On this day in science history...
Kristian Birkeland (13 Dec 1867 - 15 Jun 1917)
The Norwegian explorer and physicist has been described as "The First Space Scientist",[ref] and undertook pioneering work on the nature of the aurora using a terrella. He also also had astrophysical research published on cathode rays, the Zodiacal lights, comets, the Sun and sunspots, the origin of planets and their satellites, and the Earth's magnetism.
His theory that the aurora were powered by electric currents that flowed through the atmosphere was generally ignored until the navy Triad satellite discovered the existence of "field-aligned currents" in 1973, and they were named "Birkeland currents" in his honor.
His theory that the source of the power of the aurora was "a current of electric corpuscles from the sun"[ref] was also generally ignored, but evidence announced this week derived from the THEMIS satellite that "have found evidence of magnetic ropes connecting Earth's upper atmosphere directly to the sun"[ref] seems to uphold his theory.
An accomplished mathematician and inventor, Birkeland also gave the first general solution to Maxwell's equations, invented a process for manufacturing artificial fertilizer, and invented an electromagnetic gun that he hoped could shoot a 500kg projectile several hundred kilometers.