Dr Melanie Windridge is a plasma physicist, speaker and writer… with a taste for adventure.
She has a PhD in plasma physics (fusion energy) from Imperial College London where she remains an academic visitor, and has worked in education with the Ogden Trust, Anturus and Your Life. She is Communications Consultant for privately-funded fusion company Tokamak Energy and Director of Strategic Operations for the Fusion Industry Association, working to accelerate the development of fusion as a clean energy source for the future. She is currently Vice President of the prestigious Alpine Club.
Melanie’s personal projects combine science with adventure. Aurora: In Search of the Northern Lights investigates the science of the aurora against a backdrop of travel that also illuminates the places, the landscapes and the stories. In 2018 Melanie climbed Mount Everest, filming and writing to tell the story of the science that gets us to the summit and producing a YouTube series for the Institute of Physics.
A regular public speaker, Melanie has addressed audiences at wide-ranging events. She has made countless television, radio and podcast appearances, both in the UK and abroad, including programmes for the BBC and National Geographic Channel. She has written articles for the Sunday Times magazine, Forbes, Physics World, Trail and more.
Melanie is interested in the notion of ‘impossibles’ – grand challenges once seen as impossible but attainable through investigation, ingenuity and grit – such as the race to the poles, Everest, space and fusion energy. Melanie believes that science and exploration go hand in hand.
The beautiful aurorae – or Northern Lights – are the stuff of legends, and have long captivated people. The Sami say that if you mock the Northern Lights they will come down and get you, and, metaphorically speaking, they do just that. They reach into something deep inside the beholder. But beneath their beauty lurks a darker side. The solar events that give them their luminosity can knock out power and communications, and as we rely increasingly on technology the prospect of a huge solar storm becomes more and more dangerous. This book grapples with both the beauty and the danger of the aurora, and explores the essential questions of its origins. Do we really even know what causes the aurora? Melanie Windridge, plasma physicist, suggests that common explanations fall short – and offers her own insight.
In a journey that takes her through Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Canada, and culminates in a spectacular solar eclipse, Melanie delves into the science of the Northern Lights, introducing the reader to the phenomena behind this most spectacular of natural events. Touching on the history, geography and mythology that comprise the aurora borealis, Aurora brings together space, place and science in magnificent style.
‘It is clear in this captivating book that her technical understanding has not dimmed her delight.’
‘The result is a brilliant blend of auroral science, polar exploration, Sami heritage and folklore. Melanie Windridge’s book is full of wonders.’
— Simple Things magazine
‘Her enthusiasm for all things aurora is, ultimately, infectious and there will be something of interest here for anyone with even a passing curiosity in this remarkable natural phenomenon’
— Times Literary Supplement