F r a n k  H i l l
National Solar Observatory, Kitt Peak

Frank beside "Babar, the White Elephant"-a powerful detector designed to analyze the sunlight arriving deep down in the McMath-Pierce telescope.

In addition, the Sun plays an enormously central role in our lives even though we take it for granted. Of course, it is the ultimate source of 99% of the energy used by mankind (nuclear fission does not originate from the Sun). The Sun drives our climate, and, as technology becomes more integrated into our daily lives, another form of weather rooted on the Sun will become increasingly important to us. "Space weather", primarily gusts in the solar wind, can adversely affect telecommunication satellites, space travel and power distribution on earth. For these reasons, I am proud that my work is contributing to understanding the Sun and thus helping society in some small way.
Frank demonstrates how storms on the Sun may be triggered by magnetic field lines being wound up like elastic bands-and then breaking!

Most importantly, though, science is a human endeavor and I enjoy my relationships with my colleagues. I especially like the international aspects of this: I have friends in far away exotic places such as Morocco, Uzbekistan, India and Taiwan (not to mention San Francisco!), none of whom I would have met without going into solar physics. I also greatly enjoy going to the schools in Tucson and sharing my love of science and astronomy with the students.

There are, as always, less pleasant aspects of the path I chose as well. The uncertainty and stress of changing money levels, the occasional scientific turf war or feud, and the frustration when my latest greatest idea turns out to be a dud all can get me down. But, on the whole I have to say it's been great!

Back to BIOgraphies Menu Frank Hill's Biography    1     2     3    4    5