I had read Physics of the Plasma Universe some years ago. Just recently, I finished reading the 1963 edition of Cosmical Electrodynamics (hereafter designated as CosEl for brevity).
In this text, did I find a testable model of the Electric Sun or Electric Comets?
What did I discover?
On pp 14-15, Alfven presents an example of charge separation in the solar corona and how it generates a very large voltage which will act to remove the charge separation. This is why large charge separations cannot endure in cosmic environments, contrary to many of the claims of EU supporters (see Charge Separation in Space). In the text, there was no mention of even the possibility that the Sun could be predominantly powered by external electric currents. As I have documented elsewhere in this blog, Alfven was NOT a supporter of the electrically-powered solar/stellar model.
I've had some EU supporters complain about the use of the term 'ionized gas' in scientific press releases or other writing for the general public instead of 'plasma'. I've spoken to some science writers who note that the term 'plasma' is more often associated with blood and health issues in the mind of the general public. 'Ionized gas' removes that ambiguity. On page 134 of CosEl, even Alfven notes that 'ionized gas' and 'plasma' are often used synonymously.
In one of Alfven's papers from the 1980s (Recollection of Early Cosmic Ray Research), Alfven seems to suggest that Enrico Fermi took his idea of particle acceleration, a process that is today called Fermi Acceleration (wikipedia). Yet on pages 38-39 of CosEl, published in 1963, Alfven describes the Fermi process with no mention of possible contributions by himself. Why is this? Was Alfven mis-remembering the origins of this process in the 1980s?
On pg 68-70, CosEl describes the process of radiation loss by charged particles moving in magnetic field, the origin of cyclotron (wikipedia) and synchrotron radiation (wikipedia). This process has been identified in cosmic systems by mainstream astronomy and is credited to Alfven. This radiation has been used as signature to identify current and electric fields in galactic jets (see Electric Universe: Measurement of the Electric Current in a Kpc-Scale Jet). The radiation from this process was also the spike through the heart of Tony Peratt's galaxy model (Scott Rebuttal. II. The Peratt Galaxy Model vs. the Cosmic Microwave Background). Even Peratt's own analysis revealed that current streams needed for the Peratt model should have been readily visible in the cosmic microwave background maps (Electric Universe: More data refuting the EU galaxy model), a fact repeatedly denied by EU supporters.
Chapter three goes into a derivation of the magnetohydrodynamical equations (MHD, wikipedia) and some basic applications. Many of the examples explore the infinite conductivity/frozen-in conditions which magnetic fields can exhibit when imbedded in a highly-conductive plasma. In spite of many of Alfven's comments to the contrary (On Frozen-In Field Lines and Field-Line Reconnection) picked up by the EU supporters (The Electric Sky, pp 120-127), this approximation is perfectly legitimate in medium and high density plasmas (CosEl, pg 191), but in low-density plasmas, such as planetary magnetospheres (wikipedia), it is probably not valid. Many of the complaints are equivalent to claiming that we shouldn't teach projectile motion with Newtonian physics because air resistance is not included, in spite of the numerous applications where it gives results of acceptable accuracy.
On pp 121-124, Alfven discusses the Cowling theorem and the mechanisms of self-exciting dynamos. Yet the dynamo model is strongly criticized by Donald Scott (The Electric Sky, pg 115, 127). Despite Scott's criticisms, these dynamo models have already generated far more testable predictions (YouTube.com) than we've ever found from any EU 'theorist'. Why should we believe Don Scott over Alfven on this topic?
For its day, Cosmical Electrodynamics was a perfectly good introduction to plasma physics, covering many of the aspects of charged particles in fields covered in many other plasma physics texts (such as those below from my collection). We also see mention of early theoretical ideas and experimental work in applying kinetic theory to solving problems in plasma physics (pp 135) (see Vlasov Equation, wikipedia). These and other techniques have improved considerably since CosEl was written in 1963, as noted by Peratt (Advances in Numerical Modeling of Astrophysical and Space Plasmas, 1997). Today, mathematical modeling is a powerful tool for plasma physics, suitable for many engineering and commercial applications (see Electric Universe: Plasma Modeling vs. 'Mystic Plasma' and related posts). Yet EU supporters repeatedly deny these advancements when it generates results in conflict with their cosmological claims.
I found NOTHING in CosEl that invalidates the basic tests I have done on Electric Sun models. The fact is that CosEl repeatedly uses conservation principles in many of the analyses, just as I have done in analyzing Electric Sun models (Electric Cosmos: The Solar Resistor Model, Electric Cosmos: The Solar Capacitor Model. III), If EU supporters want to say that my analyses are not applicable, then they are really saying that CosEl is full of nonsense. CosEl did serve to remind me of additional plasma tests which can be applied against EU silliness such as the Electric Sun model.
Cosmical Electrodynamics provides yet another example of the disconnect of EU 'theories' with reality. EU supporters want to present Alfven, Peratt, etc. as primary leaders in their 'science', but then want to discount the fact that much of the work by these same researchers actually DISPROVES most EU claims.
To paraphrase a recent statement by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, I'd say that EU's biggest problem is they are at war with their own talking points!
Perhaps Mr. Smith should have read Cosmical Electrodynamics more carefully before he recommended it...
References from Cosmical Electrodynamics
- Hydrodynamic and hydromagnetic stability, S. Chandrasekhar, 1961 (Dover Publications)
- Gaseous Conductors, J.D. Cobine, 1941
- “Computer Simulation Using Particles” R.W. Hockney & J.W. Eastwood
- “Plasma Physics: An Introduction to the Theory of Astrophysical, Geophysical & Laboratory Plasmas” Peter A. Sturrock
- “Principles of Plasma Physics” Nicholas A. Krall & Alvin W. Trivelpiece
- “Classical Electrodynamics, 2nd Edition” J.D. Jackson