Famed physicist James Van Allen dead at 91

Aug 09, 2006

Renowned physicist James Van Allen, who helped launch the United States into the space age and for whom the Van Allen radiation belts are named, has died. He was 91.

Interim University of Iowa President Gary Fethke announced the Van Allen's death Wednesday, but offered no details, the Des Moines Register reported.

Explorer I, the first successful U.S. space venture, carried, at Van Allen's insistence, a small Geiger counter. That led to a significant scientific finding: the discovery of two belts of intense radiation that surround the Earth.

Although his scientific accomplishments were myriad, he opposed manned space flight: "Man is a fabulous nuisance in space right now (1959). He's not worth all the costs of putting him up there and keeping him comfortable."

He once offered his own explanation of space: "It is that in which everything else is ... in other words, space is the hole that we are in."

In 1951 Van Allen became a professor and head of the University of Iowa's Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Register reported. He held that position until he retired from teaching in 1985.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Team invents microscopic sonic screwdriver

Related Stories

"Living outside the Earth is a huge challenge"

May 08, 2015

Susana Zanello is an expert of human adaptation to life in space. Invited as an academic guest at EPFL, this renowned scientist agreed to share her views on her research, exploration, future trips to Mars ...

Sixth Galileo satellite reaches corrected orbit

Mar 13, 2015

The sixth Galileo satellite of Europe's navigation system has now entered its corrected target orbit, which will allow detailed testing to assess the performance of its navigation payload.

Image: Solar coronal hole welcomes the new year

Jan 05, 2015

There were no fireworks on the sun to welcome in the New Year and only a few C-class flares during the last day of 2014. Instead, the sun starts 2015 with an enormous coronal hole near the south pole. This ...

Recommended for you

Researchers prove magnetism can control heat, sound

11 hours ago

Phonons—the elemental particles that transmit both heat and sound—have magnetic properties, according to a landmark study supported by Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) services and recently published by ...

How researchers listen for gravitational waves

19 hours ago

A century ago, Albert Einstein postulated the existence of gravitational waves in his General Theory of Relativity. But until now, these distortions of space-time have remained stubbornly hidden from direct ...

What's fair?: New theory on income inequality

May 27, 2015

The increasing inequality in income and wealth in recent years, together with excessive pay packages of CEOs in the U.S. and abroad, is of growing concern, especially to policy makers. Income inequality was ...

Scientists one step closer to mimicking gamma-ray bursts

May 27, 2015

Using ever more energetic lasers, Lawrence Livermore researchers have produced a record high number of electron-positron pairs, opening exciting opportunities to study extreme astrophysical processes, such ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.