The man on the 200 kroner note

On March 23, 2013

How Norwegian students are introduced to Kristian Birkeland – the familiar face on the norwegian 200 kroner notes – on a Norwegian student website:

Birkeland - the man on our 200 kroner note

Birkeland – the man on our 200 kroner note

 

 

For those of us who know Kristian Birkeland from history classes in high-school this is probably what we know:   Kristian Birkeland (1867-1917).  Physician who together with the engineer and entrepreneur Sam Eyde invented the Birkeland-Eyde method for recovering nitrogen from air. The process became the basis for Norsk Hydro – the company. 

 

 

 

 

BUT THIS MAN IS MORE INTRIGUING AND COMPLEX THAN MOST PEOPLE ARE AWARE OF

  • He lived for a while in Egypt where he studied the zodiacal light. His closest company was two dogs, a pig, a turtle and a cat. 
  • One of the world’s first space researchers.  Many of his theories are continued in the US space program.
  • The ateist Birkeland married a pastor’s daughter.  It became an unhappy marriage. She became a spiritualist while he fought depressions, nerve problems, hearing loss, mercury poisoning and  pill abuse.
  • His passion was to understand the Northern Light.  All his theories in this respect where confirmed in 1966, but in his own time he met major resistance – especially from british scientists.
  • Birkeland claimed in 1906 that splitting atoms were possible.
  • A few years later he regarded treating cancer patients with radiation a good idea.
  • Margarine is a Birkeland invention.
  • We can thank Birkeland for caviar.   
  • He invented a hearing device too.     
  • Birkeland almost blasted the Oslo University Auditorium when he was to demonstrate his electric canon for a stiff embellished audience from home and abroad.  Fridtjof Nansen in the first row.     
  • Kristian Birkeland died from an overdose in a hotel room in Tokyo 49 years old.
  • His remains – scientific papers included – were transported by boat home to Norway.  The boat was sunk – this was during the First World War.   

To N2 Applied Kristian Birkeland is a major inspiration – and our forerunner and visionary.

 

 

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