Professors honor rivalry over research for big game

Louisville, Clemson partner is space research

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) - Saturday marks the third match up for University of Louisville and Clemson football. The Tigers can claim two victories from those previous meetings, but the schools actually both win when it comes to a field of a different kind.

Inside the Natural Sciences building on U of L's campus, one will find physics professor Jian Du-Caines. She's the principal investigator for a three-year project funded by NASA.

“The purpose of all this is to be able to better forecast space weather,” Du-Caines said.

Her co-investigator just so happens to call Clemson home.

“It’s a perfect collaboration, in my opinion,” Jens Oberheide said.

Jens Oberheide is also a physics professor. He analyzes the satellite data from space, and Du-Caines uses it to study atmospheric tides.

“Of course, we always need to understand what we observe from the satellites. So, we absolutely rely on the computer models and on the other hand, we always want to know if the model is right. For that, we need the satellite data for the validation of the models to check that we do everything right,” Oberheide said.

They said space forecasting is becoming more necessary the more we depend on technology. By tracking the weather there, they can better analyze how things like flights, satellites, and power grids can be impacted.

“We are such a technology-dependent society now. Everybody has an iPhone. So, the satellite we have has roughly $100 billion in space. All of these storms can affect our satellites,” Du-Caines said. “Hopefully one day when we turn on the TV, we not only see weather forecasts on the service, but we also see what’s going to happen in space weather.”

Du-Caines also thinks there are a lot of parallels between sports and studying science.

“Something you work so hard for and then you make a discovery, and it’s just that excitement that comes with it. That’s what keeps scientists going. I think it’s the same with sports,” Du-Caines said.

This pair may make a great team, but will hold football high above friendship come game day.

“We will not have a research collaboration for one day, which is tomorrow. We are rivals tomorrow. I’m going to say Go Cards definitely, for sure. I think Jens is definitely for the Tigers, right?” Du-Caines said.

“Of course,” Oberheide said. “Most days of the year, I like red. Right now, I prefer orange.”

Neither one has tickets to the game, but they both plan to watch it and cheer on their respective teams.

“Tomorrow evening, I have different priorities than doing research,” Oberheide said.

“That’s correct, same here,” Du-Caines said.

When WHAS11 told Oberheide about the bet the two mayors from each town have, he said he already knew the outcome.

“Well, I’m sure that our mayor will enjoy the bourbon,” Oberheide said.


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