Outside, after his talk, with students and Deputy Rektor Alistair RobertsonDuring her visit to RCN last year and in a discussion in the Physics lab on the northern lights phenomenon, H.M. Queen Sonja recommended we invite Dr. Pål Brekke to the College. The topic of Dr. Brekke’s work and his reputation as a skilled presenter was a perfect match for the inaugural RCN Thor Heyerdahl lecture on the environment. After completing undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in astrophysics at the University of Oslo – his doctoral thesis explored UV radiation using data from rockets and the space shuttle Challenger – Pål worked with NASA and the European Space Agency and is currently Senior Advisor at the Norwegian Space Centre. Today’s lecture, replete with beautiful images, reviewed cultural-historical perspectives, and the work of scientists to explore and comprehend the northern lights phenomena. It became clear this required researching solar activity to understand how particles emitted from the sun interact with the earth’s magnetic field and molecules in the upper atmosphere to result in the aurora: these apparently complex scientific findings were made beautifully clear to us non-physicists! Pål then presented his newly completed film (with Fredrik Broms) “The Northern Lights. A Magic Experience”, and a shorter film (produced by Ørjan Berkelsen) taken with recently developed super-sensitive camera equipment. Many questions then provided some indication of students’ and teachers’ appreciation and interest in the lecture. Pål’s enthusiasm for the science and the magnitude of the phenomena was clearly infectious, the lecture a magnificent example of how scientific understanding of an apparently beautiful phenomenon makes it all the more beautiful and awe-inspiring. A group of students then toured campus with Pål, enjoying the opportunity to discuss their Physics EEs too! Conclusion: excellent recommendation, thankyou Pål Brekke!