Alfvén Triumphs Again (& Again)

The lack of news reports in recent months has been due to a very heavy workload in preparing papers, a course and presentations. This work continues with the upcoming Natural Philosophy Alliance’s 18th annual conference at the University of Maryland, July 6-9, where I will give two papers including the invited John Chappell Memorial Lecture.

University of Maryland

Meanwhile I attend scientific meetings and accumulate reports supporting the Electric Universe paradigm. A science journalist dubbed me “the boundary rider of science.” And it is from that broad perspective that I see our sciences like juggernauts speeding down their blind tunnels of specialization and one can only wait for the inevitable crash. Modern science attempts to describe our reality using meaningless language (e.g. “the fabric of space-time”) and invalid metaphors with the result that ever more forces, unreal dimensions and invisible or virtual matter are invoked. It seems to me that our salvation lies with engineers who must deal with the real world. For it was an outstanding and outspoken electrical engineer and physicist, Hannes Alfvén, who gave us an electrical engineer’s practical explanation of many of the mysteries of the universe—known as plasma cosmology. But in a classic academic ‘Catch-22,’ because it’s not mainstream students are not given the opportunity to consider it at any university.

Alfvén emphasized the influence upon him of Kristian Birkeland’s earlier research into the electrical nature of the aurora and other phenomena in the solar system. Birkeland seemed to intuitively sense the real electrical nature of space but was too far ahead of his time. The theory of electric discharges was still in a very primitive state. He wrote:

“It seems to be a natural consequence of our point of view to assume that the whole of space is filled with electrons and flying ions of all kinds. We assume each stellar system in evolution throws off electric corpuscles into space. It is not unreasonable therefore, to think that the greater part of the material masses in the universe is found not in the solar systems or nebulae, but in ‘empty’ space.”

Birkeland met overwhelming resistance, particularly from Sydney Chapman who was perhaps the most influential scientist in the field of geophysics in the period 1920-1960. But in 1973 satellites confirmed the existence of electric currents aligned with the magnetic field. These field-aligned currents are now called “Birkeland currents.” In 1987, reflecting his own struggle with orthodoxy, Alfvén wrote tartly:

“Since Chapman considered his theory of magnetic storms and aurora to be one of his most important achievements, he was anxious to suppress any knowledge of Birkeland’s theory. Being a respected member of the proud English tradition in science, and attending – if not organizing – all important conferences in this field, it was easy for Chapman to do so. The conferences soon became ritualized. They were opened by Chapman presenting his theory of magnetic storms, followed by long lectures by his close associates who confirmed what he had said. If finally there happened to be some time left for discussion, objections were either not answered or dismissed by a reference to an article by Chapman. To mention Birkeland was like swearing in the church.”

Many dissident scholars have echoed the comparison of modern institutionalized science with a religious order.

Alfvén’s plasma cosmology is an excellent theory when measured by its successful predictions. Despite this;

“..the continuing resistance to Alfvén’s work is based on a widely held opinion that his predictions are not derived from a plausible physical theory (i.e., a theory that conforms to the dominant paradigm). If a theory is not acceptable, it does not gain credit by making successful predictions. This would imply that the role of prediction as a means of evaluating scientific theories has been exaggerated.”
—Stephen G. Brush, Alfvén’s Programme in Solar System Physics, IEEE Transactions On Plasma Science, Vol. 20, No. 6, December 1992, p. 577.

Now two new reports stand out in relation to Alfvén’s predictions so that ultimately he cannot be ignored. The first concerns the birth of stars and the second the electric circuit of the Sun.

Electric Star Birth

The European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory.

The European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory (formerly called Far Infrared and Sub-millimetre Telescope or FIRST) has the largest single mirror, at 3.5-metres in diameter, ever built for a space telescope. It is an infrared telescope, named after Sir William Herschel, the discoverer of the infrared spectrum. The telescope has been giving astronomers an unprecedented look inside the cosmic womb of stars, known as molecular clouds, to find (surprise, surprise) that stars are formed in “an incredible network of filamentary structures, and features indicating a chain of near-simultaneous star-formation events, glittering like strings of pearls deep in our Galaxy.” Although described as “incredible” by astronomers, this description precisely matches the decades-old expectations of plasma cosmologists!

“An incredible network of filamentary structures” seen in a cloud of cold gas in the constellation of the Southern Cross.

“An incredible network of filamentary structures” seen in a cloud of cold gas in the constellation of the Southern Cross. The ESA report dated 2 October 2009. “That a dark, cool area such as this would be bustling with activity, was unexpected. But the images reveal a surprising amount of turmoil: the interstellar material is condensing into continuous and interconnected filaments glowing from the light emitted by new-born stars at various stages of development.”

[2009 ESA report]

In an ESA report last month the high-resolution of the Herschel space observatory produced another surprise:

“The filaments are huge, stretching for tens of light years through space and Herschel has shown that newly-born stars are often found in the densest parts of them… Such filaments in interstellar clouds have been glimpsed before by other infrared satellites, but they have never been seen clearly enough to have their widths measured. Now, Herschel has shown that, regardless of the length or density of a filament, the width is always roughly the same. “This is a very big surprise,” says Doris Arzoumanian, Laboratoire AIM Paris-Saclay, CEA/IRFU, the lead author on the paper describing this work. Together with Philippe André from the same institute and other colleagues, she analysed 90 filaments and found they were all about 0.3 light years across, or about 20,000 times the distance of Earth from the Sun. This consistency of the widths demands an explanation.”
[Emphasis added]

A network of 27 star forming filaments derived from Herschel observations of the IC 5146 molecular cloud.

This diagram shows a network of 27 star forming filaments derived from Herschel observations of the IC 5146 molecular cloud. Credit: Adapted from Characterizing interstellar filaments with Herschel in IC 5146, D. Arzoumanian et al., A&A 529, L6 (2011).

[A&A paper]

So what is the favored conventional explanation? What else but “sonic booms” generated by “exploding stars!” But where are these exploding stars? And explosions should impose some degree of radial curvature on these filaments. But what we see is more like the tortuous paths of cloud-to-cloud lightning bolts. For that is what they are, in fact, on a cosmic scale.

The ‘father’ of plasma cosmology, Hannes Alfvén, wrote in 1986:

“That parallel currents attract each other was known already at the times of Ampere. It is easy to understand that in a plasma, currents should have a tendency to collect to filaments. In 1934, it was explicitly stated by Bennett that this should lead to the formation of a pinch. The problem which led him to the discovery was that the magnetic storm producing medium (solar wind with present terminology) was not flowing out uniformly from the Sun. Hence, it was a problem in cosmic physics which led to the introduction of the pinch effect…

However, to most astrophysicists it is an unknown phenomenon. Indeed, important fields of research, e.g., the treatment of the state in interstellar regions, including the formation of stars, are still based on a neglect of Bennett’s discovery more than half a century ago… present-day students in astrophysics hear nothing about it.”
[Emphasis added]

The constant width over vast distances is due to the current flowing along the Birkeland filaments, each filament constituting a part of a larger electric circuit. And in a circuit the current must be the same in the whole filament although the current density can vary in the filament due to the electromagnetic pinch effect. Therefore the electromagnetic scavenging effect on matter from the molecular cloud, called Marklund convection, is constant along each current filament, which simply explains the consistency of widths of the filaments. The stars form as plasmoids in the Bennett-pinches, also known in plasma labs on Earth as Z-pinches.

Marklund Convection

This diagram shows the true nature of the filaments inside the molecular cloud. The electric field vector (E) and helical magnetic field configuration (B) are shown. Inward Marklund convection of ions at velocity, V, across a temperature gradient, ∇T, is a mechanism for rapid filament formation and chemical separation in cosmic plasma so the heavy elements (“metals” in astrophysics-speak) are found on-axis and must therefore constitute the core matter of stars, not hydrogen!

In May last year in a similar star-forming cloud, Herschel uncovered an;

“impossible star in the act of formation… This is because the fierce light emitted by such large stars should blast away their birth clouds before any more mass can accumulate. But somehow they do form. Many of these ‘impossible’ stars are already known, some containing up to 150 solar masses, but now that Herschel has seen one near the beginning of its life, astronomers can use the data to investigate how it is defying their theories.”

The answer is simple. Astrophysicists’ theories bear no relation to reality. The luminosity of a star is not related to its massiveness because no nuclear fusion is taking place in its heavy element core. And the massiveness of a star is not related to its size because the photosphere is not a surface in the usual sense but rather an electric discharge phenomenon some distance above the surface of the star. There are no “impossible stars.” The light of a star comes from the available electrical energy coursing along the enveloping Birkeland filaments. As for “sonic booms” caused by the pressure of light from the star, that force is negligible compared to the electromagnetic forces in the enveloping plasma. And any such collision would serve to further ionise the dust and gas and make it more susceptible to the electromagnetic force. However, if any reservation remains about the electrical environment of the Sun (and therefore all stars) then the following report should dispel that doubt.

Alfvén’s Solar Circuit Confirmed

On May 3, the New Scientist published an important article by Anil Ananthaswamy, “Strange cosmic ray hotspots stalk southern skies.”

Cosmic rays crashing into the Earth over the South Pole appear to be coming from particular locations, rather than being distributed uniformly across the sky. Similar cosmic ray “hotspots” have been seen in the northern skies too, yet we know of no source close enough to produce this pattern.

“We don’t know where they are coming from,” says Stefan Westerhoff of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Westerhoff and colleagues used the IceCube neutrino observatory at the South Pole to create the most comprehensive map to date of the arrival direction of cosmic rays in the southern skies.

IceCube uses neutrino detectors buried at the South Pole.

IceCube uses neutrino detectors buried at the South Pole. IceCube detects muons produced by neutrinos striking ice, but it also detects muons created by cosmic rays hitting Earth’s atmosphere. These cosmic ray muons can be used to figure out the direction of the original cosmic ray particle. (Image: NSF/B Gudbjartsson).

>> IceCube uses neutrino detectors buried at the South Pole. IceCube detects muons produced by neutrinos striking ice, but it also detects muons created by cosmic rays hitting Earth’s atmosphere. These cosmic ray muons can be used to figure out the direction of the original cosmic ray particle. (Image: NSF/B Gudbjartsson).

Between May 2009 and May 2010, IceCube detected 32 billion cosmic-ray muons, with a median energy of about 20 teraelectronvolts (TeV). These muons revealed, with extremely high statistical significance, a southern sky with some regions of excess cosmic rays (“hotspots”) and others with a deficit of cosmic rays (“cold” spots).

Over the past two years, a similar pattern has been seen over the northern skies by the Milagro observatory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and the Tibet Air Shower array in Yangbajain. “It is interesting that the pattern can be matched between [these experiments], at least qualitatively. They have very different techniques and systematic effects,” says cosmic-ray physicist Paul Sommers at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. “I regard those hotspots as a good mystery.”

It’s a mystery because the hotspots must be produced within about 0.03 light years of Earth. Further out, galactic magnetic fields should deflect the particles so much that the hotspots would be smeared out across the sky. But no such sources are known to exist.

In the 1920s Irving Langmuir and Harold Mott-Smith showed that in a discharge tube the plasma sets up a thin boundary sheath which separates it from a wall or from a probe and shields it from the electric field. The electric field in this sheath, or ‘double layer’ of separated charge, accelerates charged particles. In 1958 Alfvén suggested that this phenomenon might be important in space plasmas. Sources of cosmic rays situated along the Sun’s axes were predicted by Alfvén in 1986 in an IEEE publication and NASA Conference Publication 2469, “Double Layers in Astrophysics.” [Warning: 13 Mb pdf file]. He explains:

“Since the time of Langmuir, we know that a double layer is a plasma formation by which a plasma — in the physical meaning of this word — protects itself from the environment. It is analogous to a cell wall by which a plasma — in the biological meaning of this word — protects itself from the environment. If an electric discharge is produced between a cathode and an anode there is a double layer, called a cathode sheath, produced near the cathode that accelerates electrons which carry a current through the plasma. A positive space charge separates the cathode sheath from the plasma. Similarly, a double layer is set up near the anode, protecting the plasma from this electrode. Again, a space charge constitutes the border between the double layer and the plasma. All these double layers carry electric currents.”

Alfvén’s Heliospheric Circuit.

Alfvén’s Heliospheric Circuit. The Sun acts as a unipolar inductor (A) producing a current which goes outward along both the axes (B2) and inward in the equatorial plane along the magnetic field lines (B1). The current must close at large distances (B3), either as a homogeneous current layer, or — more likely — as a pinched current. Analogous to the auroral circuit, there may be double layers (DLs) which should be located symmetrically on the Sun’s axes. Such double layers have not yet been discovered. Credit: Original diagram by H. Alfvén, NASA Conference Publication 2469, 1986, p. 27.

In the circuit model, it was noted that every circuit that contains an inductance is intrinsically explosive. This is true because a conductive circuit will tend to supply all of the inductive energy to any point of interruption of the circuit. Double layers are known to tend to interrupt current in a plasma. Hence, the entire energy of a circuit can be released at the point where a double layer forms regardless of the source of the energy of the circuit.

Because of their property of generating cosmic rays, synchrotron radiation, radio noise, and occasionally exploding, Alfvén proposed, “DL’s may be considered as a new class of celestial objects… For example, the heliospheric current system must close at large distances, and it is possible — perhaps likely — that this is done by a network of filamentary currents. Many such filaments may produce DL’s, and some of these may explode.” To give an idea of their omnipresence in space, DLs are implicated in the earth’s auroral regions, extragalactic jets, stellar jets, novae and supernovae, X-ray and gamma-ray bursts, X-ray pulsars, double radio sources, solar flares, and the source of cosmic ray acceleration.

It seems that Alfvén’s DLs have been detected in the form of “cosmic ray hotspots” generated in Birkeland current filaments “less than 0.03 light years” from the Sun. The hotspots should be found to align with the local interstellar magnetic field. The median energy of the cosmic rays reported at 20 TeV is within the range expected from a cosmic DL.


POSTSCRIPT: Alfvén didn’t go so far as to consider a star as an electrical discharge phenomenon. But if stars are electrically powered from a galactic circuit then the consequences of this fact alone for science and society are profound. We have been following a mirage of knowledge that leads into a desert of ignorance. Our story of the Sun is a myth. The holy grail of nuclear fusion energy “like the Sun” is a false trail. In fact our entire cosmology of the big bang, galaxy formation, the formation of the Sun and its family of planets, and the history of the Earth is fiction. It ignores the most powerful organizing electric force in favour of the feeblest force— gravity. Most of our ‘big’ science, like the costly fusion experiments and space missions, has been misdirected and wasteful. All sciences must be re-examined from a fresh interdisciplinary perspective based on an interconnected Electric Universe.

Hannes Alfven receiving his Nobel prize from the King of Sweden.

And a final word from Alfvén, who took the unprecedented step of predicting in his December 11, 1970 Nobel prize acceptance speech the eventual crash of astrophysics at the end of its long dark tunnel:

“In conclusion, it seems that astrophysics is too important to be left in the hands of theoretical astrophysicists who have gotten their education from the listed textbooks. The multibillion dollar space data from astronomical telescopes should be treated by scientists who are familiar with laboratory and magnetospheric physics, circuit theory, and, of course, modern plasma physics. More than 99 percent of the Universe consists of plasma, and the ratio between electromagnetic and gravitational forces is 1039.”
—H. Alfvén, NASA Conference Publication 2469, 1986, p. 16.

Wal Thornhill

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