2008 – Year of the Electric Universe

The pause in news from this website is ended. I declare 2008 the International Year of the Electric Universe. More on that later…

“A first rate theory predicts
A second rate theory forbids
And a third rate theory explains after the fact.”
—The Russian crystallographer, Alexander I. Kitaigorodskii.

Karl Popper listed two other criteria of a good, new theory besides falsifiability. Firstly, it should, “proceed from some simple, new, and powerful unifying idea.” It should, in principle, be able to unify a body of knowledge that would otherwise be a set of disparate facts. Secondly, Popper held that it should pass some tests. A good new theory should make at least one successful prediction not apparent from existing theory.

Things have been happening. My companion website, THUNDERBOLTS.INFO, has a new managing editor of the Thunderbolts Picture of the Day (TPOD), Steve Smith, who has expanded the daily news coverage with much new material. The Thunderbolts website has grown to include a forum and weekly update. More features are planned. The impetus for expansion followed a June meeting in Las Vegas of talented people inspired by the first rate interdisciplinary science of an Electric Universe.

Also in June I attended the International Conference on Plasma Science (ICOPS 2007) in Albuquerque, NM, and presented papers on the electrical nature of comets and electric surface scarring. Biological applications of plasma science were of particular interest at that conference.

At the end of August I spoke at the UK Society for Interdisciplinary Studies Cambridge Conference on the electrical nature of gravity and its implications for planetary orbital stability. It was gratifying to see new people from around the world motivated to come to the conference.

To cap it all, two peer-reviewed papers were published in August in the IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science. The first, co-authored with my colleague Dr. C. J. Ransom, detailed the experimental results of crater and spherule (Martian “blueberries”) formation by plasma arcs. The second is a paper on the electrical nature of stars and supernovae. My new book, THE ELECTRIC UNIVERSE, co-authored with David Talbott, covers the topic in some detail.

Several guest appearances on radio programs in the U.S. helped to publicize the work. And Thunderbolts of the Gods is to be published in Japanese, preceded by publicity in the popular press. It is an historic opportunity for Japanese scientists to do an “end run” around sclerotic western science.

The Electric Universe paradigm continues its successful run of discovery and prediction.

In recent months…

1. The electric comet.

On October 24th, periodic Comet Holmes (17P) brightened by nearly a million times overnight. For no apparent reason, it erupted from a very dim magnitude 17 to about magnitude 2.5 and its coma expanded to 2 million km diameter. Formerly, the Sun was the largest object in the Solar System. Briefly, Comet 17P/Holmes held that distinction.

Comet 17P Holmes size comparison with the Sun and Saturn.

(Left) Image of comet Holmes from the 3.6-meter Canada-France-Hawaii telescope on Mauna Kea showing the 1.4 million km diameter coma approximately 5 months after perihelion (the point in an orbit that is closest to the Sun). The white ''star'' near the center of the coma is in fact the dust-shrouded nucleus. (Right) the Sun and planet Saturn shown at the same scale for comparison. (Sun and Saturn images courtesy of ESA/NASA's SOHO and Voyager projects). Credit: D. Jewitt and R. Stevenson, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii.

(Left) Image of comet Holmes from the 3.6-meter Canada-France-Hawaii telescope on Mauna Kea showing the 1.4 million km diameter coma approximately 5 months after perihelion (the point in an orbit that is closest to the Sun). The white ”star” near the center of the coma is in fact the dust-shrouded nucleus. (Right) the Sun and planet Saturn shown at the same scale for comparison. (Sun and Saturn images courtesy of ESA/NASA’s SOHO and Voyager projects). Credit: D. Jewitt and R. Stevenson, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii.

Comets will remain an enigma to astronomers as long as they insist that the star-size comas can be controlled in the solar ‘wind’ by the gravity of a tiny nucleus and that the energetic performances can be explained by solar heating. Comets are highly charged bodies moving radially in the electrical domain of the Sun. The comas and ion tails are an electrical phenomenon. And the dust is finely divided because it has been electrically ‘sputtered’ from the nucleus.

2. Astronomers finally admit that Venus has lightning.

“In addition to all the pressure and heat, we can confirm there is lightning on Venus — maybe even more activity than there is here on Earth,” said Christopher Russell, a NASA-sponsored scientist on Venus Express from the University of California. Earlier claims for lightning on Venus were greeted with scepticism and denial.

I wrote in ‘The Shiny Mountains of Venus,’ December 2003:

“The principal difficulty in understanding the origin of lightning is due to the assumption that the Earth and Venus are closed electrical systems with no input from the solar plasma environment via the magnetosphere. The Venusian ionosphere is directly coupled to the solar wind. Intense airglow emission in long wavelength UV was observed to occupy a large volume of the ionosphere on both the day and night sides of the planet. The intensity seems to be linked to solar activity. I would therefore expect lightning activity on Venus to be generated, not from cloud motions, but from electrical input originating in the Sun.”

My explanation for the radar-shiny mountains of Venus as a ‘St. Elmo’s fire’ type of surface plasma discharge phenomenon stands as a further prediction.

3. Electric current from the Sun powers auroras.

On March 23, 2007 an auroral substorm erupted over Alaska and Canada, producing vivid auroras for more than two hours. Substorms are sudden bursts of energy in Earth’s atmosphere that turn the undulating curtains of the Northern Lights into hyperactive light shows lasting from minutes to hours. Estimates of the total energy of the two-hour event were put at five hundred thousand billion (5 x 1014) Joules. That’s approximately equivalent to the energy of a magnitude 5.5 earthquake.

Where does all that energy come from? THEMIS may have found an answer:

“The satellites have found evidence for magnetic ropes connecting Earth’s upper atmosphere directly to the Sun,” says Dave Sibeck, project scientist for the mission at the Goddard Space Flight Center. “We believe that solar wind particles flow in along these ropes, providing energy for geomagnetic storms and auroras.”

This report was written within days of the 140th anniversary of the birth of the Norwegian-born physicist Kristian Birkeland. Birkeland correctly hypothesized and demonstrated experimentally in the early 20th century that electric current from the Sun powers the earth’s auroras. The ‘magnetic ropes’ connecting the Sun and the Earth are more correctly named after him- ‘Birkeland currents.’ The solar wind is not a mechanical ‘wind’ of particles, it is an electric current from the Sun that takes the form of twisted filament pairs and plasma sheets.

“We have much more to learn about all these things,” says Angelopoulos. “I can’t wait to see what comes next.” Reading Birkeland’s century-old works would be a good start for NASA scientists. Terry Pratchett’s wry remark applies to science, “Most of what you get taught is lies. It has to be. Sometimes if you get the truth all at once, you can’t understand it.”

“It seems to be a natural consequence of our points of view to assume that the whole of space is filled with electrons and flying electric ions of all kinds.”
— Kristian Birkeland

4. Saturn’s north polar hot spot and the Electric Universe “experimentum crucis.”

In Science, Feb 4, 2005, the W. M. Keck Observatory reported the discovery of a south polar hot spot on Saturn. See The Spiral Galaxy at Saturn’s Pole. Saturn’s south pole is presently lit by the Sun but it was not expected to be the hottest place on the planet! Saturn’s north pole has been in darkness since 1995, which prompted Dr. Orton to remark: “One of the obvious questions is whether Saturn’s north pole is anomalously cold and whether a cold polar vortex has been established there.”

Saturn's North Pole Hexagon and Aurora.

Saturn's North Pole Hexagon and Aurora. This night-time view of Saturn's north pole by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer on NASA's Cassini orbiter reveals a dynamic, active planet at least 75 kilometers (47 miles) below the normal cloud tops seen in visible light. Clearly revealed is the bizarre six-sided hexagon feature present at the north pole. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.

The following day I posted the news “Saturn’s Strange Hot Spot Explained.” In it I made the following statement:

“The Electric Universe predicts, experimentum crucis, that BOTH poles should be hot, not one hot and the other cold.”

That extraordinary prediction was confirmed in a report in Science on Jan 4. Such unusual predictions have become a hallmark of the Electric Universe paradigm and establish it as a first class theory. The bizarre long-lived hexagonal feature is a mystery to astronomers. Ground-based observations published in Science, April 16, 1993, prompted the remark, “The large lifetime of cloud features poleward of ~74˚N seems amazing in view of the strong seasonal insolation cycle at these latitudes.”

Orthographic projection of Saturn's north polar temperatures in the troposphere at 100 mbar.

Orthographic projection of Saturn's north polar temperatures in the troposphere at 100 mbar. The polar hot spot is clearly visible along with the hexagonal structure at 79˚N. Credit: L. N. Fletcher et al., U. of Oxford, UK.

The polar hot spot and long-lived hexagonal feature results from a continuous electric current flowing from the Sun into the pole of Saturn. The hot spot will remain for as long as the Sun shines electrically. The blue (false color) auroral ring shows that the current flows into Saturn via a cylindrical electron beam propagating along Saturn’s magnetic field and magnetically pinching (known as a Z-pinch) down to the polar region.

Depiction of an intense auroral funnel.

Depiction of an intense auroral funnel. The oblique upward view shows both down-flowing and up-flowing Birkeland current filaments contained within two concentric cylindrical sheets. The Z-pinch core is shown (purple).

“The auroral plasma column is susceptible to two plasma instabilities; hollowing of the relativistic electron beam to form the sheets and the diocotron instability that cause the sheets to filament into individual current strands causing the “swirls” or “curtains.” These instabilities also produce the radiation observed over a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum.”
— A. Peratt. Characteristics For The Occurrence Of A High-Current, Z-Pinch Aurora, (PDF 6.6 Mb) IEEE Transactions On Plasma Science, Vol. 31, No. 6, December 2003.

Birkeland current filamentation can be seen best in the top quadrants of Saturn’s blue auroral ring. The cylindrical auroral beam is subject to vortex formation, known as ‘diocotron instabilities.’ Historically, vortex structure and vortex interactions in charged particle beams have been known since the turn of the 19th century when Kristian Birkeland first photographed the passage of particle beams through low vacuum in his terrella cathode experiments. Neighbouring vortices are subject to long-range attractive and short-range repulsive forces, which result in a departure of the discharge pattern from a circle to a polygon.

Diocotron instability

The diocotron instabilities in the inner current cylinder are forcing the cloud pattern to form the distinctive hexagonal shape. The polar hot spot is heated by the Birkeland current discharge in the core of the Z-pinch.

It is important to note that Jupiter has been found to have a hexagonal cloud collar at its north pole. And Neptune, the most distant planet from the Sun, has a hot pole. These discoveries show that these planets are connected electrically to the Sun’s circuit and real power source—the galaxy. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot occasionally shows clear hexagonal morphology too, which indicates that it is an electrical tornado connected to some surface electrical anomaly beneath the clouds.

Given the almost unlimited scalability of plasma phenomena, it is not surprising that there are galaxies exhibiting hexagonal structure within a circular arc (NGC 7421, NGC4676A) and diocotron instabilities in their spiral arms (NGC 3646). (The arcs are formed electrically not by collision). In addition there are circular and hexagonal structures within the spiral arms (the Hodge object in NGC 6946). Even more compelling for the Electric Universe model is that the center of the Hodge object is a region of vigorous star formation.

Hodge Object in NGC 6946

The Bubble complex (the Hodge object) in NGC 6946. The western rim is sharp and has the shape of the regular arc with radius 300 pc. The oldest stars are 30 Myr old and the rate of star formation there is 1-2 order of magnitude higher than that in the Local complex (Gould Belt). Another peculiarity of the complex is the very massive young cluster near (yet not at) the center. — Yu.N.Efremov, Sternberg Astronomical Institute, Moscow University.

In fact, the shape and position of the star cluster mimics the complex polar vortex on Venus! It is the characteristic form of two interacting Birkeland current filaments. The bright stars shows the formation of trailing arms and spiral structure.

This demonstrates that in an Electric Universe stars are not formed by gravitational accretion but by the infinitely more powerful electromagnetic scavenging of gas and dust by a galactic Z-pinch discharge. And once formed, the discharge continues to light the stars.

The beautiful, ubiquitous spiral structure seen throughout deep space is revealed as the visible manifestation of the intersection of two cosmic power lines!

2008-The International Year of the Electric Universe

We have an opportunity in 2008 to begin a renaissance in astronomy and cosmology. Unfortunately it will be too late to have any influence on the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) 2009, which was recently proclaimed by the United Nations’ General Assembly. The International Astronomical Union IYA 2009 celebrates the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s introduction of the telescope to astronomy. A statement issued by the IAU, the world’s largest association of professional astronomers, notes that in 1609 Galileo “initiated 400 years of astronomical discoveries and triggered a scientific revolution which profoundly affected our worldview.”

The vast resources to be poured into that enterprise would be far better employed under a new scientific revolution grounded in reality and commonsense. We already have enough telescopic observations to make phenomenal advances. But with astronomy a pseudoscience we have no reason to celebrate. Our cosmology has become so fantastic as to bear no relationship to everyday experience, experimental verification or any practical use. News headlines read like science fantasy because that’s what cosmology has become. If alive today, Galileo would not be amused. The modern doctrine of the absurd big bang creation event and expanding universe shows that while the technology has advanced, astronomy/cosmology has become merely a substitute religion.

It is impossible that the Big Bang is wrong. We may have to make it more complicated to cover the observations, but it is hard to think of anything that could refute the theory itself.
— Joseph Silk, Savilian Chair of Astronomy, University of Oxford.

Cosmology has always been – and will by definition always remain – a borderland between science and philosophy – some would say religion.
— Cosmic Plasma, Hannes Alfvén, 1981.

In the limit Alfvén may be right. But cosmologists have lost touch with science and philosophy and wandered into a borderland of pseudoscience.* Humanity was never more in need of a new science of Life in the Universe. Our hope-less, detached cosmology permeates our lives. We thrash about in ignorance, nonsense and illogicality, seeking real meaning to our existence. All we are offered is a quasi-religious creation from nothing in a mysterious, unscientific event—the “big bang”—followed by random and unexplained miracles to arrive at the present. And our future? We are to fizzle out in eventual darkness or incineration. How uninspired. How unintelligent!

A real cosmology must reunite the sciences, humanities and the arts. It cannot be limited to astronomy. It must give real meaning to Life. It is becoming clear to more and more scholars and the questioning public from around the world that the Electric Universe offers such a broad vista of future science. It is time to get started in 2008. We have no time to lose.

“The Electric Universe opens up science again to the individual.
Science will blossom in the new millennium as a cultural activity more integrated with history, the arts and the human condition.”
— from the preface to the Electric Universe.

* Pseudoscience [Wikipedia]:

“Pseudosciences may be characterised by the use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims, over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation, lack of openness to testing by other experts, and a lack of progress in theory development.”

Pseudoscience is widespread and afflicts all science. The malaise stems from theoretical physics. As science-philosopher Viv Pope said at a 2002 meeting, “The majority of people nowadays neither know nor care what Theoretical Physics is or what it does. In the subject itself, confusion reigns supreme. Many professionals believe that it has gone beyond any prospect of repair with more and more theoretical patching and that nothing less than a whole new philosophical approach – a new paradigm, in effect – is now long overdue.”

Wal Thornhill

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