James Van Allen, American physicist, famous for the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts. James Van Allen was born in Iowa in 1914, and earned a PhD in nuclear physics in 1939. During World War II, Van Allen worked at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory. After the war, Van Allen pioneered the use of high-altitude rockets to study cosmic rays. Later he was in charge of designing and constructing the scientific instrumentation on the US’s first satellite, Explorer 1, which detected the Van Allen radiation belts. Van Allen retired in 1985, and died in 2006.
- James Van Allen earned his PhD in nuclear physics from the University of Iowa in 1939.
- In 1942 He became a member of the Applied Physics Lab at John Hopkins University, which had only recently gotten underway.
- While there, he developed proximity fuses for weapons and was sent to by the U.S. Navy to the Pacific to test them.
“Born on 7 September 1914 on a small farm near Mount Pleasant, Iowa, James Van Allen was a space scientist and pioneer in magnetospheric physics, best known for his discovery of Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts.”