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2011 Past Seminars
Sponsored by the Precourt Institute for Energy (PIE), the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), and SLAC.

Photo of Prof. Walter Kohn
Professor Walter Kohn
Nobel Laureate, Chemistry 1998
Departments of Physics and Chemistry, UCSB

Prospects for a World Powered Predominately by Solar and Wind Energy
Friday, February 4, 2011
Stanford University

Flyer for Download (pdf)

Slides (pdf, 759Kb)
Walter Kohn discussed two unprecedented global challenges: the threatened global shortage of acceptable energies and the imminent danger of unacceptable global warming and its consequences. He described a possible way of coping with this predicament: a concerted commitment to a changeover from the current era, dominated by oil plus natural gas, to a future era dominated by solar and wind energy, both of which are clean and effectively inexhaustible. However, he added this optimistic perspective must be tempered with the realization that, unless there are technological breakthroughs, the energy of this future era would be much more costly than at this time. In the United States, this would require a significant change of lifestyle: population stabilization and greater energy effectiveness and conservation.

After earning his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Toronto in 1946, Kohn received his Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Harvard University followed by post–doctoral work at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. In the early 1950s, he worked at Bell Telephone Laboratories as an assistant to William Shockley, the leader of the group that invented the transistor. In 1979, he was appointed as the founding director of the National Science Foundation’s Institute of Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara. He has received numerous awards including the Niels Bohr/Unesco Gold Medal and the United States National Medal of Science; his role in creating the most widely used theory of the electronic structure of matter (Density Functional Theory) earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1998.



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