Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Electric Sun Verified"?? - In your dreams...

Shortly after I had prepared the response above, I received news of the 'official' spin being placed on the IBEX skymap announcement (See IBEX Results cause even more problems for the Electric Sun model):

Electric Sun Verified by Wal Thornhill

Not surprisingly, Thornhill claims the 'ribbon' seen by IBEX fits the 'Electric Stars' model perfectly.  This mission has been flying for six months yet NOWHERE do we find the EU 'prediction' of the IBEX skymaps, particularly not with any estimates of the fluxes that the instrument would detect.  Why doesn't Mr. Thornhill demonstrate his computation of the neutral atom fluxes?  If his model actually works, then this should be a straightforward step.  The IBEX data are freely available at the IBEX data archive.

First, let's take a look at some of Thornhill's statements.
Thornhill: “IBEX has discovered that the heliosheath is dominated not by the Sun but by the Galaxy’s magnetic field.” 
No. IBEX discovered that the energetic neutral atom flux is dominated by the galactic magnetic field.  The heliosheath itself would not exist if not for the outflowing solar wind.
Thornhill: “Comets are an electrical phenomenon where the comet nucleus is a negative cathode in the Sun’s plasma discharge. Examples of cometary stars are uncommon because stars are normally a positive anode in the galactic discharge.”
Laboratory cathodes and anodes form part of a complete circuit.  Where is the return circuit between the Sun and the comet?  If we see the comet, why don't we see the return path of the particles?  In the lab, the return circuit corresponds to the wires connecting the discharge tube to the power source.  And just where is the battery or generator that keeps the system energized?
Thornhill: The “open” helical magnetic fields discovered high above the Sun’s poles by the Ulysses spacecraft are supportive of Alfvén’s stellar circuit model.
“Open” field lines are lines that don't connect back to the source of the field.  This means the 'open' field lines cannot form a complete circuit, contrary to Thornhill's claim.  Thornhill's invocation of 'open' magnetic field lines puts him in contradiction with Don Scott who claims that there is no such thing as an 'open' magnetic field  (See Scott Rebuttal. IV.  'Open' Magnetic Fields).
Thornhill: Given the detail in this model we should expect, as more data comes in, that
researchers may find in the ENA “ribbon,” bright spots, filamentary structures,
and movement of the bright spots consistent with rotation of Birkeland current
filament pairs and their possible coalescence.
This is a pretty weak prediction.  Tabloid psychics can do this.  Features that could be 'bright spots' are already visible in the IBEX map.

Now consider Thornhill's quote of Alfvén:
In 1984 Alfvén predicted from his circuit model of the Sun there are two
double layers, one connected to each pole at some unknown distance from the
Sun or heliosphere. He wrote, “As neither double layer nor circuit can be
derived from magnetofluid models of a plasma, such models are useless for
treating energy transfer by means of double layers. They must be replaced by
particle models and circuit theory... Application to the heliospheric current
systems leads to the prediction of two double layers on the sun's axis which
may give radiations detectable from Earth. Double layers in space should be
classified as a new type of celestial object.” — H. Alfvén, Double Layers and
Circuits in Astrophysics, IEEE Transactions On Plasma Science, Vol. PS-14, No.
6, December 1986.
But Alfvén's 'circuit model of the Sun' is NOT the same as EU's Electric Sun model, for Alfvén was not suggesting that his circuit mechanism was the source of solar luminosity.  Alfvén described it as a possible mechanism for heliospheric plasma flows.  Alfvén fully understood that stars were powered by nuclear energy and that stellar astrophysics had a major role in the study of laboratory plasmas.  Consider this quote by Alfvén from his paper “Cosmical Electrodynamics”  H. Alfven. Cosmical Electrodynamics. American Journal of Physics, 28:613–618, October 1960. doi: 10.1119/1.1935919.
“Even if Birkeland's experiments were as good as could be made in his time, he could not produce a high-temperature dense plasma, and it is only by studying this state of matter that we really can draw certain conclusions about cosmical phenomena.  This technique has not been available until the last few years and is a result of the so-called thermonuclear research.  This research got its start from astrophysics - as is illustrated not only by the term “Stellarator”, but also by the name of Spitzer - and it still gets much inspiration from cosmical electrodynamics.'”
Clearly Alfvén was NOT a supporter of Electric Sun claims.  Why do the Electric Universe supporters insist on implying that he was?

But the real gem of the EU article is the graphic about halfway down the page titled “The Sun's Environment”.  Here's just a few of the issues and questions this model raises.
  • Central z-pinch current column is single current.  This configuration has the same problems as the 'Solar Resistor Model' discussed before such as the instability of this configuration along with the fact that any current sufficient to explain solar luminosity creates a magnetic field far stronger than observed.  In the Thunderbolts thread, they seem to deny that they use this configuration, instead favoring the 'spherical capacitor configuration'. 
  • This z-pinch current column is inconsistent with the description in “The Electric Sky”, page 112, Figure 21, which has two currents directed into the Sun from the north and south poles. 
  • Thornhill's interstellar magnetic field is in the vertical direction in this graphic.  This is inconsistent with field produced by the z-pinch currents which are directed around the current.  Clearly, someone at EU forgot the rules for magnetic field formation by currents.
  • So what creates the 'vertical' interstellar magnetic field?  This field must be much stronger than field created by z-pinch in order to keep the z-pinch stable.  All values predicted for this configuration are far larger than any measured values.  If the claim is this field is generated by the intergalactic current streams, the direction is still inconsistent.
  • Consider the disk of charged particles from Sun.  Is this protons AND electrons from Sun?  If so, this is radically different from outward proton flow and in the inward electron flow of  'spherical capacitor model' described in some EU forums and "The Electric Sky".
  • What confines the 'disk of charged particles from the Sun' to a disk structure?
  • What holds the 'double layers' in place?  All known laboratory & astrophysical double layers are 'anchored' to some structure (in astrophysical cases, this is often by gravitational stratification, see "The Real Electric Universe" ) so the double layer does not collapse due to the attraction of its own opposite charges.  Without this 'anchor', the double layer collapses on a timescale on the order of the inverse of the plasma frequency.
  • If all of these z-pinch currents powering stars are from filamentation of a galaxy-forming current stream, wouldn't this preferentially align the northern & southern magnetic poles of stars in the galaxy with the galactic spin axis?
  • If the stellar magnetic field is driven by these external currents, how can this mechanism explain the 11-year cycle of the solar magnetic reversals?  Do the galactic currents periodically change direction (perhaps they are A/C?).  If that is the case, wouldn't all stars in a given galaxy exhibit the same magnetic cycles (in period if not necessarily in phase)?
  • The current streams depicted in Thornhill's model should be strong emitters of synchrotron radiation.  No radio skymap sees these structures from nearby stars dominating the general structure created by the galactic magnetic field.
  • In the model defined by Thornhill's graphic, in which direction is the Sun moving to explain the IBEX observation?  That is, in what direction is the solar apex?
Like many of the other EU models, this current configuration can be plugged into Maxwell's equations to determine:
  1. Electric & magnetic field strengths to compare with measured field values
  2. Forces the E & B field configurations will produce on charged particles at any point.  This will tell you if the configuration is stable, or if unstable, on what time scale it will disintegrate.
  3. Effective charge densities created by differences in speeds of ions and free electrons.
Has any Electric Universe advocate done this?  I suspect not.

I suspect Mr. Thornhill doesn't understand the IBEX data projection (which is either Aitoff or Hammer), since the imprint of his 'disk' on the sky, or even of a current stream crossing a disk, is inconsistent with the shape of the IBEX ribbon structure (it is actually much more consistent with the shape examined by Schwadron, mentioned before).   It also creates problems for his interpretation of the 'hot spot' in the apparent direction of the heliotail being one of his 'double layers' that powers the solar z-pinch.

But the real demonstration that Thornhill does not understand what he is talking about is revealed in this quote:
Thornhill: Already there has been a report of an unexplained high-energy cosmic ray “hot spot” roughly in the direction of the inferred “heliotail.” The energies of the cosmic rays are in the range possible by acceleration in a galactic double layer (Carlqvist). Confirmation may soon come from observations of high-energy cosmic-ray electrons. The electrons undergo synchrotron and inverse Compton scattering losses and thus cannot travel very far from their sources, which makes them sensitive probes of nearby galactic sources and propagation.
First, the last sentence in the quote above is almost an exact quote from the report, though Thornhill did not note it as such, making it look like this statement is his thoughts.  Second, he notes that the electrons cannot travel far from their sources due to "synchrotron and inverse Compton scattering losses".  Thornhill doesn't understand that these very same processes will act on his star-powering z-pinch!!  What does it say about how far these currents can propagate???

I'll give Mr. Thornhill a few months to assemble and publish his detailed results answering these questions.  I may include the implications of this new EU model as part of my presentation at the American Astronomical Society this coming January.

I also welcome constructive comments to address these questions.


Anonymous said...

Barry Setterfield has extended his own evidence for the electric universe in that the Tower of Babel language-confusion was likely due to lightning bolts coming down from passing comets or planets and striking everyone silly (and speaking dozens of perfectly intelligible languages never heard or learned before, we could add). This correlates well, so he tells us, with medical evidence that electric shocks have an effect on the language centres of the brain.

I found this, and other powerful arguments about the electric universe, in what apparently constitutes his answer to Bridgman, Part II, which I had been patiently waiting for.

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

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

Thanks for the reminder. I was distracted from my efforts on that issue due to Don Scott's visit at GSFC around that time.

Anonymous said...

Tom quoted Hannes Alfven as saying:
“Even if Birkeland's experiments were as good as could be made in his time, he could not produce a high-temperature dense plasma, and it is only by studying this state of matter that we really can draw certain conclusions about cosmical phenomena. This technique has not been available until the last few years and is a result of the so-called thermonuclear research. This research got its start from astrophysics - as is illustrated not only by the term “Stellarator”, but also by the name of Spitzer - and it still gets much inspiration from cosmical electrodynamics.'”

I fail to see where this quote shows Alfven's rejection of the electric universe, or acceptance of the nuclear fusion model. Yes he uses the word "thermonuclear research", are you sure you aren't looking for a different quote?

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

To Anonymous,

Alfven understood that nuclear reactions were the basis of stellar energy.

That may not be the best quote to make the point, but it is one where he mentions nuclear reactions explicity.

All of Alfven's proposed models for heliophysics phenomena did not have externally-applied electric fields, but electric fields created in and by the some aspect of the local quasi-neutral plasma and magnetic field configuration. That holds true for Alfven's flare mechanism and the heliospheric circuit. Even the 'double layers' which Alfven invoked in some cases were not due to externally-applied fields but a due to mechanisms similar to those I describe in 365 Days of Astronomy: The Electric Universe.

EU Researcher (Anonymous) said...

I appreciate the information, I will look more into it in the future. I plan on studying Alfven and Thornhill. I'll use your site as a resource among others, seems to be a well researched, if caustic, opposing viewpoint.

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

To EU Researcher,

Keep in mind that NO ONE is using Electric Universe (EU) claims about the Sun to design and plan missions into space. EU models routinely FAIL as I have exposed.

All EU claimed 'successes' in these areas are basically stolen from legitimate researchers.

If one hopes to have an actual career in a space-related industry, one has to know the REAL science.