The radiation belt and magnetosphere

The radiation belt and magnetosphere

Tectonophysics I’rinted in The - Elsevier Netherlands Publishing Company. Amsterdam The Radiation Belt and Magnetosphere. W.N. Hess. Company, Wal...

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Tectonophysics I’rinted in The

- Elsevier Netherlands




The Radiation Belt and Magnetosphere. W.N. Hess. Company, Waltham, Mass., 1968, 548 pp,, $16.50.



To my knowledge this is the first book on the magnetosphere and radiation belt to be written by a single author. The subject is now becoming so rich that for some time anyway, it is likely to remain the only such singly-authored book which attempts to cover all the relevant material. Dr. Hess has made a valiant attempt to cope with a tremendous task and in doing so has made a valuable contribution to the literature, even if it is not satisfactory from every point of view. With a previous acquaintance of the author’s papers, it is not difficult to predict which aspects of the subject he would consider important and thus emphasize at the expense of topics others might believe to be more significant. One finds then, following an introduction containing some interesting semi-historical material, chapters on “Particle motion in a sources and losses”, “The inner zone”, magnetic field”, “Particle “Artificial radiation belts”, “Outer-belt protons and electrons”, and “Synchroton radiation”. These comprise the best parts of the book; they are well-written in a vigorous (if occasionally inelegant) style, and represent a thorough survey of the existing literature. In the chapters entitled “The outer edge”, “Aurorae”, and “Low-energy particles”, the book becomes diffuse and unsatisfactory. It is clear that the author feels out of his depth in these areas, and consequently the material degenerates to paraphrases of, and direct quotes from, papers which appear to be selected almost randomly and without much critical judgement. This is unfortunate because it is just these topics (which in effect refer to the behavior of particles with energies less than say 100 keV), that are basic to our understanding of the magnetosphere and the radiation belt. At least 90% of the (non-magnetic) energy in the magnetosphere is associated with particles having energies of the order of a few tens of kilo electron Volts. The fact that these particles effectively control most magnetospheric phenomena is not made clear in the book, and indeed an uninformed reader might well be given the impression that low energy particles (occupying 38 pages, including references), are somewhat less significant than artificial radiation belts (54 pages) and the formation of the inner belt by the decay of neutron albedo from cosmic rays (48 pages). I think however, that the informed reader need not be concerned about these objections, but that he should look at the book in terms of its strengths, rather than its weaknesses. Dr. Hess deserves to be congratulated for his efforts in completing a task which has apparently been too much for every other worker in the field. W. IAN AXFORD


7(3) (1969)


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