"The aurora was one of the last unsolved mysteries of the natural world, puzzled over, feared or worshiped. In an audacious plan, Birkeland intended to spend a whole winter on the mountaintop to study the Lights, which were known to appear in this region more frequently than anywhere else in the country. It was not only their beauty that compelled him and his fellow scientists to make this dangerous trip, but their challenge. He had a theory that, if he could prove it, would solve the riddle of the lights and overturn conventional wisdom about the solar system and the earth's place within it."
[extract from 'The Northern Lights' by Lucy Jago, a biography of Professor Kristian Birkeland]