Eddy Cross-Disciplinary Symposium on Sun-Climate Research

Held on October 22-24, 2010 in Aspen, Colorado

Motivations for the Symposium:

Jack Eddy
Left to right: Lucille, Jack, & Bob.
  1. The difficult but rewarding road of cross-disciplinary research:

    "All my professional life I have striven to be as broad as possible. My critics could rightly also say, 'Yes, and as shallow as possible.' ... my reasons for taking this less-traveled road were many. One is the inevitable thrill of discovery when you wander into new areas. More importantly, you also avoid the danger of being too comfortable in too narrow a niche. I truly believe the sayings that there is no hope for the satisfied man and that without fear there is no learning. Entering a new field with a degree in another is not unlike Lewis and Clark walking into the camp of the Mandans. You are not one of them. They distrust you. Your degree means nothing and your name is not recognized. You have to learn it all from scratch, earn their respect, and learn a lot on your own. But I also think that many of the most significant discoveries in science will be found not in but between the rigid boundaries of the disciplines: the terra incognita where much remains to be learned. It's not a place that's hidebound by practice and ritual."

    -- Jack Eddy 1999, from an interview by Spencer Weart.

  2. The Sun and climate—
    a cross disciplinary challenge for the 21st century:

    "Since it is the Sun's energy that drives the weather system, scientists naturally wondered whether they might connect climate changes with solar variations. Yet the Sun seemed to be stable over the timescale of human lifetimes. Attempts to discover cyclic variations in weather and connect them with the 11-year sunspot cycle, or other possible solar cycles ranging up to a few centuries long, gave results that were ambiguous at best. These attempts got a well-deserved bad reputation. Jack Eddy ... demonstrated that irregular variations in solar surface activity, a few centuries long, were connected with major climate shifts. The mechanism remained uncertain, but plausible candidates emerged. The next crucial question was whether a rise in the Sun's activity could explain the global warming seen in the 20th century? By the 1990s, there was a tentative answer: minor solar variations could indeed have been partly responsible for some past fluctuations... but future warming from the rise in greenhouse gases would far outweigh any solar effects."

    -- from Spencer Weart, Changing Sun, Changing Climate?, The Discovery of Global Warming, online supplement, Dec. 2009.

  3. Public understanding of science and science policy:

    "As scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but—which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we'd like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change.... In the real world, we want to make a lasting impression and ensure that our ideas are heard and our suggestions are followed, yet none of us is granted unlimited time to explain the nuances of complex issues. We are forced to be selective in our disclosure of facts, or we risk being ignored..... it takes discipline to minimize trouble. Scientists will never succeed in pleasing everyone, especially since many continue to think scientists should stay out of the public arena. But if we do avoid the public arena entirely, then we merely abdicate the popularization to someone else — someone who is probably less knowledgeable or responsible.... staying out of the fray is not taking the “high ground”; it is just passing the buck."

    -- from Stephen Schneider, Mediarology.