75th Anniversary of ‘Existence of Electromagnetic-Hydrodynamic Waves’

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

We have recently passed the 75th anniversary of one of the most important results in solar and space physics: Hannes Alfvén’s discovery of Alfvén waves and the Alfvén speed. To celebrate the anniversary, this article recounts some major episodes in the history of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) waves. Following an initially cool reception, Alfvén’s ideas were propelled into the spotlight by Fermi’s work on cosmic rays, the new mystery of coronal heating, and, as scientific perception of interplanetary space shifted dramatically and the space race started, detection of Alfvén waves in the solar wind. From then on, interest in MHD waves boomed, laying the foundations for modern remote observations of MHD waves in the Sun, coronal seismology, and some of today’s leading theories of coronal heating and solar wind acceleration. In 1970, Alfvén received the Nobel Prize for his work in MHD, including these discoveries. The article concludes with some reflection about what the history implies about the way we do science, especially the advantages and pitfalls of idealised mathematical models.

LanguageEnglish
Article number83
Number of pages9
JournalSolar Physics
Volume293
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2018

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magnetohydrodynamic waves
magnetohydrodynamics
hydrodynamics
electromagnetism
solar wind
histories
solar physics
heating
interplanetary space
seismology
history
cosmic ray
cosmic rays
mathematical models
sun
physics

Cite this

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title = "75th Anniversary of ‘Existence of Electromagnetic-Hydrodynamic Waves’",
abstract = "We have recently passed the 75th anniversary of one of the most important results in solar and space physics: Hannes Alfv{\'e}n’s discovery of Alfv{\'e}n waves and the Alfv{\'e}n speed. To celebrate the anniversary, this article recounts some major episodes in the history of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) waves. Following an initially cool reception, Alfv{\'e}n’s ideas were propelled into the spotlight by Fermi’s work on cosmic rays, the new mystery of coronal heating, and, as scientific perception of interplanetary space shifted dramatically and the space race started, detection of Alfv{\'e}n waves in the solar wind. From then on, interest in MHD waves boomed, laying the foundations for modern remote observations of MHD waves in the Sun, coronal seismology, and some of today’s leading theories of coronal heating and solar wind acceleration. In 1970, Alfv{\'e}n received the Nobel Prize for his work in MHD, including these discoveries. The article concludes with some reflection about what the history implies about the way we do science, especially the advantages and pitfalls of idealised mathematical models.",
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75th Anniversary of ‘Existence of Electromagnetic-Hydrodynamic Waves’. / Russell, Alexander.

In: Solar Physics, Vol. 293, No. 5, 83, 05.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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