Astrophysics and Space Science Library

Kristian Birkeland

The First Space Scientist

Authors: Egeland, Alv, Burke, William J.

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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 the 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, Birkeland yearned to celebrate his 50th birthday in Norway. The only safe passage home, via the Far East, brought him to Tokyo where in the late spring of 1917 he passed away.

Reviews

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


Table of contents (2 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $219.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-4020-3294-3
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $279.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-4020-3293-6
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $279.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-90-481-6830-9
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Kristian Birkeland
Book Subtitle
The First Space Scientist
Authors
Series Title
Astrophysics and Space Science Library
Series Volume
325
Copyright
2005
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright Holder
Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
eBook ISBN
978-1-4020-3294-3
DOI
10.1007/1-4020-3294-3
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-4020-3293-6
Softcover ISBN
978-90-481-6830-9
Series ISSN
0067-0057
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
X, 228
Topics