Alan Stevens - AWAH - Libertarianism, Freedom.
The Electric Universe and State Academia
Tax funded academia harbours a beleaguered club of astronomers whose unwillingness to accept ideas about cosmic electromagnetic forces from outside its ranks may be ill judged.
This blog is trying to promote awareness and understanding of a radical view of the world – that the state is malign and unnecessary. Very few people are aware even of the existence of pro-liberty views and ideas (though the number is growing fast). They are, of course, emphatically rejected by the state establishment, when they are not simply ignored. UK Prime Minister Theresa May went so far as to lump libertarians together with terrorists.
This is despite the fact that historical example and correct economic principle alike suggest that the pro-liberty approach offers a better fit with reality.
I thought I would take time out from pro-liberty heavy lifting to discuss another area of life where the current establishment view of the world, well the universe actually, could also be at odds with reality. And where the outsider promoted correct view may be being unjustifiably resisted. Don’t worry, there is a still a pro-liberty angle to this. In this area, as in so many others, state funding is subsidising an established academic group that is either wrong, or at the very least is failing to engage constructively with weighty challengers.
The academic area is astronomy or astrophysics, whose establishment is ignoring a rival group of practically minded electrical engineers and academic experts in electro-magnetism and plasmas. The latter offer radically different explanations of the cosmos based on electro-magnetic forces rather than on gravity. Several possible consequences of their theories have surprising implications, and not just for our understanding of the cosmos.
A word of warning – I know quite a lot about history and economics, a bit about astronomy, but close to nothing about electricity, electro-magnetism and physics in general – more’s the pity. Most of this article is based on my hopefully correct reading of ‘The Electric Sky, a challenge to the myths of modern astronomy’ (second edition 2012) by Donald E Scott, discussing the work of 1970 Nobel Prize Winner Hannes Alfvén, Kristian Birkeland and many other pioneers in electro-magnetic research, and its applicability to the cosmos.
There is also a site at www.plasma-universe.com. The link below is to a table on that site comparing a ‘Plasma Universe’ to the modern astronomical story, aka ‘The Big Bang Model’. Particularly noteworthy in the table are all the features of the conventional Big Bang view which depend on ‘ad hoc “new physics”, i.e. physics never seen in the laboratory.’ These include Black Holes, Dark Matter and indeed the Big Bang itself.
Obviously the electro-magnetic and plasma advocates could be wrong, and me with them. But the defenders of astrophysical orthodoxy haven’t managed to nail them yet. And looking at the mess the standard astrophysical explanation is getting into, it is possible to see why. What mess, you ask? Well, here’s the official story about the universe from the astrophysicists. About 95% of it is missing. Sorry chaps, we simply can’t find it. Brilliant.
There must, they say, be some mysterious undetectable ‘Dark Matter’ and, even more, ‘Dark Energy’ in galaxies. Why is this? Because there is not enough mass in galaxies for them to be held together by gravity alone. Is this an opportunity to consider whether galaxies are held together by other, say electro-magnetic, forces? No, apparently not.
Instead, we are treated to a zoo of abstruse theoretical particles including WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles) and MACHOS to be hunted down at taxpayer expense, and to speculations about ‘string theory’ and about how eleven dimensions could somehow be hiding out inside the normal three, or four - counting time. A lot of this is not testable science and therefore, perhaps conveniently, impossible to prove or disprove.
SPACE IS BIG AND MAINLY PLASMA
Understanding how big space is might help to understand how it might be held together. Let’s pretend that you want to create a model of the solar system, and its relation to the nearest stars, in your kitchen. If you model the sun, which is around eight hundred and fifty thousand miles across, as a tiny speck of dust one-hundredth of an inch in size – much, much smaller than a pencil tip - how far away would the planets be and how far away would the nearest star be? The earth would be roughly an inch away from the sun, Jupiter would be over five inches away and Neptune (currently the furthest planet after Pluto got itself demoted) would be nearly a yard distant, maybe the width of a modern fridge.
And the nearest star, the triple star Alpha Centauri which is 4.2 light years away in reality? It would be three smaller specks five miles away. (It you elevate the sun to golf ball status in your model then the nearest stars to the London golf ball would be more or less sunning themselves in a tight group on a beach in the south of France).
Astronomers in the 17th century were delighted when Newton’s description of gravity enabled them to plot and predict planetary orbits. But what works for the width of a fridge front seems problematic when dealing with more distant star specks five miles away and especially for entire galaxies. If we revert to the speck of dust model of our solar system in the kitchen, where the nearest stars are roughly five miles away, then our galaxy, the Milky Way, would stretch nearly half way to the moon. And it would still be composed of specks so tiny that another galaxy of specks could pass through it without any collisions.
Our galaxy is quite big and gravity falls away smartly with interstellar distances. Perhaps it is no surprise therefore that it can’t hold the galaxy’s disappointingly sparse matter together – hence the embarrassing need for undetectable dark matter and dark energy to bulk its mass up a little, or a lot.
What’s the alternative? Well interstellar space does contain a surprising number of charged particles. So you have a ‘plasma’ which is a load of charged particles, which means both carrying electric current and creating magnetic fields. Depending on the level of charge, you can have different states of plasma. You can have not very energetic dark plasma in space in the solar wind passing around the earth. You can have glowing plasma like the aurora borealis or the interior of a neon light. And you can have white hot arc-lighting plasma which can damage your eyes, like that produced by a welding torch or indeed the sun.
Apparently, according to the book, there are about a million electrons per cubic metre in interstellar space. Given how many cubic metres there are in interstellar space, this represents a lot of plasma and potentially huge electric currents crossing between the stars, and between galactic centres and peripheries.
These particles are interacting much more strongly under the laws of electromagnetism. And the application of Maxwell’s equations to galaxies understood as mainly vast plasmas apparently suffices to explain why they hold together. If true, this would mean no dark matters, energies, Wimps or Machos need apply. The good news is that you can replicate plasma-based galaxies in the laboratory using normal ‘same everywhere’ laws of physics.
An electromagnetic universe explains the structures in the universe including the biggest of all, the gigantic filaments or sheets of galaxies separated by unimaginable voids. It also explains why plasma advocates were not surprised when the Voyager spacecraft sent out from earth and now at the outer edge of the sun’s influence are being buffeted by strong electromagnetism.
One occasion cited in the book (‘The Electric Sky’, P145) when conventional astronomy was surprised by electrical phenomena was the 2005 NASA Deep Impact mission to visit comet Tempel 1 - and fire a copper projectile at it. An independent Australian scientist and proponent of the ‘electric’ model of the universe, Wal Thornhill, predicted that there would be a sudden electric discharge between the comet and its approaching copper visitor, followed by a second extremely energetic burst of electrical noise and x-rays on impact – a much greater effect than the purely mechanical effect of the impact would suggest. Which is what happened. The conventional astronomy view, seeing the comet as an inert lump rather than as something carrying a potentially significant electrical charge, failed to predict or explain this.
In this plasma universe there is no particular need for black holes, for example to explain the huge discharges seen in galactic centres. Which would not be good for many hundreds of Black Hole PhD recipients trying to make a living in competitive astronomy faculties.
Then there is the possibility that the Big Bang story is also surplus to requirement. It works only if you use unverifiable assumptions such as dark energy, dark matter and ‘inflation’. It depends on the assumption that so called redshift – the way light waves from distant objects are distorted towards the longer redder wavelengths – means the objects are moving rapidly away from us. But electromagnetic effects may be creating redshift. Then the objects would not in fact moving away from us after some initial ‘Big Bang’.
THE SUN MAY NOT BE A FUSION REACTOR
The idea here, at least in Donald Scott’s book, is that the Sun may not be a fusion reactor at all. The British scientist Sir Arthur Eddington proposed before the second world war that the sun is powered by the nuclear fusion of hydrogen to make helium. That fusion explanation has stayed the course. Nobody had any other ideas and indeed nobody can tell what is going on in the sun’s interior by direct observation.
There was the little matter of the sun producing far too few neutrinos for this to be whole story. Plus, it is hard to explain how most of the elements in the periodic table could be produced by such fusion, though astronomers do suggest explanations for this to do with creating more elements in bigger stars and in supernova stellar explosions.
Nevertheless, there is something odd about the sun if it has a fusion reactor at its core. At its surface, and for all anyone knows, well below it, the sun is relatively cool at less than 5,000 degrees centigrade. As you rise above the surface you suddenly hit an area of intense arc lighting (i.e. blinding sunlight) at temperatures of up to 2 million degrees. Is that the result of fusion reactions one hundred thousand miles away inside the sun? It seems more consistent with the sun being on the receiving end of massive electric currents piling into the plasma about its surface putting it into arc light mode. The electro-magnetic cosmology proponents haven’t shown whether this could account for all the sun’s activity, but it might.
If they are right, then the whole story about the life cycles of stars may be replaced by a continuum of bigger or smaller stars being hit by smaller or bigger, but still massive, electric currents. Those who are struggling to make nuclear fusion work here on earth – as it is supposed to work in the sun’s core – may be operating on a false premise.
Fortunately, there is a suggestion that fusion may be going on instead at particular pinch points, so called z points, in the incredibly hot plasma above the sun’s surface. Spectral analysis suggests two thirds of the naturally occurring elements are present in the sun. That could be because the sun already contained such elements because they are created in supernovae when big stars blow up (the official explanation) or alternatively, intense, localized fusion could be creating far more elements than the conventional solar core fusion story permits.
VENUS – WAS THERE A RUNAWAY GREENHOUSE GAS EFFECT
When astronomers first sent spacecraft to the planet Venus, they were happily discussing the possibility of finding another earthlike world. The earth is about one and a half times as far from the sun as Venus. Like Earth, Venus is within what astronomers dub the sun’s habitable zone where liquid water could in principle exist on the surface of a planet with an atmosphere (Mars is too, but it has lost its atmosphere).
Instead, they found hell on Earth, well on Venus anyway. Temperatures at the surface are of the order of 800 degrees centigrade under a thick and lethal atmosphere. Scientists hurriedly came up with the theory that Venus had suffered a runaway ‘greenhouse’ effect. The idea was that the sun’s energy could get to the planet but could not be radiated out again because gases (water vapour and CO2, or glass in an actual greenhouse) obstructed the different wavelengths at which outbound radiation of heat would occur. So, allegedly, heat would accumulate and runaway warming would have occurred.
I suspect many people think they have to ‘save the planet’ to prevent it from becoming an uninhabitable hell like Venus. This story about a runaway greenhouse effect on Venus does matter. Such an outcome is not remotely what even the most alarmist scientists at the UN’s IPCC have actually predicted for Earth. Nevertheless, because of fear generated by the greenhouse story cooked up hurriedly to explain Venus, people are shivering in Texas.
People might actually have frozen to death in Germany recently were it not for their still having some coal fired power stations. It is all because irresponsible alarmists and tax-subsidy hunters convinced compliant politicians to switch to overpriced, unreliable wind and solar power, and jettison ‘dirty’, reliable coal fired power stations. All this suffering could stem from an incorrect story about a greenhouse effect on Venus.
It’s not just the unreliability and cost of renewables. Nobody thought to prepare for any very cold weather in Texas. That is because we were told we were facing steady warming. Now a routine shift in one of the world’s multi-decadal oscillations (‘MDO’, for more see the www.awah.uk post ‘Some Perspective on Climate Change’) moved the northern hemisphere’s Jetstream southwards. Hey presto, a wholly avoidable mess has resulted. States and their allied vested interests have made the West turn to face completely in the wrong direction to head off the spectre of greenhouse gas warming.
Literally trillions of dollars worldwide have been taken from productive people and spent on commercially unviable renewables investment. It has put up energy costs for industry and consumers. It made no difference to the share of the world’s energy accounted for by hydrocarbons. That has stayed above 85% all the time. And it may make our reliance on electricity transmitted across leaky, unwieldy grids unworkable.
Anyway, back to Venus and the astronomers’ ‘greenhouse’ gas notion which unwittingly fuelled, if that is the right word, the current Green assault on the peoples of the West. First things first. Nobody asked the astronomers for any evidence that such a runaway greenhouse effect could actually exist. It was mere off the top of the head speculation. As far as seems to be known, scientists have yet to try the obvious experiment here on Earth. They could shine Venus-strength light on a simulated Venusian atmosphere to see if a runaway greenhouse effect can be created in the laboratory. Perhaps the environmentalists are afraid such an experiment would discredit the greenhouse gas story.
The greenhouse effect may not actually be real. It doesn’t seem to exist in greenhouses. Some scientists did an experiment to test this. After all the Scientific Method is the key Western cultural App for distinguishing between what might be objectively true and what just plain ain’t so. That’s why the ability to replicate astronomical phenomenon on the basis of the electro-magnetic cosmology should be decisive, compared for example to mystical musings by astrophysicists about unverifiable string theories.
It turns out, greenhouses are not warmer because their glass hampers outward radiation of heat. That isn’t a real effect, or not a significant one. Greenhouses are warmer because convection, which would take heat away into the atmosphere in rising air currents, can’t do so. Why not? Because greenhouses have roofs. Venus and the Earth don’t have roofs. So, whatever is going on there, it is not the ‘greenhouse’ effect as seen in actual greenhouses.
OK Alan, what do the proponents of an electro-magnetic cosmology have to say about Venus? Was there something the establishment astronomers should have looked at instead, before they went with their rather damaging (as it turned out) greenhouse gas runaway warming story?
Well yes. All the solar systems planets trail their own long, discrete plasma tails behind them (away from the sun and protected from its dominant ‘solar wind’ by so-called ‘double layers’). But NASA reported observations of visible ‘stringy things’ inside Venus’s plasma tail. They resemble the filamentary paths Birkeland (electrical) currents take in a plasma.
Independent scientist Wal Thornhill (for more see his website www.holoscience.com) is again quoted, saying “Diffuse electrical discharge, known on Earth as St Elmo’s fire, occurs preferentially at the higher altitudes of the mountains of the mountains on Venus. In that dense atmosphere it forms a highly conductive dense plasma … These two observations (the filaments in Venus’s plasma tail and radar luminance of its mountains) strongly suggest the presence of an ongoing plasma discharge on the surface of Venus”. (‘The Electric Sky’, PP136-137).
Interestingly, early societies report Venus as having had a clearly lit up filamentary tail in the past - making the planet look as if it had twisted hair or a fiery tail. If so, the planet then had so much electrical charge that it put its plasma tail into the visible glowing mode, or even into the very bright arc-light mode. Earth’s supposed twin is definitely one of a kind. Venus’s odd characteristics include its “odd, slow backward spin; its vast magnetotail and even the recent discovery by the ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft of a surprisingly powerful electric field.” (Holoscience, 2020).
Why this should be the case on Venus is not known. Venus’s plasma tail reaches almost to Earth at the point of the planets’ closest approach to each other. At these times, for unknown reasons, Venus always has the same face turned towards earth. Maybe Earth has been influencing Venus electromagnetically via Venus’s plasma tail, and/or it has disrupted its double layer protecting Venus’s plasma tail. There are even theories that Venus is a more recent intruder in the inner Solar system.
But, in any case, there do seem to be good reasons to investigate whether electro-magnetic effects on Venus could account for its unpleasantly warm state, rather than a runaway greenhouse effect. If, that is, astronomers were not reluctant to consider electro-magnetic explanations of the cosmos when faced with unexpected observations.
THE STATE AND ACADEMIA
There is a natural tendency for groups of like-minded people in any field of endeavour to defend their preferred orthodoxy from outside challenge. In business that approach can lead to bankruptcy. But academia is supposed to be dedicated to the pursuit of the truth. This story, and many others, including the suppression of proper science in the area of climate studies and during the recent coronavirus outbreak, suggests that state-funded academia is failing us.
In the University of East Anglia ‘Climategate’ scandal, ‘Peer Review’, which is meant to ensure that scientific papers submitted for publication do not contain clear errors, was being deliberately used – as released E-mails made clear – to prevent scientists whose work contradicted global warming alarmism narratives from finding an audience. Similar behaviour has reportedly been going on to suppress electro-magnetic proponents.
Apart from this kind of censorship, the system is also wasteful. The politically correct, or just the established, get massive taxpayer funding. But it is unsurprisingly next to impossible to get funding for work at odds with the lucrative global warming ‘consensus’, even though radical new ideas could transform our understanding of both climate and astronomy. In the case of climate change, censorship and favoritism is leading to harmful effects on society, especially the less well off, in terms of expensive energy and lost jobs.
Politicisation of science in favour of vested corporate and official interests may also be showing itself, especially in medical research, in a growing number of scientific papers - in some fields as many as 50% - whose results cannot be replicated. They seem to be bad science. In this area, as in so many others, states and their allies seem not to be acting in the interests of their populations.
There is therefore reason to suppose that academic and research institutions would work much better without the state. There might be many fewer academics and researchers, but those that remained would be working for institutions whose survival would depend more on maintaining a reputation for intellectual integrity than on supporting fashion or political correctness.