In honor of Norway's

Kristian Olaf Bernhard Birkeland

1867 - 1917

Pioneer of modern space electricity research
the man behind the term "Birkeland current"

 by author Rolf A. F. Witzsche 

Kristian Olaf Bernhard Birkeland, (1867 - 1917) was a brilliant Norwegian scientist who became a full professor of physics at the University of Oslo at the age of 31. Among his greatest contribution to the advance of mankind's scientific knowledge  was his discovery and systematic exploration of field-aligned electric currents in a plasma in space that are caused by the movement of a plasma perpendicular to a magnetic field. In honor of his discovery, these currents now universally referred to as Birkeland currents. They are visible in numerous forms in space, sometimes as filamentary structures, or twisted rope-like magnetic structures. They are also known as field-aligned currents, magnetic ropes and magnetic cables. But mostly they are simply called Birkeland currents. These patters of evidence of electric currents flowing in space are of great significance to climate science, as the leading edge of it is found in the Electric Sun model and the Electric Cosmology in general.

In a sense, Birkeland's breakthrough discoveries, which changed mankind's perception of space and the cosmos and gave it a new direction, made him the the first real space scientist. He also became famous as the father of plasma experiments in the laboratory that accurately replicate observed electric phenomena in space.

Birkeland may have been the first to predict that plasma is everywhere present in space, and thereby electric currents are present, since plasma is by definition made up of electrically charged particles, primarily electrons and protons. Birkeland suggests that, considering the immensely energetic processes of stellar evolution, it is not unreasonable to assume that the greater part of the material masses in the universe is not found bound up in the planets and suns of the solar systems, or in the nebulae, but is found in so-called empty space, that is teeming with electrons and protons, and so on. This concept takes some getting used to. It took a genius to break the barrier. The reason is that we can't see plasma. Even the smallest of the atoms are too small for us to see. I takes ten million hydrogen atoms lined up in a row to extend for a millimeter, while a proton is 10,000 times smaller than a single atom, and an electron is more than a thousand times smaller than that. Plasma is simply invisible in space. Nevertheless its now deemed that 99.999% of the mass of the Universe exists in the invisible, plasma state. Birkeland broke the ice towards this realization.

He also recognized that the invisible electric flows are visible to some degree by the electromagnetic effects and their effect on normal matter that the plasma interact with, as in the case of auroras. Birkeland is of course also remembered for his scientific work on the aurora. He lead expeditions into the high arctic to study the electromagnetic effects of the electric currents involved. Auroral Birkeland currents, which have been confirmed by satellite observations, are now known to carry about 1 million amperes, feeding 100 billion watt electric events over wide regions of our planet. 

He was also knows as inventor of an electromagnetic cannon, and a method of electrically producing artificial fertilizer. But all of this is dwarfed into insignificance in comparison with his contribution towards the development of a branch of science that promises to became a key element of the climate science of the future that recognizes the dynamics of electric events in space that power our Sun and its heliosphere, which largely shields us from comic radiation, which in turn determines our climate on earth by altering the greenhouse intensity and cloud formation. Birkeland's work is therefore crucial to the future of civilization, if not the very existence of mankind as the phenomena that he studied are key elements in the recurring cycles of the ice ages.


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