Sunday, May 18, 2014

Electric Universe: Predicting CMEs

One of the important characteristics that distinguishes real science from pseudo-science is the ability to describe a system mathematically.  Mathematics provides a system of rigorous rules that can be used for not only understanding past behavior of a system, but also forecasting future behavior. 

Through mathematics, established science can become engineering, enabling us to not only build reliable products, such as computing the structural strength of a building before it is built, but also determine more reliably behaviors of things as we push into new frontiers - such as building and navigating satellites in space.

Real space scientists use knowledge of the solar magnetic field, particularly around active regions, to estimate when solar flares may occur.  When a CME erupts from an active region, using parameters of the CME measured from initial spacecraft imagery, they can estimate the intensity and direction of the CME and use that to initialize a model to propagate the event outward into the solar system.  With this, space physicists estimate where the solar material will pass and when to determine if the event is a threat to spacecraft and other assets, including Earth.  The source data to produce these forecasts are freely available online, as are the results, of these forecasts.

So when I saw the Stephen Smith article "Predicting CMEs" on Thunderbolts, I thought "WOW!  Maybe the Electric Universe (EU) advocates are finally getting their act together and doing actual TESTABLE predictions with their models!

Okay, actually I didn't think that was possible as Electric Universe 'theorists' are so disconnected from real space science and engineering.

True to form, there is NOTHING in this article about what is actually involved in predicting CMEs, or even things that EU 'theorists' are actually doing to make this predictive capability a reality.

It's funny that their primary source is a couple of old articles from the 1960s to present their 'models'.   Consider
Solar Flares Caused by Circuit Interruptions by Jacobsen & Carlqvist from 1964
Currents in the Solar Atmosphere and a Theory of Solar Flares by Alfven & Carlqvist from 1967.

It's interesting that the Thunderbolts site links directly to the paper at the publisher, and not to a site like ADS (as I have done above) which not only links to the papers, but also links to subsequent papers which reference it, which would be relevant for followup research.   The 1964 paper is subsequently referenced in (at least) 20 later papers, while the 1967 paper is referenced over 300 times.

Exploring these papers, we discover a number of things that EU supporters are quiet about...

  1. From the sheer number of papers, we see that these models have been actively researched…
  2. NONE of these models they invoke have an external electric field, such as that required for many of EUs 'Electric Sun' models, specifically the Don Scott model referenced in the article, that has its own problems (see Challenges for Electric Universe 'Theorists'...).  That EU supporters reference these papers from the 1960s indicates they never bothered to actually read them, or they just didn't understand them.
But let's look at some of the papers which referenced these earlier works.

In spite of EU claims that astronomers don't consider electric fields (see 365 Days of Astronomy: The Electric Universe) we have even more examples of where solar physicists have actually developed techniques for measuring electric fields in space.

Consider this paper:
P. V. Foukal and B. B. Behr. Testing MHD models of prominences and flares with observations of solar plasma electric fields. Solar Physics, 156:293–314, February 1995. doi: 10.1007/BF00670229.
In this paper, the goal of the research was to distinguish various proposed mechanisms of flare energy release, including the proposal of Alfven & Carlqvist. 

What did they find? 

Instead of the near billion volt drop needed for a small region of the flare in the Alfven-Carlqvist model, they find a mere 35V/m.   To be consistent with a total drop of a billion volts, the voltage drop would have to be over a distance 30 million meters, far larger than the Earth at about 13 million meters, and well within the resolving power of the instruments used for the measurements.  Such small electric fields are more consistent with other mechanisms, including the electric fields created in 'reconnection' models  (see (Non-) Electric Universe News for Summer 2013On Magnetic Reconnection and "Discharges").

And then there's:
M. S. Wheatland and F. J. Farvis. Testing Circuit Models for the Energies of Coronal Magnetic Field Configurations. Solar Physics, 219:109–123, January 2004. doi: 10.1023/B:SOLA.0000021802.77886.c9,  where they describe some ofthe limitations of the 'circuit' picture in plasma environments, most notably that things such a coronal currents don't flow in simple wire loops in space but are distributed through a volume.

Electric universe supporters continue to maintain their self-delusion that 'astronomers ignore electric fields' and 'astronomers don't learn about Maxwell's equations' in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.  Many EU supporters continue to scream about how they've read references such as Peratt's Physics of the Plasma Universe or Alfven's Cosmic Plasma, when the important issue is do they know how to use the equations presented therein (such is in "Introduction to Plasma Physics").

The fact is real astronomers and solar physicists are using plasma physics and electromagnetism for generating forecasts of space weather events.  You can see up-to-date forecasts at the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center.  You can even view live updates of model forecasts of the solar wind and coronal mass ejections.

Meanwhile Electric Universe supporters continue to generate nothing but excuses.

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