Sunday, November 23, 2014

Electric Comets II. Of Water & Ice

First, I want to say congratulations to the team that built and operated Rosetta & Philae to a successful rendezvous and landing on the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (Wikipedia).

The really funny part about this is that if the space environment around the Sun were really as different from the mainstream science model as Electric Universe advocates want to claim (see Challenges for Electric Universe 'Theorists'...), the Rosetta mission would not have been the level of success that it has been so far - the spacecraft would have been fried long ago from the voltages induced within by the various 'Electric Sun' models (particularly those noted in Death by Electric Universe. II. The Solar Capacitor Model,   Death by Electric Universe. IV. The Z-Pinch (Solar Resistor) Model).

The simple explanation is that the Electric Universe model for the heliospheric environment and comets is blatantly wrong.

Probably because of this event, my first Electric Comet page (Electric Comets: Failures of the Electric Comet Model) has been receiving a lot of traffic of late, so it seemed time to assemble some additional items I've collected for an update. 

Stuart Robbins has also put together a podcast on James McCanney's "Electric Comet" claims (Exposing PseudoAstronomy: Episode 120: James McCanney’s Views on Comets, Part 1).  Stuart does a detailed explanation of how we determine the temperature of comets and know that they are cold, not hot.  He also talks about how McCanney denies that water has been found in previous (and current) comet observations, as well as McCanney's failed predictions for the passages of comets ISON (wikipedia) and Siding Spring (wikipedia) near Mars.

In spite of the denials of Electric Comet advocates, Rosetta has made a number observations that fit major predictions of the  standard "dirty snowball" comet (Wikipedia: Comet), most notably the detection of water vapor and carbon dioxide, very close to the comet.
Wal Thornhill has created a little 'story' to explain these observations but for his model, the combination of the raw atomic material to form water must take place further out (see Thunderbolts: Predictions for Comet Science After Rosetta):
In our recent Space News on Rosetta, we noted that electrochemical processes, not dissimilar to those proposed in peer-reviewed papers for Mercury’s putative ice deposits and water in the lunar soil, may in fact be responsible for the signal of “water” appearing in the comet’s coma—a potential game changer in comet science. As Wal Thornhill explains, “The cathode jets strip and ionize atoms of oxygen from minerals on the comet and accelerate the negative ions away in a fine jet. The oxygen ions then combine with the protons in the solar wind to form the hydroxyl radical, OH, which was mistakenly assumed to be evidence of an ultraviolet breakdown product of water molecules from the comet. Oxygen and hydrogen have both been found in the comet’s coma, by the Rosetta ultraviolet spectrometer.”
But there's some more predictions implied by this model which Thornhill ignores, or evades...
  • How much hydrogen would need to be collected from the solar wind by the nucleus to explain the observed rate of water produced each second?  Note for the case of Mercury and the Moon, water is forming on a rocky world over billions of years, while the comet expels quite a lot with each orbit of the Sun.
  • How much charge would need to be on the nucleus to collect this amount of hydrogen? 
I've also heard some claims that the low density (0.4 gm/cm^3, less than water) of the comet nucleus inferred from the spacecraft motion could be the result of electrostatic repulsion between the spacecraft and nucleus. 

Both of these claims provide information on the alleged charge of the comet nucleus, and the spacecraft.  Once you have that, there are a number of other forces, such as the Lorentz force (Wikipedia: Lorentz Force), which will act on both the spacecraft and the comet and would alter it compared to the predominantly gravitational trajectory assumed for piloting Rosetta to 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.  More on these in a future post.

Should We Expect to See Patches of Ice on a Comet Nucleus?

Some people, including some astronomers, have commented that they were surprised that they did not find patches of ice in close-up views of the comet nucleus.  But one needs to ask, would you expect to see surface ice in the standard comet model?

Consider the measured surface temperature for 67P using the VIRTIS instrument (ESA: VIRTIS maps comet 'hot spots') was 205K (-68 C = -91 F) in mid-July 2014 when the comet was about 3.75 AU from the Sun, definitely still a bit of a deep freeze.  A simple radiation balance calculation (Wikipedia: Effective Temperature) for the temperature of an object at this distance from the Sun gives (using 0.00468Astronomical Units for the solar radius):

5780K * sqrt( 0.00468AU / 3.75AU ) = 204K

which is pretty good agreement for an object of low albedo (about 4%) and high emissivity.  For perihelion for 67P, at 1.24AU, we might expect the temperature to reach 355K (82 C = 180F), assuming emissivity and albedo remain about the same (which we can be pretty certain will not hold true).

To make ice patches on the comet would require temperatures and pressures high enough for liquid water to form from the ice, collect into patches, and then re-freeze.  At temperatures below 0 C and pressures below 0.006 atmospheres, water cannot exist in liquid form as we note from the phase diagram (Wikipedia: Phase Diagram).

Phase Diagram for Water (Credit: Wikipedia)

In these ranges of temperature and pressure along the bottom of the graph, common in the space environment, water goes directly from a solid to a gas.  Near perihelion, the temperature will be high enough to form liquid at higher atmospheric pressures, but against the vacuum of space, water would sublimate to a gas before liquifying.  So even when the temperature got above 0 C, the pressure in space, even close to the Sun, will not get high enough to form liquid water that could refreeze into an obvious patch of ice.

In the low-gravity environment of the comet nucleus, another question is how would the water collect into a puddle to make an ice-patch?  Water molecules do have attractive forces between them which are the basis of surface tension, the reason why water makes a meniscus (wikipedia) in containers and collects into spheres on the International Space Station (YouTube: Space Station Astronauts Grow a Water Bubble in Space).

The water and other volatiles out-gassing are so mixed in the with the other material of the nucleus that they may not appear to emit from a distinct patch of the comet.

But next we could ask: Is there a way the pressure and temperature on the comet could increase sufficiently for liquid water to form and subsequently re-freeze to ice? 

I can imagine possible impact scenarios where temperatures and pressures during a collision might be sufficient to convert water into liquid form that could refreeze, however, I've not yet done a detailed calculation for that scenario. 

Some astronomers have made this claim and it has been picked up by a number of pseudo-sciences.  But it is fair to ask if the idea is  based on an actual examination of the physics of the conditions, or a seat-of-the-pants guess or speculation, most likely based on our everyday experience with water and ice in our Earth-temperatures and atmospheric pressure?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Yet Another Claimed Stake-through-the-Heart of Big Bang Cosmology?

Another comment, posted under a different topic ("A Paper Illustrating More of Crothers' Relativity ...") and copied here to address:

Please publish this if you dare :)

You can sell your diploma on eBay.

Don't forget to include some lollipops in order to get buyers. Sucking is a great way to spend an afternoon. Sure, you should know all about it, you've spend years sucking it.

Post this comment if you dare. I'll be watching, you preposterous asshole.
Perhaps the commenter didn't actually read the article, or did they not think beyond the title?

The article describes recent observations by the Fermi Large-Area Telescope which rule out particular, but not all, models for Dark Matter.  It's part of the regular process of science and the researchers have done credible work.  Why would I not post it?

The solar neutrino problem when through a similar process for many years of narrowing down what the solution couldn't be while we improved detector technology to the point we could actually detect the 'missing' neutrinos.  See Neutrino Oscillations: Yet Another Blow Against Non-nuclear Stellar Energy..., Falsifying Scientific Models)

How many years since prediction to detection of the Higgs boson? 48 years.  And that was one we expected to find in the laboratory (wikipedia).  It also had a number of 'hiccups' along the way to its confirmation.

Loads of other things were added to the list of contributions to Dark Matter (wikipedia: baryonic dark matter) before we got to the level that everything but a previously undetected particle was all that remained (wikipedia: Dark Matter).

There They Go Again...

Shall we go into all the times that someone has pointed to one story claiming it was the stake through the heart of Big Bang cosmology?  A few months, or sometimes even years later, the problem ceases to be an issue due to
  • an error made in the research result, either in the observations or the theoretical understanding;
  • a recognition that another process, within the context of the standard model, explained the discrepancy;
  • a larger data survey with better instruments finds the 'anomaly' isn't as anomalous as first thought.
Let's go over just a few in recent history, some of which I have explored here:
And this is just the short list...

The funny part is that many of these claims rely on the observation being an extreme outlier in the statistical significance.  But yes, sometimes you can roll a five ten consecutive times on a die.

With the range of evidence that the universe was smaller in the past, and still expanding today, those who expect one or a few of these types of observations to overthrow Big Bang cosmology are overly optimistic.  These anomalies don't make the other evidence go away.

Then there's the research groups that release their results a little TOO soon, before they've made reasonable error checks.  This also winds up feeding a number of crackpot claims.  Consider the recent BICEP2 fiasco which released their results to the press too soon, before others could check the results.
A little patience would have saved the BICEP2 researchers a lot of embarrassment, not to mention their work being picked up by crank science sites claiming the failure was predicted by THEIR theory. 

Note that it is rarely (never?) the crackpot group that actually finds the error in the analysis or experiment.   The interesting part is that it is often the supporters of Big Bang cosmology or the standard model in question (such as those working with the Fermi mission data) that clearly identify the problems.

Conspiracies and Cover-ups

So why would the commenter suggest I would not post it?

Probably because in the world of advocates of pseudo-science, the 'Truth', or at least the 'Truth' they are trying to sell, is covered up or cloaked by conspiracies.   Pseudo-science thrives on the notion that it is some 'conspiracy' of mainstream science to silence them.  The fact that their ideas don't work when subjected to rigorous testing, is irrelevant to them.  I find it very interesting that some studies suggest those who believe in these types of conspiracies are reflecting a segment of their own mindset (Pacific Standard:Belief in Conspiracies Linked to Machiavellian Mindset).

But legitimate science cannot survive in that type of environment.

Note that the researchers who reported the results in the above experiment, or the errors in the BICEP2 results, are not advocates of some radically different cosmology such as Plasma Cosmology or other Electric Universe variant or even Creationists.  They may support some other variant of the Dark Matter problem, but they pretty much support the standard cosmology.  They are researchers whose goal is to report their observations and their analyses faithfully, even when the results may be at odds with the dominant model. 

Contrast the behavior of legitimate scientists to that of pseudo-scientists. 

The fact is that advocates of these 'alternatives' are RARELY the ones who actually expose the flaw in the experiment or analysis that invalidates the result.  The pseudo-scientists usually rant and claim the results aren't correct, but when someone else does the work to define the error, they pat themselves on the back chanting that they "knew it all along".  Of course, the pseudo-scientists don't talk about all the times they claimed the mainstream results were wrong but an error WASN'T found and the results were reinforced by later research.

How often do we see posts at or the various creationists and similar forums on the problems implied by their pet cosmologies?  Pseudo-scientists are quick to jump on a handful of seemingly out-of-place and anomalous observations from mainstream science while conveniently ignoring the far larger successful body of evidence which supports the mainstream cosmology to the exclusion of their pet cosmology.

Have we seen any serious effort at addressing the basic problems of their models which I've summarized at Challenges for Electric Universe 'Theorists'...?   Electric Universe supporters have yet to address the problem of space weather prediction which is explained and even predicted by the standard model far better than anything from the Electric Sun advocates.  Electric Universe advocates ignore and evade these issues, even when billions of dollars of space asset and the lives of astronauts are at risk.

So it begs the question, just who is engaged in a cover-up or conspiracy to hide data contradictory to their model?

On the Motivated Rejection of Science

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Geocentrism: Flunking the Lagrange Point Challenge

It was recently brought to my attention that the Geocentrists at "Galileo Was Wrong" (GWW) have actually attempted to meet my Lagrange Point challenge (Rick DeLano's original claim that geocentrism can explain Lagrange Points, and my specification of the challenge).

Here's the conditions I had defined in the link above:
Since this is a fairly straightforward analysis in a Newtonian and non-geocentric framework that undergraduate physics students are expected to do (and I have done it), you are required to prove that this analysis has been done in the physically geocentric model.

Identify all five Lagrangian points using a strictly geocentric calculation with full mathematical detail FROM FIRST PRINCIPLES, i.e. the claimed geocentric physics behind it, presenting the equations of motion, etc. (Wikipedia - lagrange points). Post the solution on a web site and send me the link. The positional solutions must be identical to those found in Newtonian non-geocentric case and should properly identify the Lagrange points of the Earth-Sun system (STEREO @ L4 & L5, Sentinels of the Heliosphere at L1, WMAP @ L2), the Earth-Moon system (ARTEMIS at L1 & L2), and the Sun-Jupiter system (Trojan asteroids). Note that operating missions have made, or are making use of up to four of the five points. We've not yet found a good use for L3 points that warrants a visit.

And no cheating - claiming that the result is the same as the non-geocentric case with a coordinate transformation to the geocentric frame is physically indistinguishable from the frame of reference designation - which can be done anywhere in the universe and makes all frames equivalent. There is no universal or physically preferred rest frame by this method on any scale less than the CMB.
Note that one of the requirements of this challenge is that the analysis must be FUNDAMENTALLY in the geocentric frame.

Doing the analysis in the the standard Newtonian framework and then translating to an Earth-centered frame does not qualify as this is a step that can be done for ANY point and so does not actually treat Earth as a preferred center in any absolute sense.  

The original post at GWW is available here: "A Geocentric Solution to the Three-Body Problem" Prepared by Gerard Bouw, Ph.D.  (last retrieved November 1, 2014.  The file metadata show a creation date of July 18, 2014 and a modification date of August 7, 2014).  While in the original challenge I requested that I be notified of publication of the document, I did not hear about it until a little later, from the folks at

On August 22, 2014, Dr. MacAndrew posted an examination of Dr. Bouw's analysis in Geocentric Physics: Is That All You've Got?

I commend Dr. MacAndrew for his analysis.  He exposed the flawed math in the first section, when Bouw tried to remap the physics into a rotating geocentric frame using the standard Newtonian analysis.  Compare Dr. Bouw's math to that presented at Wikipedia: Centrifugal force (rotating reference frame).  Dr. MacAndrew identified a serious mathematical error in the section.  So far, there is NOTHING in this analysis that makes Earth a preferred frame in any absolute sense.  Is a basic treatment that allows physicists to convert between inertial and rotating reference frames, whether they be rotating planets or rotating children's tops.

But Dr. MacAndrew's real accomplishment is identifying the second section with the claimed Lagrange Point analysis, starting at "Equations of Motion for the Infinitesimal Body".  Even before I recognized the answer, there were a number of 'red flags' in the analysis.  The figures 5, 6 & 7 looked really suspicious, as they appear to be in a style popular in textbooks using techniques from about a century ago.  After all, if Bouw had actually done the calculations himself, you'd think he could generate original figures with modern software.  Here's some plots I generated using a fairly short section of Python code:
Mapping of gravitational potential for a mass ratio of 10.  Origin at center of mass.

Mapping of gravitational potential for a mass ratio of 83 (=Earth/Moon mass ratio).  Origin at center of mass.

Note that I make these images Creative Commons NC BY.  You can use them but they must be clearly credited with a link to the source document (this page).

Kudos to Dr. MacAndrew who found the original text at, "An Introduction to Celestial Mechanics" 2nd Revised Edition by Forest Ray Moulton.  Moulton's 2nd Edition is available as a Dover reprint.

With the original source for comparison, we can explore just how much Bouw copied the original Moulton text.  Bouw's equation system 13 are identical to equation 1 of Moulton.  These are basically the Newtonian force equations written based on the RELATIVE positions between the three bodies. 

Pages 8-25 of Bouw are almost identical to pages 278-294 of Moulton.  There are minor changes in symbols used, updating of some numeric formats in text, but for the most part, they are identical.   This demonstrates just how blatantly Dr. Bouw copied the standard Newtonian treatment from the original text and without any citation.   Without that citation, Dr. Bouw is presenting the analysis if it is HIS work, when it's pretty obvious that the only actual work Dr. Bouw did in this effort is some scanning, transcription, and copying the equations into an equation editor.

If a student had been caught turning this in as part of a physics homework assignment, the instructor would certainly be justified in reporting the student for disciplinary action for plagiarism.

Additionally, there is NOTHING in this equation set that relies on the existence of an absolute fixed location, such as Earth (as the Geocentrists insist).  This analysis works with a 'center' as Earth (for the Earth-Moon Lagrange points), or the Sun (for Sun-Earth or Sun-any other planet Lagrange points).

David Palm followed up with an even longer examination of the level of uncredited copying of the work of others by the Geocentrists at GWW (GD: Top Geocentrists Caught Plagiarizing)

Sungenis Responds
Sungenis responded to these with GWW: "David Palm Caught Falsely Accusing Opponents of Plagiarism" which included a response from Dr. Bouw about how he didn't see a problem as copyright had expired on the Moulton work.  The issue is Bouw presented this material as not just a 'Geocentric' analysis (which it is not), but also as HIS OWN WORK, which it clearly is not, and which he now admits.  No telling how long it would have taken for that fact to come to light if the source text had not been so conclusively identified.

Expiration of copyright is not a license to plagiarize.  By Dr. Bouw's interpretation, he could re-publish most of the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs under his own name and he would have done nothing wrong.  The issue is this was presented as his own WORK. 

In addition, Sungenis states:
Mr. Palm quotes Tom Bridgman as saying: “Everything I’ve seen from Geocentrists is a cheat, trying to take someone else’s heliocentric solution and then moving the origin to the Earth.” Of course, we would expect an atheistic, evolutionist, Big Banger like Bridgman to picture it as a “cheat,” but in reality it is nothing more than showing the world how the same equations heliocentrists use to demonstrate the viability of their system can be used to demonstrate the viability of the geocentric system, which has been known ever since Mach and Einstein expanded on Newton’s equations. The geocentric derivations MUST employ the heliocentric equations, often point‐for‐point, since the geocentric is just the inverse of the heliocentric. There is no way to avoid this state of affairs, especially when one is trying to show the equivalence of the two systems.
Sungenis invokes Mach & Einstein to bolster his poor position.  But Mach and Einstein expanded on Newton's work,  which expanded the concept of no absolute spatial reference frame to include time as well, and that reference frames and 'centers' can be chosen for the convenience of solving the problem at hand.  The methodology defines NO absolute position.  I wrote more on Geocentrists invoking Mach at Geocentrism: Mach, 'Aether Drag' and Aberration.

Sungenis evades the reason I state that such a heliocentric method is a cheat, as I note in the condition and emphasize yet again (since Sungenis seems to avoid this annoying mathematical fact):
And no cheating - claiming that the result is the same as the non-geocentric case with a coordinate transformation to the geocentric frame is physically indistinguishable from the frame of reference designation - which can be done anywhere in the universe and makes all frames equivalent. There is no universal or physically preferred rest frame by this method on any scale less than the CMB.
The technique the Geocentrists use to get the 'geocentric' solution works just as well to do an areocentric (Mars-centered), selenocentric (Moon-centered), jovicentric (Jupiter-centered), kronocentric (Saturn-centered) or any other 'center' one wishes to define ANYWHERE in the cosmos.  NASA uses these transformations routinely when sending spacecraft to other planets (see Geocentrism: Does NASA use Geocentrism?).

Sungenis' excuse exposes Geocentrists' claims as indistinguishable from a personal preference (like a favorite dessert), or personal bigotry.

And while this post was still in preparation, Dr. MacAndrew responded with Geocentrism Debunked: Plagiarism: The Folly of Defending the Indefensible, which prompted my THIRD rewrite of this post...

So, contrary to the terms of my original challenge, AT MOST, all the Geocentrists have done is used the standard derivation using Newtonian gravity and force laws (which define no absolute position) and 'translate' it to a geocentric frame.  Sungenis even admits this.  In Newtonian mechanics, this trick works around ANY point, Earth, Moon, Sun, Mars, etc., contrary to Geocentrist claims of Earth being a special point in an absolute sense.

It is difficult to interpret Dr. Bouw's 'article' as anything other than a document created to deceive.  Combined with Sungenis' defense of it, they appear to document two violations of the Ten Commandments.: 

1) Thou shalt not steal
2) Thou shalt not bear false witness

As Jesus noted in Matthew 7:15-23, his followers will be recognized by their actions more than their words.  Such explicit acts of deception are yet another reason I regard the Geocentrists and Young-Earth creationists as the 'wolves' which Jesus warned his followers about (see Creationist Junk Debunked).

P.S. And yes, I'm preparing a follow-up on Sungenis' claims about my analysis of Hartnett's work...

Update November 3, 2013:  I've fixed a few minor typos and removed the 'Dr.' when referencing Sungenis.  It's been pointed out to me that his doctorate (wikipedia) is from an unaccredited institution.