FYI January 31, 2018



On This Day

1958 – The first successful American satellite detects the Van Allen radiation belt.
A Van Allen radiation belt is a zone of energetic charged particles, most of which originate from the solar wind that is captured by and held around a planet by that planet’s magnetic field. The Earth has two such belts and sometimes others may be temporarily created. The discovery of the belts is credited to James Van Allen, and as a result the Earth’s belts are known as the Van Allen belts. Earth’s two main belts extend from an altitude of about 500 to 58,000 kilometers[1] above the surface in which region radiation levels vary. Most of the particles that form the belts are thought to come from solar wind and other particles by cosmic rays.[2] By trapping the solar wind, the magnetic field deflects those energetic particles and protects the Earth’s atmosphere from destruction.

The belts are located in the inner region of the Earth’s magnetosphere. The belts trap energetic electrons and protons. Other nuclei, such as alpha particles, are less prevalent. The belts endanger satellites, which must have their sensitive components protected with adequate shielding if they spend significant time in that zone. In 2013, NASA reported that the Van Allen Probes had discovered a transient, third radiation belt, which was observed for four weeks until it was destroyed by a powerful, interplanetary shock wave from the Sun.[3]

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Born On This Day

1881 – Irving Langmuir, American chemist and physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1957)
Irving Langmuir /ˈlæŋmjʊər/[3] (January 31, 1881 – August 16, 1957) was an American chemist and physicist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1932 for his work in surface chemistry.

Langmuir’s most famous publication is the 1919 article “The Arrangement of Electrons in Atoms and Molecules” in which, building on Gilbert N. Lewis’s cubical atom theory and Walther Kossel’s chemical bonding theory, he outlined his “concentric theory of atomic structure”.[4] Langmuir became embroiled in a priority dispute with Lewis over this work; Langmuir’s presentation skills were largely responsible for the popularization of the theory, although the credit for the theory itself belongs mostly to Lewis.[5] While at General Electric from 1909 to 1950, Langmuir advanced several fields of physics and chemistry, invented the gas-filled incandescent lamp and the hydrogen welding technique. The Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research near Socorro, New Mexico, was named in his honor, as was the American Chemical Society journal for surface science called Langmuir.[1]

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TRIGGER WARNING: This post deals with an account of physical and emotional abuse and may be triggering to some people.
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