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Hannes Alfven 1908-1995

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HysteryDiagnosis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 03:34 PM
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Hannes Alfven 1908-1995
Hannes Alfvn (1908-1995)



Photograph of Prof. Hannes Alfvn, courtesy of
the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm.


Hannes Alfvn, winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Physics,acknowledged as one of creative and intuitive intellect's of the 20th century, died peacefully Sunday evening, April 2, 1995 in Stockholm, Sweden. He was 86 years old.
In the world of specialized science, Alfvn was an enigma. Regarded as a heretic by many physicists, Alfvn made contributions to physics that are today being applied in the development of particle beam accelerators, controlled thermonuclear fusion, hypersonic flight, rocket propulsion, and the braking of reentering space vehicles. At the same time, applications of his research in space science include explanations of the Van Allen radiation belt, the reduction of the earth's magnetic field during magnetic storms, the magnetosphere (a protective plasma envelope surrounding the earth), the formation of comet tails, the formation of the solar system, the dynamics of plasmas in our galaxy, and the fundamental nature of the universe itself.

Alfvn was the first to predict (in 1963) the large scale filamentary structure of the universe, a discovery that confounded astrophysicists in 1991 and added to the woes of Big Bang cosmology. Hannes Alfvn has played a central role in the development of several modern fields of physics, including plasma physics, the physics of charged particle beams, and interplanetary and magnetospheric physics. He is also usually regarded as the father of the branch of plasma physics known as magnetohydrodynamics.

In addition, Alfvn's contributions to astrophysics have been as important as his contributions to physics. His postulation in 1937 of a galactic magnetic field forms the basis today for one of the fastest growing areas of research in astrophysics - Cosmic Magnetism. In 1950, together with his colleague N. Herlofson, Alfvn was the first to identify nonthermal radiation from astronomical sources as synchrotron radiation, which is produced by fast-moving electrons in the presence of magnetic fields. The recognition that the synchrotron mechanism of radiation is important in celestial objects has been one of the most fruitful developments in astrophysics, as nearly all the radiation recorded by radio telescopes derive from this mechanism.


>>Attempting to explain the resistance to his ideas, Alfvn pointed to the increasing specialization of science during this century. "We should remember that there was once a discipline called natural philosophy," he said in 1986. "Unfortunately, this discipline seems not to exist today. It has been renamed science, but science of today is in danger of losing much of the natural philosophy aspect." Among the causes of this transition, Alfvn believed, are territorial dominance, greed, and fear of the unknown. "Scientists tend to resist interdisciplinary inquiries into their own territory. In many instances, such parochialism is founded on the fear that intrusion from other disciplines would compete unfairly for limited financial resources and thus diminish their own opportunity for research."<<
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qb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 03:44 PM
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1. I wondered why that name was familiar - I read a lot about plasma cosmology years ago.
Fascinating stuff.

RIP, Professor Alfvn
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