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Thank you Eaol for the articles... we have the 'link' that you gather material for and quite frankly...we are tired of spamming the links.  Please explain one though or assumption at a time and not 'spam' the forum.  We are here for expression of though and dilogue.  So keep it that way!   btw

http://current.com/news/92912562_debunking-misconceptions-about-the-electric-universe.htm

 

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041015solar-tornado.jpg
Credit:left, G. Scharmer, L. Rouppe van der Voort (KVA ) et al., SVST: right, copyright 2001, Reel EFX. Inc.

 

Oct 15, 2004
Solar Tornadoes

As Fred Hoyle long ago pointed out; the Sun does not conform to the expected behavior of an internally heated ball of gas, simply radiating its energy into space. Instead, its behavior at every level is complex and baffling. Nowhere is it more mysterious than in a sunspot.

Sunspots are strange blemishes on the face of the Sun that offer some of the strongest evidence against the Sun being powered internally. They are conventionally described as being a result of strong magnetic fields pinching off the convection of heat from inside the Sun before it can reach the surface.

The electric star interpretation is that sunspots are breaks in the hot surface of the sun, through which we can get a glimpse of the underlying layers. To satisfy the standard theory, these deeper layers of the Sun should be hotter to drive the so-called vigorous convection. But they aren't. The dark center of the sunspot, or umbra, is 20% cooler than the rest of the surface of the Sun.

The outer shadow of the sunspot, or penumbra, and the structure and behavior of the filaments that form the penumbra are also too complex to be explained by standard stellar theory.

There is a temptation for plasma researchers to simply equate the penumbral filaments with gargantuan lightning bolts, but the features do not match all that well. A typical lightning flash lasts for 0.2 seconds and covers a distance of about 10 km. The penumbral filaments last for at least one hour and are of the order of 1000 km long. If we could scale a lightning bolt 100 times we might have a flash that lasted between 20 and 200 seconds and was 1000 km long. The lifetime is too short. Also, measurements of scars on lightning conductors show that the lightning channel is only about 5 mm wide. Scaling that by 100 times would have solar lightning channels far below the limit of telescopic resolution

However, there is another familiar form of atmospheric electric discharge that does scale appropriately and could explain the mysterious dark cores of penumbral filaments. It is the tornado! Tornadoes last for minutes and can have a diameter of the order of one kilometer. Scale those figures up 100 times and we match penumbral filaments very well. And if the circulating cylinder of plasma is radiating heat and light, as we see on the Sun, then the solar "tornado" will appear, side on, to have bright edges and a dark core (right image, above).




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041014cosmic-thunderbolt.jpg
Credit: Greek drinking vessel, from the Louvre

 

Oct 14, 2004
Mystery of the Cosmic Thunderbolt(5)

Ancient stories of cosmic battles, pitting a celestial warrior against a serpent, dragon, or other monster, were integral to the birth of civilization. From one early culture to another, sacred monuments and rites, religious texts, and cosmic symbols harked back to the age of the gods, to earthshaking upheaval, and celestial combat.

One fact is frequently overlooked, however. The context and setting of the later stories progressively changed as the gods were brought down to earth. Over time, the poets and historians placed the stories on a landscape familiar to them.  In the course of Egyptian history, for example, the creator Ra and his regent Horus, whose original domain was undeniably celestial, came to be remembered as terrestrial kings. In later time, when Greek and Roman poets, philosophers, and naturalists sought to gather knowledge from far flung cultures, Egyptian priests would relate to them many stories of the gods, declaring that the events had occurred in their own city in the time of the ancestors.

By following this evolutionary tendency across the centuries, the researcher can observe how the cosmic thunderbolt, a centerpiece in innumerable tales of celestial combat, emerged as the magical weapon of a legendary hero. It became the sword, spear, hammer or club of a warrior who continued to battle chaos monsters, but no longer in the heavens. As a result of localization, the diminished hero typically reveals an enigmatic mix of god and man, as in the well known accounts of the Sumerian and Babylonian hero Gilgamesh. Once reduced to human dimensions, the hero could no longer hold onto his original weapon, a weapon claimed to have shaken and forever changed both heaven and earth.

Localization of the celestial dramas recorded in earliest times had a huge impact on Greek imagination. The best indication of the evolutionary process is Greek epic literature, including the most popular tale of all, Homer's Iliad. Here the greatest of Greek heroes, the ideal warrior, is Achilles. The hero's tale provided the fulcrum upon which the poet integrated different tribal memories, bringing together dozens of tribal heroes upon the battlefields of a legendary, and entirely mythological Trojan War. But the original themes, though subdued, are still present.

In the illustration above, from a Greek drinking vessel, we observe Achilles confronting the serpent-guardian of a Trojan fountain. What is the relationship of this image to the archaic contests between warrior gods and chaos serpents?

Achilles' father was the mythic king Peleus and his mother the "sea" goddess Thetis, daughter of Oceanus, for whose affections both Zeus and Poseidon had contended. Bathed by his mother in the river Styx, the river that "joins the earth and Hades", he was tutored by the Centaur Chiron. His armor was fashioned by the god Hephaestus, the very god who fashioned the thunderbolts of Zeus.

The actual terrestrial city of Troy is the modern Hissarlik in Turkey, the site of a fortified palace from the Bronze Age onward. Neither this palace, nor anything uncovered by archaeologists in the region could have inspired the city of which the poets spoke! In the cultures of the Near East and Mediterranean, hundreds of historic kings left unmistakable proof of their lives and their cultural influence. But of the countless kings, warriors, princesses and seers in the Iliad, not one finds historic validity. The reason for this is that the claimed events did not occur on earth. The original subject was a cosmic drama, whose episodes progressively masqueraded as terrestrial history.

The similarities shared by mythic heroes are vast, directing our attention to ancient themes that can only appear incomprehensible to the modern world. One overarching theme is that of the hero's magical, and typically invincible weapon. More than once the poets spoke of Achilles' spear as forked, or possessing a "double tongue", as when Aeschilos, in his Nereids, writes, "The shaft, the shaft, with its double tongue, will come". Practically speaking, a forked spear-point would have doomed an ancient warrior. But the image was not rooted in practical considerations.  It comes directly from the well documented form of the thunderbolt wielded by Zeus. Of Achilles' spear, the poet Lesches of Lesbos (author of the Little Iliad), wrote:
     "The ring of gold flashed lightning round, and o'er it the forked
     blade".

It is only to be expected that modern readers would see in these words a simple poetic simile. But is there something more? The answer must come through cross cultural comparison, for the warrior bearing the thunderbolt in battle was indeed a global theme.




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041013tornado-electric-discharge.jpg
 Credit: NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/NSSL

 

Oct 13, 2004
Tornados as Electric Discharge

Because the Earth is a small charged body moving in a large cell of plasma, explanations of all physical phenomena in, on, and near the Earth must take the electrical behavior of plasma into account. Taking this larger picture into account will add new insights for understanding details of everyday phenomena, such as the weather.

Meteorologists are not sure how tornadoes form but they do know that they are often associated with severe electrical storms. The key to understanding tornadoes is that they are the result of rapidly rotating electric charge. Just as electrons are the current carriers in the copper wires we use for power transmission, so they are in the tornado. The BIG difference is that the electrons are moving at many meters per second in the tornado while they take several hours to move one meter in the copper wire! The result is that enormously powerful electromagnetic forces are in control of the tornado. This effect has been called a "charged sheath vortex."

The shape of the vortex is strongly constrained to be long and thin with a circular cross-section. This true shape of the vortex is usually hidden in tornadoes because of the obscuring dust and clouds. The vortex itself will only be visible if it has sufficient electrical energy to ionize atoms in the atmosphere. That is clearly the case on the Sun. And some people who have survived the experience of being "run over" by a tornado have reported an electrical glow in the inner wall of the tornado.

It is commonly thought that a tornado is a means for mechanical energy in the storm to be converted somehow to electrical power, which is then transmitted very effectively to ground by the electrical conduit of the charged sheath vortex inside the tornado. The "somehow" arises only because nobody visualizes the electrical dimension of the solar system. Electrical power from space is partially dissipated in the mechanical energy of the encircling winds. Instead of generating the electrical effects, the tornadic winds are driven by the charge sheath vortex and its connection to the electric currents of the solar system.




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041012cosmic-thunderbolt.jpg

 

Oct 12, 2004
Mystery of the Cosmic Thunderbolt(4)

To uncover the secret of the thunder-weapon in world mythology we must trace the theme back to its early expressions in ancient Mesopotamia. When the Babylonians, the world's first astronomers, looked back to the age of the gods, they spoke incessantly of disaster. In their Akitu festival, a prototype of ancient New Year's celebrations, the astronomer priests recounted the events of a former time, when the dragon Tiamat assaulted the world and it appeared that heaven itself would fall into chaos. (See the above image of  the seven-headed dragon, Tiamat, taken from a Babylonian cylinder seal.) The "resplendent dragon" spawned a horde of dark powers with "irresistible weapons"--"monster serpents, sharp-toothed, with fang unsparing", their bodies filled with poison for blood.  "Fierce dragons she has draped with terror, crowned with flame and made like gods", the storytellers recounted, "so that whoever looks upon them shall perish with fear". This was not a disaster on a local scale, but a universal disaster--a catastrophe so great that the gods themselves were immobilized by fear, and even Anu, the sovereign of the sky, fled the scene in terror.

The protagonist in this narrative is the god Marduk. When all else had failed, it was Marduk  who rose to confront Tiamat and her companions.  The god took possession of his "matchless weapons" and--

    "In front of him he set the lightning,
    With a blazing flame he filled his body"

Mounted on his storm-chariot and turbaned with a "fearsome halo," Marduk set his course toward the raging Tiamat. In the encounter that followed,

    "Tiamat opened her mouth to consume him,
    He drove in the Evil Wind that she close not her lips.
    As the fierce winds charged her belly,
    Her body was distended and her mouth was wide open.
    He released the arrow, it tore her belly,
    It cut through her insides, splitting the heart".

Cuneiform specialists confirm that the arrow of Marduk was the thunderbolt, a weapon frequently displayed throughout the ancient Near East and beyond. We have already noted that the Sumerian warrior Ninurta defeated the monster Anzu with his thunderbolt, just as the Greek Zeus subdued Typhon with the thunderbolt. But the early traditions of earthshaking battles in the heavens were not limited to any particular culture. At the temple of Ra in Heliopolis the priests ritually trod underfoot images of the great dragon Apep to represent his defeat at the hands of the supreme god. At the temple of Edfu, a series of reliefs depict the warrior Horus and his followers vanquishing Apep or his counterpart Set, cutting to pieces the monster's companions, the "fiends of darkness". According to W. M. Muller, the spear or harpoon of Horus was a metaphor for the thunderbolt. "Lightning is the spear of Horus, and thunder the voice of his wounded antagonist, roaring in his pain", Muller reports.

The Hebrews, too, preserved an enduring memory of Yahweh's battle against a dragon of the deep, marked by lightning on a cosmic scale. "The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook". Here the adversary was alternately named Rahab, Leviathan, Tannin, or Behemoth--dragon-like forms representing both the waters of chaos and the rebellion of the "evil land" vanquished by Yahweh in primeval times.

The battle is echoed in Job 26: "The pillars of heaven shook and were astounded at his roar. By his power he stilled the sea, and by his understanding he smote Rahab". It is also well established that the Hebrew accounts reflect a connection to early Canaanite traditions in which the thunderbolt-wielding god Baal defeated the monster Lotan.

Comparison of the cross-cultural traditions suggests a human memory reaching far beyond any tribal or regional influence. Yet similarities abound, and unexplained similarities are the key to discovery. What ancient event provoked the human memory of a dragon attacking the world?  Who was the warrior-god who confronted the monster? And what was the invincible "thunderbolt" that defeated the beast?  The questions can be answered if we allow the ancient witnesses to speak--and to mean what they say.




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041011lava-tubes.jpg
Credit: left: QTTC, rubble from collapsed roof section in Barker Cave
        Credit, top right: David B. J. Thomae, Barker Cave in Australia
Credit, bottom right: NASA/Apollo 15, Hadley's Rille

 

Oct 11, 2004
Lava Tubes

The lava tube has become the favored explanation for strange channels on most other minor planets and moons. This example of a section of the longest lava tube on Earth is found in Australia and is known as Barker's Cave. It is 35 km from the extinct Undara volcano and measures some 15 metres in height. This section runs for 682 meters. Lava tubes on Earth are formed when a stream of cooling fluid lava builds up levees and forms a crust on top that forms a roofed channel. The enclosed lava loses very little heat and may flow for a large distance before it solidifies. When the eruption ceases, the lava continues to run out at the lower end, leaving an empty tube in the rock. At some later time the roof may collapse leaving sections of open channel.

The problem with the lava tube theory of rilles is that the rilles found on other planets and moons show only superficial resemblances to lava tubes on Earth. The larger rilles are kilometers wide, too wide for a rock roof to span. The longest are a thousand times longer than any on Earth. Most rilles have a sinuous V-shaped channel. Neither the collapsed roofs nor the out-flow of lava associated with Earth's lava tubes are seen in the celestial rilles. Perhaps most importantly, the "flow" of rilles on other worlds isn't limited to "downhill" like lava and water-carved channels on Earth. In addition their sinuosity defies all of the rules of channel width and fluid erosion.

The bottom right image above is a photograph taken by the Apollo 15 astronauts of the V-shaped Hadley's Rille, described by planetary geologists as a lava tube. There is no sign of lava or rubble from a collapsed roof, and the walls appear to be stratified rock that has been tilted upwards, as if by a blast.

In light of the ubiquitous plasma activity in space that has been discovered in the first half-century of the space age, it is time to ask if rilles, too, are caused by electrical interactions. And that question leads to more questions: was there a one-time rille-carving event? Multiple repeated events? Uniform continuous carving? Or will we discover different histories on different worlds that have had different electrical experiences? (Or even on different parts of the same worlds?) Clues to answer these questions may be found in many places. In geology, the paleomagnetic, flora/fauna, and volcanic behavior of the Earth has changed from age to age. We can study the behavior of present-day electrically active bodies such as Io and Titan and comets. We may even find clues in the mytho-historic legend of the Celestial Thunderbolt.



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041008eros.jpg
Credit: NEAR Project, JHU, APL, NASA

 

Oct 08, 2004
Eros: Got Erosion?

On seeing the asteroid Eros close up, astronomers have been surprised by the apparent modification of the surface over time.  But they have not yet considered the possibility of erosion and deposition by an electric “wind”, a process that requires neither air nor water.

The caption to this picture (above) of the asteroid EROS from Andrew Cheng's book, Asteroid Rendezvous, calls it: "One of many examples of striking and surprising geologic terrain discovered in NEAR imaging data." Cheng elaborates, "Small craters are mostly absent and, in larger craters, the rims appear highly degraded and the floors flattened. These morphological characteristics, when they appear on larger planets, typically are interpreted as evidence of blanketing of an older surface. That surface modification processes of this kind could also be at work on such a small object as Eros was a surprise to many astronomers."

On Earth, blanketing of an older surface is assumed to be caused by air or water. Gravity presses the air or water against a surface, and lateral motion rubs particles off the surface, depositing them elsewhere. But Eros has no air or water, and its gravity is so light a grasshopper could jump to escape velocity. Degrading rims by friction and flattening floors by sedimentation would be a protracted process, even by geological time scales.

But there are other processes of erosion and deposition that can work in a vacuum. Electric erosion doesn't need water; it doesn't need air. A discharge moving across an airless asteroid can fritter molecules from the surface and carry them along with the current. This "electrical wind" can preferentially scour away high points, such as the rims of older craters, and deposit the detritus in low areas, such as the floors of the craters. (However, remember that craters, being the scars of arc discharges, will already have flat floors.) Electric discharge can scour away a surface layer by layer, and it can also deposit new layers of material on top of older surfaces. In the image above, the filamentary patterns of the discharge are preserved in the streaky colors.

Now that erosion has been observed on an airless world, it's time to look back on our own planet and ask if all of the erosion that we see here was caused by the accepted methods. Are there features on Earth that would be better explained by electric discharge, especially during times of stronger magnetic fields, enhanced volcanic activity, sudden climate changes and mass extinctions?



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041007cosmic-thunderbolt.jpg
Credit: Upper: Eugène Delacroix. "Apollo Slays Python", 1851; Lower: J. M. W, Turner, Apollo and Python, 1811

 

Oct 08, 2004
Mystery of the Cosmic Thunderbolt (3)

It is fascinating to follow the historic evolution of the cosmic thunderbolt, as the divine weapon of the gods passed into the sword, spear, arrow, or club of the most famous heroes of later times. Of course mythologists will not normally think of the arrow of Apollo, the sword of Perseus, or the club of Heracles as electric in nature. One reason for this is that, as the early gods of the thunderbolt evolved over the centuries, the chroniclers gradually reduced them to human dimensions. A celestial warrior bearing the thunderbolt in battle later lost his cosmic attributes to become a great man, the best of heroes, the esteemed ancestor of the tribe or nation telling the story.

In such cases the original identity of the magical weapon had already slipped into the background, though only rarely could it be hidden entirely. Often, what we get is just a shadow of the cosmic missile so vividly described in early Near Eastern narratives of primeval order and chaos.

As a bridge between the more archaic world and the fragmented and diluted myths of later times, Greek accounts offer many clues pointing to the evolution of the symbolism. The Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo describes the hero's confrontation with the chaos serpent Python, whom the chroniclers identified alternately as a form of the dragon Typhon or as the nurse of Typhon. The Homeric and other accounts refer to the invincible "arrow" launched by Apollo, causing the monster to shudder violently and to give up its life in a torrent of blood.

The ambiguity as to the setting of the mythic accounts is emphasized in the two paintings above, depicting Apollo's defeat of Python. The upper painting by Eugène Delacroix has preserved many touches of the original celestial context, while the lower by J. M. W, Turner is much more terrestrial in its setting.

Did the "arrow" of Apollo really mean the cosmic thunderbolt, the weapon that so often, in the earlier Near Eastern accounts, took the form of an arrow? The most respected experts on Greek mythology and symbolism assure us that arrows or swords wielded by the revered gods of Greece cannot be separated from the language of the thunderbolt. The connection is apparent in the Greek keraunós, "thunderbolt," most commonly used for Zeus' weapon and said to stem from a Proto-Indo-European root *ker The same root appears to lie behind the Sanskrit _áru-, 'arrow' and the Gothic haírus, 'sword.' This should not surprise us, since the most familiar representations of the "eagle" of Zeus (as, of course, the eagle of the Latin Jupiter) depict the god's lightning as arrows held in the talons of the bird--a representation well preserved into modern times by the symbol of the eagle and its lightning-arrows on the U.S. one dollar bill.

The same association holds true for the sword of Apollo. The god's epithet was chrysáoros or chrysáor--meaning "of the Golden Sword" (áor). According to  the distinguished authority, W. H. Roscher, the Golden Sword is a Greek hieroglyph for the thunderbolt. Indeed Zeus himself, the most famous wielder of the thunderbolt, was Chrysaoreús or Chrysaórios, "He of the Golden Sword".

In much the same way, the poet Pindar speaks of Zeus "whose spear is lightning", while Aristophanes invokes lighting as "the immortal fiery spear of Zeus". In the words of the poet Nonnus, Zeus is "the javelin-thrower of the thunderbolt". "The spear he shook [in the battle with Typhon] was lightning." "Do thou in battle lift thy lightning-flash, Olympus' luminous spear".

The question is worth pursuing, therefore: have historians and mythologists missed the true identity of the far-famed hero and his weapon?




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041004cosmic-thunderbolt.jpg
Credit: Montage by Dave Talbott

 

Oct 04, 2004
Mystery of the Cosmic Thunderbolt (2)

A thunderstorm can be a terrifying event. The lightning flash and thunderclap may indeed awaken a primal fear, and a cursory acquaintance with mythology may elicit a newfound empathy for the mythmakers of antiquity. In the presence of a thunderstorm, was it not natural for our ancestors to envisage lightning-beasts roaring in the heavens or celestial armies hurling lightning-spears across the sky?

Unfortunately our common suppositions have prevented investigators from examining the underlying patterns of "lightning" symbolism. Cross-cultural comparison reveals numerous global images of "lightning" in ancient times, but these are a far cry from the phenomenon familiar to us today. Ancient descriptions suggest that the "lightning of the gods"--the cosmic thunderbolt--altered the order of the heavens and changed planetary history. To describe the cosmic thunderbolt, ancient chroniclers employed a wide range of natural and man-made symbols, and the images go well beyond those that would seem appropriate for lightning. The legendary bolt was a serpent.  It was a sword or arrow.  It was a blossoming flower. It grew horns or wings.  It was a whirlwind. It was a comet. Terrestrial lightning was but one of many hieroglyphs used to describe this celebrated weapon of gods and heroes.

The breadth of images will, in fact, appear quite meaningless until we find a new vantage point, one permitting us to discern the archetype, the original form that preceded the symbols and gave them their mythological context. Analysis will show that the weapon was electrical: the ancient interpretation as a thunderbolt was highly appropriate, as were the alternative mythic interpretations, all rooted in the same human experience.

The montage above shows three Greek images of the god Zeus launching his weapon, whose most elementary form was that of simple missile with a corkscrew configuration upon it. But numerous illustrations of the weapon show it sending forth leaf-like sepals, then "flowering" into a lotus-form. The petals of the lotus-thunderbolt are also elaborated as horns or wings, a fact that appears absurd today, until we discover the underlying structure. The patterns are, in fact, surprisingly consistent.

One example of the evolving form is seen in the picture of Zeus confronting the feared monster Typhon. Below this picture we present, as a starting point, three of the more elementary forms of the Greek thunderbolt, representing the foundation upon which all of the more elaborate images were built.

In forthcoming TPODs, we'll examine the cosmic thunderbolt in detail, with an emphasis on cross cultural comparison. Clearly, the subject was not a bolt of lightning such as we observe in the sky today. It was a plasmoid, a configuration typically formed at the "z- pinch" of interacting electrical currents. In intensely energetic plasma discharges, a plasmoid can evolve violently, through a series of metamorphoses, or quasi-stable phases, and many of these forms have now been well documented through several decades of laboratory research. The literary and artistic images of Zeus' thunderbolt capture some of the most prominent phases of intense plasma discharge.




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041001quasar-galaxy.jpg
                                                          Credit: Jane C. Charlton (Penn State) et al., HST, ESA, NASA

 

Oct 01, 2004
Quasar in Front of Galaxy

October 3, 2003: the big bang was proved wrong. Again. And here is the proof (image above). The galaxy, NGC 7319, is a Seyfert 2, which means it is a galaxy shrouded with such heavy dust clouds that they obscure most of the bright, active nucleus that defines a normal Seyfert galaxy. This galaxy has a redshift of 0.0225. The tiny white spot is a quasar either silhouetted in front of the opaque gas clouds or embedded in the topmost layers of the dust. The redshift of the quasar is 2.114.

Why does this prove the big bang wrong? One of the two major foundations of the big bang is that redshift is proportional to distance. That means the larger the redshift of an object, the farther away it must be. The other major foundation of the big bang is that all redshift is a measure of velocity. Again, the larger the redshift of an object, the faster it is moving away from us. Combined, these two foundations become the expanding universe, which can be traced backwards to the big bang.

Look at the picture again. By the big bang principles, this quasar must be billions of light years farther from us than the galaxy, because its redshift is so much larger. And yet the galaxy is opaque, so the quasar must be near the surface of the dust clouds or even in front of them.

Pasquale Galianni, Margaret Burbidge, Halton Arp, V. Junkkarinen, Geoffrey Burbidge, and Stefano Zibetti, the astronomers who wrote the paper describing this discovery, also studied the dust clouds surrounding the quasar. There's a bright triangular jet (see insert above) with its fat end on the galaxy nucleus and thin end pointing at the quasar. Radio, x-ray and spectra observations show that this area is disturbed. These gasses are more turbulent than the gasses in other regions of the galaxy. That seems to indicate that something big and powerful has passed through, moving outward from the nucleus. In addition to the jet, the region of the galaxy near the quasar is glowing with an excess of low-density emission lines from ionized gasses. But nothing is "there" to light them up except the impossible quasar.

This is not the first definitive disproof of the redshift = distance principle, although it may be the best to date. Halton Arp has been accumulating discordant redshift evidence since the late 1960's.  His most recent tactic has been to look at the objects called ULX's (the quasar above is one of them). ULX stands for Ultra Luminous X-ray sources, which are tiny concentrations of x-rays in or very near an active galaxy. The x-ray concentration is stronger than any known astronomical object, even a supernova, can produce. Over the last two years, Arp has shown that at least 20 of these objects are quasars, with redshifts much higher than the galaxy they are associated with. The example seen above is the closest pair of the 20.

About the new observations, one cosmologist said, "If astronomy were a science, this paper would mean the end of the big bang." Instead, the paper was scarcely noted when it was presented to the American Astronomical Society meeting in January 2004. When submitted to an astronomical journal, heavy editing was recommended by the peer review committee. And now it sits with the editor, awaiting permission for publication. And waiting. And waiting.

It's time for set-in-their-way astronomers (of any age) to pack away their big bang assumptions and retire. And it's time for pioneering astronomers to discover new relationships between galaxies and quasars. This will mean a whole new universe to explore, with all the excitement and uncertainty of "cosmos incognito". The shape, the size, and the age of the universe must be discovered anew. The new observations are filled with clues about how galaxies are born; how they grow; even how they die. It's a great opportunity for those who view astronomy as an adventure in discovery rather than as a competition for funding.



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040930magneto-sphere.jpg
Credit: Courtesy JPL, NASA

 

Sept 30, 2004
Discovering the Magnetosphere

The discovery of the two Van Allen Radiation Belts could be called the first surprise of the space age. But scientists might not have been surprised had they paid attention to the experiments of plasma scientist Kristian Birkeland.

In a basement lab of the physics department at the University of Iowa, James Van Allen designed Explorer 1, a scientific satellite for the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957-1958. The satellite carried only a single instrument, a small Geiger counter to record energetic particles. The instrument was designed to measure cosmic rays, highly energetic ions (positively charged particles) of unknown origin arriving from distant space.

Strangely, though the experiment detected many particles at low altitudes, at the top of the orbit it counted no particles at all, The explanation for this odd behavior was discovered two months later by Explorer 3. This new satellite included a tape to record data continuously. The data revealed that the "absence" of cosmic ray counts from Explorer 1 actually signified extremely high radiation. "So many energetic particles hit the counter at the higher altitudes that its mode of operation was overwhelmed and it fell silent," states a NASA account. "Not only was a radiation belt present at all times, it was remarkably intense".

Scientists had discovered what we now know as the innermost of the two Van Allen Radiation Belts, a finding hailed as the first important discovery of the space age. It could also be called the first surprise of the space age, since astronomers had not expected intense radiation around the Earth.

Had they paid more attention to Birkeland's experiments it need not have been a surprise. In fact his terrella experiments demonstrated most of the phenomena found by spacecraft near the Earth. But for scientists the stumbling block was that the terrella required electrical power input to the Earth, and standard astrophysics has no mechanism to support such a model.

In the half-century following Explorer 1, almost all the great surprises of space age exploration of the solar system have involved electromagnetic activity. We now know that the Earth is surrounded by a complex structure of magnetic fields and high-speed charged particles that include streams of electric current around the Earth. This structure has been named the "magnetosphere" under the assumption that it forms the boundary between the Earth's and the Sun's magnetic fields.

However, comets form similar protective sheaths, visible as their comas, without having magnetic fields. In a plasma discharge most objects naturally form a Langmuir plasma sheath that prevents direct contact with the enveloping plasma. Magnetospheres are merely a more complex form of Langmuir sheath, with the magnetic field of the body trapped within the sheath. If standard theory failed to anticipate these discoveries, surely the primary reason lies in the failure to recognize that planets are embedded in a solar electric discharge and consequently enveloped by Langmuir sheaths.

For these reasons, the original contributions of Kristian Birkeland should no longer be ignored.



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040929moons.jpg
Credit: NASA, Voyager I

 

Sep 29, 2004
Big Holes in Little Moons

Large craters observed on two small moons orbiting Saturn surprised many astronomers. Presumably, the impacts should have shattered the tiny bodies. But from an Electric Universe vantage point, something much different than “impact” occurred.

Mimas and Tethys are two small moons orbiting Saturn. Since their discoveries in 1789 and 1684 respectively until the Voyager probes passed by them in 1980, we could see them only through telescopes and then only as two moving dots of light. Even the Voyager images (above Mimas left, Tethys right) are very tiny, taken from hundreds of thousands of miles away.

Now Cassini could examine them close-up (although no direct flybys of either moon are scheduled for the 4-year Cassini mission.) Astronomers were surprised by the Voyager images of immense craters and cliffs. Mimas is only about 400 kilometers (250 miles) across, but the crater Herschel is dug out of 130 of those kilometers (in projection), covering 3% of Mimas' surface. To reach the surface from the floor of Herschel, you would have to climb up 10 kilometers (6 miles) of steep cliffs--more than climbing Everest from sea level. (If you wanted a less strenuous climb, you could ascend Herschel's central peak--at 6 kilometers, it would match an ascent of Kilimanjaro.) Tethys is over 1000 kilometers (600 miles) in diameter. Its large crater, Odysseus, at 400 kilometers (250 miles) across, covers 4% of Tethys' surface. The floor of the crater is convex and matches the curvature of the surface. This means that in the middle of the crater, Odysseus' floor protrudes beyond the crater's rim.

Several astronomers expressed surprise that the impacts they assumed caused the craters didn't shatter the tiny moons (this comment is made about other moons and asteroids with disproportionately large craters, too.) From the Electric Universe viewpoint, shattering wasn't a possibility. The craters were excised from the surfaces by an interplanetary-size electric arc--a "thunderbolt." Instead of exerting a shattering force into the moon, as an impact would do, an arc would dissociate the surface material and lift the debris into space along the current channel.

At the edges of the arc, the electric force would fall off rapidly, resulting in the steep sides of the craters and the "pinched up" rims, contrary to the "heaved out" rims expected from an impact. Furthermore, a thunderbolt would consist of two or more filaments rotating around a central axis. They would cut the surface down to a uniform depth, producing a floor parallel to the surface--which, in the case of Odysseus, means that it reflects the moon's curvature. (This property of uniform depth of excavation is exploited in the industrial use of arc machining.) An impact, of course, would "dig a hole" of varying depth because the impact forces would decrease radially instead of being constant over an area.

Finally, if the individual filaments composing a thunderbolt are sufficiently far from the axis, they will not excavate the material directly under the axis. They will leave a central spire of (relatively) undisturbed material: the central peak. This could be a crucial test to distinguish electrical from mechanical origins. A lander could examine the central peak and determine if it is a pile of rubble that has rebounded from a mechanical impact or if it is a native structure retaining the same features as the surface beyond.



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041006iron-sun.jpg
Image: The Sun in FeXII Light 
Credit: SOHO-EIT Consortium, ESA, NASA

 

Oct 06, 2004
The Iron Sun

The image of the sun above was recorded in the light given off by iron atoms that have lost 11 of their 26 electrons. The energy required to remove that many electrons is far greater than the energy available at the surface of the sun. These iron ions occur high in the sun's atmosphere--in the corona--where the effective temperature is 2 million degrees or more, 400 times that of the photosphere.

The conventional explanation is that the high temperature causes the iron atoms to collide with enough force to knock off those 11 electrons. But then the question arises about how the atmosphere can be hotter than the surface. The corona is farther away from the putative source of energy inside the sun, and it is less dense. It should be cooler than the photosphere.

The Electric Universe reverses the accepted ideas of which phenomenon is cause and which phenomenon is effect. The sun's atmosphere contains a complex of electrical fields that are strong enough to pull off those 11 electrons. A field that strong will also accelerate the ions to speeds interpreted as high temperatures. This activity is only one element in a circuit that connects the sun with electrical currents in the Galaxy. These galactic power lines are the source of energy that "lights" the stars, including the sun. The energy from those power lines is liberated at the photosphere rather than being transported from the core to the surface.

The voltage between the sun and its galactic environment is not distributed uniformly and gradually. As is typical with plasma behavior, most of the voltage difference occurs in "double layers" (DLs). These are thin layers with an excess of positive ions on one side and an excess of negative electrons on the other. They resemble, and act like, capacitors: They store electrical energy in the strong electrical field between the positive and negative layers.

Each DL is separated from the next by a low voltage gradient, across which ions and electrons "drift." This drift current is often called a wind. A familiar example is the "solar wind" that drifts from the DLs near the sun to the DLs that make up the heliopause at the other end of the sun's connection with the galactic currents.

When the low-energy iron ions from the photosphere drift into the DL above, the stronger electrical field strips off more electrons and accelerates the ions to high speeds. The strength of the field keeps the ions moving in alignment so it is not apparent that their energy is increasing. But when they emerge into the low-voltage gradient of the corona their motion becomes turbulent, like that of water in a waterfall when it hits the river below. Because temperature is a measure of randomness of motion, the corona appears to "heat up" suddenly, and the 11-times-ionized iron atoms begin to radiate their newly acquired energy.

What the Electric Universe sees in "the iron sun" is the iron-ion component of the electric current driving the sun's radiation output as part of a galactic electrical circuit.



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041005mars.jpg

 

Oct 05, 2004
Missing Air of Mars

Mars has an atmosphere only one hundredth as dense as the Earth's. Before space probes visited it, astronomers expected it to be ten or more times thicker than it is. ESA's Mars Express orbiter has come up with a possible explanation (see illustration above). The orbiter has been measuring how much atmosphere is being removed from Mars today by solar wind interactions. The total is about 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) per second, or about 100 tons per day. That's not fast enough to have depleted Mars' atmosphere in the accepted length of Martian history, but presumably when there was more atmosphere, the process happened faster.

But the concept breaks down when you consider Venus. By standard theory, Venus, Earth and Mars have a common origin in the solar nebula. They must have received similar original amounts of air and water. Earth has held on to most of its air and water because it has a magnetic field to protect it from the solar wind. Neither Venus nor Mars have magnetic fields today (although Mars is thought to have had one early in its history). If Venus has been bombarded by solar wind for as long as Earth and Mars, then its atmosphere should have been depleted, too. But it isn't. Instead, Venus' atmosphere is 90 denser than Earth's atmosphere.

For the Electric Universe, there is no reason to think of Venus, Earth and Mars as siblings. Nor is it reasonable to think of them as moving along the same orbits for billions of years. Each planet had a separate birth, and even if some or all were born in the same set of plasma instabilities, their characteristics would be dependent on the composition and discharge history of the particular plasma cell in which they were individually formed.

After the birth event, the planets also have a history. Each of them took part in several catastrophic events, the most recent of which is commemorated by prehistoric humans in rock art and in myth. It isn't necessary to suppose that Mars has been losing 100 tons of air a day for billions of years because a few thousands of years ago Mars went through a major event that could have stripped it of its atmosphere and oceans all at once. Plasma interactions were undoubtedly involved; history remembers them as the magical thunder weapon of the warrior hero. But these plasma interactions were much more active than those described above by the Mars Express researchers.

Electric discharge will sometimes take away material (as in the 100 tons per day from the Martian atmosphere). But it can also deposit new material in sorted layers. Or even a whole new atmosphere. As space probes have returned data about density of atmospheres among our solar neighbors, astronomers have been surprised in many cases. Too much air on Venus and Titan; too little on Mars. Earth is considered the "just right" example of how much air a planet should retain for its mass. But electrically speaking, there is no standard initial atmosphere and subsequent changes are not necessarily slow or steady. No wonder the planetary atmospheres don't appear to comply with the astronomical texts.



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040928cosmic-thunderbolt.jpg

 

Sep 28, 2004
Mystery of the Cosmic Thunderbolt (1)

Every culture recalled the ancient combat between a great warrior and a monster whose attack threatened to destroy the world. How did the story of a heaven-altering contest find its way into so many cultures?

One of the most profound archetypes of the early cultures is also among the most enigmatic. Every culture recalled the ancient combat between a great warrior and a monster whose attack threatened to destroy the world. Pictured above is the lion-headed beast Anzu remembered by the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians--a fierce monster defeated (in various tales) by the Sumerian Ningirsu or the Babylonian Ninurta or Nergal. The warrior confronting Anzu in the above picture is the god Ninurta, wielding in each hand a weapon identified as a "thunderbolt".

As for explanations, historians can only offer contradictory guesses. How did the story of a heaven-altering contest find its way into so many cultures? In the ritual of the Babylonian Akitu Festival, the enemy is the dragon Tiamat, subdued by the god Marduk. For the Egyptians it was the dragon Apep, defeated by Ra or his agent Horus. For the Greeks it was the fiery serpents Typhon or Python, vanquished respectively by Zeus and Apollo. Hindu accounts similarly recalled the attack of the sky-darkening serpent Vritra, felled by Indra. But these are only a few of hundreds of such accounts preserved around the world.

The story typically begins with the monster's arrival, an event signifying universal catastrophe. A legendary warrior sets out to engage the monster in direct combat. The battle rages amid earthquake, fire, wind, and falling stone, and it appears that all will be lost. Then the hero's magical weapon, fashioned by gods or divine assistants, flies between the combatants, turning the tide of battle and vanquishing the monster.

From this primeval encounter, the warrior earned his title as "hero". He defeated chaos and saved the world from catastrophe. But how did the divine weapon accomplish this feat? The storytellers' own words and symbols, when traced to root meanings, make clear that the hero's weapon was no ordinary sword, arrow, or club. It was a thunderbolt--and not the familiar lightning of a regional storm, but a bolt of cosmic dimensions. Though this original identity may not be apparent in many of the later versions of the story, it can be established reliably through cross-cultural comparison, with close attention to the memory's more archaic forms. When the great civilizations of the ancient world arose, the monster, the hero, and the cosmic thunderbolt already dominated human consciousness.

For the proponents of the Electric Universe, the role of the thunderbolt in the more ancient accounts is a vital clue, one to which we shall return frequently in these pages. Why does the divine thunderbolt not look like the lightning known to us today? As we intend to show, the unusual forms of this weapon can serve as a bridge between plasma science and historical inquiry. The forms of the divine thunderbolt were not accidental. To an astonishing extent they mimic the configurations taken by intense electric discharge in the plasma laboratory. And now, thanks to modern telescopes, we see similar forms in remote space, a fact that can only reinforce the power of the ancient message.




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040927earth-capacitor.jpg
Credit: Wal Thornhill

 

Sep 27, 2004
Earth: A Self-repairing Capacitor

One electrical device which serves as a model for cosmic plasma activity is the capacitor. A capacitor is a device for accumulating and storing electric charge. It is made of two conductors separated by an insulating medium. When charge is placed on one conductor it attracts charge of the opposite polarity on the other conductor. As a result, an electric field is set up between the conductors, a reservoir of electrical energy.

In both everyday electronics and advanced plasma research the capacitor is important for its ability to rapidly store and release electrical energy. Some of the highest energy experiments in the world are performed using large rooms full of charged capacitors to produce intense discharges.

As the charge on the capacitor increases, the electric field between the conductors will increase, placing a growing stress on the insulator. At some critical point, the insulator breaks down and the capacitor "short circuits," releasing the stored electrical energy suddenly. Such breakdowns may destroy a solid insulator and with it, the capacitor.

However, if the charging rate is slow and the insulator is air or liquid, the damage may repair itself as fresh insulating material rushes in. That is a "self-repairing" capacitor. If the current is strong or the insulator weak, current will pass between the conducting plates, either steadily or in bursts. This is called a "leaky capacitor."

Power transmission lines form large-scale capacitors with the air as insulator between the conducting wires. The geometry makes the electric field strongest at the wire surface, which is where the air is likeliest to "break down" and discharge. The hissing and crackling you hear when standing under a power line is just this intermittent leakage.

Many natural systems form capacitors as well. For example, the Earth's surface and its ionosphere are two conducting layers separated by air. The surface-ionosphere capacitor is of particular interest in the study of sprites. Small "leaks" in the form of lightning can trigger much larger "leaks" (sprites, etc.) at high altitudes above them.

In the electric universe, this effect can be traced via auroral circuits, through the circuitry of the solar system, and far into interstellar space. From this viewpoint sprites and lightning are merely leakage currents trickling off the galactic power line. But clearly, the degree to which electric potential from the galaxy powers thunderstorms on Earth has yet to be investigated.



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040924electric-universe.jpg
Credit: Credit (above): A. Hajian (USNO ) et al., Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), NASA
Credit (below): Wal Thornhill, Anthony L. Peratt

 

Sep 24, 2004
What is the Electric Universe?

The "Electric Universe" is a hypothesis, a new way of interpreting scientific data in the light of new knowledge about plasma and electricity. In this interpretation, gravity plays a secondary role behind the far more powerful electric force, and electrified plasma in the laboratory provides a model for comprehending newly-discovered phenomena in space.

As laboratory plasma "pinches" into filaments, sheets, and cells, or isolates charged bodies from their electrical environment, it provides vital clues. In plasma, electric currents will sort material into shells of like elements, or generate discharge configurations--ranging from radial streamers and spiraling filaments to exotic symmetrical configurations--all appearing to mimic what we now see in faraway corners of the cosmos.

The top image above is a Hubble Telescope image of the planetary nebula NGC 6751. The experimental counterpart is provided by a plasma focus device (below left), which concentrates electrical energy in an explosive discharge (below right), mimicking the structure of NGC 6751.

In the electric universe the systems of planets and moons, stars, and galaxies have their origin in this proven ability of electricity to generate structure and rotation in plasma. Within particular regions of aggregating mass, gravity can take over only as the electric forces approach equilibrium. The electric universe hypothesis is rooted in direct observation. The extraordinary configurations now seen in space are the result of charge differential, where gravity cannot compete with the electric forces.

Such structures as NGC 6751 are telling us it is no longer tenable to build a cosmology on the idea that neutral matter is the "starting point". All variations on that theme will require gravitationally-driven generators to "separate charge". But it is not logical to ask the weak force of gravity to produce the strong force of electricity from which galactic-scale gravity defying motions arise. Direct observation implies that electrified--not neutral--matter, is the fundamental or original state of the universe.

To be sure, the human perspective is limited, and the origin of the universal electric potential will likely remain as elusive to the cosmic electricians as the origin of matter is to orthodox cosmologists. In both cases, for now at least, the theorists must be satisfied with the proclamation, "It just is!".



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040923saturn-ancient.jpg
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA

 

Sep 23, 2004
Saturn in Ancient Times

The Greeks called it the god "Helios". The Romans called it "Sol". These familiar figures have a long history, and the more one learns about their links to the earlier cultures, the more a mystery of origins comes into focus. Long before Greek and Roman times, the Egyptians worshipped the luminary Atum or Ra, just as the Sumerians honored Utu and the Babylonians the god Shamash. Astronomers and priests celebrated this light of heaven as the "Universal Monarch," the "father" of civilization and the celestial prototype of kings.

There is no mystery as to the present astronomical associations of these figures. But more archaic traditions, coming from many and diverse cultures, identify the great "sun" gods with the motionless center of heaven, the celestial pole. They speak of a primeval sun, an exemplary or "best" sun, ruling before the present sun. The god's station was the summit of the world axis, from which he ultimately fell in a heaven-altering catastrophe. Perhaps the best known story is the Greek account of Kronos, founder of the Golden Age, eventually driven from his seat at the top of the world by his son Zeus.

To what body did these strange traditions refer? Today we take for granted that the ancient words we translate as "helios" and "sol" originated as references to the Sun that illuminates our every day. In many languages the words for this axial figure did indeed become the words for the Sun. But the later identity could not obscure the more archaic idea--of a former, stationary light at the pole, whose every feature defies any identification with the Sun in our sky today.

As strange as it may seem, early  astronomical traditions identify the "primeval sun" as the planet Saturn, the distant planet which the alchemists called the "best sun" and which the Babylonians, the founders of astronomy, identified as the exemplary light of heaven, the "sun"-god Shamash. ("Shamash is the planet Saturn", the astronomical texts say.) In archaic copies of Plato's Timaeus, the word for the planet Saturn is Helios, the "sun" god. Popular Greek traditions identified Saturn as Kronos, alter ego of Helios, and Kronos is said to have ruled "over the pole". But only a handful of scholars have bothered to trace the parallel referents in other cultures, or to address the unanswered questions.

Worldwide drawings and symbols of the once-dominant luminary show a disc with rays, a disc with spokes, a disc with a central orb or eye, a disc with a crescent upon it. Today we require a powerful telescope to see Saturn as a disc. We must fly a space probe close to the planet to see rays and spokes. Even then the spokes are intermittent and dark. The ancient astronomers, however, described the spokes as those of a cosmic wheel. They were "streams of fire", the "glory" of heaven.

Our telescopes and probes can see things the ancients couldn't: Saturn's unexpected excess of heat, its radio emissions, its x-rays, its swirling bands of storm-clouds. These things are unexpected to modern astronomers. To the ancient astronomers (had they possessed the technologically enhanced senses of probes), the things our instruments now witness would likely be understandable. For they remembered their gods as energetic and active, wielders of the thunderbolt. And they also remembered the fates of the gods, recounting how the once palpable ruler of the sky went so untouchably far away.



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040922electric-stars.jpg
Credit: NASA, ESA, HEIC, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI /AURA)
                           Acknowledgment: R. Corradi (Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, Spain) and Z.Tsvetanov (NASA)

 

Sep 22, 2004
Electric Stars

In 1920, the year that Irving Langmuir coined the term "plasma", the British astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington was already developing the nuclear fusion model of stars. The first step in Eddington's reasoning was a simple question: Does the power that makes the stars shine come from the stars themselves, or does it come from somewhere else? And the answer he chose was that the power that makes the stars shine comes from the stars themselves.

With that assumption, he laid the foundation for the now-accepted theory of stars powered by fusion within their cores. This theory has been developed over the last 80 years into an all-encompassing model of stellar evolution and is deemed to be the proven explanation of what makes the stars shine. But a lot of new data and a lot of new ideas have come to bear on that foundation since 1920, and a number of scientists think a stronger and larger foundation is needed.

The Electric Universe model, following C. E. R. Bruce and Ralph Jeurgens, proposes a new theory that takes into account all that has been learned about plasma behavior in the laboratory and in space. We ask Eddington's question again: Does the power that makes the stars shine come from the stars themselves, or does it come from somewhere else? And the answer we choose is that the stars shine because they are connected to the electric circuitry of the galaxy.

An electric star's brightness depends on the power of the electric current feeding it, not on the amount of nuclear fuel it has available to burn. Consequently, an electric star doesn't evolve.

In the nuclear view, a "planetary nebula", such as the one which produced the intricate Cat's Eye Nebula (image above) is the "death throes" of a star that has run out of nuclear fuel. In the Electric Universe view, a planetary nebula is an overload, the flare-up of a star under abnormal electrical stress. The filamentary cellular structures seen here are characteristic of plasma behavior. Among those characteristics are concentric spheres, rays, intertwining spirals, bubbles formed of filaments and networks of filaments, and dusty pillars.

The most striking feature of the central part of this nebula is its polar symmetry. This is where the galactic Birkeland currents that feed the star "pinch" down into a galactic thunderbolt. The shape is similar to those of Zeus's thunderbolt drawn by ancient astronomers.

The electrical stress no doubt produces massive nuclear reactions in much the same way that we produce nuclear reactions in a laboratory by bombarding targets with electrically accelerated particles. And in the same way the reactions occur on and near the surface, not in the core.

Because the Cat's Eye Nebula is composed of plasma instead of merely hot gasses, its structure and development are consequences of electrical discharge rather than of an explosion and shock waves. The source of the energy is not the star at the core of the nebula, but the same galactic electric circuit which created and powered the star throughout its life.



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040921galaxy.jpg
Credit: Gemini Observatory Image, Travis Rector, University of Alaska Anchorage

 

Sep 21, 2004
Stephan's Quintet

Photographers don't always produce an exact replica of their subjects. For example, they can use a soft focus, controlled lighting, and creative composition to highlight the best features and minimize the flaws of a family portrait. They sell a lot more pictures if they look good.

This principle works for astronomers as well. The above image of Stephan's Quintet taken at the Gemini Observatory illustrates this point. The press release that goes with the image comments on the outstanding details in the photo, due to the light-gathering power of an 8-meter telescope and the clear atmosphere the night it was taken.

Those who are familiar with the role of Stephan's Quintet in the redshift controversy will notice the "flaws" this photo has removed. The controversy has mostly revolved around the galaxy NGC 7320 (top galaxy in this photo). Because its redshift is much lower than the other four members of this Quintet, most astronomers believe that it is about 8 times closer to us than the other four galaxies. But there are many details of the Quintet that support the idea that all five of them are a coherent group. These are the "flaws" that have been creatively removed from this picture.

First, in this picture, the HII groups in NGC 7320 are bright and reddish. The equally bright HII regions in NGC 7318 and NGC 7317 (the two interacting galaxies just below) don't show at all. This was done by selective filtering. The relative brightness and size of the HII regions in these three galaxies was one of the major arguments that all five galaxies belong together.

Second, the tail of NGC 7320 has been omitted completely. It sweeps out of the picture to the right, parallel to the tail on NGC 7319 (bottom galaxy). The two tails curve together and converge on a sixth galaxy, NGC 7319C, that has been cropped out of the picture beyond the lower right-hand corner. The way the two tails interact is another argument that the whole group belongs together, rather than this one galaxy "safely isolated from the violent quarrels of the more distant cluster" as the press release puts it.

The third omission isn't really omitted--it's simply ignored. There is a much bigger redshift discrepancy in Stephan's Quintet than NGC 7320, discovered October 3rd, 2003. There is a high redshift quasar buried in the dusty nucleus of NGC 7319 (red arrow above). The nucleus is opaque--nothing shines through it--and yet the redshift of this quasar indicates that it should be billions of light years beyond Stephan's Quintet. More evidence that the quasar is actually within the nucleus of the galaxy: the dust between the quasar and the center of the galaxy is energized and disturbed, with the only apparent cause the quasar itself.

This discovery was officially announced in January, 2004, at the AAS meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The announcement was ignored(The picture above was released in Sept, 2004). The paper describing the discovery has not yet been approved for publication, and may never be approved. Because if these observations are correct, it will mean the end of the most popular cosmology theory--the expanding universe and the big bang.



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040920pulsar.jpg
Credit: NASA/CXC/PSU/G.Pavlov et al.

 

Sep 20, 2004
Vela Pulsar

With the aid of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers recently peered deep into the Vela "supernova remnant", which lies about 800 light-years from earth. The cloud is believed to be the remains of a great explosion more than 10,000 years ago. At its core lies a "Pulsar", whose radio signal turns on and off about 11 times per second.

What the Chandra astronomers found came as a great surprise. They observed "striking, almost unbelievable, structures consisting of bright rings and jets". These structures, they concluded, "indicate that mighty ordering forces must be at work amidst the chaos of the aftermath of a supernova explosion". The implied forces have the power to "harness the energy of thousands of Suns and transform that energy into a tornado of high-energy particles".  See:http://chandra.harvard.edu/chronicle/0201/vela.html

The investigators found that electrical and magnetic fields centered on the Pulsar are accelerating charged particles to "nearly the speed of light".

It is commonly assumed that the pulsing is due to the rotation of a "neutron star"--a hypothetical body never observed but imagined to be the result when a star's career ends in a supernova explosion and its entire mass collapses to the density of an atomic nucleus. The supposed diameter of the Vela neutron star is only about 12 miles, though its mass is claimed to be that of several Suns.

But astronomers have not yet considered the most obvious explanation in an electric universe--that the Vela Pulsar itself is not the "neutron star" of mathematical conjecture, but an electrical discharge at the center of an intense electric field. If this is so, the "pulsing" of the star is simply the natural pulsing of plasma discharge.

Astronomers expected that the "rotation" (pulsing) of the neutron star--conceived as an isolated mass in space -- would slow at a consistent rate.  But then they observed a significant "glitch" in the pulse rate, an event that "released a burst of energy that was carried outward at near the speed of light by the pulsar wind." Of course, unpredictable variations in both the pulse rate and intensity of an electrically discharging Pulsar would be expected with any changes in the electrical environment through which it moved.

Proponents of the electric model are particularly impressed by the two embedded "bows" seen along the polar jet (upper left). Astronomers initially called these "windbow shocks", a theorized mechanical effect of high-velocity material encountering the interstellar medium. But electrical theorists recognized a configuration common to intense plasma discharge in laboratory experiments: toruses or rings stacked along the polar axis of the discharge. And subsequent enhanced pictures (cf., upper right) made clear that the "bows" were in fact stacked toruses, not easily explained in gravitational terms.

Also noteworthy is the manner in which the axial jet or column, as it extends beyond the "upper" torus, takes on an undulating, serpentine quality, as revealed by a series of Chandra snapshots (lower array). This too is of great significance to the electrical theorists since some in their group--years before these recent observations in space-- claimed that ancient witnesses observed such undulating phenomena stretching along the polar axis of the earth, when our planet moved through a more dense, more electrically active environment.



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040917electric-weather.jpg
Photo Date: June 6, 1974
Credit: NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)

 

Sep 17, 2004
Weather: Fair, Foul or Electric?

Because the Earth is a small charged body moving in a large cell of plasma, explanations of all physical phenomena in, on, and near the Earth must take the electrical behavior of plasma into account.

Earth's atmosphere is an insulating medium separating the charge on the surface from the charge in the surrounding space plasma.  A complex of "double layers" distributes the potential difference between the surface and space much like a series of capacitors. We detect the electrical field of the bottommost layer in the fair weather surface field of around 100 volts per meter.

This field beneath a thunderstorm may be 100 times stronger as the atmospheric dielectric is "shorted out" over many vertical kilometers by thunderclouds. As in a capacitor, when the insulating medium breaks down a discharge occurs between the electrodes. We can readily understand that lightning in a thunderstorm would be such a discharge. However there are other forms of discharge besides the arc mode of lightning--diffuse glow discharges, such as the sprites that occur above thunderstorms, and, especially, "dark" discharges. Although the latter may carry significant current, we are usually unaware of them because we can't see or otherwise sense them. But they may have visible secondary effects.

Close observation of laboratory arc discharges reveals that an electrical "wind" surrounds and often precedes the arc. The developing discharge sweeps the surrounding air along with the charge carriers of the current. This wind appears as inflows and updrafts as well as outflows and downdrafts. It can lift dust particles and erode surfaces. By analogy, we must then question the accepted explanation of thunderstorms as being caused solely by convection of hot air: The storms may instead be the visible secondary effects of an invisible dielectric breakdown in the Earth's atmosphere.

The up- and down-drafts, the in- and out-flows, would be atmospheric responses to "dark discharge" electrical currents more than to temperature differences. Furthermore, the suspension of particles--charged dust and polar molecules (water)--would be largely a result of electrostatic forces sweeping both particles and air along in the electrical field of the discharge. This would explain the spherical shape of hailstones, for example, which do not show the distortion that would be expected if they were formed by being blown upward by strong wind friction forces.

This leads to the more general idea that all weather may be caused, or at least influenced, by the electrical interactions between Earth and the surrounding plasma. Because this larger possibility has never been considered, critical tests have not been devised that would distinguish between the competing explanations. But there are tests that cast doubt on the prevailing theory.

Convection is well understood. The theory of gas behavior in a convecting system is developed with great exactitude. But the weather forecasts derived from convection theory are more than mere applications of theory: They are also tests of that theory, and a wrong forecast is a falsification of the theory. The significant fraction of erroneous forecasts by weathermen is an indication that the theory is missing something. The Electric Universe suggests that what's missing is a consideration of the electrical properties of plasma.



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040916nebula.jpg
Credit (top): FORS Team, 8.2-meter VLT, ESO
Credit (bottom): Chandra X-ray Observatory, NASA

 

Sep 16, 2004
Crab Nebula

On July 4, 1054 AD, Chinese chroniclers recorded an apparent supernova they called a "guest star" in the constellation Taurus, near the star Zeta Tauri. It was bright enough to be visible in daylight, but faded and disappeared again about a year later.

In 1731 astronomer John Bevis discovered a bright nebula in the same location. When Charles Messier saw it in 1758, he first thought this "fuzzy object" might be a comet, but he found that it never moved.

Using a larger telescope in 1844, Lord Ross thought the nebula resembled a crab's claw, and the description stuck. More than ten light years across, the Crab Nebula is now thought to be the remains of a star that exploded in 1054.

Today's astronomical instruments see much more than Messier's fuzzy patch. They see filaments and complex structures, in colors and wavelengths that highlight newly discovered phenomena. For example, the star at the center of the nebula blinks 30 times a second. We now call such stars "pulsars".

The high-resolution picture of the Crab Nebula above (upper), taken by the Very Large Telescope (VLT), shows the filamentation produced by magnetic fields and electric currents, as material races away from the nebula's core at half the speed of light--a "higher speed than expected from a free explosion", according to NASA reports.  Acceleration of particles is a trademark of electrical activity, and no other force in space is known to achieve this feat.

In the lower photograph taken by the Chandra X-Ray Telescope, we see the internal dynamics of the Crab Nebula, revealing structure typical of the intensely energetic activity observed in decades of laboratory experiments with electrical discharge in plasma.  That these dynamics are revealed by x-rays is significant because x-ray activity always accompanies high-energy electrical interactions. The internal polar configuration is of particular interest. A torus or wheel-like structure revolves around an axial column--presenting what some have called a "doughnut on a stick".  Polar columns or jets are expected in intense plasma discharge.

In their discussion of the Crab Nebula, NASA spokesmen refer to "a scintillating halo, and an intense knot of emission dancing, sprite-like, above the pulsar's pole".  Though gravitational theories never envisioned the polar "jets", "haloes", and "knots" of the Crab Nebula, we can now recognize these s as prime examples of electrical forces in the universe.



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040915plasma-rock.jpg
Credit: Anthony Peratt, IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science

 

Sep 15, 2004
Plasma on Stone

A number of independent researchers today insist that our early ancestors witnessed intensely energetic, heaven-spanning plasma discharge formations above them. According to these researchers, ancient artists chiseled plasma configurations by the millions on stone.

Many global patterns in ancient rock art are indeed highly unusual, revealing unique details such as the two dots or circles to the left and right of a central "stick" figure in the images above.

The examples here were gathered by plasma scientist Anthony Peratt. For over three decades Peratt's laboratory research concentrated on the instabilities that develop in high-energy discharges, and he documented the evolution of the these formations through dozens of unique configurations. In supercomputer simulations, using the very equations that have reproduced galactic structures in space, he has replicated the dynamics of laboratory discharge, with surprisingly accurate results.

Could Peratt's laboratory science illuminate the enigmatic rock art patterns?  The majority of rock art authorities argue that only images of the sun, moon, and stars reflect real celestial phenomena. But cross cultural comparison proves the experts incorrect, as the above examples show.  Many specialists attribute the more unusual elements in rock art to subjective shamanistic trances, explaining the "unnatural" representations as unique expressions within each culture.  Universal patterns, however, suggest a universal experience.

Intrigued by the striking similarities between rock art patterns and plasma discharge formations, Peratt began his own investigation.  The geometric illustrations above (beneath the rock art images) graphically illustrate the laboratory and simulation formations observed in the phase of intense plasma discharge corresponding to the rock art images shown here. The illustrations are taken from Peratt's recent paper in "Transactions on Plasma Science" of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, in December 2003.

Peratt states his conclusion forthrightly: The recurring petroglyph patterns "are reproductions of plasma phenomena in space".

By comparing rock art images from around the world and adjusting for line of sight, Peratt found more than 80 patterns corresponding to phases of plasma discharge he had documented in the laboratory.  In many instances the different regional images then align to the degree that they are "cookie cutter" templates of each other. Through computer processing of images from different regions of the world, his data enable him to project what was seen in the sky in three dimensions. The pictographs themselves can be arranged to form animation cells, enabling him to produce an animation of the laboratory sequences using only the pictograph images on stone and the complex evolution of the plasma instabilities.

 



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050501plasma-galaxy.jpg
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/S. Willner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

 

Sep 13, 2004
Plasma Galaxies

Laboratory experiments, together with advanced simulation capabilities, have shown that electric forces can efficiently organize spiral galaxies, without resorting to the wild card of gravity-only cosmology--the Black Hole.

Many of astronomy's most fundamental mysteries find their resolution in plasma behavior. Why do cosmic bodies spin, asked the distinguished astronomer Fred Hoyle, in summarizing the unanswered questions. Plasma experiments show that rotation is a natural function of interacting electric currents in plasma. Currents can pinch matter together to form rotating stars and galaxies. A good example is the ubiquitous spiral galaxy, a predictable configuration of a cosmic-scale discharge. Computer models of two current filaments interacting in a plasma have, in fact, reproduced fine details of spiral galaxies, where the gravitational schools must rely on invisible matter arbitrarily placed wherever it is needed to make their models "work".

The photograph of spiral galaxy M81 above is one of the first images returned by NASA's new Spitzer space telescope, an instrument that can detect extremely faint waves of infrared radiation, or heat, through clouds of dust and plasma that have blocked the view of conventional telescopes. The result is the picture of striking clarity.

Beneath this photograph we have placed snapshots from a computer simulation by plasma scientist Anthony Peratt, illustrating the evolution of galactic structures under the influence of electric currents. Through the "pinch effect", parallel currents converge to produce spiraling structures.

To see the connection between plasma experiments and plasma formations in space, it is essential to understand the scalability of plasma phenomena. Under similar conditions, plasma discharge will produce the same formations irrespective of the size of the event. The same basic patterns will be seen at laboratory, planetary, stellar, and galactic levels. Duration is proportional to size as well. A spark that lasts for microseconds in the laboratory may continue for years at planetary or stellar scales, or for millions of years at galactic or intergalactic scales.

Plasma experiments, backed by computer simulations of plasma discharge, are changing the picture of space.  Plasma scientists, for example, are able to replicate the evolution of galactic structures both experimentally and in computer simulations without recourse to a popular fiction of modern astrophysics--the black hole. Astronomers require invisible, super-compressed matter as the center of galaxies because without Black Holes gravitational equations cannot account for observed movement and compact energetic activity. But charged plasma achieves such effects routinely.



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040910electric-earth.jpg
Credit: ISS/NASA

 

Sep 10, 2004
The Electric Earth

The Earth is an electrified body, moving in a plasma. We who stand on its surface are seldom aware of its electrical properties. That's because we live in balance with the Earth's electric field. Similarly, a bird on an electric wire has no idea that high-energy currents of electricity are flowing beneath her feet. But she might notice the hums and crackles that are side effects of that current.

Like the high-tension wire, our Earth produces hums and crackles as it responds to surges of power in the electric currents of space. Perhaps the most obvious sparks are the auroras, as seen in the above picture taken from the International Space Station in April 2003.

The complex patterns of electric currents and magnetic fields surrounding the Earth are how the Earth's electric charge adjusts to the Sun's electric field. These electrical phenomena were a complete surprise, discovered by satellites launched by astronomers who expected to find the Earth isolated from the rest of the universe by featureless vacuum. Instead, they found the near-Earth environs alive with energetic activity.

Other electrical sparks that the Earth produces go unnoticed because we have lived with them so long that we think we know what causes them. Many meteorological phenomena are electrically driven. We've always thought of lightning as electrical, and now we're beginning to realize that we can think of tornadoes and hurricanes as electrical phenomena, too. But less spectacular weather conditions like dust devils and waterspouts are also electrically driven, as are larger weather patterns, the jet streams and El Niño.

Earthquakes can be induced by pumping electricity into the Earth, and natural quakes are often accompanied by or preceded by electrical glows called earthquake lights and radio frequency static. Volcanoes are often accompanied by copious amounts of lightning. No one died from the lava flows or cinder bombs during the decade- long eruptions of Paricutin in Mexico, but three people were killed by its lightning.

All of the Earth sciences could profit from asking the question: How do the discoveries of Earth's unexpected electrical environment affect our discipline? How many concepts have been overlooked because until a few decades ago no one suspected that Earth is an electrified body moving through a plasma?



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040909scarring-miranda.jpg
Credit: Voyager Project, JPL, NASA

 

Sep 09, 2004
The Scars of Miranda

How could the moons of Uranus be distributed in such circular, evenly spaced orbits around Uranus' equator when Uranus' equator is so glaringly out-of-sync with the rest of the solar system? The same electric forces that give birth to planets and moons are also responsible for circularizing their orbits.

A previous picture of the day (Aug 19th) discussed the oddity of the moons of Uranus. How could they be distributed in such circular, evenly spaced orbits around Uranus' equator when Uranus' equator is so glaringly out-of-sync with the rest of the solar system?

A closer look by Voyager 2 at the inner moon, Miranda, only added to the enigma. [Photo above, taken by Voyager 2 in 1986, at a distance of 31,000 km (19000 mi.)] Miranda appears battered and beaten. It has cliffs (bottom right) three times as high as the Grand Canyon and grids of parallel and perpendicular grooves that create the famous rectangle called the "chevron" (center.) There are valleys that cut through mountain ranges as if the mountains weren't there. Parts of Miranda are heavily cratered and other parts have very few craters.

The first speculations of astronomers to explain the mystery of this moon's surface features were that the whole moon had been torn apart as many as five times, then reassembled with some of its surface inside-out. But how could Miranda have suffered such a tempestuous past and remain in such a circular orbit? Later, they found a simpler speculation: The icy moon must have melted in places, erasing craters and creating the cliffs and gashes. But what could melt a moon on the frigid edges of the solar system?

The Electric Universe has different speculations. The same electric forces that give birth to planets and moons are also responsible for circularizing their orbits. These forces create the regularly spaced "Bode's Law" distribution. The side effect of the electric adjustments  --electrical discharges--produces surface scarring and faulting. The discharges produce ridges and grooves. They produce craters in some areas and not in others, so there is no need to hypothesize a later event that erased the craters on some parts of this tiny moon. It's possible that all of the scarring we see happened in the single event of Miranda's birth. Or there may have been multiple scarring episodes.

Today, with only one quick flyby from which to draw information, our curiosity has been aroused, but not satisfied. There are so many questions to ask. It will be good to go back and take a closer look, with experiments designed to explore both the standard and the Electric Universe interpretations.



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040908circuit.jpg
Credit: NASA/The University of Iowa

 

Sep 08, 2004
Complete the Circuit

City lights and auroras. Two different scales of plasma phenomena.

We have a good understanding of what causes the city lights. We can even understand that the source of their light is not necessarily where the lights are. There are generators connected to dams and coal-fired furnaces and even windmill farms that produce the electricity. Then high-tension wires carry the electricity cross-country to where it is needed. It is transformed and distributed by substations, then millions of individual users tap into the currents to light up the night. If you stand beneath the high-tension wires, you can hear the buzz of electricity passing, but from space you only see the city lights at the end of the line.

Similarly, the electricity that lights up the auroras is produced far away on the sun and carried invisibly on the solar "wind." Man-made space probes have instruments that observe the solar storms that generate it and that measure its density in protons/cubic centimeter. In the Earth's magnetosphere, the auroral current system consists of plasma cables, filaments and sheets. These plasma structures, which follow the same behavior in space as they do in the lab, transfer the energy from Earth's equatorial plasma toroid to the auroral zones, lighting up the polar regions.

Both the city lights and the auroras are created by electric circuits. If there is no circuit, there will be no light. Our experience tells us where to look for every stage of the circuit that connects city lights. And we know that if we break that circuit at any point along its way, the city lights will fail. But we've only had the technology to observe the auroral circuits in space for a few decades. How long before our new experiences find a way to trace the circuits of all the electrical currents in space?



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040907ice-core.jpg
Credit: Departement of Geophysics, Niels Bohr Institute, University of
Copenhagen
 www.glaciology.gfy.ku.dk/ngrip/

Chart: data courtesy of University of Washington

 

Sep 07, 2004
Ice Core Findings

In the summer of 2004, the North Greenland Ice Core Project cut all the way through the ice (over 10,000 feet deep) and brought up a sample of soil from the surface of Greenland (image above.) And a bit of organic matter was embedded in that first four-inch diameter sample of Greenland muck (top right image.) The organic matter might be a pine needle, a piece of bark, or possibly grass. The press release states that, "The presence of plant material under the ice indicates that the Greenland ice sheet formed relatively fast, as a slowly growing glacier would have flushed or pushed these light particles away."

This was the grand culmination of the project. The drill was successful. They cut all the way through the ice to Greenland. Time to pack up the equipment, go home, and think about what this project has done to change our ideas about the history of the Earth we live on.

The snow that falls on the Greenland Ice Cap every year preserves a record of that year's temperature. By drilling and carefully examining a core thousands of feet long, scientists have constructed a history of temperature changes over thousands of years (chart lower right.)

The chart represents the last 40,000 years of the average temperatures in Greenland. The present day is on the right-hand side of the chart. The temperatures during the last Ice Age (12,000 to 25,000 years ago) are recorded here and the temperatures of part of the last interglacial period (25,000 to 60,000 year ago.)

According to one geology text, the Ice Cores indicate that "the normal pattern of change involves numerous rapid fluctuations in temperature -- not only during glacial periods, but throughout interglacial periods as well. The stable warm climate of the present interglacial period is distinctly abnormal."

A planetary catastrophist would state this differently: "The stable warm climate of today represents the present stable solar system. It is the wild fluctuations of the past that are distinctly abnormal."

Going back just a bit farther (geologically speaking), the ice cores "run out." There is no more ice. The Antarctic ice is a bit deeper than the Greenland ice, but it, too "runs out." Before this, there is no evidence of glaciers anywhere on Earth. Standard Ice Age theory places the beginning of the Ice Ages about 2 million years ago (so far, the ice cores have drilled through 123 thousand layers in Greenland; 174 thousand layers in Antarctica.) And geology books point out that glaciation has been a rare event in Earth's history. The last episode (earlier than our very recent Ice Ages) happened before the first dinosaurs were born. Over 200 million years of Earth's prehistory passed without glaciers.

The Greenland Ice Cores emphasize what we are learning in other fields of geology: the very recent past is not a story of steady change. The Ice Cap began suddenly, perhaps engulfing a thriving temperate forest and all of its inhabitants. Its deepest layers record sudden large temperature changes, some much colder than today, others much warmer. Then, at about ten thousand layers before the present, something happens that stabilized the climate. What could that something have been?

And where would we look to learn what happened? Primitive human beings were living at that time, and those ancient peoples passed down stories of fantastic events that changed the world, of heroes battling dragons in the sky. These stories come from widely separated cultures, yet are remarkably similar. Can we find clues in these stories of old that will explain the mysteries of the Ice Cores?



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Uh-oh.  They mentioned the unmentionable infinite energy-source.  Now no one will let this theory go through (not that it wasn't obvious before, now they're just putting the problem on a silver platter).

Here's the problem in a one-sentence nutshell:  Corporations in control of oil and other resources and, essentially, our government, would never let people know about this for as long as possible, as it would likely put them out of business.



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040906flykite.jpg
Credit: NASA/MSFC

 

Sep 06, 2004
Flying a Kite

Because astronomers know that you can't have electric currents in space, they chose to misname the accelerating ions radiating from the sun a "solar wind." It is this metaphor that has led them to allocate funding into researching the possibility of using sails to catch the solar wind as propulsion for future spacecraft.

The currents of space, as electrical phenomena, have greater potential than turning future astronauts into wind-surfers. And that potential is mostly untapped, first because astronomers don't recognize electrical phenomena in space, and second because plasma phenomena are complex and not fully explored yet. In many areas, the behavior seen in plasma labs is very different from that predicted by classical plasma theory.

Alfvén discusses this example. He compares theoretical predictions to laboratory results when a plasma beam moves parallel to a magnetic field, both moving horizontally. What happens to the plasma beam if the magnetic field curves down? Theoretical calculations came up with four possibilities: two of them expected the plasma beam to curve downward to match the magnetic field (for two different reasons); one expected the plasma beam to ignore the curve of the magnetic field and continue moving in the original direction; the last also expected the plasma to continue moving forward, but it would pull and stretch the magnetic field along with it. In actual laboratory tests, the plasma didn't follow any of the predictions. Instead, when the magnetic field curved down, the plasma beam curved up, then curved back to a direction parallel to but above the original direction. In Alfvén's words, "Although the theories were generally accepted, the plasma itself refused to believe in them."

What does this mean for space flight? It means that the potential for tapping the plasma universe for propulsion has barely scratched the surface. At the Australia National University in Canberra, researchers have been developing plasma thrusters. If the solar sail above is thought of as a sailing ship in space, then the idea of a plasma thruster is like an electrified rocket. The advantage over a normal rocket is that it can use fuel that is readily available anywhere (even off-earth), and although its thrust is much weaker than a normal rocket, it can be used for much longer burns.

But plasma plays by different rules than rockets, and one of the researchers discovered that she got a lot more thrust when she decreased the power and increased the magnetic field. The plasma formed double layers, which acted like waterfalls to accelerate the ions up to 10 km/sec. In the researcher's words: "one, two, it's already on the other side of Canberra." She continues: ..."the plasma behaves like water tumbling over a cliff, getting faster as it drops. And, just like an aurora, it seems that the plasma actually makes the "cliff" - all by itself. It's almost magic."

Plasma cosmologists have explored the "magic" of double layers for decades. If they weren't considered enemies, the two groups could share the benefits of their separate experiences.

In the as-yet-unknown behavior of plasma, there are secrets hidden that are as far beyond the imagination of today's explorers as jet airliners were beyond Columbus' imagination. It's time to drop the gravity-only universe and begin exploring the promising new concepts of the electric universe. The stars may be within our reach.



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040903redshift.jpg
Credit and copyright: John Smith, Hidden Loft Observatory

 

Sep 03, 2004
The Search for Two Numbers

Astronomy's obsessive search for the two numbers--the Hubble Constant and the age of the universe--is based upon an unwarranted assumption, i.e., redshift equals distance.


Alan Sandage, talking about Hubble/Humason's 1931 paper that first suggested there is a connection between redshift and distance of galaxies, said:

"Judged by its subsequent influence, the paper by Hubble and Humason (1931) was one of the great, prescient early papers in observational cosmology. It outlined the central research trends that continued well beyond the middle third of the twentieth century. From 1929 until the discovery of the of the Alpher-Herman microwave background in 1965 this was the field of "practical cosmology" which was once described as "simply the search for two numbers" in contrast to the wondrous new theoretical cosmology of today that combines high-energy particle physics with theories of the very hot early universe."

The highway to modern cosmology began in the mid-1920's, also as a result of Hubble's work. Other astronomers were still arguing the 150-year-old debate, "Is the Milky Way the only galaxy?" (Most said "yes"--the universe isn't big enough for more than one galaxy.) But Hubble was taking photos of the nearby galaxies M31 and M33, cataloging their stars and trying to determine how far away they are. The three papers he published in 1925, 1926, and 1929 proved to astronomers for the first time that there is a universe beyond the Milky Way. If this was the beginning of the highway of cosmology, then Hubble's redshift/distance article was the first major fork in the road. Everyone took the same turn, the turn that led to the big bang and to tired light. This was the hypothesis that determined the course of 20th century cosmology.

The "two numbers" that cosmology chased for so long were the Hubble Constant (how fast the universe is expanding) and the age of the universe (when it began.) This search was the "Key Project" for which the Hubble Space Telescope was built. These numbers provide the only tool we have for determining the distance of most galaxies, and they provide the only justification we have for believing that the universe is expanding and that it began with a bang. The "wondrous new technical cosmology of today" Sandage refers to (above) consists of inventing new concepts to explain why observations don't match predictions based on the long-sought "two numbers."

What lies down the second fork of the cosmological highway? In the late 1960's, Halton Arp discovered evidence that the redshift/distance connection is a dead end. It doesn't work. You can't determine a galaxy's distance by its redshift because Arp has documented hundreds of cases where galaxies of different redshifts are grouped together at the same distance.

Arp was one of Hubble's students, and, like Hubble, based his research on careful observations more than on theoretical considerations. But astronomers were committed to chasing two numbers, so they ignored Arp's evidence, and in the mid-1980's they found a way to deny him both telescope time and publication in the astronomical journals.

Today a few professional astronomers and a large number of amateurs are interested in following the second fork of the cosmological highway. It's not an easy path, but for some the threat of no promotion or even loss of position is less important than the goal of astronomical discovery. And amateurs have the advantage of no position to lose. Will the second fork of the highway be more fruitful? Will there be third and fourth and fifth forks as well? It will be interesting to look back a century from now on how history judges our first attempts to understand the universe beyond our home galaxy.



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040902thunderbolt.jpg
Credit: ISUAL Project, NCKU/NSPO, Taiwan

 

Sep 02, 2004
What's in a  Name?

When fleeting electrical phenomena above thunderstorms were first discovered in the late 1980's, they were called "upward lightning" because that's what they appeared to be. But the physicists who studied it were afraid that the name was too suggestive and could offer false leads. It may have sounded dangerously close to the "electric currents in space" that astronomers have tried to avoid for over a century. So they decided instead to give the phenomena new names, based on something that could never distract the research. They chose whimsical mythical names -- sprites, elves, gnomes, pixies and trolls.

It's funny the way people think. By applying mythical names to the phenomena, they have connected to the oldest human records of electricity in space--the thunderbolts of Zeus, the spears of Odin, the lightning weapon of Tlaloc, the firebreathing dragon and many more. The mythology of every culture on Earth is filled with celestial gods who use the thunderbolt as their weapon. Its association with "thunderstones," or meteorites, can verify that the thunderbolt of myth was no ordinary lightning.

The thunderbolts flew when the planetary gods of old were closer than we see them today. The mythical paradise was transformed into the world of today. The apocalyptic events formed a culture-defining memory at the dawn of civilization. We are still gripped by their ten- thousand-year-old echoes, which reappear in our scientific nomenclature.

What if we follow the connections between the flashing lights we see above thunderstorms and the ancient mythology with which they have been unconsciously associated? What discoveries will we make about archetypal memories and our human past? Will we see in the sprites of today a reflection of the images that astonished our ancestors?



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A major problem with the type of reason all scientists tend to use.

Scientists like to come up with random, slightly supported conjectures without ever figuring out what what they see isn't.  They assume that when they find a just barely-fitting explanation, they have falsified all other possible explanations.  That's forcing a square peg into a round hole - it does fit, but leaves all sorts of spaces for improvement, which are rarely ever accounted for.  They try to convince these holes in their theories don't exist, and that their word is law.



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040901rille.jpg
Credit: NASA/JPL, Alpine Valley from Lunar Orbiter 5

040901rille-2.jpg
Credit: Ed Bondarenko, Telstra Labs, Melbourne, Australia: high-powered
discharge across a glass plate

 

 

Sep 01, 2004
What Else Could it Be?

The cracks in the Moon are called rilles.  Some scientists first thought they were erosion channels left by flowing water because they are similar to channels on Earth that most people think were eroded by flowing water because water still flows in them and what else could it be. This chain of post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc thought was broken by the discovery that there is not now nor likely has ever been water on the Moon.

Some other scientists forged a second chain of thought that the cracks were lava tubes whose roofs had collapsed because some of them extended from craters that those scientists at the time thought were volcanoes.  Later scientists became convinced that the craters were holes gouged in the lunar surface by impacts of asteroids and meteoroids.  The impact of this new belief failed to break this second chain of thought because although it left the hypothesized tubes whose roofs had supposedly subsequently collapsed without a source of lava to form them what else could the cracks be.

Now some scientists are forging a third chain of thought that the cracks are truly cracks, that the surface has fallen between parallel faults because a dike of lava pushed up beneath the crack, pushed up the entire region along the crack and caused the region to crack, which let the sliver of surface between the sides of the crack fall. They claim to have found proof of this rising and cracking and falling in the discovery of anomalous magnetism along some of the cracks because what else could the anomalous magnetism be.

Some scientists are, as all scientists should be, skeptical of this. Empirical proofs prove nothing because they only prove that the effect being considered could result from the cause being alleged but they don't prove that there might not be something else it could be, although falsifications are final.  The skeptical will look for the falsifications and the adventurous will look for bold new conjectures to answer the question "what else could it be" but only a few of these adventurous scientists will follow that question all the way back to the first thought and wonder if those channels on Earth, the ones with water still flowing in them, might also be susceptible to bold new conjectures.

The falsifications of the several chains of thought are many and lie to hand: The rilles have no outflow, no fan of debris from water erosion, no lobes of lava from eruptions. They have no detritus inside from a collapsed lava roof.  They have no constant cross-sectional area, deep where narrow and shallow where broad, as have channels left by flowing liquids; but their cross-sectional areas are the contrary, having constant width with varying depth. They have no constant downslope direction but they sometimes run upslope as well.  They often have a more sinuous channel running along their centers, and this more sinuous channel may degenerate into a chain of craters. They may have levees of material pinched up along their edges. They may stop abruptly and begin again some distance away.  They may have glassified floors.  They seldom have tributaries, or never have tributaries commensurate with their sizes.

One bold what-else-could-it-be conjecture is that they are channels carved by surface interplanetary plasma discharges Lightning channels have characteristics matching those that falsify as well as those that verify the hypotheses of flowing liquids and falling cracks. Where thunderbolts came from and when is another story.  But their passing may have left us with the Moon we see today, a cracked and cratered sphere that does not fit into any of the square hypotheses imagined by those scientists who insist on placing a period after the words "what else could it be."



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040831hoyles-conclusion.jpg
Credit: Cover from Hoyle, Burbidge and Narlikar's 2002 Book

 

Aug 31, 2004
Hoyle's Conclusion
Three Challenges For Cosmology

Hoyle, Burbidge and Narlikar published a book in 2002 against the big bang. Unfortunately, the Quasi-Steady-State-Cosmology (QSSC), which they propose as an alternative, is based on the same faulty assumption as the big bang--that redshift can be used as a measure of distance. They devote one section of their book to quasars as the exception to that rule. This section covers the observational evidence that quasars are found together with active galaxies in spite of their redshift incompatibility.

The last chapter of the book is most fascinating to a pioneering astronomer. Here they discuss three major issues that standard cosmology has never explained quantitatively. In simpler words, the math doesn't match what the observations demand. The first problem is angular momentum. Everything in space seems to spin, although it's not clear why. But some objects, like our Sun, don't spin as fast as they should. And other objects, like the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn, spin too fast.

The second problem is magnetic fields. They are found almost everywhere, but standard theory doesn't understand what makes them. Plasma cosmologist Alfvén explains that the problem is with astronomers' shortsightedness. Magnetic fields are never found without electric currents. Even the fields of bar magnets are created by currents within their atomic structure. So as long as astronomers refuse to accept the existence of electric currents in space, they will never understand the origins of the magnetic fields they see.

The third problem is quantized redshift. Not only QSOs but also low-redshift galaxies display a preference for certain values of redshift. This throws a monkey wrench into both the big bang theory and Hoyle¹s QSSC, although big bang theorists try to moot the question by declaring it to be the "surprising new structure" of unobservable dark matter.

The authors ended this chapter and the book with good advice for all:
    "... we have described in outline a number of observed phenomena whose origins we do not understand either within the framework of big-bang cosmology or within the framework of the QSSC. The universe is an immensely complicated place. There is good reason to start with simple models, but there is no excuse for ignoring observations which do not apparently fit into a picture which is largely based on some well accepted results, but also a number of preconceived ideas.

"If nothing else, we hope that we have made both theorists and
observers aware that observations remain primary in this field."



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040830magnetic.jpg
 Credit: M. Aschwanden et al. (LMSAL), TRACE, NASA

 

Aug 30, 2004
The Myth of Magnetic Reconnection

Electrical engineers and plasma cosmologists will tell you (possibly in bitter tones and impolite language) that magnetic reconnection is one of the stupidest theoretical ideas that astronomers ever derived from the mistaken belief that there are no electric currents in space. But astronomers today are taking pictures of something they call magnetic reconnection on the Sun, and space probes are measuring something else in the Earth's magnetosphere that has also been labeled magnetic reconnection. If you ask a plasma cosmologist about these, he'll tell you that the astronomers don't know what they're talking about. They're looking at well-understood plasma phenomena, exploding double layers and electric discharge, not magnetic reconnection.

Which side will triumph? Here's how it's shaping up. Now that astronomers are looking at real phenomena rather than elegant equations, they realize that their equations aren't as predictive as they had hoped. The magnetic reconnection equations called for a slow discharge of energy lasting for years, but the solar flares discharge in minutes with much more energy than expected. But astronomers have also noticed that whenever magnetic reconnection happens, there seem to be regions of electron-depleted space associated with it [plasma cosmologists call them electric currents.] The electron-depleted atoms are traveling at speeds of up to 1000 km/sec [which plasma cosmologists recognize as one of the "characteristic velocities" of plasma in the lab.] And astronomers find that during the magnetic reconnection process, a two-layer flow of particles is created that speeds the release of energy [plasma cosmologists call them double layers.]

The only problem astronomers still need to solve is why so much more energy than they were expecting is produced by the process. Hannés Alfvén could help them here: In the mid-1960's, he was called by the Swedish Power Company to solve a similar problem on a more down-to-Earth scale. The company was using large rectifiers to convert electrical power from AC to DC for easier transport from the generators in the north to the cities in the south. But every once in a while the plasma in the rectifier would explode, causing considerable damage. The problem turned out to be exploding double layers, like those found in "magnetic reconnection" on the Sun. The explosions expended more energy than was contained by the plasma in the rectifier because the energy from the whole length of the circuit flowed back into the break. In Sweden, this was over 600 miles of electric wires. On the Sun -- well, we don't know yet how long those circuits are.

The astronomers will no doubt solve the problem of too much energy released by magnetic reconnection, and the answer will no doubt depend on the dimensions of the "electron-depleted regions." But the question for historians is this: who will be remembered? Will this still be called magnetic reconnection (although it hardly resembles the original theory at all)? Will its discovery be credited to early 21st century astronomers? Or will history remember that plasma researchers like Jacobson and Carlqvist were explaining solar flares as exploded double layers 50 years ago?



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040827mars.jpg
Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
                    Bottom left: Amy Acheson                                                                                  Bottom right: Mel Acheson

 

Aug 27, 2004
Blueberries on Mars
And Other Spherical Rocks  

The Mars rover Opportunity discovered BB-sized spheres scattered all over Meridiana Planum, as seen in the above picture taken on Sol 19 of the rover's mission. They were nicknamed "blueberries" because of their grey-blue color and the way they are embedded in the Martian rocks "like blueberries in a muffin."

After spectroscopic analysis, the Martian blueberries were identified as hematite concretions. But knowing what they are called is not the same thing as understanding how they were made. Hematite concretions are one of several types of spherical rocks that are found on Earth but are not completely understood. In the center photo above, we see the Martian blueberries. Compare these with hematite concretions from Texas (bottom right photo), and with Moqui balls from Utah (hematite spheres with sandstone cores, bottom left photo.) Other spherical formations that are difficult to explain include geodes, thunder eggs, and concretions as large as ten feet in diameter.

One problem is explaining how a spherical rock forms in the first place. This problem is compounded by the fact that many of the spheres are layered or hollow or even contain a separate "nut" rattling around inside. Theories to explain the layered interiors include multiple episodes of mineralized water "leaking in" and "leaking out." This "leaky theory" is particularly hard to imagine in the case of the oil-filled geodes found in Illinois. Many are pressurized and squirt when the shell is cut.

The speculations about the formation of Moqui balls range from meteorite impacts to underground fires. One popular idea is that they began under an inland sea as unstable limonite. Under pressure, limonite forms a gel, which might be rolled into balls, trapping sand from the seafloor inside. Later, the limonite might be converted to stable hematite by heat and gases from volcanic venting.

Several characteristics must be addressed by any theory attempting to explain these round rocks: Most of them are clustered in zones, not randomly distributed. They are often common in one region of a particular rock formation, but absent in higher, lower, and adjacent regions of the same rock formation. In some deposits, it is obvious that there cannot have been spherical cavities while the flat surrounding sediments were being deposited. Nor could there have been spherical cavities while the sediments were being compressed into rock. Because concretions are found in the same zone, it is assumed that geodes began as concretions (or formed simultaneously with concretions.) So when did the concretions form? And why are they spherical? If they form in place from a liquid or plastic state, gravity would squash them into a dome shape. If they form while moving through a resistive medium, friction would change their shape. The forces that formed them must have been spherically symmetric. (This concern also makes one skeptical of the popular idea that hailstones, especially large ones that are spherical and radially layered, are formed in updrafts that blow the proto-stones into the cold tops of thunderheads.)

All these speculations are based on chemistry and mechanics. But there is another force that commonly produces spheres -- electric discharge. This is because the spherical focus of an electric pinch is much more powerful than gravity. In the plasma lab, tiny spheres produced by electric pinches are often hollow, like the hematite concretions seen above. Electric discharge tends to produce spherical layering and a distinct equator and pole, because the pinch "squeezes" perpendicular to the current that creates it. These characteristics are also found in the "natural" spheres. The Moqui balls pictured above have both equatorial bulges and polar markings. Rock-cutters recommend that you will get a better display from a geode if you first locate the equator and poles, then cut across the poles.

The layered crystalline look of a giant hailstone produced by a Midwestern thunderstorm (although very temporary) is also similar in form to the cauliflower-like shell and inward growing crystals of a geode.

Very little research has been done in the field of "plasma geology." But space probes since Explorers 1 and 3 in 1958 have shown us again and again that plasma plays an important role in space. We're beginning to imagine how it affects our solar system and the galaxy beyond. Perhaps the time has come to look back at our home planet and ask if plasma played an active role in Earth's geological history, too.



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040826aurora.gif
Credit: NASA Polar Mission

 

Aug 26, 2004
Parallel Auroras

The nature of auroras was the subject of a debate that began early in the 20th century. But later in the same century, our space probes settled the debate in favor of the electrical theorists Kristian Birkeland and Hannes Alfvén.

One of the conflicts in early 20th Century astronomy was between Sydney Chapman and Hannés Alfvén. Alfvén, following Birkeland's lead, believed the auroras to be powered by charged particles from the Sun. Chapman developed a mathematically elegant theory showing that the auroras were generated entirely in the Earth's magnetosphere by buffeting of the solar wind. Chapman refused to give Alfvén's ideas a hearing. At conferences, rather than address particular points of the theory, Chapman would state that he and his colleagues disagreed with Alfvén and that a paper explaining it all was in process. On one occasion, when Chapman was a guest of Alfvén's in Sweden, Alfvén built a replica of Birkeland's terrella experiment, which produced auroras on a magnetized sphere suspended in a vacuum. Alfvén hoped that if Chapman could see how plasma behaves in the laboratory, he would be more amenable to discussing it. Chapman refused to look at the experiment.

But eventually, in the late 60's and early 70's, space probes did show that Birkeland and Alfvén were right -- the auroras are caused by charged particles flowing from the Sun. Solar plasma does enter the Earth's magnetospheric bubble. And today we have websites that monitor solar observations and predict when and where to look for auroras. During a geomagnetic storm in 2001, the Polar Mission took the above photos (see link to view the video version) of the north and south auroras at the same time, here projected on a globe. This project showed that the two phenomena brighten and dim together as a near-mirror image.

This shows that the Earth is no longer an isolated body in space. It is connected to the circuitry of the Sun, and from there to the circuitry of the galaxy and beyond. It provides us with a preview of the discoveries of the future.

Link to press release and animation:

http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20011025aurora.html



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Eh, forum issues.



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Because the arc lifts material from the surface, the excavation is left relatively clean. Only a small portion of the detritus falls back around and in the crater or rille. The "collapsed lava tube" explanation of rilles fails on this account: The remains of the tube's roof are not inside the rille. "Missing" debris is one defining characteristic that distinguishes electrical erosion from mechanical processes: The debris is not really "missing", it¹s just not where other processes typically leave it.

Melting is another defining characteristic of electrical erosion. Although extensive melting is ascribed to impacts, impacts in fact produce little melting. The particles of rubble may be immersed in hot gases from the impact, but the heat dissipates too quickly for conduction to carry much of it into the particles. Electrical erosion, on the contrary, generates heat inside the eroded particles, in the manner of a heating element on an electric stove. A general expectation of the Electric Universe is that the floors of craters and rilles will show extensive glassification. Unfortunately, it can only be confirmed by on-site observations.

A final observation is that many craters appear to have their rims "pinched up," rather than "rolled over" or splattered as would be expected from debris thrown out by an impact. Many rilles, too, have "pinched up" dikes along their edges. This emphasizes the indication from missing debris that the erosional forces were directed upward.



-- Edited by qmantoo on Monday 28th of March 2011 01:50:29 AM

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040825crater.jpg
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

Aug 25, 2004
Crater Chains

Overlapping, central peaks, clean excavation, melting, and "pinched up" rims are all signs of electrical discharge machining for these crater chains.

The chances of having an impacting body break up to form a neatly graded and spaced line of objects that might provide this series of overlapping craters is practically zero.

Instead, crater chains are a common result of electric arcs passing over a cathode surface. With slight variations in the current or the surface, the arc may stop jumping from one crater to the next and cut a trench instead. In this example on Jupiter's moon, Ganymede, the craters overlap so closely that the distinction between "crater chain" and "straight rille" blurs. There are sections of this crater chain that could pass for a rille. When examined closely, the smaller rilles in the image have scalloped sections that could pass for overlapping craters.

Notice that the sizes of the craters are similar, with an increase toward the middle. From an Electric Universe point of view, this size gradation is a reflection of the initial increase in current as an arc becomes established, followed by a decrease as the arc quenches. In lightning strikes with multiple strokes, the middle strokes are usually the strongest.

Notice also that many of the craters retain their central peaks. The arc that carves a crater is a Birkeland current consisting of a pair of filaments that rotate around the current's axis. If the crater is large enough, the two filaments will not meet in the center, leaving a central spire intact.

 



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040824comet-xrays.gif
Credit: C. Lisse, M. Mumma (NASA/GSFC), K. Dennerl, J. Schmidt, and J. Englhauser (MPE)

 

Aug 24, 2004
Comet X-rays

A comet is believed to be a dirty snowball slowly wasting away in the heat of the Sun. But this ROSAT image from March 27, 1996 reveals a comet radiating x-rays as intense as those from the x- ray stars that are ROSAT's usual target.

Why point an x-ray telescope at Comet Hyakutake? Nothing in accepted theory would lead an astronomer to expect a comet to shine in x-rays. A comet is believed to be a dirty snowball slowly wasting away in the heat of the Sun. But this ROSAT image from March 27, 1996 reveals a comet radiating x-rays as intense as those from the x- ray stars that are ROSAT's usual target.

The x-rays flickered over a matter of hours like a failing fluorescent lamp. The Electric Universe contends that this is more than a simile: A comet is a light-producing load in the circuit of an electrically powered Sun.

The Sun's radial electric field is weak but constant with distance in interplanetary space. In a constant radial electric field, the voltage decreases linearly with distance. A comet on an elongated orbit spends most of its time far from the Sun and acquires a charge in balance with the voltage at that distance. But when a comet speeds inward for a quick spin around the Sun, the voltage of the comet becomes increasingly out of balance with that nearer the Sun.

Most of the voltage difference between the comet and the solar plasma is taken up in a double layer of charge, called a plasma sheath, that surrounds the comet. When the electrical stress is great enough, the sheath glows and appears as the typical comet coma and tail. Diffuse electrical discharges occur in the sheath and at the nucleus, radiating a variety of frequencies, including x-rays. The highest voltage differences occur at the comet nucleus and across the plasma sheath. So where the sheath is most compressed, in the sunward direction, the electric field is strong enough to accelerate charged particles to x-ray energies. That explains the crescent-shaped x-ray image in relation to the comet nucleus and the Sun. Flickering and occasional flare-ups are expected because plasma discharges behave in a non-linear manner.

For more about comet x-rays and surprising results of Deep Space 1's encounter with comet Borrelly, see:

http://www.holoscience.com/news/comet_borrelly.html



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040823lightning-saturn.jpg
Credit: NASA/JPL

 

Aug 23, 2004
Lightning on Saturn

Many things about Saturn have changed in the 24 years since the two Voyager Spacecraft flew by. Saturn's magnetosphere has grown larger by more than a million miles. The dark spokes on Saturn's B ring have disappeared. The equatorial thunderstorm that raged continuously while both Voyagers passed has broken up and moved toward the poles.

In November 1980 and August 1981, both Voyagers observed an intense storm near the equator (top photo) with high winds (1,100 miles per hour) and continuous lightning. This year, Cassini is observing less intense storms of short duration at mid-latitudes. Wind speeds are slower, too, topping out around 600 miles per hour.

What causes the differences? Cassini researchers  have proposed a possibility, based on meteorologists' theories of what causes storms on Earth -- differences in temperatures. In 1980/1981, Saturn was at equinox, the beginning of its 7-year-long spring in the northern hemisphere and fall in the southern hemisphere. The shadow of Saturn's rings fell almost exactly on Saturn's equator. The sunlit part of Saturn that received the most heat was adjacent to the part in the shadow of the rings that received much less heat. This juxtaposition of hot and cold parts generated intense turbulence, that is, storms and lightning. (One question left unasked is why hot and cold bands that encircle the planet's equator generated only one large but local storm.)

The best part of this theory is that it is testable. Saturn's "year" is about 29 years long, which will bring the shadow of the rings back to the equator in 2008, about when the Cassini mission is scheduled to end. Cassini should be able to see if the intense equatorial storm returns.

The above theory is based on the standard assumption that planets and stars are isolated bodies in space and that the only interactions between them arise from gravity, heat and light. The Electric Universe perspective sees a full spectrum of electromagnetic connections as well. So the Electric Universe looks to other phenomena to explain the changes on Saturn.

The most likely candidate is that the storms on Saturn are Saturn's equivalent of sunspots. In 1980/1981, the Sun was at the peak of its 11-year sunspot cycle. Today the sunspot cycle is approaching minimum. If Saturn's "sunspots" are driven by the same galactic Birkeland currents that drive the Sun's spots, they will get stronger and closer to the equator as the sunspot cycle intensifies. Unfortunately, Cassini's 4-year mission will have to be extended to the next solar maximum in 2011 to test this theory.

The solar cycle connection explains not only the changes in lightning patterns on Saturn, but also the expanded magnetosphere and the (now) missing spokes. The higher electrical stress throughout the solar system in 1980/1981 would have compressed Saturn's magnetosphere and created the dark spokes. (The spokes revolved to the tune of Saturn's magnetic field rather than to gravity's rules, suggesting they were electrical discharges across the rings. And each separate spoke began when Saturnian "dawn" reached the longitude associated with the long-lasting equatorial storm.) The lower stress of solar minimum allows the magnetosphere to relax, the spokes to fade, and the "storms" to migrate toward higher latitudes.



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040820gamma-ray.jpg
Credit: L. Piro (CNR) et al., CXC, NASA

 

Aug 20, 2004
How Big is a Gamma Ray Burst?

The estimated size of a gamma ray burst depends on its distance. Redshift=distance makes some if not all gamma ray bursts impossibly energetic.

A fading afterglow from a gamma ray burst is centered in this false color image from the space-based Chandra X-ray Observatory. While the gamma rays are produced for only a few seconds, many of these events can be identified by their afterglow in X-ray, visible light and radio waves. These are often associated with galaxies at great distances. Astronomers describe them as the biggest explosions in the universe.

But the estimated size of a gamma ray burst depends on its distance. If we think it is far away, the burst will seem much larger than if we think it is nearby. So when we start seeing "the biggest explosions in the universe" it behooves us to take another look at how we determine their distance.

Almost all of the millions of galaxies are redshifted (there are less than a dozen known exceptions to this rule.) This means that when we look at the spectra (rainbows) made of their light, the lines which identify particular elements are shifted toward the red (longer wavelengths). In the late 1920's, a few years after astronomers finally realized that galaxies were outside of the Milky Way, Edwin Hubble (after whom the Hubble telescope was named) noticed that there is a relationship between how big and bright a galaxy is and how much its light is redshifted. For the hundreds of galaxies he studied, the big, bright galaxies had low redshifts and the small faint galaxies had high redshifts. Adding the assumption that big and bright means closer than small and faint, astronomers concluded that redshift could be used as a measure of distance.

Most (but not all) astronomers also assumed that this galactic redshift is a measure of velocity (just as a train whistle sounds lower when it's going away than when it's approaching, light can become redshifted when the object is going away and blueshifted when it is approaching.) All of the expanding universe and big bang theories are based on this assumption, neatly summed up in the description, "the farther away a galaxy is, the faster it is moving away."

But does it work? In the 1960's, Halton Arp began documenting cases where redshift couldn't possibly mean distance.  He was finding instances where two or more galaxies and/or quasars were associated, or even physically connected, in contradiction of the assumption that their different redshifts meant that one should be millions or even billions of light-years farther away than the other. He concluded that using redshift as a measure of distance distorts the actual distance. The higher the redshift, the greater the distortion.

So what does that mean for the gamma ray bursts? Many of the first gamma ray bursts identified by their afterglow in the late 1990's were from galaxies with very high redshift, indicating distances as far as 12 billion light years. The energy required to produce the observed flash of gamma-rays from this distance would be staggering! Nothing observed in our stellar neighborhood comes close, not even the occasional supernova. So the question becomes, are the gamma ray bursts an unknown form of hypernova? Or are the redshift distances to their host galaxies greatly exaggerated, and the explosions much smaller?

New light was shed on this question by a gamma ray burst on December 3rd, 2003 (GRB 031203). This burst was identified with a closer galaxy, only about 1.3 billion light years away (by the redshift assumption.) This burst was thoroughly studied for months by an armada of space and ground-based observatories. Astronomers concluded that this was the closest cosmic gamma-ray burst on record, but also the faintest. This led the researchers to ask whether gamma ray bursts come in a variety of sizes.

The other possibility is that the variation of intensity between distant and nearby gamma ray bursts is one more layer of evidence that redshift is not an accurate measure of distance. The high-redshift gamma ray burst and the low-redshift gamma ray burst may have been of similar intensity, but astronomer's assumption that one is much farther away has made it appear much brighter. Since gamma ray bursts are common events (about one a day is detected, although only a few are identified with host galaxies), perhaps they will become the crucial observation that brings the redshift/distance distortion into better focus.

If that happens, we will find ourselves living in a completely new universe that didn't begin in a big bang and isn't expanding. And in this new universe, galaxies give birth to quasars, which grow up into new galaxies. The gamma ray bursts may be the electromagnetic cry of a newborn galaxy.



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040819uranus.jpg
Credit: NASA/Voyager 2

 

Aug 19, 2004
What Happened to Uranus?

Any theory that tries to explain the origin of the solar system will run afoul of the question "What happened to Uranus and its family of moons?"

Uranus has more than a dozen orderly moons. They revolve in almost perfect circles exactly in the plane of Uranus' equator. This would be an ideal example of how a gravitational system is thought to evolve from a collapsing nebula, except for one detail: the whole planet, fifteen times the mass of Earth, has been tipped over on its side, so that its poles are near the plane of its orbit and its equator rotates in a direction that should be north and south. And most of its moons also circle "north and south".

How could that happen? If the moons formed before Uranus tilted, they should still be orbiting in the plane of Uranus' original equator. But if the moons were captured from the solar disk after Uranus was tilted, they shouldn't be circling its tilted equator. In either case, they should be circling its poles. In fact, recently two tiny "captured" moons of Uranus were discovered, and they do circle the poles.

It gets worse. The path of Uranus' moons corresponds to Uranus' equator better than the planets themselves correspond to the Sun's equator. What could have given the odd-ball Uranus such an orderly family when the Sun's own equator is tilted 7° to its family of planets?

Uranus' tilt is only the most blatant version of a larger problem. Saturn tilts, too, a little more than the Earth. And, as with Uranus, all but the tiny outer "captured" moons of Saturn circle its tilted equator, as do the rings of Saturn. Jupiter's main family of moons circle in the plane of Jupiter's orbit. But Jupiter's poles aren't appreciably tilted, so its moons orbit Jupiter's equator as well. Which "rule" is dominant? Do the moons of Jupiter follow the rules of the nebular theory, or are their orbits coincidental with Jupiter's untilted poles?

Neptune's moons aren't orderly. Nereid has an orbit so elongated that it nearly escapes Neptune's influence. Triton, the largest moon, is the only major moon that revolves backwards. Plus, it's orbit is decaying. It can look forward to tidal disruption or crashing into Neptune. It is impossible for a retrograde moon to have formed around a planet by the nebular theory -- it must have been formed elsewhere and then captured or its orbit may have been reversed by a near-collision event.

None of these systems are well-explained by the Nebular Theory of planetary formation. The time has come to develop a new theory. This new theory should take into account our new understanding that most of the universe is made of plasma, which obeys different rules than a gravity-only universe. The new theory should consider the possibility that the giant planets and their families of moons were each formed as a separate cellular system. And the new theory should take into account the possibility that our solar system also has experienced an episodic history of cosmic birth and changing orbits.



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040818rille.jpg
Credit: NASA/JPL/Arizona State University

 

Aug 18, 2004
Scalloped Edges

Professional and amateur astronomers have long been fascinated by the valleys and canyons (also called “rilles”) on the surface of Mars. But one fact never mentioned is that the Martian rilles bare striking resemblance to lightning scars here on Earth.

Ever since spacecraft have sent us close-up pictures of Mars, professional and amateur astronomers have been fascinated by the valleys and canyons (also called rilles) of this presently water-poor world. Could these rilles have been eroded in a previous age of more abundant water? Water erosion may seem to explain some, but others end in "high ground" at both ends--no drainage. Were these the work of parallel earthquake faults? Or sinkholes in series?

In the 1960's, electrical engineer Ralph Juergens suggested another explanation for rilles. He pointed out the similarities between the rilles on neighboring worlds and lightning scars on Earth. Could electric discharge, on a scale much larger than we observe today, have carved the rilles? Craters, too, can be created by lightning and electric discharge.

The rille in the THEMIS image above is a transition between crater chains and the more common form of rilles. This rille appears to be entirely composed of overlapping craters, which give the edges a more scalloped appearance than usual. Each of the many subchannels begins (or ends) with a rounded crater. The overlap of craters along the main channel of the rille and along its branches varies a great deal. In some places the overlap is so tight that only a hint of scalloping has been preserved. In other places nearly intact craters protrude like Mickey Mouse ears from the main channel.

Along the rim of the channel, you can also see normal craters with no connection to the rille.  These were created when the rille-forming arc began a new crater, but quenched before it could connect that crater to the main channel. Along many rilles, there are so many craters on or near the rim of the rille that "counting craters" in order to date the region produces a contradiction. The edges of the rille appear older than the surrounding surface. Channels like this are a strong argument against the accepted notion that most craters are formed by impact.



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(Hank May, don't know why that didn't show up on there.)



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050210magnetic.png
Credit: Artist's concept of the spacecraft Ulysses and its surprising
magnetic discoveries. ESA

 

Aug 17, 2004
Magnetic Lines to Infinity

A fundamental law of magnetism is that like electric currents, the lines of magnetic force must close. But this law has not been respected by modern astrophysicists.

The following excerpts are from a letter from a TPOD reader:

There is a striking (but hardly ever mentioned) divergence between engineers and astrophysicists about Gauss' Law for Magnetism. Engineers point to the necessary conclusion that the law states that lines of magnetic force can never end. Like electric currents, they must loop around and complete a closed circuit.

Since the 1950s, most astrophysicists have believed that the interplanetary magnetic field (which results from the "open" solar field) really is open, i.e., one end anchored in the Sun and the other flapping in the solar wind. If pressed, a few astrophysicists will tell you that the "open" end actually extends to infinity. When challenged on the absurdity of this they fall back on the argument that, OK, maybe the lines don't extend TO infinity, but they are infinitely long. When challenged that open fields imply a violation of Gauss' Law (integral form) which states that the inward and outward fluxes are equal for any closed surface, the justification they invoke is that Gauss' Law is not actually violated because a line of force, being an imaginary construct, does not have any magnetic flux associated with it. But a line of force is associated with a finite amount of flux as a matter of definition.  (A line of force is everywhere tangent to the magnetic flux.) I became so exhausted arguing about the flapping end that I never brought up the "ends" anchored in the Sun, which are even more problematical.

The thing that amazes me is that the two groups having such exactly opposite opinions have rarely clashed in the literature. Non-astrophysicists generally believe that what the astrophysicists mean is that the "open" lines extend far away from their source, the Sun, but "of course" they must eventually meet up with their ends, somewhere, to make closed loops as required by Gauss' Law.  But, based on my exhaustive arguments with one of the leading authorities, and communications with a half dozen or so others, that is definitely NOT what the astrophysicists believe. There seems to be an unwritten rule somewhere that the two groups will just go on believing what they want, and avoid confrontation.

This is not just an academic detail of little consequence. It bears directly on the failure, over half a century, to understand the very source of the interplanetary magnetic field.



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040816crater.jpg
Credit:  Mariner 10

 

Aug 16, 2004
Rim Shots

In the 1960's the Ranger Moon shots sent the first televised closeup images of the Moon before crashing into its surface. Astronomers noted many odd features of crater distribution that were difficult to explain by random impacts.

Lunar craters tend to occur in pairs and lines. Some lines of craters were attributed to cracking and subsidence of the surface. Others were thought to be due to impacts. The difficulties in choosing a cause for the heavy cratering of the Moon was finally settled by a vote. But were all of the candidate mechanisms canvassed?

Craters formed by electric discharge exhibit circular symmetry with little disturbance to pre-existing craters. Electrical craters can appear to be distributed randomly, but they are not. They naturally form clusters, lines, and arcs. The size of craters within linear groupings are often graduated. Small craters are found cut into the rims of large craters, but the reverse is seldom seen.

The above pictures illustrate a common pattern of electrically excavated craters. In the laboratory (inset image) a large crater is being carved. Where the rim of the main crater is lifted above both the original surface of the clay and the crater bottom, the arc jumps to high points on the rim. This produces smaller secondary craters centered on the rim of the original crater. You can see craters on the rims on many of the craters in the main image, taken by Mariner 10 as it flew past the planet Mercury. It is not a pattern expected of impacts.



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