Programming in a scientific environment – An overview

As a scientist in earth science, who is working more on the theoretical side, the daily work consists in large parts of programming. Nevertheless, even with the importance programming has nowadays in this field, I hear again and again from people that they had not got a systematical education on this during their studies. Of cause, I agree, learning by doing plays a very important part to become a good programmer, but without further insights into the background of programming it can be quite hard to generate the benefits of a well planed structured programm. Continue reading

Observations represent the truth, models…

In the last year during a larger meeting I had made a comment, which let a lot of attendees shake their head and others just smile. The statement was:

“Observations represent the truth, models the state of our understanding.”

Like I have said before, on the first sight it is of cause rubbish that observations have anything to do with the truth. Indeed, truth is a great word with many different meanings and implications. In the context above “truth” (which anyhow should always set between quotation marks) describes the possible best estimation of the real world by the current available technology in real case situations. When I personally write things up, I usually use a measurement operator to make this clear that observations are never able to describe the full reality. How much effort observers might put at it (and they usually do an amazing job), the real physical state of a physical system can only be approximated. Continue reading

Fluid dynamics on the beach

A month ago on Crosby beach the nature delivered me a wonderful visualisation of the turbulences of winds over the beach. The bright and dry sand from the dunes in my back delivered the tracers and the dark and wet sand of the beach the background. With open eyes it is possible to see these wonderful effects of the air at a lot of places everywere around us, so keep watching!