Kristian Birkeland: The Almost Forgotten Scientist, Lecture by Dr. Pål Brekke
Where: Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America
58 Park Ave.
212-779-3587 Price: Free
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This lecture by Dr. Pål Brekke, of the Norwegian Space Center, celebrates physicist Kristian Birkeland alongside spectacular images and video of the Earth’s most amazing light phenomena: the Northern Lights.
Widely regarded as the leading scientist and inventor in Norwegian history, Kristian Birkeland’s legacy still stands strong, 150 years after his birth and 100 years after his death. The first scientist to explain that the sun was the source of the Northern Lights, Birkeland founded much of today’s modern space research. He was also the man behind the fantastic invention that enabled the making of artificial fertiliser by harvesting nitrogen from the air, which was the foundation of Hydro (today called Yara), the world’s largest fertiliser company, operating production in more than 50 countries.
During his lifetime, Birkeland’s theories about the northern lights and electrical currents in the atmosphere met great opposition among internationally renowned scholars, and it took over sixty years to confirm his theories through the availability of satellites. In 1994, Birkeland was deservedly honoured: His portrait was chosen for the front side of the Norwegian 200-kroner banknote and he now also features on the tail of a Norwegian Airlines plane.