Invisible Dust

London | Tuesday 17 September
Pollution level: Moderate

Dr Hugh Mortimer

Dr Hugh Mortimer

Planetary Scientist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

Dr Hugh Mortimer started his research career at the National Physical Laboratory in the Optical and Environmental Metrology group where he worked for four years on various different and exciting projects, including the development of an infrared spectroscopy calibration facility based on Fourier Transform spectrometry. It was following this that Mortimer realised he wanted to pursue a career in science and so returned, in 2004, to study for a doctorate at Oxford University. The work in the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics group at Oxford was in the development of a miniaturised Fourier Transform spectrometer for space based remote sensing of planetary atmospheres. It was this work that fuelled his enthusiasm for space research he’s now working as a research scientist in the Space Science and Technology Department, at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire. Dr Hugh Mortimer currently directs his own research into the development of a novel spectrometer for the analysis of atmospheric gases, but is also involved in various other international projects including the calibration climate change monitoring instrument; the Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) based on the satellite Sentinel 3 and the Sea Surface Temperature monitoring instrument, SISTeR which is being operated from the Cunard’s, Queen Mary 2.

One of main responsibilities of the scientist is to communicate the results of their research to their peers, but Mortimer believes it’s of equal importance to communicate the impact of their work to the wider audience of the general public. Mortimer is therefore especially passionate about the communication of science, its importance, its impact and its value in society. He is involved with several outreach projects which includes speaking about space science, planetary atmospheres and our climate at schools and festivals. He is also currently involved with providing scientific advice on the new Ridley Scott film “Prometheus”, which is a prequel to successful Alien series.

Art and Science

Science is a based on substantiated facts, with no latitude for the scientist to add their subjective opinion, leaving them to find the raw patterns within life, the stars and the cosmos. Art can provide the interpretation that can bring that science to life, show meaning to those that are untrained and provide insight to the way that humanity understands and interacts with their surroundings. The “Invisible Dust” projects gives perspective to climate science so that it can be understood by the general public and with the aim of engaging them to impact of our influence on the planet. It is through the artist’s unique perspective on the scientist’s objective analysis of real world data that Dr Mortimer feels is the most powerful aspect of this project, and why he is taking part, “If just one person, as a result of the outstanding work of the artists, is inspired, informed or excited to the importance of our climate, then I feel the project has been a success.”, Dr Hugh Mortimer.