Hannes Alfvén

Hannes Alfvén

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Hannes Olof Gösta Alfvén (born 30 May 1908 in Norrköping
Norrköping
Norrköping is a city in the province of Östergötland in eastern Sweden and the seat of Norrköping Municipality, Östergötland County. The city has a population of 87,247 inhabitants in 2010, out of a municipal total of 130,050, making it Sweden's tenth largest city and eighth largest...

,
Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

; died 2 April 1995 in Djursholm
Djursholm
Djursholm is one of four suburban districts in, and the seat of Danderyd Municipality, Stockholm County, Sweden. Djursholm is included in the multi-municipal Stockholm urban area.-History:...

, Sweden) was a Swedish electrical engineer, plasma
Plasma (physics)
In physics and chemistry, plasma is a state of matter similar to gas in which a certain portion of the particles are ionized. Heating a gas may ionize its molecules or atoms , thus turning it into a plasma, which contains charged particles: positive ions and negative electrons or ions...

 physicist and winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics
The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and...

 for his work on magnetohydrodynamics
Magnetohydrodynamics
Magnetohydrodynamics is an academic discipline which studies the dynamics of electrically conducting fluids. Examples of such fluids include plasmas, liquid metals, and salt water or electrolytes...

 (MHD). He described the class of MHD waves now known as Alfvén wave
Alfvén wave
An Alfvén wave, named after Hannes Alfvén, is a type of magnetohydrodynamic wave.-Definition:An Alfvén wave in a plasma is a low-frequency travelling oscillation of the ions and the magnetic field...

s. He was originally trained as an electrical power engineer and later moved to research and teaching in the fields of plasma physics and electrical engineering. Alfvén made many contributions to plasma physics, including theories describing the behavior of aurora
Aurora (astronomy)
An aurora is a natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere...

e, the Van Allen radiation belts, the effect of magnetic storms
Geomagnetic storm
A geomagnetic storm is a temporary disturbance of the Earth's magnetosphere caused by a disturbance in the interplanetary medium. A geomagnetic storm is a major component of space weather and provides the input for many other components of space weather...

 on the Earth's magnetic field
Earth's magnetic field
Earth's magnetic field is the magnetic field that extends from the Earth's inner core to where it meets the solar wind, a stream of energetic particles emanating from the Sun...

, the terrestrial magnetosphere
Magnetosphere
A magnetosphere is formed when a stream of charged particles, such as the solar wind, interacts with and is deflected by the intrinsic magnetic field of a planet or similar body. Earth is surrounded by a magnetosphere, as are the other planets with intrinsic magnetic fields: Mercury, Jupiter,...

, and the dynamics of plasmas in the Milky Way
Milky Way
The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains the Solar System. This name derives from its appearance as a dim un-resolved "milky" glowing band arching across the night sky...

 galaxy.

Biography


In 1937, Alfvén argued that if plasma
Plasma (physics)
In physics and chemistry, plasma is a state of matter similar to gas in which a certain portion of the particles are ionized. Heating a gas may ionize its molecules or atoms , thus turning it into a plasma, which contains charged particles: positive ions and negative electrons or ions...

 pervaded the universe, it could then carry electric currents capable of generating a galactic magnetic field. After winning the Nobel Prize for his works in magnetohydrodynamics
Magnetohydrodynamics
Magnetohydrodynamics is an academic discipline which studies the dynamics of electrically conducting fluids. Examples of such fluids include plasmas, liquid metals, and salt water or electrolytes...

, he emphasized that:
In order to understand the phenomena in a certain plasma region, it is necessary to map not only the magnetic but also the electric field and the electric currents. Space is filled with a network of currents which transfer energy and momentum over large or very large distances. The currents often pinch to filamentary or surface currents. The latter are likely to give space, as also interstellar and intergalactic space, a cellular structure.
His theoretical work on field-aligned electric currents in the aurora (based on earlier work by Kristian Birkeland
Kristian Birkeland
Kristian Olaf Birkeland was a Norwegian scientist. He is best remembered as the person who first elucidated the nature of the Aurora borealis. In order to fund his research on the aurorae, he invented the electromagnetic cannon and the Birkeland-Eyde process of fixing nitrogen from the air...

) was confirmed by satellite observations, in 1974, resulting in the discovery of Birkeland current
Birkeland current
A Birkeland current is a set of currents which flow along geomagnetic field line connecting the Earth’s magnetosphere to the Earth's high latitude ionosphere. They are a specific class of magnetic field-aligned currents. Lately, the term Birkeland currents has been expanded by some authors to...

s.

Education


Alfvén received his PhD from the University of Uppsala in 1934. His thesis was titled "Investigations of the Ultra-short Electromagnetic Waves."

Early years


In 1934, Alfvén taught physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 at both the University of Uppsala and the Nobel Institute for Physics in Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

, Sweden. In 1940, he became professor of electromagnetic theory and electrical measurements at the Royal Institute of Technology
Royal Institute of Technology
The Royal Institute of Technology is a university in Stockholm, Sweden. KTH was founded in 1827 as Sweden's first polytechnic and is one of Scandinavia's largest institutions of higher education in technology. KTH accounts for one-third of Sweden’s technical research and engineering education...

 in Stockholm. In 1945, he acquired the nonappointive position of Chair of Electronics. His title was changed to Chair of Plasma Physics in 1963. In 1954-1955, Alfvén was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Maryland, College Park
University of Maryland, College Park
The University of Maryland, College Park is a top-ranked public research university located in the city of College Park in Prince George's County, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C...

. In 1967, after leaving Sweden and spending time in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, he moved to the United States. Alfvén worked in the departments of electrical engineering
Electrical engineering
Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics and electromagnetism. The field first became an identifiable occupation in the late nineteenth century after commercialization of the electric telegraph and electrical...

 at both the University of California, San Diego
University of California, San Diego
The University of California, San Diego, commonly known as UCSD or UC San Diego, is a public research university located in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California, United States...

 and the University of Southern California
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian, research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university...

.

First and foremost, Alfvén considered himself an electrical engineer. Prior to winning the Nobel Prize, he was not generally recognized as a leading innovator in the scientific community.

Research, awards, and contributions


Alfvén's work was disputed for many years by the senior scientist in space physics, the British-American geophysicist
Geophysics
Geophysics is the physics of the Earth and its environment in space; also the study of the Earth using quantitative physical methods. The term geophysics sometimes refers only to the geological applications: Earth's shape; its gravitational and magnetic fields; its internal structure and...

 Sydney Chapman
Sydney Chapman (astronomer)
Sydney Chapman FRS was a British mathematician and geophysicist. His work on the kinetic theory of gases, solar-terrestrial physics, and the Earth's ozone layer has inspired a broad range of research over many decades....

. Alfvén's disagreements with Chapman stemmed in large part from trouble with the peer review
Peer review
Peer review is a process of self-regulation by a profession or a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility...

 system. Alfvén rarely benefited from the acceptance generally afforded senior scientists in scientific journal
Scientific journal
In academic publishing, a scientific journal is a periodical publication intended to further the progress of science, usually by reporting new research. There are thousands of scientific journals in publication, and many more have been published at various points in the past...

s. He once submitted a paper on the theory of magnetic storm
Magnetic storm
Magnetic storm can refer to:* A geomagnetic storm* Magnetic Storm , the title of a book of paintings by Roger Dean* Magnetic Storm , the title of an hourlong PBS NOVA documentary about Earth's changing magnetic fields...

s and auroras to the American journal Terrestrial Magnetism and Atmospheric Electricity and his paper was rejected on the ground that it did not agree with the theoretical calculations of conventional physics of the time. He was regarded as a person with unorthodox opinion
Fringe science
Fringe science is scientific inquiry in an established field of study that departs significantly from mainstream or orthodox theories, and is classified in the "fringes" of a credible mainstream academic discipline....

s in the field by many physicists, R. H. Stuewer noting that "... he remained an embittered outsider, winning little respect from other scientists even after he received the Nobel Prize..." and was often forced to publish his papers in obscure journals. Alfvén recalled:
When I describe the [plasma phenomena] according to this formulism most referees do not understand what I say and turn down my papers. With the referee system which rules US science today, this means that my papers are rarely accepted by the leading US journals.


In 1988, Alfvén was awarded the Bowie medal by the American Geophysical Union
American Geophysical Union
The American Geophysical Union is a nonprofit organization of geophysicists, consisting of over 50,000 members from over 135 countries. AGU's activities are focused on the organization and dissemination of scientific information in the interdisciplinary and international field of geophysics...

 for his work on comet
Comet
A comet is an icy small Solar System body that, when close enough to the Sun, displays a visible coma and sometimes also a tail. These phenomena are both due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind upon the nucleus of the comet...

s and plasmas in the Solar system
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

.

Awards


The Hannes Alfvén Prize
Hannes Alfvén Prize
The Hannes Alfvén Prize is a prize awarded annually by the European Physical Society for outstanding work in the field of plasma physics.It is named after the Swedish physicist Hannes Alfvén.-External links:*...

, awarded annually by the European Physical Society
European Physical Society
The European Physical Society is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote physics and physicists in Europe. Formally established in 1968, its membership includes the national physical societies of 41 countries, and some 3200 individual members. The Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft,...

 for outstanding contributions in plasma physics, is named after him. Alfvén was also awarded:
  • Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London
  • Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
    -History:In the early years, more than one medal was often awarded in a year, but by 1833 only one medal was being awarded per year. This caused a problem when Neptune was discovered in 1846, because many felt an award should jointly be made to John Couch Adams and Urbain Le Verrier...

     (1967)
  • Franklin Medal
    Franklin Medal
    The Franklin Medal was a science and engineering award presented by the Franklin Institute, of Philadelphia, PA, USA.-Laureates:*1915 - Thomas Alva Edison *1915 - Heike Kamerlingh Onnes *1916 - John J...

     of the Franklin Institute
    Franklin Institute
    The Franklin Institute is a museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the oldest centers of science education and development in the United States, dating to 1824. The Institute also houses the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial.-History:On February 5, 1824, Samuel Vaughn Merrick and...

     (1971)
  • Lomonosov Gold Medal
    Lomonosov Gold Medal
    The Lomonosov Gold Medal, named after Russian scientist and polymath Mikhail Lomonosov, is awarded each year since 1959 for outstanding achievements in the natural sciences and the humanities by the USSR Academy of Sciences and later the Russian Academy of Sciences . Two medals are awarded...

     of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1971)

Memberships

  • Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
    Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
    The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences or Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. The Academy is an independent, non-governmental scientific organization which acts to promote the sciences, primarily the natural sciences and mathematics.The Academy was founded on 2...

  • Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences
    Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences
    The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences or Kungl. Ingenjörsvetenskapsakademien , founded in 1919 by King Gustaf V, is one of the Royal Academies in Sweden...

  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
    Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
    The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is a non-profit professional association headquartered in New York City that is dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence...

     (life fellow)
  • European Physical Society
    European Physical Society
    The European Physical Society is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote physics and physicists in Europe. Formally established in 1968, its membership includes the national physical societies of 41 countries, and some 3200 individual members. The Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft,...

  • Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

     (1962)
  • Yugoslav Academy of Sciences
  • Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
    Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
    The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs is an international organization that brings together scholars and public figures to work toward reducing the danger of armed conflict and to seek solutions to global security threats...

  • International Academy of Science
  • Indian National Science Academy
    Indian National Science Academy
    The Indian National Science Academy , New Delhi is the apex body of Indian scientists representing all branches of science & technology.-History:...



Alfvén was one of the few scientists who was a foreign member of both the United States
United States National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...

 and Soviet Academies of Sciences.

Research


Alfvén played a central role in the development of:
  • Plasma physics
  • Charged particle beam
    Charged particle beam
    A charged particle beam is a spatially localized group of electrically charged particles that have approximately the same velocity . The kinetic energies of the particles are typically measured in keV or MeV, much larger than the energies of particles at ambient temperature...

    s
  • Interplanetary physics
  • Magnetospheric physics
  • Magnetohydrodynamics
    Magnetohydrodynamics
    Magnetohydrodynamics is an academic discipline which studies the dynamics of electrically conducting fluids. Examples of such fluids include plasmas, liquid metals, and salt water or electrolytes...


Solar phenomena investigation (such as the solar wind
Solar wind
The solar wind is a stream of charged particles ejected from the upper atmosphere of the Sun. It mostly consists of electrons and protons with energies usually between 1.5 and 10 keV. The stream of particles varies in temperature and speed over time...

)
  • Aurorae science
    Aurora (astronomy)
    An aurora is a natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere...



In 1939, Alfvén proposed the theory of magnetic storm
Geomagnetic storm
A geomagnetic storm is a temporary disturbance of the Earth's magnetosphere caused by a disturbance in the interplanetary medium. A geomagnetic storm is a major component of space weather and provides the input for many other components of space weather...

s and auroras and the theory of plasma dynamics
Plasma (physics)
In physics and chemistry, plasma is a state of matter similar to gas in which a certain portion of the particles are ionized. Heating a gas may ionize its molecules or atoms , thus turning it into a plasma, which contains charged particles: positive ions and negative electrons or ions...

 in the earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

's magnetosphere
Magnetosphere
A magnetosphere is formed when a stream of charged particles, such as the solar wind, interacts with and is deflected by the intrinsic magnetic field of a planet or similar body. Earth is surrounded by a magnetosphere, as are the other planets with intrinsic magnetic fields: Mercury, Jupiter,...

.

Applications of Alfvén's research in space science include:
  • Van Allen radiation belt
    Van Allen radiation belt
    The Van Allen radiation belt is a torus of energetic charged particles around Earth, which is held in place by Earth's magnetic field. It is believed that most of the particles that form the belts come from solar wind, and other particles by cosmic rays. It is named after its discoverer, James...

     theory
  • Reduction of the Earth's magnetic field
    Earth's magnetic field
    Earth's magnetic field is the magnetic field that extends from the Earth's inner core to where it meets the solar wind, a stream of energetic particles emanating from the Sun...

     during magnetic storm
    Magnetic storm
    Magnetic storm can refer to:* A geomagnetic storm* Magnetic Storm , the title of a book of paintings by Roger Dean* Magnetic Storm , the title of an hourlong PBS NOVA documentary about Earth's changing magnetic fields...

    s
  • Magnetosphere
    Magnetosphere
    A magnetosphere is formed when a stream of charged particles, such as the solar wind, interacts with and is deflected by the intrinsic magnetic field of a planet or similar body. Earth is surrounded by a magnetosphere, as are the other planets with intrinsic magnetic fields: Mercury, Jupiter,...

     (protective plasma covering the earth)
  • Formation of comet
    Comet
    A comet is an icy small Solar System body that, when close enough to the Sun, displays a visible coma and sometimes also a tail. These phenomena are both due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind upon the nucleus of the comet...

     tails
  • Formation of the solar system
    Solar System
    The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

  • Dynamics of plasmas in the galaxy
    Astrophysical plasma
    An astrophysical plasma is a plasma the physical properties of which are studied as part of astrophysics. Much of the baryonic matter of the universe is thought to consist of plasma, a state of matter in which atoms and molecules are so hot, that they have ionized by breaking up into their...

  • Fundamental nature of the universe


Alfvén's views followed those of the founder of magnetospheric physics, Kristian Birkeland
Kristian Birkeland
Kristian Olaf Birkeland was a Norwegian scientist. He is best remembered as the person who first elucidated the nature of the Aurora borealis. In order to fund his research on the aurorae, he invented the electromagnetic cannon and the Birkeland-Eyde process of fixing nitrogen from the air...

. At the end of the nineteenth century, Birkeland proposed (backed by extensive data) that electric currents flowing down along the Earth's magnetic fields into the atmosphere caused the aurora and polar magnetic disturbances.

Areas of technology benefiting from Alfvén's contributions include:
  • Particle beam accelerators
  • Controlled thermonuclear fusion
  • Hypersonic flight
    Hypersonic flight
    Hypersonic flight is flight through the atmosphere at speeds above about Mach 5.5, a speed where disassociation of air begins to become significant and high heat loads exist....

  • Rocket
    Rocket
    A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

     propulsion
  • Reentry
    Atmospheric reentry
    Atmospheric entry is the movement of human-made or natural objects as they enter the atmosphere of a celestial body from outer space—in the case of Earth from an altitude above the Kármán Line,...

     braking of space vehicles


Contributions to astrophysics:
  • Galactic magnetic field (1937)
  • Identified nonthermal synchrotron radiation
    Synchrotron radiation
    The electromagnetic radiation emitted when charged particles are accelerated radially is called synchrotron radiation. It is produced in synchrotrons using bending magnets, undulators and/or wigglers...

     from astronomical sources (1950)


Alfvén wave
Alfvén wave
An Alfvén wave, named after Hannes Alfvén, is a type of magnetohydrodynamic wave.-Definition:An Alfvén wave in a plasma is a low-frequency travelling oscillation of the ions and the magnetic field...

s (low frequency
Frequency
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency.The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency...

 hydromagnetic plasma
Plasma (physics)
In physics and chemistry, plasma is a state of matter similar to gas in which a certain portion of the particles are ionized. Heating a gas may ionize its molecules or atoms , thus turning it into a plasma, which contains charged particles: positive ions and negative electrons or ions...

 oscillations) are named in his honor. Many of his theories about the solar system were verified as late as the 1980s through external measurements of cometary and planetary magnetospheres. But Alfvén himself noted that astrophysical textbooks poorly represented known plasma phenomena:
A study of how a number of the most used textbooks in astrophysics treat important concepts such as double layers
Double layer (plasma)
A double layer is a structure in a plasma and consists of two parallel layers with opposite electrical charge. The sheets of charge cause a strong electric field and a correspondingly sharp change in voltage across the double layer. Ions and electrons which enter the double layer are accelerated,...

, critical velocity
Critical ionization velocity
Critical ionization velocity is the relative velocity between a neutral gas and plasma , at which the neutral gas will start to ionize...

, pinch effects, and circuits is made. It is found that students using these textbooks remain essentially ignorant of even the existence of these concepts, despite the fact that some of them have been well known for half a century (e.g, double layers, Langmuir, 1929; pinch effect, Bennet, 1934).
Alfvén reported that of 17 of the most used textbooks on astrophysics, none mention the pinch effect, none mentioned critical ionization velocity, only two mentioned circuits, and three mentioned double layers.

Alfvén's cosmological model



Alfvén believed the problem with the Big Bang was that astrophysicists tried to extrapolate the origin of the universe from mathematical theories developed on the blackboard, rather than starting from known observable phenomena. He also considered the Big Bang to be a scientific myth
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 devised to explain creation.

Alfvén and colleagues proposed the Alfvén-Klein model as an alternative cosmological
Physical cosmology
Physical cosmology, as a branch of astronomy, is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and is concerned with fundamental questions about its formation and evolution. For most of human history, it was a branch of metaphysics and religion...

 theory to both the Big Bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

 and steady state theory
Steady State theory
In cosmology, the Steady State theory is a model developed in 1948 by Fred Hoyle, Thomas Gold, Hermann Bondi and others as an alternative to the Big Bang theory...

 cosmologies.

Later years


In 1991, Alfvén retired as professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, San Diego
University of California, San Diego
The University of California, San Diego, commonly known as UCSD or UC San Diego, is a public research university located in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California, United States...

 and professor of plasma physics at the Royal Institute of Technology
Royal Institute of Technology
The Royal Institute of Technology is a university in Stockholm, Sweden. KTH was founded in 1827 as Sweden's first polytechnic and is one of Scandinavia's largest institutions of higher education in technology. KTH accounts for one-third of Sweden’s technical research and engineering education...

 in Stockholm.

Alfvén spent his adult life alternating between California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and Sweden. He died at the age of 86.

The asteroid
Asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

 1778 Alfvén
1778 Alfvén
1778 Alfvén is a main belt asteroid, discovered on September 26, 1960 by Cornelis Johannes van Houten, Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld and Tom Gehrels at Palomar Observatory. It was named after Hannes Olof Gösta Alfvén.-References:...

 was named in his honour.

Personal life


Alfvén had a good sense of humor, and he participated in a variety of social issues and worldwide disarmament movements. He had a long-standing distrust of computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

s. Alfvén studied the history of science
History of science
The history of science is the study of the historical development of human understandings of the natural world and the domains of the social sciences....

, oriental philosophy, and religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

. He spoke Swedish, English, German, French, and Russian, and some Spanish and Chinese. He expressed great concern about the difficulties of permanent high-level radioactive waste management
High-level radioactive waste management
High-level radioactive waste management concerns management and disposal of highly radioactive materials created during production of nuclear power and nuclear warheads. The technical issues in accomplishing this are daunting, due to the extremely long periods radioactive wastes remain deadly to...

." Alfvén was also interested in problems in cosmology and all aspects of auroral physics, and used Schröder's well known book on aurora, Das Phänomen des Polarlichts. Letters of Alfvén, Treder, and Schröder were published on the occasion of Treder's 70th birthday. A long paper on changes in auroral theories was published by Wilfried Schröder in honor of Hannes Alfvén's 80th birthday in the German scientific journal Gerlands Beiträge zur Geophysik in 1988. The relationships between Hans-Jürgen Treder, Hannes Alfvén and Wilfried Schröder were discussed in detail by Schröder in his publications.

Alfvén was married for 67 years to his wife Kerstin. They raised five children, one boy and four girls. His son became a physician, while one daughter became a writer and another a lawyer in Sweden. The composer Hugo Alfvén
Hugo Alfvén
was a Swedish composer, conductor, violinist, and painter.- Violinist :Alfvén was born in Stockholm and studied at the Music Conservatory there from 1887 to 1891 with the violin as his main instrument, receiving lessons from Lars Zetterquist. He also took private composition lessons from Johan...

 was Hannes Alfvén's uncle.

External links