- Alfvén, Hannes Olof Gösta
Alf·vén (äl-vānʹ), Hannes Olof Gösta. 1908-1995.
Swedish physicist. He won a 1970 Nobel Prize for his theories on plasma physics.
* * *▪ 1996Swedish astrophysicist (b. May 30, 1908, Norrköping, Sweden—d. April 2, 1995, Djursholm, Sweden), was one of the founders of the field of plasma physics and shared the 1970 Nobel Prize for Physics "for fundamental work in magnetohydrodynamics with fruitful applications in different parts of plasma physics." Alfvén was educated at Uppsala University (Ph.D., 1934) and taught at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, from 1940. His early research into auroras and atmospheric magnetic fields led him to theorize in 1942 that plasma (ionized matter in a semigaseous state) passing through magnetic fields in space would create electromagnetic waves (later called Alfvén waves). He also proposed an alternative to the big-bang model of the universe, postulating that the continuous interaction between matter and antimatter would produce an eternal oscillation between expansion and contraction. In 1963 Alfvén was named the Royal Institute's first professor of plasma physics. In 1967, in protest against the Swedish government's plans to build nuclear power plants, he left the institute and his job as a national science adviser and went to the U.S. to teach at the University of California at San Diego. He later reconciled with the Royal Institute and divided his time between San Diego and Stockholm. He retired in 1989. Alfvén's books include Cosmical Electrodynamics (1950), Structure and Evolutionary History of the Solar System (1975; with Gustaf Arrhenius), and a science-fiction novel written under a pseudonym.
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