Friday, August 21, 2009

The REAL Electric Universe

Many EU advocates try to claim that astrophysics ignores the effects of electric fields and currents as possible drivers of astrophysical phenomena. Once they do this, EU advocates try to hijack the discoveries of legitimate researchers, claiming success for their theories with any mention of currents in mainstream astrophysics. Yet electric currents and fields are discussed throughout the professional astrophysical literature, predating much of the Electric Universe.

Unfortunately, astronomy has become so specialized that there are a lot of professional astronomers who don't know about these mechanisms. Maybe they need a little refresher course in this topic to prevent them from making grossly inaccurate statements about the role of electric fields in cosmic processes.

Pannekoek-Rosseland Field:
This mechanism of charge separation and resulting electric field generation was first recognized back in the 1920s. Gravitational stratification of plasma gives light electrons a larger scale height than heavy ions. This generates a weak charge separation and small electric field, forming a structure similar to a weak double layer. The presence of dust can significantly strengthen the field. There are a number of astrophysical environments where this process is believed to act:
  • solar atmosphere and out into the solar wind
  • planetary ionospheres. This configuration contributes to the Birkeland currents identified in planetary magnetospheres.
  • galactic disk 'atmospheres'
  • possible source of seed fields for stellar dynamo processes
Offset Rotating Magnetic Dipoles:
A dipole magnet at rest just produces a magnetic field. But if the dipole is rotated and the magnetic axis of the dipole is tilted from the rotation axis, the magnetic field at any point near the magnet changes, which by Maxwell's equations, produces an electric field. Because Maxwell's equations are Lorentz invariant, the easiest way to find the values of this electric field is to transform the magnetic dipole into a rotating coordinate system. This system is a popular demonstration of how to treat relativity in rotating coordinate systems and dates back to the 1930s. Here's some areas in the astrophysical literature where this process is important:
  • Pulsars: The strong magnetic fields of fast-rotating neutron stars (~10^10 gauss) generate very strong electric fields in the charged plasma environment around them.
  • Ionospheric & Magnetospheric physics. This configuration is another contribution to the Birkeland currents identified in planetary magnetospheres.

Charge-separation by radiation pressure: Photons interact with electrons more strongly than protons and can accelerate electrons away.
  • Driver of stellar winds. In the stellar wind outflow, the electrons will get an extra boost outward due to momentum transfer by scattering from the outflowing photons.
  • Gamma-ray bursts: High-energy photons can create a charge separation in the interstellar medium (ISM)

Black Hole Electrodynamics

When ionized plasma accretes on a black hole, the external observer never sees the material cross the event horizon. Instead, the material forms a thin layer of hot plasma just outside the event horizon. This layer acts like a conducting metal shell around the object. Seeded with even small magnetic fields from the accretion disk, this configuration can generate powerful electric fields through induction. Much of this research was summarized in the book Black Holes: The Membrane Pardigm by Thorne, Price & MacDonald. 1986

Sunspot and active region processes. Some of these currents may initially be generated by the Pannekoek-Rosseland field.

All these mechanisms create the charge separations and currents using energy from other processes, usually gravity. The charge-separation itself is not the original energy process but can create non-thermal distributions of charged particles.

By the way, did you know that reputable scientists did research on cosmologies with net charge? I'll add that to my idea list for future blog posts.

I've collected a fairly extensive citation list for all these processes and plan to write more on them later. However, if I've missed any of the fundamental processes or other sites where we believe they operate, feel free to contact me by email or post a comment here. Comments will be favored if they include citations to the actual professional literature (no vanity journals!).

In one recent e-mail discussion, a correspondent claimed that EU advocates use all of these processes. However, aside from an indirect reference in Thornhill (2007) (Thornhill references a paper at mentions the Pannekoek-Rosseland field), I have found none. I would be interested to discover if EU advocates use such processes as the offset dipole or charge separation by radiation pressure. Considering how much of this early work was done by astronomers, it would suggest that the EU advocates knew they were making false statements when claiming astronomers ignore electric processes. Reports of citations in EU literature (title, author, and page number) which mentions any of the processes described above are welcome as well.

W. Thornhill. The Z-Pinch Morphology of Supernova 1987A and Electric Stars. IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, 35:832–844, August 2007. doi: 10.1109/TPS.2007.895423


Anonymous said...

Isn't it the Pannekoek-Rosseland field?

Also, which of the papers Thornhill cites includes a reference to this?

W.T."Tom" Bridgman said...

Thornhill cites:
L. Neslusan, "On the global electrostatic charge of stars," Astron. Astrophys., vol. 372, no. 3, pp. 913–915, 2001.
which cites the original papers of Pannekoek and Rosseland from the 1920s.

Pannekoek vs. Pannoekoek? I think I picked up a spelling error somewhere so let me fix that. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Electric Universe people do not dispute that there are other theories concerning electric fields and currents in space.

For example, Hannes Alfven specifically mentions the Pannekoek-Rosseland Field on page 83 of his paper "Cosmogony as an extrapolation of magnetospheric research" (1984) in Space Science Reviews, vol. 39, Sept.-Oct. 1984, p. 65-90.

And of course, electric current is ubiquitous in the Electric Universe. See "Extraterrestrial (cosmic) electricity" which suggests over 30 examples with as many peer reviewed citations.

Anonymous said...

The "scientists [who] did research on cosmologies with net charge" must be Herman Bondi and R.A. Lyttleton proposed "The possibility of a general excess of charge in the universe", in R. A. Lyttleton, H. Bondi, "On the Physical Consequences of a General Excess of Charge" in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Vol. 252, No. 1270 (Sep. 29, 1959), pp. 313-333.

They also called their theory "The Electric Universe". However, their paper appears to be theoretical, and not involve any actual research.

W.T."Tom" Bridgman said...

Lyttleton & Bondi seem to be among the best known of these 'charged universe' papers. I've found a number of other ones as well.

One of the things I have really enjoyed about searching the older papers are the ones that are highly theoretical from the days when the data just wasn't good enough to distinguish between a number of different models. The authors were very meticulous about spelling out their input assumptions and demonstrating how they propagated the model - something which the pseudoscientists I deal with routinely fail to do. Once the model is specified, the authors follow through to the implications and possible observations. This very transparent approach makes it easy for other researchers to follow-up, another thing pseudoscientists fail to do.

The papers make a nice guide as the authors basically say "Here's what I did. Here's what looks like worked. Here's what appear to be problems and what any follow-on research will need to deal with." Many of these types of papers have seemed to disappear because so many ideas fail early on to the availability of a large amount of high-quality data to constrain the model. I've often wondered if there should be a "Journal of Dead-End Research", where researchers can publish their ideas that *didn't* seem to work. Such a journal would be a useful guide for future researchers, so they waste less time repeating old mistakes, or have a guide on what problems they would need to solve to pursue one of these ideas. I've been surprised by how many of the ideas, promoted by cranks today, are encountered in older historical literature and were found to be flawed even back then.

W.T."Tom" Bridgman said...

So Alfven knew about the Pannokeok-Rosseland (P-R) field. What does that mean? Is your point that this somehow validates the EU claims that the Sun is predominantly powered by external electric currents (which Alfven did not believe) or that galaxies are powered by cosmic-scale electric currents (see "Scott Rebuttal: The Peratt Galaxy Model), or that planetary cratering is due to giant electric arcs?

Thank you for pointing me to "Electricity throughout the Universe". I already had a number of these papers in my files. Note that many involve planetary atmospheres and ionospheres where electric fields can be driven by the P-R field and/or rotating magnetic dipole, or currents created by induction via MHD. All of these processes have been examined by astronomers for decades now.

"Astrophysicists do not study experimental plasma physics in graduate school. They rarely take courses that discuss Maxwell's equations and electromagnetic field theory." -- pg 2-3, "The Electric Sky"

Or how about pg 53 which is spent trying to justify the claim that astronomers reject any electrical influences in space.

While only a few on your list are directly related to astronomy, my list of astronomy-related papers discussing currents and electric fields now has over 100 references dating back to 1914, and those are just the ones I've completed categorizing out of a collection of over 4000! Many of them are in Physical Review and Astrophysical Journal. So much for the claim that astronomers ignore the role of electric fields.

While a surprising number of modern astronomers don't know about the history of electric fields in astronomy and make some ill-informed comments, the EU crowd seems to grab every reference to a current or electric field in the peer-reviewed journals as evidence of their more bizarre claims.

Where EU agrees with mainstream astronomy, it is, at best, redundant, at worst, irrelevant.
Where EU disagrees with mainstream astronomy (Electric Sun, etc.), it is, at best, impotent as I have yet to see any model from them that can be compared to actual spacecraft measurements.

Anonymous said...

Dear Colleague; Air Liquid, one of the world’s largest gas producers, has inadvertently disproven the Accretion Theory in publishing: Gas Encyclopedia: The Book, By: Air Liquid, Edward Elsevier. The book states “Earth’s gravitation is too weak to hold (attract) Hydrogen (Helium, Freon, Lithium, Boron Etc.) gas down” (to Earth) and as proof, their state of the art GC/MS readings found 0.0000% Hydrogen in Earth’s atmosphere. GC/MS analyzers can not separate to more than 4 places beyond the decimal. The book directly contradicts the Accretion theory, which states all objects with mass density and molecular, atomic, or volumetric weight can be attracted by (Earth’s) gravity, but these statements are simply not correct. How can gravitation attract and mould gas and dust into our Solar System, when gas expands indefinitely and is not attracted by gravitation? Why were all the computer simulations using the Accretion Model unsuccessful in every attempt to duplicate the formation of water or our Solar System, even after trying every possible combination? These questions further undermined the credibility of the Accretion Theory and of those teaching it. Without one successful experiment to prove gravitation can attract and hold gas, it is still being indoctrinated. This overwhelming evidence leaves the improvable Accretion Theory with few allies. A new historical accounting of the formation of the solar system and Heliocentric Model is and explains where water, atmosphere, gravity and the planets originated and predicts a hemisphere made up of gas lighter than Hydrogen holding our atmosphere down. It discards the discredited quantum “multi gravity theory” for a provable energy source, the Solar Winds. Comments welcome. Sincerely, Angelo Pettolino Author:

W.T."Tom" Bridgman said...

To Anonymous,
You have posted to an inappropriate thread.

Earth's gravity is not strong enough to hold onto hydrogen, but the Sun and Jupiter can. Most of the hydrogen produced by the Earth is probably through photo-dissociation of water in the upper atmosphere.

These processes depend on the escape velocity of the mass in question and how much greater it is than the mean molecular speed of the gases at the different locations in the solar nebula. Before the Sun ignites, this will be relatively cold and molecular speeds will be lower. Accretion theory notes that the lighter elements and molecules will be significantly reduced when the Sun heats up.

You need many more data points from other planets to have a significant challenge to the basics of accretion theory.

Solon said...

"When ionized plasma accretes on a black hole"

If you believe in black holes that is. Still just a theory.

W.T."Tom" Bridgman said...

To Solon:

Just a theory? Gravitation is a theory. So is the kinetic theory of gases, quantum theory, nuclear theory. It means it makes loads of predictions, some which we currently have the technology to test, and some we don’t but hope to have one day. Many of them are already the basis of working technologies, including some in the computer you’re using to read this.

Those who want to claim such ideas as black holes must be wrong because they contradict their notions of logic:

- Make loads of math errors and basic physics errors. (see Some Preliminary Comments on Crothers' Relativity Claims, A Paper Illustrating More of Crothers' Relativity Errors)

- Ignore the fact that other theories in active use have similar singularities (see Those Crazy Scientific Theories), yet GR deniers are strangely silent about them.

This is usually because such deniers have an incomplete, or outright erroneous notion of how the science and mathematics actually works.

Yet the same theory that predicts the existence of black holes has made loads of other successful predictions:

- Global Positioning System

- deflection of light and other electromagnetic signals (see Relativity Denial: The 1919 Solar Eclipse)

- Wikipedia: Tests of General Relativity

- If you have access to atomic clocks of sufficient accuracy, even kids have tested the time difference on mountain hikes.
(Project GREAT: General Relativity Einstein/Essen Anniversary Test)

- Stars orbit an unseen massive object at galactic center (UCLA Galactic Center Group). There are plans to detect gravitational deflection of light from these stars when the black hole passes closer along line of sight (ArXiv:Observing gravitational lensing effects by Sgr A* with GRAVITY).

- General Relativity has been tested repeatedly and found to do better than any of its competitors. Black holes are at the extreme limits of the our ability to test.

There is little doubt that it is possible to accumulate enough mass at a location that atomic and nuclear structure cannot stop it from collapsing under gravity. The real question that is still rather unclear is just what happens at the event horizon. I’ve been dubious for a number of years of the ability of an infalling observer to cross the event horizon.  I'm not the only one (see Wikipedia: Firewall (physics)).  If that turns out to be the case, It does not significantly alter a single prediction of General Relativity outside of event horizon and the concept of a 'black hole' is still largely valid.

If relativity is incomplete, and it most certainly is, the real disparities will be discovered by those who actually understand the theory and can devise experiments to test it, not by whiners complaining that the theory violates their poor comprehension of the physics and mathematics behind it.