Joan Feynman

Joan Feynman

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Joan Feynman the sister of Richard Feynman
Richard Feynman
Richard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics...

, is an astrophysicist who made original studies of the interactions between 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...

 and the Earth'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,...

. While working at the NASA Ames Research Center
NASA Ames Research Center
The Ames Research Center , is one of the United States of America's National Aeronautics and Space Administration 10 major field centers.The centre is located in Moffett Field in California's Silicon Valley, near the high-tech companies, entrepreneurial ventures, universities, and other...

 in 1971, Feynman showed that coronal mass ejection
Coronal mass ejection
A coronal mass ejection is a massive burst of solar wind, other light isotope plasma, and magnetic fields rising above the solar corona or being released into space....

s could be identified by the presence of helium
Helium
Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

 in the solar wind. She subsequently worked at the National Center for Atmospheric Research
National Center for Atmospheric Research
The National Center for Atmospheric Research has multiple facilities, including the I. M. Pei-designed Mesa Laboratory headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. NCAR is managed by the nonprofit University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and sponsored by the National Science Foundation...

 in Colorado, and the National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. Its medical counterpart is the National Institutes of Health...

. In 1985, she moved to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. The facility is headquartered in the city of Pasadena on the border of La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena...

. Using data from Explorer 33
Explorer 33
Explorer 33 was a spacecraft launched by NASA on July 1, 1966 on a mission of scientific exploration. Originally intended for a lunar orbit, mission controllers worried that the spacecraft's trajectory was too fast to guarantee lunar capture...

, she demonstrated that the occurrence of auroras
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...

 is a product of the interaction of the solar wind with the magnetosphere. In 1999 she was named as one of JPL's elite senior scientists and in 2000 was awarded NASA's Exceptional Achievement Medal. She retired from JPL as a Senior Scientist in 2003, but continued to work, publishing as recently as 2007 on the influence of solar activity on the climate of the first millennium.

Feynman studied at Oberlin College
Oberlin College
Oberlin College is a private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, noteworthy for having been the first American institution of higher learning to regularly admit female and black students. Connected to the college is the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the oldest continuously operating...

, Syracuse University
Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university located in Syracuse, New York, United States. Its roots can be traced back to Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1832, which also later founded Genesee College...

 (PhD, 1958), and Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

. Her son Charles Hirshberg
Charles Hirshberg
Charles "Chuck" Hirshberg is an American journalist and sportswriter. He primarily writes for large-circulation magazines. His articles and columns have appeared in Time, Sports Illustrated, Life, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Men's Health and other publications. As of 2002, he was...

 (from her first marriage to Richard Hirshberg) is news editor of Popular Science
Popular Science
Popular Science is an American monthly magazine founded in 1872 carrying articles for the general reader on science and technology subjects. Popular Science has won over 58 awards, including the ASME awards for its journalistic excellence in both 2003 and 2004...

. She has been married to fellow astrophysicist Alexander Ruzmaikin since 1987.