I spent last week in Madrid at the WMO CIMO TECO 2016.
The acronym stands for:
- World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)
- Commission on Instruments and Methods of Observation (CIMO)
- Technical Conference (TECO)
My presence on these teams, and at the conference, is the result of an agreement between BIPM and WMO to formally recognise each other’s structures.
I see my personal role as to make sure that the voice of metrology – measurement science – is heard in the technical committees of WMO that make recommendations about the measurement procedures that underpin meteorological and climatological work.
There are still cultural differences between metrologists and meteorologists. But I felt my presence at this conference was a heartfelt attempt to break through these cultural barriers.
I was really honoured to be able to speak to the conference on its first day on the effects of the forthcoming redefinition of the kelvin, and of the impacts of the latest measurements of the errors in the temperature scale used by meteorologists (and everyone else).
These impacts are small or zero, but meteorologists should be aware of these changes because temperature is the most significant meteorological measurement.
- The PowerPoint file for my presentation is here (.pptx file).
- The paper (.pdf) accompanying the talk is here.
I spent a long time removing content from the presentation until I had removed as much extraneous material from the talk as I could.
But I did leave in one slide that might at first sight seem superfluous but which I felt really earned its place.
The last slide
Having told people that they would be unaffected by the latest developments in thermometry, I felt I needed to explain why the work was still important.
I explained that if my work had been polishing a lens to make an image clearer, then nobody would even ask me why I was doing it: it would be obvious. You don’t know what details will be revealed until you have the sharpest image possible.
What my new measurements do is analogous. They allow us to ‘see’ small differences between quantities that previously appeared the same. And they allow us to see that a property of two materials is really the same – and to wonder why.
It is like removing a ‘blur’ from our perception of the physical world.
I have converted the last slide’s animation into a six-second movie below.
The downside of all this preparation was a certain level of anxiety. But my anxiety about that presentation has now evaporated – and I am already anxious about the next thing!
Only 82 days until Christmas, and then I can take a break.
[October 3rd 2016: Weight this morning 72.9 kg: Anxiety: High: back to work!]