15th March is known as the Ides of March in the Roman calendar, and of course my birthday. It is the 75th day of the year 2016. As I googled, I discovered quite a few interesting historical things that occurred on the Ides of March over the years. The most historic and cited is the assassination of the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar in 44 BC, by some of the senators during a sitting, sadly. In 1493, Christopher Columbus, the man who is said to have discovered America returned to Spain from his first journey to the Americas. Liverpool FC, the second most successful English soccer club in history was founded in 1892. It was also the first day an official cricket match was played in the world, Australia vs England in 1877.
Birth wise, John Snow, American epidemiologist was given birth on that day in 1813, Will I Am (Black Eyed Peas) 1975, Paul Pogba (Juventus FC soccer player) 1993 and Eva Longoria of Desperate Housewives in 1975. Good for them.
But why did the romans refer to it as the Ides is because of their counting system, which they do backwards. There were only 3 reference dates in a month as opposed to 30 or 31 on a Gregorian calendar. The Nones (5th or 7th), the Ides (13th or 15th) and the Kalends (the 1st of the following month) depending on the length of the month. So we have the Ides of May, July and October to have their Ides on the 15th. And yes, the Romans have a number of religious celeberations leading to the Ides of March.
It’s also history now in Nigeria as yesterday, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria rejected the gender equality bill seeking to enforce women to have the same marital rights with men. Help me ask, what is with senators and the Ides of March?
Yesterday to me had been a wonderful day filled with kind wishes I received via SMS, calls, Facebook messages and posts and emails from my caring following. I honourably and humbly acknowledge all those who took the time to send me their wishes. I wish you better things. I remember just like last year, I was flying from Abuja to Kebbi (my state of origin), after having been away for up to 14 months, got a lot of warm birthday messages. And the year before that, I celebrated it Kenya, unceremoniously, with the same aura of caring breeze of messages from friends and family. The way and manner I receive those messages is overwhelming and it made me silently wish that every day should be my birthday. The good wishes are just heartfelt, hopeful and I guess no one will deny not wanting to receive them daily.
But for this year, my birthday caught up with me in a small beautiful German city called Weimar. The European Cultural City, with a population of about 65, 000 people, was home to literary icons like Goethe and Schiller, a number of UNESCO Heritage Sites and a lot of other interesting things. I will write more on Weimer in my subsequent posts. So what am I here for?
Last year, as part of the Science Forum I attended, courtesy of the Green Talents International Forum for High Potentials in Sustainable Development, I was in Weimar for an individual expert appointment with Professor Dr. Engineer Conrad Voelker, the Chair of the Department of Building Physics in the Faculty of Civil Engineering at Bauhaus University Weimar. I had the privileged opportunity to be introduced to the research work at the department and what he is doing with his research team. I saw the climate laboratory and met Feelix (plastic man), a thermal manikin used in experiments to simulate environmental conditions just like a human being will. It was interesting and I decided to return as a Visiting researcher (Gastwissenschaftler in German) to learn more.
Most of what I will be doing is investigating how coupling a number of different ventilation systems can be used to improve indoor air quality and thermal comfort. You know, like the split air conditioning (displaced ventilation) you have and the standing fans (personalized ventilation) you also keep near you to cool off, are some of the systems we will be using in our experiments in the climate lab, but disguised differently though. It turns out that there is an optimum combination of all these systems to help in achieving better thermal comfort.
Problem with central heating and cooling
For some of us that have been in airplanes or sat in cars with the vents just near you, you are able to manually adjust the cooling air that comes out or shut the vents entirely or change the direction of flow. That is great, but part of the problem lies when you find yourself in big rooms and situations where you don’t have an option of personalizing your heating or cooling system, what will you do? If the ambient air is too cold for you, you wish you had a warmer cloth to keep you warm. And when it is too hot for you, you will wish the temperature of the cooling air coming out of the system to be increased, but you can’t do that since there a number of people present and each one will wonder if the system was made for you only.
Thermal comfort and what you breathe matters
That’s why we need advances in making personalized ventilation much better, performance-wise and economically. This will also have to be done in an energy efficient manner. Why? One, according to a study, people consume about 1kg of food, 2kg of water and 10kg of air daily. Hence, the major reason why particular attention has to be made on the indoor air quality as it affects our wellbeing and productivity. Two, most of our energy bills goes toward payment for either heating or cooling, so when you have personalized energy efficient ventilation systems in place, you will enjoy paying lower energy bills than before. And if you truly want to optimize all the energy consumption in your building, to make it more energy efficient, then you need a more thorough analysis and design by an expert. If you intend to build a new house, don’t erect it without an energy-efficient designer on the sideline. Energy tariffs are rising and it will be great if right from the design of your house, it can be made to consume less.
I will be working under his supervision at the lab together with Hayder and Thomas.
My broad objective is to gain more insight in the simulation of airflow, heat and energy around buildings. I intend to transfer the new skills in designing and understanding how to increase the energy efficiency of buildings and cities. This is imperative as the building sector is responsible for up to a third of the total electricity produced in the world. Improving their energy efficiency will reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as make our environments greener.
Until then, I will be here for some time. Tschüss!