Conveys the life and accomplishments of a Norwegian hero to the English speaking world
Illustrates the beginnings of collaboration between academic science and industry
Demythologizes progression of physics as linear; rather a human activity marked by fits and starts
Shows how work in a small country laid the foundation for green revolution
Part of the book series: Astrophysics and Space Science Library (ASSL, volume 325)
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Table of contents (12 chapters)
Background and Education
Geomagnetic and Solar System Research
Technology and Applied Physics
Birkeland the Man
About this book
At the beginning of the 20th century, Kristian Birkeland (1867-1917), a Norwegian scientist of insatiable curiosity, addressed questions that had vexed European scientists for centuries. Why do the northern lights appear overhead when the earth’s magnetic field is disturbed? How are magnetic storms connected to disturbances on the sun? To answer these questions Birkeland interpreted his advance laboratory simulations and daring campaigns in the Arctic wilderness in the light of Maxwell’s newly discovered laws of electricity and magnetism. Birkeland’s ideas were dismissed for decades, only to be vindicated when satellites could fly above the earth’s atmosphere.
Faced with depleting stocks of Chilean saltpeter and the consequent prospect of mass starvation, Birkeland showed his practical side, inventing the first industrial scale method to extract nitrogen-based fertilizers from the air. Norsk Hydro, one of modern Norway’s largest industries, stands as a living tribute to his genius.
Hoping to demonstrate what we now call the solar wind, Birkeland moved to Egypt in 1913. Isolated from his friends by the Great War, he yearned to celebrate his 50th birthday in Norway. The only safe passage home, via the Far East, brought him to Tokyo, where he passed away in the late spring of 1917.
- solar system
- solar wind
The book is written with scientists in mind and follows Lucy Jago's successful biography... I recommend Kristian Birkeland: The First Space Scientist to any physicist who is interested in the history of space science.
—Hans C. Stengaek-Nielsen, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, in Physics Today
Authors and Affiliations
University of Oslo, Norway
Air Force Research Laboratory, USA
William J. Burke
Book Title: Kristian Birkeland
Book Subtitle: The First Space Scientist
Authors: Alv Egeland, William J. Burke
Series Title: Astrophysics and Space Science Library
Publisher: Springer Dordrecht
eBook Packages: Physics and Astronomy, Physics and Astronomy (R0)
Copyright Information: Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2005
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4020-3293-6Published: 01 June 2005
Softcover ISBN: 978-90-481-6830-9Published: 22 October 2010
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4020-3294-3Published: 04 October 2005
Series ISSN: 0067-0057
Series E-ISSN: 2214-7985
Edition Number: 1
Number of Pages: X, 228