Home   Contact   LinksBookmark this site   

        History I
        History II
        Technical I
        Technical II

   The Electric Universe

   Science and Philosophy

   Ancient Testimony        

   Cutting Edge

   The Way Forward

   Latest News


A Brief History of Plasma II    
Faraday and Maxwell  

"The phenomena of electrical discharge are exceedingly important, and when they are better understood they will probably throw great light on the nature of electricity as well as on the nature of gases and of the medium pervading space." James Clerk Maxwell, Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism.


While we now know that the terms electro- and -magnetic go together, this was not always the case, and the relationship between electricity and magnetism was not always clear. Michael Faraday, 1791-1867, was called a charlatan and a fraud when he announced that he could generate an electric current by moving a magnet in a coil of wire!

James Clerk Maxwell clarified our understanding of the relationship between electricity and magnetism. Electric fields can't be divorced from magnetic fields -- or vice versa -- but conventional astronomy still attempts to do just this!

Why does mainstream cosmology attribute little or no importance to electrodynamics?    
There are a number of reasons for this mistaken attitude, and it represents the the main point of demarcation between Plasma and Big Bang cosmologies. Some time back there was a fork in the road, and mainstream cosmology took the road marked gravity only which lead to a strange place dominated by abstract math. Unfortunately it is now proving almost impossible to turn this behemoth around!   "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." Aldous Huxley

When geniuses like Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) and Isaac Newton (1643-1727) formulated their theories very little was known about electricity. (Oil and gas provided the lighting back then.) A treatise had been written on magnetism, and some magnetism is incorporated in astronomical models, but the basis of mainstream theories remain the same -- they rely on gravity and inertia. They work on the mistaken premise that space is electrically sterile.

The situation changed briefly in the late 1800s and early 1900s when electromganetism was thought the most likely route to a better understanding of space. Indeed, the scientific press was awash with such speculation at the time. However, something happened, and it became taboo to discuss EM in space. Albert Einstein, for example, did not so much as mention EM in his Relativity theories, and his mathematical theories effectively removed the concept of the aether.

Magnetic Reconnection and Frozen-in Magnetic Fields
These erroneous concepts are probably the biggest source of confusion in mainstream circles. Ironically, the concept of Frozen-in Magnetic Fields was first proposed by Hannes Alfven, but he quickly realised his mistake, and explained the error. Unfortunately, he was surprised to find that the error persisted, and later in life he wished he had spent more time correcting the misconception.

Magnetic Fields are never frozen into a plasma. This is just a symptom of mainstream science refusing to acknowledge electric currents (energy transfer) in space. They prefer to talk in terms of magnetic ropes et al, as the idea of electricity in space would open up a can of worms for them. They simpy refuse to face this fact to any meaningful extent. Furthermore, magnetic field lines do not reconnect or merge after they break down and release energy.

Don Scott, a retired professor of electrical engineering, explains the issues in more detail here

Belief is known to have a profound affect on perception. Witness the fact that euphemisms are employed to conform to the inertia of prior belief. The mainstream prefers to talk in terms of ion storms and electron rains rather than acknowledging the existence of electrical phenomena in space. See the technical section for explanations of some common misconceptions. So many astronomical phenomena scream 'Electricity', but sophistry is all too often employed to interpret them within the existing paradigm.

Filamentary Birkeland currents in plasma, and double layers et al are not even recognised in mainstream cosmology, let alone understood! And they call it the queen of the sciences!

'Charge separation in space is not possible'
Well, this is the mainstream view. Because the attractive electrical forces between electrons and ions are 39 orders of magnitude greater than the gravitational attraction between their masses, it is assumed that these particles quickly find each other and neutralise.

It is wrong, however, as we now observe charge separation in space. It is therefore important to stress that we should be working backwards from observation, and not extrapolating from some idealised theoretical starting point. Theories of the plasma universe do not begin with neutral matter. They begin with the observation that charges are already separated.

While GR is amenable to math -- if we allow for the fact that so many space probes have suffered inexplicable crashes and anomalous accelerations -- the situation with electrodynamics is less simple. How would we go about measuring the voltage of the earth, for example, when voltage is a relative figure? Would we measure the voltage in relation to The Sun or The Moon? And how could we do this? Running a cable between any two planets presents technical difficulties, whereas problems with GR calculations are simply plugged with exotic hypotheticals!

Science versus Math
Unfortunately, the current cosmological scene is dominated by mathematicians, not scientists, and electromagnetism is notoriously difficult to model mathematically, so they prefer to close their eyes to it. See bad astronomy versus good science, below.

Electrodynamics versus Fluid Dynamics
Another common trick is to refer to electrodynamic phenomena in terms really only appropriate to fluid dynamics. 'Electron Rains' and 'Ion Storms' are prime examples. These are clearly electrodynamic phenomena, as are 'Magnetic Ropes'. Magnetic ropes are in fact Birkeland currents. See technical for further info.

Bad Astronomy versus Good Science
Phil Plait, the self-proclaimed Bad Astronomer, is an unrepentant critic of the Electric Universe. He recently launched another attack on the EU model, by proxy, claiming that astronomy does not ignore magnetic
fields. This is a straw man, as no such claim has been made

"Magnetism is a very important topic in astrophysics (despite some pseudo-scientists lying and saying this
force is ignored), but it’s not well-understood. It’s fiendishly complex, so much so that it’s a joke in stronomy." Phil Plait

The real issue is that the relationship between magnetic fields and electric currents is being overlooked, and this is a critical omission

"In order to understand the phenomena in a certain plasma region, it is necessary to map not only the magnetic but also the electric field and the electric currents." Hannes Alfven, Nobel Laureate

In other words, magnetism cannot be viewed in isolation. At least Plait admits their fear of magnetism in the process, which is the big giveaway.

Mathematics and the kinetic theory of ordinary Gases
See below


"Newton was unaware of plasma. Today his disciples spend years in training learning when and how to shut their eyes to it." Mel Acheson





"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice." Heinlein's Razor


Plasma Physics    

The following quote from Australian physicist, Wal Thornhill, provides some further background on difficulties with working with Plasmas which have contributed to mainstream ignorance on the subject.

"Plasma physics started along two parallel lines. One of them was the hundred-year-old investigation into what was called 'electric discharges in gases'. To a high degree, this approach was experimental and phenomenological, and only very slowly did it reach some degree of theoretical sophistication. Most theoretical physicists looked down on this field which was complicated and awkward. The plasma exhibited striations, double layers, and an assortment of oscillations and instabilities. The electron temperature was often found to be one or two orders of magnitude larger than the gas temperature, with the ion temperature intermediate.

"In short, it was a field which was not well suited for mathematically elegant theories. The other approach came from the highly developed kinetic theory of ordinary gases. It was thought that, with a limited amount of work, this field could be extended to include ionized gases. The theories were mathematically elegant and claimed to derive all of the properties of a plasma from first principles. In reality this was not true. Because of the complexity of the problem, a number of approximations were necessary which were not always appropriate. The theories had very little contact with experimental physics: all awkward and complicated phenomena observed in the laboratory were simply neglected... Theories about plasmas, at the time called ionized gases, were developed without any contact with laboratory plasma work. In spite of this -- or perhaps because of this -- belief in the theories was so strong that they were applied directly to space. One of the results was the Chapman-Ferraro theory (for a review see Akasofu and Chapman, 1972) which became accepted to such an extent that Birkeland's approach was almost completely forgotten. For thirty or forty years, Birkland's results were often ignored in textbooks and surveys, and all attempts to revive and develop them were neglected.

"The crushing victory of the theoretical approach over the experimental approach lasted only until the theory was to make experimentally verifiable predictions. From the theory, it was concluded that in the laboratory, plasmas could easily be confined in magnetic fields and heated to such temperatures as to make thermonuclear release of energy possible. When attempts were made to construct thermonuclear reactors, a confrontation between the theories and reality was unavoidable -- the results were catastrophic. Although the theories were generally accepted, the plasma itself refused to believe them. This is not to say that Juergens' theory that the sun is an anode is valid. His observation was that the sun appears to violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics in that the heat transfer in the wrong way. My friend Leroy, if I recall correctly, once attempted to explain this by an analogy of a man with a cigarette lighter in his extended arm. Neither suggestion is correct as the sun is not a collection of ordinary gas. It a collection of matter in the plasma form and as such the temperature of the electrons is orders of magnitude higher than the rest of the body (A normal condition for a plasma).

"The approach which Alfven suggested must ignore the elegant and simplistic ordinary gases theory as the electromagnetic forces within a plasma dominate."

  Wal Thornhil
Synchrotron Radiation    

In 1950, Alfven, together with his colleagues Herlofson and Keipenheuer, was the first to identify nonthermal radiation from astronomical sources. It is produced by fast-moving electrons in the presence of magnetic fields, and its importance cannot be underestimated in astrophysics as most of the radiation recorded by radio telescopes derives from this mechanism.

At the time this was a remarkable suggestion, given that plasma and magnetic fields were thought to have little, if anything, to do in a cosmos filled with 'island universes' (galaxies). It has provided additional evidence for the existence of extensive magnetic fields, and indicates that enormous amounts of energy may be converted, stored, and released by cosmic plasma.

Prior to its discovery we were largely restricted to the visual spectrum, which favours the three states of matter (solids, liquids, and gases) that formed the basis of conventional astronomy.

  "In the end The Universe will have its say." Sir Fred Hoyle
The Michelson-Morley experiment    

Growing numbers of scientists are questioning the hero worship of Einstein, not least because the Michelson-Morley experiment did NOT give a null result. Mainstream science, however, claims that the 'null' result disproves the existence of an æther.

“... Lorentz, in order to justify his transformation equations, saw the necessity of postulating a physical effect of interaction between moving matter and æther, to give the mathematics meaning. Physics still had de jure authority over mathematics: it was Einstein, who had no qualms about abolishing the æther and still retaining light waves whose properties were expressed by formulae that were meaningless without it, who was the first to discard physics altogether and propose a wholly mathematical theory...” Herbert Dingle, Science at the Cross-Roads.

  “What we call mass would seem to be nothing but an appearance, and all inertia to be of electromagnetic origin.” Henri Poincaré, Science and Method