazine and start flipping pages.
You notice right away that there are the usual references to weather: Airline CEO Jeff Smisek greets readers by expressing special kudos to his team (and that means weather forecasters, too) for “overcoming challenges like snowstorms, hailstorms, hurricanes, and the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan.” There’s also an article on what to wear in New York winters and an eye-catching full-page ad from Embry Riddle University (find them at the Career Fair Sunday and Monday) touting their research into wind and underwater turbines for generating electricity.
In particular, check out the “Next Big Things,” a profile feature on six people making a difference in technology. A bunch are directly related to atmospheric science:

  • Ren Ng, of Lytro Camera, who engineered a way for better, efficient computing and focusing based on a “powerful miniaturized” light sensor—eliminating blur in hand held pocket cameras.
  • Paul Mascarenas of Ford Motor Company, who’s pushing his technology team to develop wi-fi networks amongst nearby cars in traffic so that they can pass along up-to-the-second observations about road conditions and process better driving strategies.
  • Jennifer Pahlka, of the nonprofit Code for America, which pays its fellows a stipend for a year to develop software in the public interest, including, for example, “an app for Bostonians to identify snow-covered manholes that need to be shoveled out [that] was later adapted by Honolulu to make sure its tsunami sirens were in working order.” Another app is a web-based solar energy potential calculator.

Remote sensing, road weather networks, mobile apps–these are all familiar themes this week as we look back, and ahead, to how technology shapes our community’s work. For more on the theme and how personally Jon takes it, watch his video on the Ametsoc YouTube Channel: