The University of Chicago News Office
April 7, 1997 Press Contact: Steve Koppes
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"Probing Space Through Measurements and Meditations on Your Porch":
Eugene Parker Delivers 24th Nora and Edward Ryerson Lecture

Eugene Parker, a distinguished theoretical astrophysicist at the University of Chicago, will deliver the 24th Nora and Edward Ryerson Lecture, “Probing Space Through Measurements and Meditations on Your Porch,” at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 1.

The lecture will be presented in the Max Palevsky Cinema of Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St., on the University of Chicago campus. It is free and open to the public.

Parker will explain how simple observations, experiments and deductions made from the surface of the earth shaped our knowledge of the solar system and the Universe around us. “I really want to convey to people that we are not isolated from the rest of the Universe. We live in a magnetic field, for example, and we’re buffeted by weather from the Sun, whether we’re aware of it or not,” he said.

He will explore such questions as why the tails of comets always point away from the Sun, how the violent weather in space affects the surface of Earth and how streams of charged particles coming from the Sun light up the skies at night in the brilliant displays known as the “Northern Lights.”

Parker, who is best known for his prediction and naming of the solar wind-the stream of electrically charged particles emitted by the Sun’s corona-is the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Physics and Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. He studied cosmic magnetic fields for more than 40 years as a member of the Chicago faculty before his retirement in 1996. His interests range from Earth’s auroras, or “Northern Lights,” to the magnetic fields of entire galaxies.

Parker received his B.S. from Michigan State University in 1948 and his Ph.D. from Caltech in 1951, and joined the Chicago faculty as a Research Associate in 1955. He is the author of three books and well over 300 scientific articles, and has received numerous awards, including the 1989 National Medal of Science and the 1992 Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and from 1983 to 1986 was Chairman of the Academy’s Astronomy Section.

The Nora and Edward Ryerson Lecture was established in 1972 by the University’s Board of Trustees to give distinguished members of the faculty an opportunity to speak to the larger community about their life and work. The Ryerson lecturer is nominated by a faculty committee appointed by the University’s president.
Last modified at 03:50 PM CST on Wednesday, June 14, 2000.

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