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Physics celebrates wind and atomic bombs

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Wind power was to be represented at last month's centennial exhibit of the American Physical Society, which marks a century of physics. But the lion's share of the highly promoted exhibit, to which 50 Nobel Laureates were invited, was to be nuclear energy, both in weapons and to generate electricity. Still, eight to ten renewables specialists from the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) were to attend the event in Atlanta from March 20-26 to give talks, host exhibits and to make presentations. Topics included the development of modern wind and solar energy since breakthrough scientific advances of the 1950s and 1960s, and today's understanding of the science of aerodynamics, which was initially boosted by the aerospace industry. Other topics were the practical outcomes of these advances in physics, such as utility-connected wind turbines; what direction physics research is likely to take next century; and what role physics and other scientific disciplines have in developing clean energy technologies that can help combat climate change. Several hundred were expected to attend the meeting. NREL was featuring wind as part of a larger Department of Energy exhibit and in a smaller regional one named "Four Corners." Ironically enough, this was to include the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the first atomic bombs were developed.

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