The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 8, 2004

Van Allen Day Is Oct. 9 At UI

In celebration of the life and work of James Van Allen, world-renowned professor of physics and astronomy, the University of Iowa and the UI Alumni Association are hosting a free public lecture at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9 in the Macbride Auditorium on the UI campus. Afterward, attendees will toast Professor Van Allen's 90th birthday with a special cake-and-punch reception.

Titled "James Van Allen: From Explorer 1 to the Edge of Interstellar Space," the lecture features speaker Edward C. Stone, an Iowa-born physics professor at the California Institute of Technology and former director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In his speech, Stone will highlight Van Allen's professional achievements.

Van Allen served as head of the UI Department of Physics and Astronomy from 1951 until his retirement in 1985. He is best known for his discovery of Earth's radiation belts, which now bear his name. He was responsible for building the internationally known space physics group at the UI, and several of his former students are leading authorities in the field.

At the UI, where researchers have designed and built scientific instruments for some 57 successful U.S. satellites and space probes, his work has resulted in a strong teaching and research program. Van Allen's research includes the 1973 first-ever survey of Jupiter's radiation belts using the Pioneer 10 spacecraft and the 1979 discovery and survey of Saturn's radiation belts using Pioneer 11. He is a member of the national Academy of Sciences and an associate of Britain's Royal Astronomical Society.

Since 1972, Stone has been the project scientist for the Voyager Mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, coordinating the scientific study of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and Voyager's continuing exploration of the outer heliosphere and search for the edge of interstellar space. Following his first instrument on a Discoverer satellite in 1961, Stone has been a principal investigator on nine NASA spacecraft and a co-investigator on five other NASA missions for which he developed instruments for studying galactic cosmic rays, solar energetic particles and planetary magnetospheres. Stone was born in Knoxville, Iowa, and grew up in Burlington, Iowa.

To attend the lecture and reception, please RSVP by October 1 to the UIAA at For additional information see:

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

CONTACTS: Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012, Emily Cornish, UIAA, 319-335-3294 or