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2018-08-10. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Is Named for Him. 60 Years Ago, No One Believed His Ideas About the Sun.

posted Aug 17, 2018, 5:08 PM by Alan Gould   [ updated Aug 17, 2018, 5:13 PM ]
By Kenneth Chang,The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/10/science/eugene-parker-solar-wind-nasa-probe.html]. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7. Excerpt: CHICAGO — It was 1958. Sputnik had launched only a year earlier.... But the beach ball-size spacecraft had no instruments to measure anything in space. ...It certainly looked like the vast expanses between planets were empty. And that is what most scientists believed. But not Eugene N. Parker, then a 31-year-old, no-name professor at the University of Chicago. In a foundational paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, Dr. Parker described how charged particles streamed continuously from the sun, like the flow of water spreading outward from a circular fountain. Almost no one believed him. “The prevailing view among some people was that space was absolutely clean, nothing in it, total vacuum,” Dr. Parker recalled during an interview at his home. ...The scientists who had reviewed the paper rejected his idea as ludicrous. Dr. Parker appealed to the journal’s editor, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, a prominent astrophysicist also at Chicago, arguing that the reviewers had not pointed out any errors, just that they did not like the premise. Dr. Chandrasekhar overruled the reviewers. ...Four years later, Dr. Parker was vindicated when Mariner 2, a NASA spacecraft en route to Venus, measured energetic particles streaming through interplanetary space — exactly what Dr. Parker had predicted. Scientists now call that stream of particles the solar wind. ...Sixty years after Dr. Parker’s paper, NASA is about to launch a spacecraft that is to dive into outer wisps of the sun’s atmosphere and gather information about how our star generates the solar wind....