Sunday, May 20, 2012

Electric Universe: Peer Review Exercise 2

This is the second of five posts devoted to providing a more professional peer-review of the "Special Issue" of the Bentham Open Astronomy Journal (BOAJ) devoted to Plasma Cosmology and Electric Universe (PC/EU).  While BOAJ claims to be a peer-reviewed journal, we'll see in the upcoming posts that the quality of the peer-review process for this issue was very questionable.  Each of the articles exposed in these reviews exhibit many fundamental errors in physics (especially electromagnetism) and astronomy.  Many of the unchallenged mistakes are at levels which could be identified by an undergraduate physics student or possibly even a competent EE undergraduate.

Review report by W.T. Bridgman and Nereid.

Quotes from the article discussed are in blue

Article Reviewed:
On Gravity-centric Cosmology and the Implications of a Universe Awash with Plasma
by David B. Smith
"It is a fact that major "theories" of popular cosmology and its Standard Model have not been tested because they cannot be"
This statement has been repeatedly demonstrated as false.  The solution to many cosmic-scale problems often provided solutions that were subsequently demonstrated in earth-based experiments (Astronomy as an 'Unprovable' science, The Cosmos in Your Pocket).  By Smith's standard, in 1956 there was no laboratory evidence that you could launch a satellite into orbit.  Those who designed the launch trajectory used the same gravitational theory they used to predict planet locations with no other evidence than its success in predicting planetary trajectories.
"they are not plasma scientists and they often have only limited training in electrical engineering principles."
Actually, a number of astronomers have a very good understanding of electrical engineering.  They must often build their own instruments from scratch.  In the 1700s, they built their own telescopes.  In the 1800s they built their own spectroscopes.  CCDs were being wired up to telescopes for astronomy in 1976, long before digital cameras were generally available (link).  Today, a surprising number of astronomers are in shops with hands-on participation in the design and construction of new instruments which must fly on satellites.

I have yet to find even one of the EU 'theorists' who has used their data, or theories - or anyone else's data or theories - to build or manage satellites or instruments in space.  EU 'theorists' have demonstrated no competence in space science.

Electrical engineering principles do not violate known laws of physics - such as conservation of charge, conservation of energy and Maxwell's equations.  Examination of EU models reveal that they violate these principles routinely.
"The gravity-centric theories offered as explanations for the mysteries we observe in the universe and which underpin the Standard Model cannot be tested experimentally, though computer simulations flourish. On the other hand, plasma cosmology is based on sound plasma physics as developed in the laboratory and much of which has been tested both with experiments and in advanced plasma-based computer simulations. Due to better scientific capabilities and understanding today, a solid body of evidence supports credible alternative explanations for what we observe in space. This requires us to reconsider our assumptions."
Full-scale plasma simulations (plasma modeling) do not support Electric Universe claims.  Yet cosmic phenomena can give clues to other processes that CAN be tested in the laboratory and have.
"Cosmos in your Pocket."
"confirmation of ubiquitous magnetic fields throughout the cosmos has forced theorists to acknowledge their existence, yet they still largely ignore the electric currents which must be associated with these fields." 
False.  Electric and magnetic fields, and even currents, have been known in astronomy as far back as the early 1900s.  I have documented many of these facts.

2.3 The Cosmic Microwave Background 
"One of the problems with CMB theory is that IF it is the most distant thing we can see, (a remnant of the Big Bang) then we should observe the silhouettes of galaxy clusters and other major cosmic structures imposed on this image, which we do not [5]"
Correlation tests generate some disagreement due to the assumed simple gas profile of foreground galaxies in tests.  The effect is seen in WMAP, but at a level much less than expected from cluster models and X-ray data. Lieu et al (2006) used an isothermal temperature profile which is way too simple a model for what we know about gas temperature profiles in galaxy clusters.  The issue was followed up in Komatsu et al (2011) and then again by Lieu et al (2010).  In the followup, they conclude that a large part of the deficiency is due to a non-thermal process, in this case inverse-comptonization, redistributing some of the flux into the ultraviolet.  Among their conclusions is "For nonthermally, active clusters the anomaly does not impact negatively on the cosmological origin of the CMB."

Where is the skymap showing the electromagnetic emission (radio and microwaves) of all the current streams needed to power the stars and galaxies in the Electric Universe model?
"Radio astronomy data now reveals that what astronomers call CMB radiation from the far edge of the visible universe, is actually likely to be electromagnetic noise occurring in our own cosmic neighborhood."
However, radio astronomy data reveals that the CMB cannot be local - indeed it must be distant - because the expected number of 'point sources' (i.e. distant galaxies and quasars) are seen, by WMAP (e.g. Bennett et al. 2003), Wright et al. 2008). This would be impossible if the CMB were foreground to these point sources. Further, the two sources Smith cites - [6, 7] - clearly acknowledge that their proposed "local 'radio fog'" does not have the same distribution of energy, by wavelength, as the observed CMB.

2.4. Redshift = Recessional Velocity
"Another example (Fig. 2) shows a highly redshifted quasar which is observed to be in front of low redshift and visually opaque galaxy NGC 7319 [12]"
If you are considering galaxies with larger redshifts 'in front of' lower-redshift galaxies, take a close look at this Hubble Image
Full ACS Field of NGC 1309
and answer these questions:
  • Are the tiny spiral galaxies in this image tiny foreground galaxies, or distant background galaxies?
  • How do you tell?  What is the mechanism to objectively make the distinction?
More info at Halton Arp's Discordant Redshifts.

The only way a galaxy or star cluster can be opaque is if the stars are so crowded their disks overlap to a distance observer, or there is sufficiently thick dust to obscure the starlight.  Dust is very good at attenuating starlight (but not x-rays or radio), so dust-choked regions of a galaxy can be nearly opaque. They certainly produce reddening. So star-burst galaxies, star-forming regions, and the nuclei of classical spirals (i.e. not lenticulars) are often - but not always! - good for dimming background objects.

Consider this image of NGC 6752.  The center looks opaque.  But take a look at higher resolution with Hubble and you see the gaps between the stars.  In many cases, the stars exhibit larger sizes and overlap in images due to a combination of diffraction effects and light being scattered in film or CCD pixels.

Also note that we are in the galactic disk of our own Milky Way galaxy.  If the galactic disk were opaque, we would not be able to see out to the distant cosmos.  Note that some of Smith's compatriots in Australia have been able to successfully observe a galaxy that is seen through the plane of our own galaxy (Circinus Galaxy).

Section 2.9. Thermonuclear Theory of Stars

Quoting C.E.R. Bruce:
""[The Sun's] photosphere has the appearance, the temperature and the spectrum of an electric arc;"
Again, evidence based on 'looks like' or pareidolia (Wikipedia). But the relevant physical questions are:
Solar spectrum from NOAO
  • Where is the electric arc spectrum that looks like the solar spectrum?  I've yet to find an electric arc spectrum that has the same spectral lines and intensities as the solar spectrum (see image).
  • What is the configuration of the arc-generator (volts, amps, gas composition, etc.) that generates the matching spectrum?
Without these details, the claim is indistinguishable from being made-up.

Mr. Smith repeats the common EU claim of an external power source for Sun, yet provides no prediction of the particle flux and energy which has been examined (see My test of one of EUs solar models).  A satellite engineer who read Scott's "The Electric Sky" pointed out that if these fluxes actually existed, they would kill satellites and astronauts.  Satellite engineering requires accurate understanding of the space plasma environment.

This claim also touches on many of the exact same claims as in "The Electric Sky", etc.  Yet nowhere does it provide testable solutions to their own problems
  • Where does the energy come from to drive the charge separation that generates electric fields?
  • What maintains the currents?
  • How do z-pinches with cylindrical symmetry produced spherical, or oblate spheroid stars?  One would expect stars to be prolate spheroids if the electric force was so much stronger than gravitational or inertial forces.
EU solar models fail on very fundamental laboratory physics - as basic as conservation of energy and conservation of particles (since by definition they rule out major contribution from nuclear reactions).

Section 2.10 Neutron Stars and Pulsars
- Claims that neutron stars cannot exist because
"Experiments show that neutrons cannot stay together and remain stable, and we know that individually they will decay into a proton and an electron within 15 minutes."
Yet multiple neutrons exist in nuclei and are stable.  Why is that?  The mechanism of the Fermi level works for nuclei and neutron stars.  Neutrons in a neutron star are not 'free', they are bound by gravity.

2.11 Comets as dirty snowballs
"Their surfaces display sharp relief, not what one would expect from melting ice, " 
Nonsense.  Has Mr. Smith ever actually observed melting snow and shapes that form due to non-uniform heating and melting?  I shoveled plenty of dirty snow for Snowmageddon & Snowpocalypse and enjoyed the many odd shapes formed as it melted and refroze with the day-night cycle.

The ambiguity between comets & asteroids has been known before Thornhill & Talbott
Some of these papers point out even earlier sources. 
"that there would be a double 'flash' consisting of a powerful electric discharge event prior to a very large impact event which would be more explosive than expected, and that radio communication would be interrupted." 
Only very weak x-ray enhancement was detected from this event so claims the impact produced an electric discharge are suspect.  Emissions were delayed and consistent with charge exchange between the solar wind and outgassed simple molecules.
Where is the reference of the double flash before the impact and radio interruption?

"The spacecraft did find the first evidence of surface ice on the surface of a comet instead of just inside a comet."
Temple 1 is an inner solar system comet that has lost a large fraction of its volatiles due to more time spent near the Sun.  A lower fraction of volatiles for such objects is not unreasonable.

Section 3.4-3.5
Fig. (16). PIC galaxy simulation, simplified and colored. No dark matter required.
The model just requires a current stream (a "Dark Current"?) that is somehow undetectable?  That these currents always emit at some wavelength, usually radio or microwave, is the reason "dark current" is a archaic term no longer used in modern plasma studies.  We have instruments that can detect this type of emission. 

Peratt's own predictions to build the Cosmic Microwave Background with these filaments failed totally with COBE and even more so with WMAP.  The PIC technique for plasma simulations are well known and many PIC simulations demonstrate how EU claims do not work. 

Section 3.6
"In a gravity-only environment there is no plausible mechanism for creating such jets and the powerful magnetic fields and radiation as intense as is seen here."
False.  (see Electric Universe: Measurement of the Electric Current in a Kpc-Scale Jet).

Section 3.7: Supernovae and Nebulae
"It is not yet understood why supernovae in faint galaxies should fade faster (relatively) than those in bright galaxies."
Where is the reference for this, or is this a misstatement of the phenomenon noted here: Estimating Distances to Far-away Galaxies, that "slow faders are bright, quick faders are faint".  These refer to the SN themselves, not the galaxies they are in.
"If supernovae are the result of a gravitationally bound object exploding into a vacuum, they should be spherically symmetrical." 
False. Not if the stars are rotating in which case you expect an oblate spheroid with more cylindrical symmetry.

SN 1987A produced the neutrino flux expected for an SN at the mass and distance of SN 1987:
So the relevant questions for EU are
  • How does a z-pinch produce a neutrino flux?  By what reaction path?  What experiment verifies this?
  • Based on the proposed EU model, what is the neutrino flux for the current EU postulates for SN 1987A?
3.8 Earth Lightning and Weather
"The hexagonal 'storm' on Saturn's north pole shown in Fig. (20) is also very difficult to explain under any theory, but at least we do observe hexagonal morphology in relation to plasma discharges."
The web article is Saturn's Strange Hexagon Recreated in the Lab.  Note Gmirkin's 'rebuttal' in the comments, but the many of his arguments apply to the EU 'explanation' as well.  EU seems to only invoke the superiority of laboratory experiments when it suits them.  Here are the original papers: 
and a follow-up demonstrating a similar result in simulations

Most of EU's 'successes' come from regions where astronomers have suspected electric fields at play for decades before the EU crowd got involved (such as the work by many magnetospheric missions such as THEMIS, etc.).  See 365 Days of Astronomy podcast (and more details at 365 Days of Astronomy: The Electric Universe).    By not citing the long history of earlier work, it appears EU advocates are trying to steal credit for the work of these earlier researchers.

Where is a reference to a PIC or similar plasma simulation (other than Peratt discussed above) that matches an EU prediction NOT already covered in areas where astronomers have known about electric fields for years?  A successful PIC simulation of the Electric Sun model would fit this requirement.

While standard cosmology openly discusses the areas still under research (Dark Matter, Dark Energy) EU is suspiciously silent on the far more serious deficiencies in their own allegedly superior alternatives:
  • No synchrotron radiation from current streams, either for Peratt galaxy model or for powering stars.  How is a 'Dark Current' with properties that make it undetectable (not verified in the laboratory), better than Dark Matter which is being actively sought?
  • Where are the generators for these cosmic currents?
  • What is the energy source for these cosmic generators?
  • Where did these cosmic scale electric generators come from?  Aliens?  A deity?  Natural formation?  How?
  • While electromagnetism is stronger, it is also attractive and repulsive while gravity is only attractive.  Large accumulations of like charges blow apart due to mutual repulsion.  How can large charge accumulations form in the first place without some external energy source?  Where does that energy source come from?
EU proposes to replace something as simple as a difficult to detect particle (dark matter) with a set of cosmic-scale electric generators.  How is this a simpler solution?  Without an answer to these questions, EU begins to have more in common with a perpetual motion machine!

Note: Comments that DIRECTLY address the points in THIS post are favored.  Since there will be a post on each of the five papers in the EU 'Special Issue', comments more relevant to one of those other papers should await that specific post.

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