Friday, December 18, 2009

Setterfield & c-Decay: "Reviewing a Plasma Universe with Zero Point Energy"

Okay, I'm finally getting back to some young-universe creationist issues.  I had been working on these months ago when I was diverted by Don Scott's presentation at GSFC.

Here I'll do a further examination of Barry Setterfield's “Reviewing a Plasma Universe with Zero Point Energy”.  My occasional co-author Jerry Jellison has written some material related to this monograph already (See Critique of Some New Setterfield Material).  I had written an earlier criticism on Setterfield's math (”Setterfield G”) and data selections (”Barry Setterfield joins the Electric Cosmos”, “Setterfield Again...”).  Since I've spent much of the past two years examining Electric Universe (EU) claims, I'll be leveraging much of that background here as I explore some of Setterfield's attempt to integrate his c-decay into an electric universe (EU)/plasma cosmology (PC) framework. 

Section I of Setterfield's work is largely a primer on plasmas in space.  One thing interesting is there is a heavy reliance on sources at the Thunderbolts site which is largely an assembly of EU supporters.  Other large sections of this history seem to be based off material that is also available from Wikipedia (compare to "Wikipedia: Birkeland Current").

Setterfield tries to invalidate mainstream astronomy through many of the EU claims of discoveries of Birkeland currents in space.  Yet all of observations EU (an Setterfield) document as evidence that electric fields can be a significant driver are consistent with mechanisms known back in the 1920s, such as rotating magnetic dipoles of the geomagnetic field, and ionospheric mechanisms forming double layers by gravity gradients, the Pannekoek-Rosseland field (See ”The REAL Electric Universe”).  EU supporters claim these discoveries are evidence of their more outrageous claims such as the Sun powered by external electric currents or galaxies formed by interacting Birkeland currents, much the same way as young-universe creationists will try to leverage archeological discoveries of some city mentioned in the Bible as evidence of their interpretations of Genesis.

Now for an examination of some errors which reveal the poor quality of Setterfield's scholarship:

page 3: Setterfield claims that the critical ionization velocity is the same as the Alfven velocity. “This “critical ionization velocity” was predicted to be in the range of 5 to 50 kilometers per second. In 1961 this prediction was verified in a plasma laboratory, and this cloud velocity is now often called the Alfvén velocity.”  

Incorrect.  Alfven velocity is speed of an Alfven wave (Wikipedia: Alfven Wave).

pages 7: on the formation of double layers, Setterfield claims “In general, the oppositely charged DL are usually maintained their electric potential difference is balanced by a compensating pressure which may have a variety of origins.” 

In the configuration he describes in the preceding paragraph, the 'compensating pressure' is a gravity gradient, the Pannekoek-Rosseland field mentioned above.  In this configuration, the number of high-energy particles generated by the field is small compared to the large number of particles required to establish and maintain the field. 

page 7: quoting Peratt, “the metal-to-hydrogen ratio should be maximum near the center and decrease outwardly”. 

Since the current streams of Peratt's galaxies give the system axial  symmetry, this direction would be radially outward in the galactic disk.  This is inconsistent with observations of galaxies as Population II stars, with low metallicity, occupy the bulge (center) and halo of galaxies, while Population I stars, with high metallicity occupy the disk (and spiral arms).  In reality, the abundance gradient shows high metallicity in the galactic disk, with decreasing metallicity above and below the disk (See Wikipedia: metallicity).

pg 18-19:  The problems here are covered in my post “Setterfield G”

page 23: “Closely linked with the formation of compressed plasma cores of galaxies are the oldest group of stellar objects, the Population II stars.” 

This is wrong for the same reasons as Setterfield's claims on page 7 are wrong.

page 22: “quasars from the earliest epochs with redshifts around z=6.5 or greater, show the same iron abundance as pertains at present.” 

Setterfield's own references do not support his interpretation.  While the Thompson et al. reference discusses the observations, the Kashlinsky reference suggests detection of emission of residual infrared radiation from  Population III stars (formed from the initial hydrogen and helium of the Big Bang) that would produce the needed metals in limited regions.  Models suggest that the lack of elements with Z>2 makes Population III stars much more massive than Population I or II stars.

page 22: “a 50 million degree ignition temperature is easily achieve with a mere 4308.7 eV with no restriction on which elements may be formed.” 

Setterfield suggests this claim comes from pp 105-107 of Don Scott's “The Electric Sky”, but I can't find it. 

If you compute the Coulombic barrier for two protons you get about 125 keV, far higher than the 4.3 keV kinetic energy Setterfield specifies above.  If you start with the simplest, most stable form of matter, protons and electrons (balanced for charge neutrality), the only way you can get this element formation start in classical physics is to use quantum tunneling.  However, we already know this process comes into play at the 17 million degrees corresponding to the temperature at the center of one solar mass of hydrogen and helium, such as the Sun.  Setterfield's element formation mechanism becomes redundant. 

He could avoid the coulomb barrier penetration by starting with neutrons, but then he has only minutes for them to build nuclei before they decay.  Even worse is Setterfield has this mechanism operating in the early universe, on his extremely accelerated atomic time scale while the collision rate between the particles operates on his slower dynamical time scale. 

Without a more definitive reference with details to examine, this piece of information appears to be more the product of wishful thinking than physics.

Exercises for the Reader
* Estimate the height of the coulombic barrier between two protons.  If this were the mean thermal energy of an electron-proton gas, what is its temperature?
Coming up: a look at “Data and Creation: The ZPE-Plasma Model“, AKA “Response to Tom Bridgman, part 2

Update: January 28, 2014: Fixed broken links.


Dave Smith said...

Tom, in your eagerness to put Eu in bed with creationism you are still making serious errors.

"Section I of Setterfield's work is largely a primer on plasmas in space. One thing interesting is there is a heavy reliance on sources at the Thunderbolts forum which is largely a forum of EU supporters."

Both yourself and Ellenberger keep directing people to the Thunderbolts Forum, instead of the Thunderbolts site. Had you done anywhere near the homework you imply on EU materials you would know that the Forum is "open slather" in comparison to the Thunderbolts site itself. Unless of course this is a deliberate ploy on your part?

From a quick look throuth Setterfield's paper (the first time I have seen anything of his) he references a couple of TPODs, (Thunderbolts Picture of the Day) and NOT the Thunderbolts Forum. Anyone using the forum as a reference might just as well use the comments area of any site, as indication of the opinions of the hosts thereof. Really bad form old boy.

Cheers, Dave Smith.

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


Thanks for reminding me of the distinction. It has been corrected above.