MY ANTARCTIC RESEARCH SURFACES 40 YEARS LATER

This recent science article, plasma-tubes-floating-above-earth, triggered thought about my research in the Antarctic. This led to some current searching and a lengthy explication of my research for my Yale PhD. It was exciting for me to review this. Some who know me may find it interesting.

It puzzles my why the authors of the article had such difficulty getting acknowledged – maybe because they were students.. As shown below, this was an area of research 40 years ago. Unfortunately, contemporary scientists are often not aware of the past of science, except as propaganda. The “history” of a scientific discipline, as provided to students in that discipline, is highly selected and biased in support of the discipline. Many practicing scientists are oblivious to the history and social implications of their research.
These phenomena are what I was probably studying in the Antarctic (1961) and was the topic of my PhD in physics from Yale (1965).
Article published in JGR, July 1965.
Yale Thesis:
1970 related article of the same phenomenon:

  • I believe the author of this 1970 article, also with newer data from Byrd Station, was the only person I knew of before initiating my research in the Antarctic. He may also have written a letter for me to Yale, later in support of my thesis controversy.
  • Rapid auroral luminosity fluctuations and geomagnetic field …

    onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/…/full

    John Wiley & Sons
    by WH Campbell – ‎1970 – ‎Cited by 106 – ‎Related articles

    Nov 1, 1970 – Jacobs, J. A., C. S. Wright, Geomagnetic micropulsations results from Byrd …. form aurorae,Ph.D., thesisUniversity of Saskatchewan,November,1963. …. Victor, L. J., Correlated auroral and gemnagnetic micropulsations in the …

  • Minimum cost to me to simply view this article (and other articles) is $30. Outrageous! I have declined at this time.

Historical: In the spring semester of 1960, still a grad student at Yale, I was teaching an Intro course in Quantum Mechanics at Quinnipiac College in New Haven.  Learning that I was going to the Antarctic, a physics faculty member suggested that I explore research into auroral/geomagnetic interaction.  I did and my special project, sponsored financially by The Arctic Institute of North American (AINA) was approved.  Equipment for this research was constructed at The Air Force Cambridge Research Lab, where I was “stationed” prior to my trip south. On return from the Antarctic I was funded by AINA to process my data and publish my results in the Journal of Geophysical Research, July 1965 (see above).

Surprise in 2015:  my paper and thesis were referenced in an article in 1973.  Copy/Pasted from google search: (scroll to bottom)

“A classification scheme is proposed for optical auroral pulsations based on their occurrence with respect to … fications, proposed by Victor (1965), Johansen …. tion studies with magnetic micropulsation data ….. Ph.D. Thesis, California Insti-.”
These other two may also make reference to my work:
Robert J. Stening – Publications – ResearchGate  MSc, PhD, Dip. …. Article: Amplitudes and Periods of Geomagnetic Micropulsations in the Pc3, 4 Range at Canadian Observatories … on different occasions but the amplitudes were usually maximum in the auroral zone. ….. Victor Flambaum.
H. J. Singer – Citations – ResearchGate  Ph.D. UCLA … Article: Equatorward moving auroral signatures of a flow burst observed prior to auroral onset … Article: Effects of the fast plasma sheet flow on the geosynchronous magnetic configuration: Geotail and GOES ….. Relation between low latitude Pc3 magnetic micropulsations and solar wind … Victor Sergeev (20).

In the Antarctic, I recorded the correlation of auroral and geomagnetic micro-pulsations (5-40sec) – on dual, real-time pen2paperrolls. I also confirmed synchrony between my station in the Antarctic and the magnetic matched conjugate station in the Arctic.  I used classical electrodynamics to model atomic components of the solar wind captured in the geomagnetic “horseshoe – arc”. As the particles cycled down the tubes and approached Earth’s upper atmosphere; they spiraled faster but their velocity along the arc decreased, Most bounced back – to oscillate between magnetic poles. Those particles which dipped into the upper atmosphere collided with atmospheric molecules, exciting them to give off light (aurora).  The motion we observe in auroral displays results from the motion of these tubes of cycling particles, influenced by the continuing solar wind.

My thesis was temporarily rejected when someone suggested that I use magnetohydrodynamics (plasma physics) instead of classical electrodynamics. I was reinstated when I proved that all other research in the phenomenon, at that time, also used classical electrodynamics.

Another reviewer of my thesis temporarily rejected it because I hadn’t done a mathematical statistical correlation of my data. To meet this objection it was recommended that I return to the Antarctic to take more useable data.  I obtained defense from mathematical statisticians that this request was not necessary.  The reports that follow in the early 1970s refer to these event as pulses – which is what appeared in my data.  The synchrony of the peaks and valleys of the two parallel recordings was clearly obvious to the eye – there was no need for mathematical statistical analysis.  Had I included data outside the pulses, it would have contaminated the data.

These two objections were resolved by my submitting addenda to my thesis. The physics department ducked the issue and dumped it into the lap of the Yale Graduate School which awarded me my PhD in 1965. I had completed my work in 1963.

For the historical record, more details about the controversy with Yale.
My initial faculty advisor at Yale in physics was Dr. Henry Margenau. I went to Yale because of him, with full professorships in both physics and the philosophy of science. My two year Masters in Physics at the U of Chicago was because of the lack of my being informed of being awarded financial assistance in 1956. Dr. Margenau had sponsored me; but not hearing of it I accepted my teaching assistant award at Chicago.  I never regret the Chicago experience. But, frustrated with Chicago (re my primary interest in the Philosophy of Science)  I wrote Margenau, who informed me that I had been awarded financial aide. So, I transferred from Chicago to Yale.
I was grossly naive about how PhD programs worked in physics. It was expected that you join a team of graduate students working on projects designed by their faculty adviser. When you became senior team member on a project, that became your thesis. Margenau wasn’t a follower of this discipline, but was also not fully respected by the “traditional” physicists. Margenau (of German university background) gave me full control of my process, and was supportive of my “outrageously ambitions objectives”. But, I got no guidance from him and was basically alone working on my degree.

I wanted to challenge Einstein’s EDICT that “nothing could go faster than light”. I was motivated to this challenge in the summer between high school and college on reading D’Abro’s The evolution of scientific thought from Newton to Einstein .  (one of the most influential books in my life). Relativity became an important side interest.
Einstein claimed: no massive particle can be accelerated by any finite force in finite time to achieve the speed of light. This remains a valid law of physics. It was implied by Einstein that this meant NOTHING could be moving faster than light. This was vitally important to Einstein’s classical physical reality. If signals could be sent faster than light, they would be received BEFORE they were sent. Einstein eliminated this possibility with his EDICT.
For my PhD, I wanted to challenge this EDICT, and proposed the possible existence of particles moving v>c , which were in a “super-luminary domain”. I speculated that many of the new particles being discovered might be super-luminary – but wouldn’t be considered as such because of Einstein’s EDICT.
Margenau, reluctantly, approved my thesis proposal – which had not yet been formally presented to the physics department. I was attempting a new derivation of the Special Theory of Relativity that would permit observation of information from objects moving v>c.  I was doing my derivation in spherical coordinates, where empirical angle and distance measurement replaced orthogonal 3D traditional representation (which didn’t gibe with actual empirical processes). I was encountering difficulty in getting the same equations as Einstein, with this analysis, which – in part – drove me to the Antarctic. I presented my dilemna to the faculty at Quinnipiac College – after which the suggestion to explore auroral/geomagnetic interaction was given to me.
While in the Antarctic, I resolved my problem. I had to invent a process I called: Functional Square Roots to resolve my difficulties.

If you have g(x) as an algebraic expression in  f(f[x]) = g(x), can you determine f[x] ? I somehow (now totally gone from my memory) “solved” this problem. I was able to confirm that my new foundational work DID lead to the Lorentx Transformations. My derivation of the Special Theory of Relativity was valid, and my theory could be used to explore super-luminary phenomena.

Returning to Yale from the Antarctic, I made my thesis application formally to the Yale physics department, on my work on Relativity. Margenau and a new faculty member (from Princeton, in Relativity) approved of my proposal. My thesis proposal was rejected by the Yale Physics Dept.  I encountered a member of the decision body in the hall, and he commented: “Victor, you can’t attempt a Nobel Prize in a PhD thesis! ”
I was advised to submit my Antarctic research as a thesis proposal;.  I did so as a very thin proposal, submitted unseen by anyone to the Physics Dept. I was assigned two (instead of the normal three) faculty to judge my PhD application: Dr. Marganeau and the current head of the Yale physics dept. They approved my work, but because no one a Yale was expert in my area of research, they asked me to recommend an outside, professional, contact.  I recommended Sir Charles Wright, whom I met at Byrd Station in the Antarctic, when he visited.  Wright had operated a scientific station (in the Arctic) magnetically conjugate to my Byrd station in the Antarctic. We had exchanged data. Wright DECLINED my thesis, on ground that my work was not yet up to the level of British standards. He had no criticism of my work; it just wasn’t enough – to his standards.
This was a great embarrassment to my two supporters, who withdrew their support. By this time I was in Minnesota, on new projects.  I was required to return to Yale for a new faculty interview for my PhD.  Yale’s standard is THREE examiners. The gave me SIX.  Four physicists, one astrophysicist and one geophysicist. One Nobel Prize winner; Lamb. I was asked NO questions about my thesis.  I was embarrassed by low performance on fundamental physics problems that I was unable to solve – it had been a LONG TIME.  I flew back to Minneapolis unaware of the outcome.
All of this “defensive action” existed only because of a coincidence. The “Director of Graduate Studies” in the Yale physics dept was traditionally assigned to a brand new faculty member. I was LUCKY that the person in that position at the time of my problems was a person I knew at the University of Chicago – who had finished his PhD and was now at Yale. This man, whom I don’t now know his name, became my “angel;”, and came to my defense in this whole activity. He picked me up and later drove me to the airport; he guided me in my defense.  Without this person, I would not have a PhD from Yale.
After my interrogation with the six, I was to stay in my “angels” office – for a few minutes. The minutes increased to hours. SOMEONE was backing me! On the drive to the airport I was informed that the decision was 4-2, while the criteria was 3-0. How I handled the two “objections” was discussed above. Yale Graduate School eventually approved my PhD.
At NO TIME during this adventure did I feel that I wouldn’t succeed. This naive confidence is deep in my being. Now, at age 80, and experiencing senility, I wonder whether I can believe in eventual “success”?

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.

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