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Conference honours Professor

A conference was held by the University’s School of Mathematics and Statistics last week (8th – 11th September, 2003) in honour of Professor Eric Priest’s 60th birthday. Professor Priest is the founder of the School’s World- Class Solar Theory Group.

The title of the conference was “Magnetic Reconnection and the Dynamic Sun”, reflecting a series of research topics which Professor Priest has worked on over the years. It was attended by over 100 researchers from all over the world, including 24 who had come especially from the USA and 9 from Japan.

The conference was organised by three of Professor Priest’s former research students, Professor Alan Hood from St Andrews, Professor Peter Cargill from Imperial College and Dr Philippa Browning from Manchester. The local organising committee from the Solar Theory Group in St Andrews was led by Dr Clare Parnell, a new lecturer at the School and two postdoctoral research assistants Ineke De Moortel and Dan Brown. They were supported by Duncan Mackay and Cath Gerrard.

Professor Priest said afterwards: “The conference was a truly memorable occasion. I feel highly fortunate to have such wonderful research colleagues and family.”

Scientifically, it focused on recent developments on the complex way that the magnetic field of the Sun is responsible for many dynamic events, such as solar flares and great eruptions from the Sun which can impinge on the outer atmosphere of the Earth. One of the mysteries of the Sun is that its atmosphere is incredibly hot, with a temperature of over a million degrees, more than a hundred times hotter than the solar surface. Ways in which the magnetic field could be providing this heating were described, together with the latest results from space satellites.

At the conference dinner, Professor Cargill described how the world famous St Andrews Solar Theory Group was founded by Professor Priest 35 years ago and how two of his colleagues, Bernard Roberts and Alan Hood have been pivotal in helping it develop to its present status. In addition, Professor Priest was given a traditional Japanese present by his Japanese friends of a red vest and hat, which symbolise the end of one life and the beginning of another. The red colour is regarded as a lucky colour at the start of a new life at the age of 60.

ENDS

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: Eric Priest 60th pr 170903 View the latest University news at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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