Van Allen, James Alfred (1914-)

  • Bruce Randall
Reference work entry
Part of the Encyclopedia of Earth Science book series (EESS)

A pioneer in space research, Van Allen was born in Mount Pleasant Iowa on 7 September 1914, the second of four children of Alfred Morris and Alma E. (Olney) Van Allen. His father was a lawyer as was his older brother George. The three younger sons all developed an interest in science; James and William received degrees in physics and Maurice became a neurosurgeon. James attended Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, graduating summa cum laude in 1935 with a BS in physics. The following year he received an MS from the State University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa (now called the University of Iowa). He graduated with his PhD in nuclear physics in 1939 from the same school and became a research fellow and later a physicist in nuclear physics at Carnegie Institution of Washington, DC. In 1941 he developed an interest in cosmic ray research and switched to the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the same institution.

In 1942 he became a physicist at the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL)...


  1. Van Allen, J. A. (1959) Radiation belts around the Earth. Sci. Am., 200(3), 39–47.Google Scholar
  2. Van Allen, J. A. (1975) Interplanetary particles and fields, Sci. Am., 233(3), 160–72.Google Scholar
  3. Van Allen, J. A. (1983) The Origins of Magnetospheric Physics. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce Randall

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations