Change never frightened me. This carried through to my science. And I did precisely the same to our children.
I experimented in chemistry, radio, aerodynamics, the manufacture of rockets and explosives, etc. Ken was part of the second intake of the compulsory national service scheme in and served in the Citizens Military Forces Corp of Signals from to A summary of the positions held during his career is as follows:.
Initially he built and operated a litre ionization chamber in Tasmania similar to the Carnegie Type C instruments used by Scott Forbush. In , he became responsible for building and operating the five Australian neutron monitors installed for the International Geophysical Year, As Ken recalled:. I operated my own laboratory on the slopes of Mt Wellington.
I built most of a very large amount of state of the art electronics. I established a cosmic ray observatory in New Guinea and managed — by telex messages — neutron monitors in the Antarctic. I published a remarkable number of papers for a young person in top journals. During this period he wrote the first computer code to compute asymptotic directions and cut-off rigidities in a then sixth order expansion of the geomagnetic field.
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Of his time at MIT Ken recalled:. It worked. Those calculations allowed me to make a crucial observation. There were three theoretical models of the interplanetary magnetic field. The occurrence of a large solar flare, and my calculations of many particle orbits, provided unambiguous verification of one, the Parker solar wind model. My mathematical model also solved a long standing problem regarding the distribution of cosmic rays on the surface of the Earth.
Both gave me very wide exposure by My computer program, written in , is still in use today see Blast Off. This phase of his career resulted in about 50 papers in high-level journals. He also held the position of Professor at the University of Adelaide from to X-ray detectors were flown on Skylark rockets from Woomera, South Australia in , leading to the discovery that X-ray objects are highly time variable. In , he was appointed by the Australian Government to establish a new laboratory Mineral Physics Section in CSIRO to conduct research in support of geophysical exploration for minerals in Australia.
The research programs conducted by Mineral Physics included: electromagnetic systems to detect deeply buried minerals; satellite remote sensing: mathematical inversion of geophysical measurements; radiometric core logging, and other techniques. These made major improvements to exploration practice in Australia and worldwide.
Changing from cosmic ray detectors on the ground, to building satellites, and to X-ray astronomy were never that difficult. Ken McCracken: Now in my geriatric years, I'm now conducting what I call 'Bronze Age space science' where using ice cores from Antarctica and Greenland we're able to reconstruct what the Sun was doing, certainly for the last 10, years, with great ease.
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That has shown me just how much the Sun has varied in various cycles; a 2,year cycle which most people don't know much about, a year cycle and so on. And this made me look at what we were doing, and I have to make it clear, I believe that the CO 2 and CH 4 contributions to climate are real, but I am also very convinced that My great concern has been that I could see that one of the culprits was about to go quiet.
In other words, the Sun was about to go quiet. This was clear it was going to happen, and that when that happened the world will go cool for about 20 years, and all the political will might evaporate to do something which I believe needs to be done.
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The evidence is not all in yet. One of the things that happened was that the International Panel on Climate Change in their third report gave a fairly substantial contribution coming from the Sun. In their fourth report they cut it by a factor of three.
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The evidence to date, which I was alluding to there, was that I think they made an error. They were very good scientists. One of them, in fact the leading member of that committee was a young lady trained in Broken Hill Right now the Sun is going into a period of massive lack of sunspots. Still the jury is out, but if in about six months we don't have much more solar activity, we know that we're going back into an environmental situation like which was when it was quite cold.
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But the other issue then is that on the other hand we're learning about this 2,year cycle. The cold part of that was in around about , and when we come out of the little cold cycle we're going into now for maybe 20 years, we will be back into this deadly warming 2,year cycle which will just Ken McCracken: I'm certainly saying do not be deceived, be concerned also that the Sun is going to keep adding to CO 2 after the short period. Scientists find it difficult to communicate 'on this hand, on that hand'. Economists can get away with it, scientists can't.
But that's exactly what I'm saying; we have two factors here, one which in the short term is going to look like the scientists have been wrong, in the long term they are right.