Sunday, July 15, 2012

Electric Universe: Whither the Electric Currents?

There was a recent thread on the Thunderbolts forum that raised the question which I have repeatedly asked of EU theorists or their supporters and generally received no real response.  That question is

Thunderbolts Forum: …Where does the juice come from?

That is, what drives the electric currents for powering the Electric Universe cosmology?

Even natural electric currents on the Earth, such as lightning in thunderstorms, sandstorms, and volcanic clouds, get their energy from another source.  In the case of lightning, it is a static charge transfer and buildup that can occur by collisions between liquid droplets and dust particles (see Wikipedia: Triboelectric charging), which is fundamentally driven by thermal and particle motion from other sources.  Even lightning on the Earth doesn't just magically appear.  The energy to create it comes from another source.

So I thought I would explore the thread to see if anything really interesting appeared.

We got this from 'Sparky':

- Irrevelant - there is no way to know

Yet the question of where the power comes from is definitely relevant to a physical theory.  This poster proposes a physical effect that is beyond analysis by science.  This is indistinguishable from creationists' claims of supernatural origin.

This from 'Michael V':
- an aethereal particle field

Even this description reads like a poor attempt at wrapping some mysticism with scientific terminology.  Nowhere in this description is there anything that we can use to generate measurable quantities.

From 'Jarvamundo':
- an rf produced plasma

This proposal begins to illustrate my point in dealing with EU claims - when currents are generated in space, the energy required to establish and maintain the charge separation must come from somewhere else.  In this case, the energy comes from the radio-frequency wave needed to establish a charge separation (the electric field of the wave will move electrons and positive ions in opposite directions).  This invites the question of where do the radio waves come from?

And finally from 'The Great Dog':
- "Electric currents arise from the charge separation that exists in space."

This person has some clue, but fails to grasp the full implications of their response.  Here's the rest of their description:
"Clouds of partially ionized gas dominate the Universe, and when those clouds of ions and neutral particles move, electric fields form. Electric fields, no matter how weak, generate magnetic fields which constrict the current into filaments".
(The Thunderbolts Forum moderator later in the thread claims this is the official EU answer).

They talk about ions and neutral particles moving, but fail to ask where that motion comes from. 

As I have documented, astronomers have known about these motions since before the term "plasma" was applied to ionized gases.

What drives the particle motion that makes the charge separation possible?  Particles do not move without having energy, and that energy must come from somewhere.

I've written about this many times on this blog:
To get a better sense of the actual impact of these electric fields and currents they can create, consider that the electric field created by the Pannekoek-Rosseland field is equivalent to the entire Sun having a net charge of about 100 coulombs. 

How much charge is 100 coulombs?

Consider the equation for charging of a capacitor:


where Q is the charge on the capacitor, V is the voltage difference across the capacitor, and C is the capacitance.  You can charge a 1 farad capacitor (which is small enough you could hold it) to 100 coulombs across a potential difference of 100 volts (smaller than the voltage driven by your home circuit) across the terminals.  

Note that this total charge would be spread out over the entire surface of the Sun, over 10,000 times the area of the Earth!  And it takes the ENTIRE MASS OF THE SUN TO GENERATE THIS VERY WEAK ELECTRIC FIELD in a sustainable fashion.  Not only do you get  a sense of how WEAK the electric fields must be, but you also find out that you could cancel that entire field (at least temporarily) by dropping your charged capacitor to the solar surface.

Of course, the Sun is not a static system, as it radiates photons and particles which would quickly try to re-establish some type of quasi-steady state.  This can generate larger fields.  For example, kinetic models of the solar wind indicate that the slight difference in the outflow of electrons and ions generates a potential difference between the solar photosphere and the orbit of the Earth of about 500-1500 volts.  Even then, electric field is rather small.

The big question is then, with these KNOWN processes that can create electric fields in space due to moving charges, what is creating these potential differences large enough to set up currents to power stars or even galaxies required for the EU cosmology?

In spite of this, a surprising number of posters to the Thunderbolt thread dismiss any ability to test their theory as doomed to failure.  This is funny considering how often EUers cite how Peratt and Lerner used radio emission from these hypothesized plasma currents to make predictions for the CMB and cosmic background (predictions which failed, see Challenges for Electric Universe 'Theorists').

The Thunderbolts Forum thread quickly degenerates to everyone pushing their pet theories, none of which have demonstrated the ability to predict any relevant measurement, but are couched in lots of 'science' sounding words.

Oh Yeah?  Well Where Does the Big Bang Get It's Energy?

With this type of discussion, invariably someone will ask: where does the energy come for the Big Bang?

The simple answer appears to be that when we add the mass and kinetic energy in the galaxies with the potential energy of the cosmological gravitational field, they seem to add to zero

This turns out to be a very convenient result, as we have laboratory experiments which demonstrate that even the vacuum is teaming with activity of particles popping in and out of existence.  A number of modern researchers have written about these interesting results and their implications for cosmology:
The earlier question becomes, where did these physical laws come from, but regardless of that answer, it does not change the fact that these physical laws exist.

The difference between the EU 'first cause' problem and Big Bang cosmology is that in EU, their current generation processes must be actively operating TODAY.

The REAL Source for Electromagnetic Energy?

I suspect the only truly electromagnetic means of storing energy is CHEMICAL.  Batteries create usable energy by trading electrons between energy states of ions, atoms and molecules.  But as we know from experience, and the difficulty of creating really long-lasting, high-power batteries, is that this requires chemicals that can be placed in contact with each other at high densities.  Even the best chemical combinations generate a voltage of only about 3-6 volts (Wikipedia: Electrochemical Cell).  These small cells are combined in series & parallel to increase voltage and current. 


sjastro said...

The disparate answers are not surprising as the Electric Universe is nothing more than an umbrella term for the expression of anti-science ideas.
Referring to it as pseudo-science is being generous!
The Thunderbolts forum is a good example of the Dunning Kruger effect in operation.

Jeff said...

The Big Bang is the original source of energy that causes the thunderstorms in the heavens. The cause and effect should follow from there.

That said, I still subscribe to Steady State. I'm not saying there wasn't a "local" Big Bang, but I ignorantly believe the Universe as a whole is eternal.

Considering the mainstream multiverse bandwagon, I don't think I'm being too unreasonable.

The something from nothing concept is still something from something.

"Nothing" in the purest, literal sense does not and cannot exist.

Instead of taking the EU "argument" to the philosophical extreme, I think we should continue to focus on the Electric Star concept.

Instead of picking apart the obviously flawed EU Electric Star concepts, you should instead be forming your own scenarios for the formation of Electric Stars by first assuming it's true. I'm unaware of any affirmative evidence to date that absolutely precludes the possibility thereof.

Also, never forget current theory relies heavily on assumptions of the magical power source gravity. So much so, it's taken for granted.

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

Forming scenarios is easy - I can assume Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are true.

It is TESTING the scenario that is the basis of all scientific hypotheses. To test, you apply known physical principles to Thornhill's Z-pinch (The Solar Resistor Model) and Scott's solar cathode models (The Solar Capacitor Model. I., The Solar Capacitor Model. II., The Solar Capacitor Model. III.)

Electric Sun models failed basic tests of magnetic field formation as well as particle flux by factors of thousands and higher. To paraphrase a satellite engineer who read Scott's The Electric Sky, if these currents actually existed, we'd have a lot of dead satellites and astronauts.

The 'magical power source gravity'? Perhaps you've heard of hydroelectric generators. The first satellites were launched based only on observations of planetary motion. There was no laboratory demonstration of orbits created under the action of gravity until we sent satellites into orbit.