CONTACT: GARY GALLUZZO
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: April 4, 2001
Van Allen subject of documentary on IPTV April 8, 10
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- James A. Van Allen, Regent Distinguished
Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa and a "founding
father" of the space age, is the subject of a one-hour-long documentary scheduled
for broadcast on Iowa Public Television at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 8 and again
at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 10.
Titled "James Van Allen -- Flights of Discovery" and
produced by the UI Video Center and Blooming Tree Productions, the documentary
is narrated by NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw. The story begins with a personal
look at the man who headed the UI department of physics and astronomy from
1951 to 1985 and continues to conduct space research. The documentary also
makes use of historical footage, interviews with past and present colleagues,
and data from historic and recent space missions, according to Dan Lind, director
of the UI Video Center and co-executive producer of the project.
"This documentary not only chronicles the life of
a great and humble American, Dr. James Van Allen, but it also explores, through
his enormous contributions and history-making experiences, an era of U.S.
history that has been incompletely and seldom seen or explained," Lind says.
"For the first time, interviews with Dr. Van Allen and his associates, those
who lived the events, provide a rare behind-the-scenes look at the development
of the U.S. space program and, quite surprisingly, a first-heard account of
what were some of the most top-secret government activities and events during
the early days of the Cold War and the 'race for space.'"
Born September 7, 1914 in Mount Pleasant, Van Allen
is famous for his 1958 discovery of energetic particles in the Earth's magnetic
field, a phenomenon later named the Van Allen radiation belts, using data
from the first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1. However, he is also recognized
for his 1973 first-ever survey of Jupiter's radiation belts using the Pioneer
10 spacecraft and his 1979 discovery and survey of Saturn's radiation belts
using Pioneer 11. In addition, he has been the primary force behind space
research at the University of Iowa, where researchers have designed and built
scientific instruments for more than 50 successful U.S. satellites and space
probes. Van Allen and his University of Iowa colleagues, Donald Gurnett, Jack
Scudder and Louis Frank, currently have active instruments on three Earth-orbiting
satellites and five deep space missions: Pioneer 10, Voyager 1, Voyager 2,
Galileo and Cassini.
Van Allen's many awards and honors include membership
in the National Academy of Sciences since 1959 and the National Medal of Science,
the nation's highest honor for scientific achievement, presented in 1987 by
President Reagan in ceremonies at the White House. In 1989 he
received the Crafoord Prize, awarded by the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences in Stockholm and presented by the King of Sweden. The
Crafoord Prize is the Academy's highest award for research in a number of
scientific fields and, for space exploration, is the equivalent of the Nobel
The documentary was made possible by generous contributions
from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, the R.J. McElroy Trust and the Iowa
Copies of the documentary can be acquired by calling
the University of Iowa Video Center toll free at 866-287-1234.