The Northern Lights
USA Edition
ISBN: 978-0375708824
Paperback, 320 pages
Published: November 2002
Publisher: Vintage Books USA

Kristian Birkeland with his terrella machine simulating the
earth in space taken in his laboratory around 1910.
He claimed the fez would protect him from radiation,
although it was probably his idea of a joke.


     For more information about the northern lights and
     to see how active they are at the present time, visit:

Winner of the National Biography Prize, ‘The Northern Lights’
offers a brilliant account of the mind and achievements of one of
history’s most visionary scientists and takes the reader on a quest
to the remotest regions of the Earth and beyond, into space.

Biography, exploration and science converge in this extraordinary
true story of the life and work of Norwegian scientist Kristian
Birkeland, the troubled genius who solved the mysteries of one
of nature’s most spectacular displays, the Aurora Borealis.


“A heartwrenching mix of human interest, history and thrilling rendition of scientific interest. It has all the stylishness of good fiction, and its huge dollops of well-researched scientific fact go down with amazing ease.
The Telegraph Magazine

“Jago is a taut, imaginative writer. Her description of the winter
Birkeland and his young protégés spent huddled by the stove
makes one gasp at the old, reckless days of science...
Entertaining, provocative.”
The Times Literary Supplement

“First-time author Lucy Jago now resurrects this intrepid,
visionary, and obsessively hardworking genius in a compulsively
readable tale of courage, conviction, and betrayal. Jago's lucid
and captivating blend of biography, physics, and cultural history
adds a vital chapter to the annals of science and finally gives
Birkeland his due.”
Booklist (*starred* review)

“Lucy Jago's account of [Kristian Birkeland's] heroic and
horrifying expedition... is as gripping as a Conan Doyle adventure.”
Harper's Magazine

“Lucy Jago's account of [Kristian Birkeland's] life within his
scientific times is a satisfying attempt at rehabilitation – even
score-settling... Birkeland's story is a fascinating one, evoking the
manic, punishing era of polar exploration as it overlapped with
early-20th-century atomic physics, set against a background of Norway's struggle for independence and
the outbreak of World War I.”
The New York Times Book Review