“It was the wonders of the night sky, observed by Indians, Sumerians or Egyptians, that started science several thousand years ago. It was the question why the wanderers – the planets – moved as they did that triggered off the scientific avalanche several hundred years ago. The same objects are now again in the center of science – only the questions we ask are different. We now ask how to go there, and we also ask how these bodies once were formed. And if the night sky on which we observe them is at a high latitude, outside this lecture hall – perhaps over a small island in the archipelago of Stockholm – we may also see in the sky an aurora, which is a cosmic plasma, reminding us of the time when our world was born out of plasma. Because in the beginning was the plasma.”
Hannes Alfvén in his Nobel Lecture on December 11, 1970 in Stockholm
Plasma Physics, Space Research and the Origin of the Solar System
Swedish scientist Hannes Olof Gösta Alfvén won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1970 for fundamental work and discoveries in magneto-hydrodynamics with fruitful applications in different parts of plasma physics. He gave name to Alfvén waves, oscillations of magnetic field in plasma – their discovery was published in a brief article to Nature (Nature 150, 405-406, 1942). The Alfvén waves are very important in Space research as well as in current fusion research.
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