Peak Physics: When Science Meets Mountains

Peak Physics: When Science Meets Mountains

Alpine Physics Valerio Faraoni

When Dr. Valerio Faraoni isn’t teaching physics and astronomy students in the department he chairs, researching cosmology and gravitation, or giving seminars across the globe, you can find him climbing and hiking mountains. Combining his love of physics and mountaineering, his latest and sixth book to be published, “Alpine Physics”, applies physics and basic science to the alpine environment. “I’ve been mountaineering for a long time, about 30 years, and I’ve been doing physics for even longer,” Faraoni explains. “I wanted to bring the two together in this book.”

The book is a great read for mountaineers and nature lovers who want to understand the basic science and physics at play in alpine environments. Fostering a deeper understanding of these terrains is not only beneficial to enjoying all that nature has to offer, but even more so to one’s safety when mountaineering. Weaving together science and personal experience, Faraoni wrote the book in part by drawing on his own knowledge and including stories from his own adventures. Amplifying the need for safety, Faraoni shares both riveting and cautionary tales such as one where, “according to standard knowledge, my friend should have died.” On a lighter note, this book also allowed Faraoni to incorporate another passion of his: nature photography. The pages are interspersed with stunning photographs he has taken over the years. Faraoni has built up an impressive collection, having climbed mountains all over the world. His favourite destinations? The Dolomites in Italy, the West Coast of Canada, and Mont Blanc in the Alps.

When we sat down with Faraoni to discuss his book, he had just flown in from Europe the previous night and was surviving on a few hours of sleep. Sitting in his office, walls covered with photographs of mountains, he had been lecturing at an Alpine Cosmology Workshop for the past week. This year it took place in Austria, only further confirming his love of mountaineering.