Sunday, October 20, 2013

Electric Universe: These are not the filaments you're looking for...

It's been a while since I've made the point about how the Peratt galaxy model fails observational testing.  The electric currents which Peratt claimed could be powering galaxies would be strong emitters of microwave radiation.  This was a fact even Peratt acknowledged, and EXPECTED that the microwave sky would be covered with spaghetti-like streamers which would connect galaxies like beads on a string (a popular metaphor of Electric Universe supporters).  Peratt and other supporters of Plasma Cosmology expected to see these currents in large microwave sky-surveys.  The best such survey in recent years is WMAP (Scott Rebuttal. II. The Peratt Galaxy Model vs. the Cosmic Microwave Background), and more recently PLANCK (Electric Universe: More data refuting the EU galaxy model).

Such microwave streamers connecting the galaxies were not found.

I've occasionally read or heard the response from Electric Universe (EU) supporters, who have rarely (never?) allowed their position to be altered by inconvenient facts, that the Peratt galaxy model still must be valid because we see filaments in space…as if any filamentary structure seen in the cosmos must be part of their network of galaxy-powering electric currents!

First, astronomers do not deny that electric fields, and currents, exist in the cosmos.  I've summarized a number of examples of cases where astronomers know theoretically as well as measured, electric fields and currents in space (365 Days of Astronomy: The Electric Universe) and these go back to the early 1900s.  EU supporters often like to reference such works, claiming it is also support for their more extreme nonsense such as electrically-powered stars, comets, and galaxies. 

But what about those filaments?

Filamentary structures within our galaxy

We do see filamentary structures within our own galaxy, many of which are associated with plasma motions.  In many of these cases, we observe synchrotron radiation being emitted from them due to free electrons spiraling along magnetic field lines.  However, the microwave spectra are never at distinct, well-defined frequencies which would occur when electrons moving together as a well-defined current.  Instead, the synchrotron emission is seen over broad range of frequencies, created by electrons moving in roughly all directions with a wide range of energy  (see CalTech: Synchrotron Emission).  Sometimes the atoms and ions of the plasma are excited into states that emit identifiable spectral lines so we can determined additional physical characteristics of the plasma (ionization states of the atoms, temperature, density, etc).

We model many of these objects with MHD models, and this goes back many decades, even before the modern "Electric Universe" cult was formed (I would probably regard this time as the late 1970s, when Ralph Juergens proposed his 'electric sun' model).  Consider from 1971 this paper, Plasma Interactions in the Crab Nebula (1971), or more recently, Generation of Crab Nebulae Wisps by Plasma Drift Instability from 1996.  Mainstream astronomy has a long history of studying plasmas, in spite of, rather than because of, Electric Universe claims.

Notice that these models generate predictions closer to the real measurements than ANY produced the claimed mechanisms of EU advocates.  Actually, I have been unable to FIND any actual models produced by EU advocates that generate real 'predictions' which we can compare to measurements.  Their 'predictions' are soft, squishy 'kinda, sorta, looks like', such as "it looks like the exhaust of a plasma gun".

To add to the uselessness of their 'predictions', we get no information about how these 'plasma gun' configurations can form in nature!

EU advocates seem to just wait around expecting someone else to solve all the problems with their 'models' and then claim they deserve credit!  How is this any different from the activities of patent trolls (wikipedia)?

Filamentary structures associated with galaxies. 

We've observed synchrotron emission, as well as polarization, from plasma moving along galactic magnetic fields and from jets emitted from the nuclei of active galaxies.  Here's composites of radio lobes combined with galaxy images in visible light.
Centaurus A with radio jets (Credit: ESO/WFI (visible); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A. Weiss et al. (microwave); NASA/CXC/CfA/R. Kraft et al. (X-ray); APOD )

Hercules A with radio jets (Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Baum and C. O'Dea (RIT), R. Perley and W. Cotton (NRAO/AUI/NSF), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Notice that these radio jets ejected from the centers of the galaxies disperse into blobs in the intergalactic medium.  They are not connected to any larger cosmic 'electric circuit', 'Birkeland current' or similar cosmic structure, or even another galaxy.  We still have not heard from Electric Universe theorists what would power such gigantic circuits if they did exist!

See also:  Electric Universe: Measurement of the Electric Current in a Kpc-Scale Jet

The large microwave sky surveys also see such plasma loop structures around our own Milky Way galaxy, but all the observations indicate these are created by magnetic fields generated by the galaxy itself (Scholarpedia).
WMAP galactic emission templates, including synchrotron radiaiton (Credit Gold, B. et al., 2011, ApJS, 192, 15G)
In the synchrotron template of the Milky Way above, we see a number filaments in blue rising above the galactic disk (the horizontal enhancement across the center of the oval, mostly green and yellow).  However, we see many of them curve back down towards the galactic disk, indicating their origin is in the galaxy, not some external current passing through the galaxy.  See also the Planck One-year all-sky survey (ESA).

These filaments also cannot be part of EU's extragalactic circuit system.

Filamentary structures in large galaxy surveys

Another flaw in EU reasoning is the assumption that filamentary structures can only be formed by electric currents.  The mathematics of magnetohydrodynamics, or MHD (wikipedia), are very similar to those of regular hydrodynamics (wikipedia) and this is why both environments can exhibit similar structures.
Many of these instabilities in neutral fluid dynamics have analogs in MHD.  This stuff is used by REAL ENGINEERS AND PHYSICISTS to design and build real things.

So let's finally visit the filamentary structures we observe on a cosmological scale.
Millenium Survey and real surveys (Credit: Millenium Simulation)
The blue and the violet plots above show the galaxy distribution from REAL galaxy surveys with hundreds of thousands of galaxies.  The Milky Way (and Earth) would be at the center of this plot, at the apex of the plotted wedges.  In this case, each color point usually represents hundreds of galaxies, and these are distributed in space in these wispy, filamentary type structures.  Are THESE what EU supporters want to claim are the filaments of their cosmic electric currents?

But the Millenium simulation run (wikipedia), also plotted in the graphic above, is a large computer simulation attempting to simulate cosmic structure formation using our BEST knowledge of the underlying physics of gravitation and neutral plasma.  The results of that run are plotted in the red wedges, where again the dots represent many galaxies.

There are no cosmic scale Birkeland or similar currents included in the Millenium simulation, yet it forms filamentary structures very similar to those from the real galaxy surveys!  

But we do NOT see these filamentary collections of galaxies in galaxy surveys matching with the radio and microwave emission seen in electromagnetic surveys.  These two sets of data must have a strong correlation to validate the Electric Universe claims that galaxies are POWERED by EXTERNAL ELECTRICAL CURRENTS.

Yet they do not.

But it takes currents to make a magnetic field!

This whine is the popular 'corollary' to the Electric Universe claim that only currents can make filaments.

Only partially true.  But once a magnetic field is started, it can be maintained, and even regenerated, after the current is long gone, a consequence of the 'displacement current' (wikipedia) in Maxwell's equations, which is a consequence of the fact that electric charge is a conserved quantity.  The most well-known example of this feedback between electric and magnetic fields is electromagnetic radiation, AKA light, which can propagate for billions of years after the initial current which created it is long gone. 

In this case, the electromagnetic waves are constantly exchanging energy between their electric and magnetic field as described in Maxwell's equations.  The signal from a large radio antenna can still be propagating through empty space weeks after the antenna has been switched off.  The interactions of light with matter can be examined by just considering the electric and magnetic fields of the photon without consideration of the current that initially created the photon!  For all intents and purposes, the photon has lost the 'memory' of the original current that may have created it.

Plasma getting energy from other sources, such as mechanical, thermal, or nuclear processes, can also maintain a magnetic field.  Self-exciting dynamos (see University of Texas, Homopolar Dynamos), a process which has been produced in the laboratory (see Scholarpedia), are the perfect example where other energy sources are converted into a persistent magnetic field.

These are some of the simplest examples from basic electromagnetism, yet Electric Universe supporters not only ignore these facts, but go so far as to accuse astrophysicists, and even astrophysicists who do real work with plasmas, of being incompetent.  They make these accusations even as they claim that mainstream astronomy is 'coming around' to their view of the universe.

In actual fact, we can trace the knowledge of electromagnetic forces and plasmas in space back to the early 1900s (365 Days of Astronomy: The Electric Universe), with no assistance from the Electric Universe claimants.

And their galaxy-powering electric currents still do not exist...


Anonymous said...

FYI, I've started an entire online thread that is devoted to your numerous erroneous claims about electric universe theory anytime you'd like to join the ongoing conversation.


Michael Mozina

Leroy Ellenberger said...

FWIW: Juergens invented the Electric Universe in 1967 with a paper "Galactic Space Charge and Stellar Energy" submitted to Nature and rejected, but published in SIS Review 1977; I(4): 26-29.

In 1972 he presented "Plasma in Interplanetary Space: Reconciling Celestial Mechanics and Velikovskian Catastrophism" at Dave Talbott's Velikovsky Conference at Lewis & Clark College, published in Pensée IVR II, 1972: 6-12* and reprinted in Editors of Pensée, Velikovsky Reconsidered (New York, 1976).
In Pensée IVR III and V, Juergens responded to several critics: Princeton's Martin Kruskal, C.E.R. Bruce, Melvin A. Cook, and Eric Crew.

His "Of the Moon and Mars: Searching for the Scars of Battle, Parts 1 & 2" was published in 1974 in Pensée IVR IX and X.

Juergens published 4 more EU articles, the last two assembled posthumously by Earl R. Milton:

"Stellar Thermonuclear Energy: A False Trail?" Kronos 1979; IV(4): 16-27.*

"The Photosphere: Is It the Top or the Bottom of the Phenomenon We Call the Sun?" Kronos 1979; IV(4): 28-54.*

"Electric Discharge as the Source of Solar Radiant Energy (Part I)" Kronos 1982; VIII(1): 3-14.*

"Electric Discharge as the Source of Solar Radiant Energy (Concluded)" Kronos 1982; VIII(2): 47-62.*

Earl Milton published "The Not So Stable Sun" in Kronos 1979; V(1): 64-78.

In 1985 the debunk of Juergens' "electric star" model I published in Kronos 1985; X(3), received no criticism despite Thornhill and Scott both were subscribers, and other topics in my "Still Facing Many Problems" were criticized by readers.

Dave Talbott did not embrace the EU until January 1997 when Wal Thornhill showed him the light at Talbott's conference in Portland, Oregon. Hitherto, Thornhill had published EU-oriented articles in SIS organs and afterwards also in Aeon.

*available on-line.

Leroy Ellenberger, St. Louis, Mo.

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

To Michael Mozina,

Addressing the aspect of Mr. Mozina's link relevant to THIS post, Mr. Mozina relies on quotations, like a political or religious argument, not valid scientific arguments.

1) The preponderance of quotes from researchers does not constitute scientific evidence. Scientific evidence requires tests to be defined and compare favorably with experiments or observations, preferably with numerical measurements. We did not navigate spacecraft into space and other planets by quoting Isaac Newton's work. We did it by learning the math of gravitation and how to use it.

2) I specifically reference Peratt's quoted prediction of his galaxy model for the microwave background of the sky (Scott Rebuttal. II. The Peratt Galaxy Model vs. the Cosmic Microwave Background) which Peratt also predicted would be about the brightness of the cosmic microwave background. Therefore, these currents were well within the range of our technology to detect.

That these filaments were not seen by COBE, WMAP or PLANCK is therefore pretty conclusive evidence that they do not exist.

No amount of quoting Peratt alters these facts.

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

To Leroy Ellenberger,

Thanks for the additional history.

There are still plenty of examples of astronomers looking at electric fields in the cosmos prior to 1967 as I have repeatedly documented on this blog and which are repeatedly ignored by Electric Universe supporters. I guess if they ever acknowledged those facts, it would make them look REALLY bad. ;^)

The interesting part is that Juergens' 1979 paper which I have seems to be the ONLY time even a little bit of real physics was applied to the question by an EU supporter. It just appears Juergens never actually compared the predictions of his math to the solar wind data that was available at that time.