- BBC News World
They make up one of the most complicated phenomena to explain and understand by science.
Hence, from its own name it suggests the difficulty: they are called “complex physical systems” and their effects can range from atomic to planetary scales and affect both the behavior of electrons and the planet’s climate.
The contributions to his studies and the implications for global warming were awarded this Tuesday by the Swedish Academy with the renowned Nobel Prize in Physics.
Three scientists, Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi – a pioneer in the study of complex systems and other experts on their effects on climate – were announced as the winners of the 2021 edition.
The announcement was made by the secretary of the Swedish Academy of Science, Göran Hansson, who noted that the award was given to these researchers “for innovative contributions to our understanding of complex physical systems.”
The award, as well as those for Medicine, Chemistry and Literature announced this week, will be presented at the December 8 ceremony in Stockholm.
Giorgio Parisi, a 73-year-old Italian, was specially awarded for the discovery “of hidden patterns in complex and messy materials. His discoveries are among the most important contributions to complex systems theory, “according to the Swedish Academy.
For their part, the Japanese Syukuro Manabe and the German Klaus Hasselmann were awarded for their “fundamental” contribution in the creation of climate models.
Manabe, 90, demonstrated how rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to higher temperatures on the Earth’s surface.
This work laid the foundation for the development of current climate models.
In the same vein, Klauss Hasselmann, 89, pioneered the creation of models that link meteorology and climate.
Complex systems, at the atomic and planetary scale, can share certain characteristics, such as being chaotic and disorderly, with behavior that appears to be governed by chance.
It was Parisi who would make the first contributions to his study in physics, by analyzing a metal alloy called rotating glass, in which iron atoms were randomly mixed in a lattice of copper atoms.
And although there were only a few iron atoms, they changed the magnetic properties of the material in a radical and disconcerting way.
Parisi, 73, discovered that hidden rules influence the seemingly random behavior of solid materials and found a way to describe them mathematically.
His work has applications not only in physics but also in other very different areas, such as mathematics, biology, neuroscience and machine learning (area of artificial intelligence).
The Committee said this scientist’s discoveries made “possible to understand and describe many different and apparently completely random materials and phenomena“.
Now, the Swedish Academy saw the rotating glass as a microcosm of the complex behavior of the Earth’s climate and the studies that Manab and Hasselmann did years later.
And it is very difficult to predict the long-term behavior of complex physical systems such as the climate of our planet.
Manabe, who works at Princeton University in the US, led the development of physical models of the climate in the 1960s, which led to the conclusion that carbon dioxide emissions warmed the planet.
In the same sense, Hasselmann responded with his studies to the question of why climate models can be reliable even though the climate is changeable and chaotic.
These computer models that can anticipate how the Earth responds to greenhouse gas emissions have been crucial to our understanding of global warming.
As Professor John Wettlaufer of Yale University explained, the Italian physicist was “building from disorder and fluctuations of complex systems at the microscopic level”, while Syukuro Manabe’s work seeks to “take the components of individual processes and put them together to predict the behavior of a complex physical system. “” Although they have split the prize between the climate part and the disorder part, they are really linked, “he explained.
One of the conclusions that the decision leaves, especially in the election of Manabe and Hasselmann, is to draw attention to the climate issue.
According to Wettlaufer, with the award, the Nobel Committee suggests “the duality between the study of the Earth’s climate, which is complex on scales from millimeters to the size of the planet, and the work of Giorgio Parisi.” Dr. Martin Juckes, head of Atmospheric science and research and deputy director of the UK Center for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA) called it “fantastic news” to see scientists’ work on climate awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.
“The complexity of climate systems, compounded by the threats of the climate crisis, continues to challenge climate scientists today,” he said.
Now you can receive notifications from BBC News Mundo. Download the new version of our app and activate them so you don’t miss out on our best content.
We want to give thanks to the writer of this post for this remarkable content
What are complex physical systems for whose study Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi won the Nobel Prize in Physics – BBC News World