OFF TOPIC: A little physics history!

An almost faded out copy of a historical 1942 paper turned up! I suppose one could get a new copy by going to the original journal issue, but it is not so easy to find journals issues this old anymore. The reference is Nature 1942, 150, 405.

In this brief paper Hannes Alfvén discovered and laid down the foundation of the science of Magnetohydrodynamics. This subject concerns electromagnetic effects in a magnetized conducting fluid, and combines the complexities of electromagnetism and hydrodynamics. Thus, in short hand:

Electromagnetism + Hydrodynamics = Magnetohydrodynamics.

The British physicist Lord P. M. S. Blackett used to express this to his students as follows:

“Electromagnetism is difficult, hydrodynamics is very difficult, but magnetohydrodynamics is damn difficult.”

Hannes Alfvén’s 1942 discovery paper on Magnetohydrodynamics. This paper reports a form of waves in a conducting magnetized fluid that would later come to be known as Alfvén wave.

Hannes Alfvén’s 1942 discovery paper on Magnetohydrodynamics. This paper reports a form of waves in a conducting magnetized fluid that would later come to be known as Alfvén wave.

FOOTNOTE:

In the following 1979 paper I showed that, in principle, the theory of Magnetohydrodynamics need not be confined to a conducting fluid but could be generalized to any fluid at all: conducting, dielectric, conducting-dielectric.

Hannes Alfvén’s student Bibhas De generalized Magnetohydrodynamics to include dielectric fluids.

Hannes Alfvén’s student Bibhas De generalized Magnetohydrodynamics to include dielectric fluids.

Later I would suggest that this generalization can be taken one step even further to empty space, imagined as a fluid – and that there are tangible consequences of this.

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