Pioneers in the development of the Plasma Universe.

Charles-Edouard Guillaume (1883—1936), Nobel Laureate 1920. Ch-Ed. Guillaume, a colleague of Kristian Birkeland whose multitude of honors included the Croix de l'Ordere de St-Olaf de Norvége. Guillaime spent his distinguished career at the Observatoire de Paris—Section de Meudon where he became reknowned for his thermo measurements. Guillaume was the first to determine the correct temperature of space. We quote from his article `La Temp\'erature de L'Espace', {\em La Nature}, vol.24, series 2, pp.210--211, 234 (1896): "

Captain Abney has recently determined the ratio of the light from the starry sky to that of the full Moon. It turns out to be 1/44, after reductions for the obliqueness of the rays relative to the surface, and for atmospheric absorption. Doubling this for both hemispheres, and adopting 1/600,000 as the ratio of the light intensity of the Moon to that of the Sun (a rough average of the measurements by Wollaston, Douguer and Z\"ollner), we find that the Sun showers us with 15,200,000 time more vibratory energy than all the stars combined. The increase in temperature of an isolated body in space subject only to the action of the stars will be equal to the quotient of the increase of temperature due to the Sun on the Earth's orbit divided by the fourth root of 15,200,000, or about 60. Moreover, this number should be regarded as a minimum, as the measurements of Captain Abney taken in South Kensington may have been distorted by some foreign sources of light. We conclude that the radiation of the stars alone would maintain the test particle we suppose might have been placed at different points in the sky at a temperature of 338/60 = 5.6 abs. = $-207^\circ$.4 centigrade. We must not conclude that the radiation of the stars raises the temperature of the celestial bodies to 5 or 6 degrees. If the star in question already has a temperature that is very different from absolute zero, its loss of heat is much greater. We will find the increase of temperature due to the radiation of the stars by calculating the loss using Stefan's law. In this way, we find that for the Earth, the temperature increase due to the radiation of the stars is less than one hundred-thousandth of a degree. Furthermore, this figure should be regarded as an upper limit on the effect we seek to evaluate."

Kristian Birkeland (1867-1917), Professor, University of Oslo; a founder of Norsk Hydro. Nobel Prize for Physics nominee, 1917. With Hannes Alfvén, is recognized as one of the two founding fathers of the Plasma Universe.

In 1908 Birkeland wrote in the Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition 1902-1903: Sec. 1, p. 131: The Worlds in the Universe. From the conceptions to which our experimental analogies lead us, it is possible to form, in a natural manner an interesting theory of the origin of the worlds. This theory differs from all earlier theories in that it assumes the existence of a universal directing force of electro--magnetic origin in addition to the force of gravitation, in order to explain the formation round the sun of planets---which have almost circular orbits and are almost in the same plane---of moons and rings about the planets, and of spiral and annular nebul\ae.

Birkeland and the Electromagnetic Cosmology, Sky & Telescope, May 1985. 833KB PDF.

Erwin Findlay-Freundlich. Born: 29 May 1885 in Biebrich, Germany Died: 24 July 1964 in Wiesbaden, Germany. Napier Professor of Astronomy, St.Andrews, Scotland. Finlay Freundlich was a student of Klein and because of his reputation for very accurate astronomical measurements, was sought after by Albert Einstein to confirm the general theory of relativity. His tests of general relativity based on gravitational redshift were inconclusive. In 1933 he emigrated to Turkey, returned to Prague in 1937 but left in 1939 for St. Andrews, Scotland (his mother's country) to set up a department of astronomy. Freundlich was the first to determine the most accurate blackbody temperature of intergalactic space for a nonexpanding universe, 2.3K, in 1953. In 1954 he calculated the extremum values to be 1.9K–6.0K.

Finlay--Freundlich, long noted for his careful observations, was unable to accept the recessional velocity interpretation as the source of galaxy redshifts. He often paced the Observatory's halls pondering the nature of redshifts, leaving the solution to a younger colleague at the observatory, Emil Wolf.

Hannes Alfvén (30 May 1908–2 April 1995). 1970 Nobel Laureate for Physics, Life Fellow of IEEE. His discoveries laid the foundations of major parts of modern plasma physics and its applications in areas as diverse as industrial processes, thermonuclear research, space physics, astrophysics and cosmology. He is recognized as the Father of the modern field of physics known as Magnetohydrodynamics. The name Alfvén is today nearly synomonous with Plasma Physics.

Plasma Physics from Laboratory to Cosmos—The Life and Achievements of Hannes Alfvén, Carl-Gunne Fälthammar, IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci. June 1997. 1.2MB PDF.

Cosmology in the Plasma Universe: An Introductory Exposition, Hannes O. G. Alfvén, IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci. February 1990. 1.2MB PDF.


Oscar Buneman (28 September 1913–24 January 1993). Acknowledged Father of Computer Simulation by Particles, he was Professor Emeritus of electrical engineering at Stanford University, Fellow of the American Physical Society, and a significant contributor to the fields of plasma electrodynamics, fundamental electromagnetic theory, and numerical analysis. His interests were broad, encompassing microwave tubes to isotope separation to galaxies. Buneman was the discoverer of several instabilities in charged particles that bear his name, developer of the Buneman-Hartree relation in magnetrons, and was a founder of the field of cosmic plasmas.

A Tribute to Oscar Buneman—Pioneer of Plasma Simulation, IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci. February 1994. 976KB PDF.


Irving Langmuir. 1932 Nobel Lauerate for Chemistry. Foremost and most inquiring scientist at the General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York. Born: Brooklyn, New York, 1881, Died: Woods Hole, Massachusetts in 1957. Graduated in metallurgical engineering from Columbia School of Mines in 1903, worked under Walther Nernst, University of Gottingen.Returned to teach chemistry at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. Langmuir was the first to coin the term plasma (in 1923), borrowing the term from medical science, to describe the lifelike state he observed in the laboratory. He also the first to discover 'double sheathes,' now called double layers, as the plasma electrons and ions separated in his glass tubes.

He was rewarded for his many efforts and interests by numerous awards. He received 15 honorary degrees and 22 medals. He was president of the American Chemical Society in 1929 and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1943. Mount Langmuir, in Alaska, is named for him as is the Irving Langmuir College of the State University of New York at Stony Brook. An avid outdoorsman, he climbed the Matterhorn, explored the Adirondacks, flew airplanes, skied, skated, and once walked 52 miles in one day.

Emil Wolf.Professor, University of Rochester. Co-author of Principles of Optics (with Max Born),

Prof. Wolf received his B.Sc. in Mathematics and Physics (1945), and his Ph.D. in Physics (1948), both from from the University of Bristol (England). He received a D.Sc. degree in Optics from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) in 1955. After research positions at Cambridge University (1948-51), the University of Edinburgh (1951-53), and the University of Manchester (1954-58), Prof. Wolf joined the University as Associate Professor of Optics in 1959. He was appointed Professor of Physics in 1961, Professor of Optics in 1978, and has been the Wilson Professor of Optical Physics since 1987.

Prof. Wolf is the co-author, with Nobel Laureate Max Born, of the well-known book, Principles of Optics, first published in 1959 and now in its sixth edition. He is the co-author, with Leonard Mandel, of Optical Coherence and Quantum Optics, published in 1995. Prof. Wolf has been the Editor of an ongoing series Progress in Optics since its inception in 1961. Thirty-nine volumes have now been published, the first one in 1961.

Prof. Wolf is the recipient of the Frederic Ives Medal of the Optical Society of America (OSA) (1978), the Michelson Medal of the Franklin Institute (1980), the Max Born Award of the OSA (1987), the Marconi Medal of the Italian National Research Council (1987), the Gold Medal of the Czechoslovak Academy of Science (1991), the Medal of the Union of Czechoslovak Mathematicians and Physicists (1991), and the Gold Medal of Palacky University, Olomouc, Czechoslovakia (1991). He is an honorary member of the Optical Society of America, of which he was the President in 1978. He is also an honorary member of the Optical Societies of India and Australia and is the recipient of honorary degrees from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands (1989), the University of Edinburgh (1990), Palacky University (1992), the University of Bristol (1997), Laval University, Quebec (1997), the University of Franche Comté, France (1999) and Aalborg University, Denmark (1999).

Max Born. Nobel prize for Physics...Together with scientists like Regner, Nernst (the father of the third law of thermodynamics), Finlay-Freundlich and Louis de Broglie, Born advocated a third model of the universe that helped lay the foundations of a cosmology that today forms the bulkwork of the Plasma Universe. Born, in a 1953 edition of Nachrichten, calledbrought forth the seriousness of Finlay--Freundlich's few--degree temperature prediction for interstellar space and suggested radio astronomy as an arbitrator between expanding and infinite cosmologies, noting that they differed orders of magnitude in energy density. It is noteworthy that Born's manuscript was printed 12 years before the Penzias–Wilson radioastronomy measurement. We quote from the opening of Born's paper:

Freundlich glaubt zeigen zu können, dass die übliche relativistische Deutung der R.-V. durch die Beobachtungen nicht best\"atigt wird, wogegen die Formel [$\Delta \nu / \nu =-AlT^4,\ A=2\cdot 10^{-29}$ $cm^{-1} grad^{-4}$] mit allen bekannten Tatsachen in Einklang ist, einschlie{\ss}lich der Nebelflucht (Hubble-Effekt), sofern man dem Weltenraum eine Temperatur von wenigen Graden beilegt. Ein solcher Widerspruch gegen die auf einfachsten \"Uberlegungen beruhende relativistische Erkl\"arung ist nat\"urlich eine sehr bedenkliche Sache. Trotzdem schien es mir angebracht, die Freundlichsche Formel ein wenig zu analysieren; dabei bin ich zu dem Schlu{\ss} gelangt, da{\ss} die Formel eine einfache wenn auch seltsame Deutung erlaubt, bei der \"uberdies Zusammenh\"ange mit einer anderen Gruppe von Erscheinungen, nämlich der Radioastronomie, nahegelegt werden.

  David Bohm. Plasma theoretician and cosmologist, discoverer of instabilites and resistivity of magnetized plasmas that bear his name. According to Bohm: ``It means a lot to these people [expanding universe advocates] that they are explaining their own origin with the origin of the universe. That gives them tremendous impetus to do the work," however, Bohm went on to state: "the universe is an unending transformation in flux whose previous states we are not privileged to know."