case western reserve university



Public Affairs Discussion Group

"Wind Power and All of It's Aspects - Environmental, Energy,  Economic, Aesthetic, and Maybe More"

January 26, 2007
Clark Hall, Room 206

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Dr. Phillip Taylor

Phillip Taylor, Ph.D.
Sarah Taylor


Dear Colleagues:

The topic for this Friday's Public Affairs Discussion Group is a change of plans but very timely.

Some of you may have noticed the recent story in the Plain Dealer about putting windmills in Lake Erie, to take advantage of an aspect of the local climate that, at the moment, it may be hard to appreciate.

Sarah Taylor has been following these developments closely, as part of her long-time interest in economic development and technology in the area. (Some of you may remember her informing people about the construction of the Peter B. Lewis building). Phil Taylor, Professor of Physics, is an expert on the science of energy and has for many years taught a course on Energy and Society. So it should be fun to have them lead a discussion on windpower and all its aspects – environmental, energy, economic, aesthetic, and maybe more. They'll lead the discussion on Friday, January 26, and it will be held in the Baker-Nord Center, Room 206 of Clark Hall, from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.  Cookies and beverages will be provided. As always, the Friday Lunch is open to all.

Next week, February 2, we finally return to Crawford Hall, in what is now Room 9. Ken Grundy will host the discussion.

Best regards,
Joe White

More About Our Guest

Phillip Taylor's research group works principally in the area of physics known as "soft condensed matter." This term refers to substances whose molecules can be made to move significant distances by the application of comparatively weak forces. This distinguishes them from metals and ceramics, in which the atoms are usually tightly bound to their lattice sites. Typical examples of soft condensed systems are polymers and liquid crystals. We work on the theory behind the rich and varied behavior shown by these fascinating materials.

Recently Phillip Taylor's research group has developed a new way of looking at the problem of phase transitions in polymers, and have produced some novel predictions for the properties of polyethylene. Some of our current work is related to the problem of instabilities in crystalline polymers and in solidifying mixtures. We are looking at the way a smooth mixture of two substances separates into bubbles of one material embedded in the other when the temperature is lowered or when polymerization occurs. We are studying this process by modeling the way in which monomer and liquid crystal molecules exchange places as they migrate to form clusters and networks. From these models we develop the equations that govern the final morphology of the system, and hence its optical properties.

Liquid crystals and polymers pose a particular challenge to the theoretical physicist, as they are inherently complicated systems. The most common approach to modeling the dynamics of liquid crystals involves deriving equations to describe the average of quantities like the orientations of the molecules. These averages are taken over volumes big enough to contain many molecules, but small compared to the size of an actual device. Even within this approximation, however, the solution of the equations is a challenging task. One approach taken in our group is to start with the microscopic picture, in which individual molecules of a liquid crystal or polymer are described in terms of their orientations and positions, and their corresponding velocities. We then take the equations that describe their motion as they interact with each other, and try to solve them -- sometimes analytically, but usually by computer simulation. From the statistical motions of the individual molecules one can build up a picture of the macroscopic behavior of the system as it would actually be observed. As always, the toughest task for the theoretical physicist working to predict the properties of matter is to define a model that is simple enough to solve, but sufficiently complex to reflect the real world.

Check out the cool web presentation promoting wind energy in Cleveland. Thanks to Sarah Taylor and Yurich Creative.

Here's the pitch from Sarah:

"Over the past few months, the media have noted the growing interest in wind power generation for Cleveland, and for other parts of Ohio as well. The most dramatic aspect of wind power's potential importance for Cleveland has, however, not been mentioned: A wind farm, off-shore from Cleveland, would actually be THE WORLD'S FIRST FRESH-WATER WIND FARM.

"There will eventually be wind turbines producing power out on the Great Lakes, and the opportunity to be the first to do that is staring us in the face. Europeans have led the way in exploiting powerful maritime off-shore winds, and we can take the lead in the next phase of this cutting-edge technology -- by putting up those first turbines in fresh water. We can grab that role, and all the branding and business opportunities that will accompany it, or we can just watch it slip by, while we content ourselves with erecting wind and solar devices on land - all worthy and very useful, but not headline-creating around the world.

"Let's not play catch-up to Michigan or Ontario by building our turbines out on the lake only after their communities have taken the initiative on their own Great Lakes. Let us be out in front. We should be expressing our great support for those in Cleveland who are working to install a wind farm a few miles out from shore, where the winds are strong and steady -- as opposed to the weak and unreliable breezes on shore. Those turbines on the lake will symbolize our city's commitment to addressing our, and the nation's, future energy needs. They will also act as a constant and gentle reminder that we must all do our part in conserving our environment, and making the most of our clean natural resources. Cleveland will be providing bold and far-sighted leadership, as it has done in the past."

Spring Semester Schedule

Beginning on February 2, the Friday Lunch will move back to Crawford Hall, in ROOM 9. Room 9 is within the Inamori Center, on the basement level of Crawford.

It is very kind of Bill Deal, Director of the Inamori Center, to make this room available on a regular basis. Thank you, Bill!

Room 9 seats 35, with a central table and also chairs along the wall. It should be a better setup than Guilford. If we expect a large crowd, we may be able to open a partition and join up with Room 11.

There will, however, be a class in the room until 12:20. Therefore it will not be possible to get there much before the lunch begins. On the other hand, people who are a bit early should be able to hang out in the Tomlinson food court. I believe the underground passage from Tomlinson to Crawford will be restored when construction is finished.

Coffee will be provided from the SAGES Café. Which should mean very good coffee.

The tentative schedule of speakers, so far:

January 26: Phil (Perkins Professor of Physics-Case Western Reserve University) and Sarah Taylor, Wind Power and All of It's Aspects - Environmental, Energy,  Economic, Aesthetic, and Maybe More.

February 2: Ken Grundy, Marcus Hanna Professor Emeritus of Political Science, on subject to be determined

February 9: Paul Schroeder, Visiting Lecturer in Political Science and from Families of the Fallen for Change, on what to do in Iraq

February 16: Mark Turner, Professor of Cognitive Science, on cognition and politics

February 23: Mel Goldstein, Professor of Anthropology, on why the Chinese are winning in Tibet

March 2: Susan Helper, Professor of Economics, on strategies for American workers within the current global competition.

March 9: Baiju Shah, President, Bioenterprise Corporation, on the new economic prospects in Cleveland.

March 16: Break

March 23: Mike Aronoff of Cuyahoga County on the evaluation of sexual predators for the courts – are they really dangerous, and can we predict if they will reoffend?

March 30: Barbara Morrison, Assistant Professor of Nursing, on how current patterns of care for Moms and newborns deny them the peace and quiet and bonding they need.

April 6: Open

April 13: Marixa Lasso, Assistant Professor of History: Drugs, War, and Coffee in Colombia

April 20: Mark Joseph, Assistant Professor, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences: Mixed-Income Development as an Approach to Addressing Urban Poverty

April 27: Christine Cano, Associate Professor of French, on the French elections (this date falls between the first round and the runoff election)

Parking: For those people who seek to make special arrangements about parking, the contact person now will be Fay Alexander.  Her phone number is 368-4440, and her e-mail is

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