A bit off topic here, but a former professor of mine seems to be making a stir in the scientific community. Professor Gregory Ryskin has always been his own man; spending his time in the Soviet army reading the Feynman Lectures on Physics and not exactly drumming to the department chair's beat while I was at Northwestern. He also made a few enemies of students with his "no partial credit" policy: answers on the weekly two question quizzes (upon which your grade was entirely based; there were no tests) were either right or wrong. His reasoning was that in the real world, if you get it wrong and a catastrophe ensues, you don't get partial credit for the part you got right (certain newsworthy events of the time strengthened his argument). Despite this rigidity, his classes were great; probing the foundations of the material and explaining them in clear, concise terms. Plus, he taught a lot of special topics classes on things like statistical thermodynamics and path integrals that were outside the normal chemical engineering curriculum but very interesting.

The external controversy began after Prof. Ryskin became interested in geology and geophysics a few years back. He subsequently published a paper proposing an alternative theory for mass extinctions, such as that of the dinosaurs.

Now Prof. Ryskin is at it again with a recent paper proposing a new theory attributing the secular variation in the earth's magnetic field to changing ocean currents. Because salt water conducts electricity, any induced currents would affect a magnetic field. Prof. Ryskin found that by applying magnetohydrodynamics equations to the temporal changes in the ocean flow field, those flow changes could be correlated to the temporal changes in the Earth's magnetic field. Of course this does not prove the theory correct, only that the theory is consistent with existing observations. Nonetheless, it is an interesting entry into the scientific debate and a welcome one from a great thinker.