Lodovica Illari’s Weather and Climate Lab students watched visualizations like this rotating fluid demo of temperature differences and rotation effects. As warm water spins around a cylinder of ice, green dye represents the upper atmosphere’s westerly jet stream; pink shows the easterly surface trade winds.
After students in 12.307 left campus, they were able to study atmospheric wind patterns using a virtual laboratory created from video of a real experiment using animation software. The above video shows a can of icy water placed at the center of a circular tank of warm water on a slowly rotating platform, creating flow patterns that can be seen when dye is dropped into the tank. The water represents the air, the rotating platform the spinning earth, ice the cold poles, and warm water the equatorial region.
Cold water near the ice sinks down, drawing rings of fluid in at the top and out at the bottom. As rings flow inward at the top, conserving angular momentum, they swirl slightly faster than the tank, while rings at the bottom flow outward and swirl slightly slower. The resulting “winding effect” is revealed by the corkscrew patterns of the green dye streaks. These flow patterns are analogous to those on Earth, with an eastward-flowing “jet stream” aloft and westward-flowing “trade winds” at the surface. Online students were able to watch the video, download temperature and velocity data from the experiment, and manipulate the data to check principles of conservation of angular momentum and heat transport.
Read more about the “Weather in a Tank” curriculum that Illari developed along with EAPS professor John Marshall and research scientist Bill McKenna here.
This new data poisoning tool lets artists fight back against generative AI
The tool, called Nightshade, messes up training data in ways that could cause serious damage to image-generating AI models.
Rogue superintelligence and merging with machines: Inside the mind of OpenAI’s chief scientist
An exclusive conversation with Ilya Sutskever on his fears for the future of AI and why they’ve made him change the focus of his life’s work.
Data analytics reveal real business value
Sophisticated analytics tools mine insights from data, optimizing operational processes across the enterprise.
Driving companywide efficiencies with AI
Advanced AI and ML capabilities revolutionize how administrative and operations tasks are done.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.