Auroral Phenomena

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Science  23 Apr 1965:
Vol. 148, Issue 3669, pp. 449-460
DOI: 10.1126/science.148.3669.449


The array of auroral phenomena involves all the basic types of physical phenomena: heat, light, sound, electricity and magnetism, atomic physics, and plasma physics. The uncontrollability, the unreproducibility, and the sheer enormity of the phenomena will keep experimentalists and theorists busy but unsatisfied for many years to come. The greatest challenge in this field of research is an adequate experimentally verifiable theory of the local energization of auroral particle fluxes. Once that is achieved, there is every likelihood that the multitude of correlations between auroral phenomena can be understood and appreciated. Until that time, however, such correlations are to be regarded like icebergs—the parts that can be seen are only a small fraction of the whole phenomenon, and it is the large unseen parts that can be dangerous to theorists and experimentalists alike.