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Google Norway Pays Tribute to Kristian Birkeland

Google Norway welcomes the Norwegian users with the iilustration of Norway’s leading scientist Kristian Olaf Birkeland in his 146th birthday.

Kristian Olaf Birkeland (13 December 1867 – 15 June 1917)  is best remembered as the person who first elucidated the nature of the Aurora borealis. In order to fund his research on the aurorae, he invented the electromagnetic cannon and the Birkeland-Eyde process of fixingnitrogen from the air. Birkeland was nominated for the Nobel Prize seven times.

Birkeland’s theory of the aurora was eventually confirmed, a classic example of a fringe theory, ridiculed by scientists supporting the then mainstream, that has come to be accepted as a mainstream theory.

An example of one of his experiments is depicted on the left front of the Norwegian 200 kroner note; it shows a magnetized terrella, simulating the Earth, suspended in an evacuated chamber. Birkeland’s face appears a second time in a watermark in the blank space above the drawing of the Terrella, and his rudimentary magnetosphere appears on the back, but is only visible under ultraviolet light. The ring encircling the magnetic pole depicted on the back of the bank note is similar to the patterns predicted by Birkeland and shown more recently by satellites. His drawing of what became known as Birkeland currents from his book, The Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition 1902-1903,[6] is shown on the back of the banknote at the right.

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