Through the ages, the lights of the aurora borealis were believed to be the messengers of gods or signs of apocalypse or souls of the dead. Even at the turn of the last century, the most sophisticated scientists misapprehended their cause. Now Lucy Jago tells the story of the science -- and the romance -- behind the northern lights as she traces the grand adventure of Birkeland's life.
In 1899, Birkeland set out on a lifelong, arduous, increasingly compulsive quest for an explanation of the aurora borealis. He traveled across some of the most forbidding landscapes on earth -- from the ice mountains of Norway to the deserts of Africa -- defying the dangers of war and political upheaval, dedicating himself to the unraveling of this mystery. And yet when he died in 1917 -- in Japan, under suspicious circumstances -- his work was unheralded. Now his theories are considered to have been prophetic, and they have furthered our understanding not only of the aurora borealis, but also of electromagnetism, comets, and the sun.
A galvanizing, enlightening saga.