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University of Iowa News Release

 

March 5, 2007

Talk On Northern Lights To Be Held March 8

"The Auroral Borealis: Nature's Lightshow in the Sky" will be the topic of discussion at a free, public talk from 5-6 p.m. Thursday, March 8, on the Mezzanine Floor of the Cottage Bakery and Café, 14 S. Linn St. Craig Kletzing, professor in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Physics and Astronomy, will present the talk.

The auroral borealis, or northern lights, has long been a source of wonder due to its dancing patterns of light and color in the Earth's polar regions. The main power source for the aurora is the solar wind, electrically charged particles flowing outward from the Sun that interact with the Earth's magnetic field to energize other particles and create auroral light. The system works similarly to a common television set, according to Kletzing, who plans to show some spectacular video clips of auroral motion photographed from both the ground and space.

The UI has long been a major center for the study of space weather, beginning with the 1958 discovery of the Earth's radiation belts by UI physicist James A. Van Allen. In 2006 Kletzing and his colleagues won $21.4 million from NASA to study space weather, as well as a grant of $1.85 million from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy to conduct basic plasma physics research.

The talk is the second to be presented by Café Scientifique of Iowa City during the spring 2007 semester. Sessions are held on the second Thursday of the month from September to May. Café Scientifique of Iowa City is a meeting forum where the public is invited to explore and debate the latest ideas in science, mathematics, medicine and technology. The Web site for Café Scientifique is located at: http://www.physics.uiowa.edu/cafe/.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu