Talk:Hannes Alfvén

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Untitled[edit]

I moved this page because Hannes Alfven is the more common name (1,870 matches on google) compared to his full name Hannes Olof Gösta Alfvén (205 matches on google). Also, special characters should be avoided. --Jiang 12:02 9 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Swede notwithstanding, the practice of putting an acute accent over the letter 'e' is today restricted to Icelandic and the very similar Faroese. I am no scholar of medieval Swedish, but I opine that Dr. H. O. G. Alfvén was of Icelandic derivation. 69.140.78.87 (talk · contribs) (Moved by me from article. up◦land 15:38, 13 August 2005 (UTC))

I moved your comment from the article, where it doesn't belong. To answer your question: No, it is very common in Swedish personal names and has nothing to do with the Icelandic language or Icelandic origins. It is rather to be seen as a result of French influence. up◦land 15:38, 13 August 2005 (UTC)

Added the accuracy tag because there seems to be alot of plasma cosmology nonsense here and the overall tone is inappropriate for an article. Needs looking at by a physicist. --Deglr6328 04:09, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

I took all the plasma material from Alfvén's books. I can provide a quote for every statement. Can you indicate which statements you are unhappy with? Some of the references at the bottom of the page link through to online articles with more information. --Iantresman 08:43, 29 September 2005 (UTC)
I've made some changes. My only complaints now are the sentences:
"He is also known for developing plasma cosmology, a non-standard alternative to the big bang. Among physicists today, there is a lack of awareness of Alfvén's contributions to fields of physics where his ideas are routinely used without recognition."
This seems POV and I'd like to see some support of this assertion.
and
"In 1963, Alfvén first predicted the large scale filamentary structure of the universe. This discovery perplexed astrophysicists untill 1991."
This statement needs much more expanding. What exactly is trying to be said here? That Alfven's idea of plasma cosmology is correct because fillamentation in the universe's structure is observed and this is due to same mechanisms as is seen for instance, in the aurora? If so, I think that is grossly deceptive and incorrect. The fillamentary structure, as I understand it (and I am certainly not an astrophysicist) is due instead to the effects of initial clumping after the big bang, gravity and the universe's expansion.--Deglr6328 21:06, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
I didn't write these, but the sentences do look lax. But I see where they are coming from. I'll have a go at re-writing them. --Iantresman 22:34, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
I don't understand the significance of the year 1991 and the filamentary nature of the universe. What happened then?--Deglr6328 06:58, 3 October 2005 (UTC)
Me neither, so I've removed the date. I suspect that there was some kind of discovered or paper published, but since it is not specified, it is pretty meanlingess. --Iantresman 08:18, 3 October 2005 (UTC)
It's cited here, Hannes Alfvén (1908-1995). I'm putting it back in. Sincerely, JDR 23:55, 3 October 2005 (UTC)
...and it doesn't explain why astronomers stopping being perplexed in 1991. Did they all have a revelation, read one of Alfvén's books, discover something? I'm going to remove it until we can qualify the statement.
the line should read "This discovery perplexed astrophysicists in 1991" ... aka., the observations at the time were not understood ... but it was already explained by Alfvén.
It is from a valid biography states this. add to it, but don't remove it. Sincerel,y JDR 16:20, 5 October 2005 (UTC)
I understand that the biography is valid, I know Tony Peratt quite well. I'm questioning the significance of the date 1991. I though maybe the large-scale structure of the universe was discovered in 1991, but I have references going back to 1987, and I don't have any evidence that the astronomers were perplexed. I think we need a reference to the date that large scale filamentary structure was discovered, and an indication of some kind of surprise. --Iantresman 16:47, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

What does this sentence mean? "He did not in any circumstance benefit without volition the acceptance generally afforded senior scientists in scientific journals." Was it machine-translated from Swedish or something? -- DM 3 October 2005

What does the sentence mean? Alfven did not recieve the non-partial preference concerning his theories as many other senior scientists. Sincerely, JDR 00:08, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
I've removed this sentence too as I also can't figure out what it means. --Iantresman 08:49, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

This article needs to be extensively reviewed - there are many unsourced statements (eg, Alfven's lack of acceptance by the broader scientific community) that need citations. Also a lack of neutrality. Irregulargalaxies 03:02, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

I've modified some of these, and provided citatations.

Plasma cosmology[edit]

The article was riddled with suggestions that plasma cosmology somehow receives an imprimatur from Alfvén. It's convenient for these people to choose a dead man to be their leader, but it isn't factual. Alfvén developed the Alfvén-Klein model and ambiplasma. He also believed that plasma played a large role in the universe and wasn't understood well by astrophysicists. However, he did not endorse the work of Perrat and Lerner which represent the current codex of plasma cosmology. Nevertheless, upon coming here I found that almost every section mentioned plasma cosmology as though it were the crowning acheivement of this man's life. POV to say the least! --ScienceApologist 12:34, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Just a reminder that it is better to place a {{fact}} tag into text you are not sure of, to give editors time to source a statement. Without a statement, there appears to be nothing to source. --Iantresman 16:28, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
I'll remember that for text I'm not sure of. --ScienceApologist 22:19, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Afvén & the broader community[edit]

Irregulargalaxies, above, asked for a source for "Alfven's lack of acceptance by the broader scientific community". The citation from Stephen G. Bush noted:

"... most of the scientific community refuses to follow it or to give Alfvén credit for his achievements although many of his basic concepts are now accepted" (ref: Stephen G. Brush, "Alfvén's Programme in Solar System Physics". IEEE Trans. Plasma Science, Vol. 20 No. 6, Dec 1992)

Why have you removed it...[1] and described it as a "better explanation"? --Iantresman 23:18, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Well, what may or may not have been true in 1992 is definitely not true today. Alfvén's contributions to plasma processes are now part of standard disucssions in the plasma astrophysics "canon". Plasmas are studied in reference to most high-energy astrophysics processes along with shocks and special relativity. Out-of-date sources should not be used in such a way. --ScienceApologist 12:17, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
In a historical context, up to 1992, it is accurate. So Alfvén's contribution today is accepted, despite what happened just 15 years ago. --Iantresman 13:04, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
It is accurate for this person's opinion. However, in 1992 there were people studying Alfvén waves and MHD, so he obviously wasn't totally ignored. Again, this isn't the most reliable of sources. --ScienceApologist 13:47, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
No one is saying he was totally ignored. And just because people were studying Alfvén waves and MHD, does not mean that other aspects of Alfvéns were not ignored, as decribed by Brush in a peer reviewed journal. --Iantresman 14:05, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
Yes, Brush's opinion is mentioned in this journal. However, it is not indicative of what was going on in the entire community. it is the opinion of one individual. --ScienceApologist 21:20, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
I'm pleased to see that you've noted how "scientific community" is an inappropriate term here, and in many other places. Certainly most members of the scientific community do not write papers on the same subject as Alfvén, and do not referee his papers. But Bush's conclusion is more than just a single unsubstantiated opinion out of the blue, and gives many examples in his paper. So the question is, how do we represent the contents of the paper, and Brush's conclusion/opinion, fairly? --Iantresman 21:46, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
I think it would be better to cite Alfvén's Nobel speech as our primary exposition. This will give the reader an indication of how he viewed himself with respect to the wider community. I just don't think that Brush's paper belongs in Alfvén's biography. --ScienceApologist 12:04, 17 October 2006 (UTC)
I thought that biographies, contain information from reliable sources, and Brush's paper fits in every way. He's one of the few commentators on Alfvén, he's peer reviewed, a "Distinguished University Professor" in the " History of Science"[2]. What possible objection can you have? --Iantresman 12:27, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

I don't think Brush's paper fits in every way. In particular I don't think he speaks for the wider community, but only himself in his portrayal. --ScienceApologist 14:04, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

  • No offense intended, but what you THINK, is by definition irrelevant by Wikipedia standards. Opinion does not belong in an article, whereas 'peer-reviewed' materials (articles looked at and approved for print by more than JUST the original author) DO belong in Wikipedia articles. Please SA, I know you and Ian have had differences over time. But let's try not to POV push too much. I can say this from a little bit of perspective/introspection over the last few months. I know you've pushed for "notable" sources yourself, so, please don't source only your opinion to influence articles where peer-reviewed materials have been provided by those familiar with the subject. Thanks. Again, no umbrage intended. Just a nudge toward more neutrality and less POV-pushing on all sides. Mgmirkin 06:22, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
    • But he was talking about whether or not the opinion in the paper should be included, at least that's how I read it, not whether or not his personal opinion (if any!) should be included. You can't include every bit of peer-reviewed material in existence in a Wikipedia article. Not all peer-reviewed materials belong in Wikipedia. Peer review may be an important condition for inclusion but it alone is not sufficient for inclusion. mike4ty4 08:32, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
  • I might also point to the following article: http://www.aps-pub.com/proceedings/1504/150412.pdf (by Falthammar & Dessler, both published and notable/respectable scientists in their own right; feel free to look them up on the Astrophysical Data System if you need a list of their various papers/abstracts.) that covers many similar points to the other biographies and post-mortem reviews of his life, works, general acceptance and verification of many aspects of his work. Being from the Proceedings of the APS (Americal Philosophical Society), one can assume that it is of sufficiently high quality to be notable (I believe I added it before, but it seems to have disappeared for reasons unknown, though I may have been thinking of another article, but I'm pretty sure I'd have added it to the Alfven article as opposed to any it's less relevant to; I hope that won't happen again without a REASON for removal noted on the talk page). And joins a number of other notable sources on the above subjects. Many of the sources tend to say much the same thing. So, in that regard, Brush's work is no better or worse than the rest and probably DOES, in fact, represent his understanding of the general community's stance on Alfven? Also, as Ian's note above and link to the university's page on Brush, it appears that he is more than qualified to assess, and in fact does on a regular basis assess the merit of works, and their general acceptance or lack there of by various disciplines / fields of research. So, I tend to agree with Ian's assessment / argument. Regardless of any association (agreements/disagreements) we may have outside of Wikipedia (don't go there), in this instance I generally find that Ian's arguments have been sound and the sources are notable. But others may feel free to disagree if they must... Mgmirkin 06:22, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Alfven's Cosmological model, edits.[edit]

I've edited the stub section slightly for consistency, to more actively use the active voice ("Alfven said X, Y, Z" rather than "'blah, blah, blah', as said by Alfven") so we know who said what without ambiguity. Made some minor ordering changes so it transitions more logically from his belief that the BB was a scientific myth created from equations on the blackboard to his proposal of an alternative that he believed to be based upon sound known physical phenomena as seen and verified in the lab. Hope this is a sensible revision? Mgmirkin 06:51, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Predictions?[edit]

I note that several biographies (including this one http://www.aps-pub.com/proceedings/1504/150412.pdf) have noted SPECIFIC predictions made by Alfven, and later confirmed or refuted. The above article (written by scientists apparently familiar with his work and qualified to assess it) notes that many if not most of his predictions were in fact validated once actually studied in situ when technology to do so was available. I suggest that his major predictions should be listed somewhere in the article and either "confirmed" or "refuted" if sufficient notable sources (in addition to he one above) can be cited that themselves (as a whole and in rough agreement) make said determination (yea or nay). IE, double layers have been confirmed, galactic (Abstract and full text) scale magnetic fields have been confirmed, etc., etc. A few have perhaps been confirmed but not attributed as predicted by Alfven. Mgmirkin 07:08, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

  • Agreed. And there is much biographical information available for corroboration. For example, see:
  • Hannes Alfvén (1908-1995) (obituary), in Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 37, p.259 (1996) (Abstract and Full text)
  • In memoriam: Hannes Alfvén (1908-1995) in Astrophysics and Space Science, v. 234, p. 173-175. by Fälthammar, Carl-Gunne (Abstract and full text)
  • Hannes Olof Gosta Alfven. 30 May 1908-2 April 1995, by R. S. Pease, S. Lindqvist in Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol. 44, Nov., 1998 (Nov., 1998), pp. 2-19 (Full text, PDF)
  • Stephen G. Brush, "Alfvén's Programme in Solar System Physics". IEEE Trans. Plasma Science, Vol. 20 No. 6, Dec 199 (Abstract)

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