Class of 1944
Eugene N. Parker
Professor, Dept. of Astronomy & Astro-physics, University of Chicago, 1972-1995
Chairman, Dept. of Physics, University of Chicago, 1972-1978
Contributed successfully to the theory of the origin of the magnetic field of earth and to the nature and origin of the solar wind and heliosphere
Inducted into Royal Oak High School Hall of Fame, 2001
Eugene N. Parker graduated from Royal Oak High School in 1944. Gene was vice president of the Spanish club when the OAK Yearbook predicted that he would become a professor in Spanish. Although he did not exactly fulfill this prophesy, he did become a professor. His high school Spanish teacher, Elizabeth Tessem, observed that Eugene really loved science and she predicted that he would go far. Go far indeed! Dr. Parker is internationally acclaimed for his work in physics and astronomy, and in 1980 the California Institute of Technology formally recognized him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Much of his career was as a faculty member at the University of Chicago. It was there, in 1958, that Eugene Parker developed his theory of the solar wind. His idea that there was a vigorous, dense and dynamically complex outflow from the solar corona first drew skepticism and criticism from the scientific community. But future space travel confirmed his theory, and today Dr. Parker is recognized as one of the most influential architects of the exploration of interplanetary space. His books have educated generations of investigators on the effects of the magnetic fields of planets, stars and galaxies on X-ray emissions.
Eugene Parker has won numerous awards for his research, his publications and his teaching. The American Geophysical Union recognized him in 1968 for his original research and technical leadership, and in 1990 they gave him an award for his outstanding contributions to geophysics and his unselfish cooperation in research. In 1989 the President of the United State awarded him the National Medal of Science for his contributions to scientific knowledge. Dr. Parker continues to share his ideas and stimulate the thinking of other scientists. In 2000 he published an article in which he reminded the scientific community that the sun is stranger than one would think, and that the sun poses new challenges when applying the traditional laws and measurements of physics developed here on earth.
Dr. Parker was inducted into the Royal Oak High School Hall of Fame in 2001.