Book Review

Very Low Frequency Phenomena

A.R.W. Hughes, C. Ferencz, and A.K. Gwal, eds.
Narosa Publishing House, 2003, 367 pages

Natural radio emissions in the frequencies between the very low frequency (VLF) and extremely low frequency (ELF) regions have been given evocative names such as "whistlers", "dawn chorus", "geese", "trains", and "cows", that describe the sound made when the signal is heard through a speaker. These sounds are produced by lightning bolts and other natural electromagnetic impulses as they propagate over long distances with differential velocities at different frequencies, a phenomenon known as dispersion. Whistlers and chorus have not only been heard on Earth; similar atmospheric electromagnetic signals have been detected on Jupiter, Saturn , Neptune, and Uranus as well. These signals can give important information about the magnetosphere and upper ionosphere. This book, based on a scientific conference on the subject held in India, describes the geomagnetic phenomena responsible for these fascinating radio phenomena, concentrating mainly on whistlers.

Unfortunately, the publishing quality of this book is extremely poor. Many of the figures are completely illegible, and most of the spectrograms have lost most of their original information by having been reduced from color to low-resolution newsprint-quality grayscale. On some pages, part of the printing is too light or smudged. The equations are badly typeset. There is no index. Some of the figures are printed crooked. More importantly, many of the articles in the book are uninspired, scientifically unconvincing, and in serious need of checking by a native speaker of English. To get a much better idea of the excitement of this field, you would be better off visiting the Italian VLF website at VLF phenomena are a great topic for a book; hopefully in the future there will be one that does better justice to this fascinating subject.

September 11, 2005 Back