Nicholas Christofilos

χριστοφιλος

Physicist (1916 – 1972)

Nicholas Christofilos was an autodidact physicist, a pioneer in the field of accelerator and nuclear physics, who first conceived the strong-focusing principle. The “Crazy Greek” as he was nicknamed by the press, went on to have a highly prestigious career in the United States and his name today is connected with one of the largest space experiments ever conducted on Earth, Operation Argus.

As a child, he would invent improvised radio transmitters. Christofilos graduated from the University of Athens with a degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. During the axis occupation in Greece, he worked in an elevator manufacturing company – he would later found his own – and in the meantime, studied physics by himself from various American and German books he could get his hands on. It was then that he made the discovery of the strong-focusing principle of the synchrotron accelerators. His original patents on the synchrotron particle accelerator, a circular accelerator combining electric and magnetic fields to accelerate charged particles in enormous velocities was first patented in 1946. However, it was left unpublished for many years, until scientists across the Atlantic recognized his discovery’s importance and offered him a place in the Brookhaven experimental laboratory.

Having all of a sudden become from an elevator technician in Greece to a nuclear physics researcher in one of the most important research institutes in America, Christofilos began participating in top-secret physics research projects in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The most famous one, which was proposed by him, was Operation Argus. The operation, which was prepared in less than 4 months and was approved by President Eisenhower under complete secrecy, aimed at creating some sort of magnetic “mirror”. Thus, in 1957, in the midst of the Cold War, three atomic bombs were launched into space. Their explosions released countless of high-energy electrons that were entrapped in the Earth’s magnetic field, creating, as Christofilos had predicted, an artificial zone of electrons around the Earth’s magnetosphere between the zones of Van Allen, which lasted for nearly 2 weeks. It turned out to be even more successful than anticipated.

Operation Argus was one of the largest and most impressive space operations ever to be conducted by the American government. The nuclear blasts from the atomic bombs were so strong that disabled every satellite and blacked-out all radars above the North Atlantic, including the Russians’ satellites in orbit. It also marked the first time man created an artificial aurora.

Today, over 200 research papers bear his name, mostly on nuclear fusion such as the proposed Astron, antennas of continental dimensions and particle accelerators. They also include multiple other operations of huge proportions such as: Operation Sanguine, a project on telecommunication with extremely-low frequencies between submarines and Operation Starfish, a nuclear-war scenario project that turned night into day, creating yet another aurora which took 10 years for the Earth’s magnetic field to recover. His principle that was put into action in Operation Argus was named the Christofilos effect after him. He was awarded multiple prizes and recognition for his everlasting contributions to nuclear and particle physics. The fact that he could put his knowledge to effect in such terrifying nuclear experiments proved that he was two things in life: a visionary and a crazy Greek.

Bibliography

  1. Δαγκλής, Ιωάννης. Νικόλαος Χριστόφιλος: ο τρελο-Έλληνας του πειράματος “Argus”. Secret Real Truth. Thesecretrealtruth.blogspot.com. Web. September 30, 2012.
  2. Lahanas, Michael. Nicholas Constantine Christofilos. Mlahanas.de. Web.
  3. Νικόλαος Χριστόφιλος, ο «ατομικός» Έλλην πίσω από τους διαστημικούς και πυρηνικούς θριάμβους των ΗΠΑ!. Triklopodia.gr. Web. August 14, 2016.
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Nicholas Christofilos