We Live in an Electric Universe
The recent catastrophe of Cyclone Nargis hitting Burma, resulting in the loss of an enormous amount of life, shows once again how totally unpredictable the weather is, and how little we really know about it.
Figure 1 Cyclone Nargil
The boom of thunder and crackle of lightning generally mean one thing: a storm is coming. Curiously, though, the biggest storms of all, cyclones, are notoriously lacking in lightning. Cyclones blow, they rain, they flood, but seldom do they crackle.
Another mystery surrounding cyclones is their actual formation, for while it is generally accepted that a warmer than usual ocean is a pre-requisite, and although the formation of tropical cyclones is the topic of extensive ongoing research and is still not fully understood, there are six main requirements for tropical cyclogenesis: sufficiently warm sea surface temperatures, atmospheric instability, high humidity in the lower to middle levels of the troposphere, enough Coriolis force to develop a low pressure center, a pre-existing low level focus or disturbance, and low vertical wind shear.
Then on January 9, 2006 NASA reported - ELECTRIC HURRICANES!
“Surprise: During the record-setting hurricane season of 2005 three of the most powerful storms--Rita, Katrina, and Emily--did have lightning, lots of it. And researchers would like to know why.
Richard Blakeslee of the Global Hydrology and Climate Center (GHCC) in Huntsville, Alabama, was one of a team of scientists who explored Hurricane Emily using NASA's ER-2 aircraft, a research version of the famous U-2 spy plane. Flying high above the storm, they noted frequent lightning in the cylindrical wall of clouds surrounding the hurricane's eye. Both cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning were present, "a few flashes per minute," says Blakeslee.
"Generally there's not a lot of lightning in the eye-wall region," he says. "So when people see lightning there, they perk up -- they say, okay, something's happening."
Indeed, the electric fields above Emily were among the strongest ever measured by the aircraft’s sensors over any storm. "We observed steady fields in excess of 8 kilovolts per meter," says Blakeslee. "That is huge--comparable to the strongest fields we would expect to find over a large land-based 'mesoscale' thunderstorm."
The flight over Emily was part of a 30-day science data-gathering campaign in July 2005 organized and sponsored by NASA headquarters to improve scientists' understanding of hurricanes. Blakeslee and others from NASA, NOAA and 10 U.S. universities travelled to Costa Rica for the campaign, which is called "Tropical Cloud Systems and Processes." From the international airport near San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, they could fly the ER-2 to storms in both the Caribbean and the eastern Pacific Ocean. They combined ER-2 data with data from satellites and ground-based sensors to get a comprehensive view of each storm.
Rita and Katrina were not part of the campaign. Lightning in those storms was detected by means of long-distance sensors on the ground, not the ER-2, so less is known about their electric fields."
There is a general belief that the electricity and associated electric fields observed in hurricanes and cyclones are due to charge separation induced by the vortex motion or turbulence in the air. That is , electricity is produced by the cyclone or hurricane, but science has not actually demonstrated this experimentally. It is, as the NASA author noted above, something we still do not understand.
Now a new scientific insight often occurs when a scientist with interests in two disparate fields of science suddenly sees a common link between the two, and in the case here, between the shape of cyclones or hurricanes, and spiral galaxies in space.
Here is an image of spiral galaxies freely available on the web under the search term "spiral galaxy".
Figure 2 Spiral Galaxy
And a hurricane - which is nothing more than a spiral storm in the Earth's atmosphere but in the other direction.
Figure 3 Hurricane Kate
There is an obvious difference between hurricanes and spiral galaxies, scale for a start, but also of the material in which the spiralling effect occurs - in space the much less dense plasma while on Earth the denser atmosphere where suspended water highlights the spiralling motion. (99.99% of the visible mass of the universe exists in the plasma state).
There is a rule of thumb in empirical science that if something newly discovered walks, sounds and looks like a duck, then it is probably also a duck, but this initial method of identifying something could not possibly work here, could it, for that would imply that a hurricane is an earthly galaxy. Well, no, that is right, a hurricane isn't a galaxy but the scientific approach is to think whether the same process is behind both phenomena, and in this case the Donald Duck Factor is indeed useful.
A small book, Rival Theories of Cosmology, published by Oxford University Press in 1960 noted there were three prevailing theories of the universe:
1. Relativistic theories (basically variants of the Big Bang),
2. Steady State Theory and,
3. The Electric Universe Theory.
Today the Steady State theory has fallen by the wayside, Relativistic Theory remains dominant, and the Electric Universe theory remains vibrant but its practitioners don't publish in the mainstream astrophysics or astronomical journals but in the journals of the IEEE, the largest professional scientific body on Earth, so little is read about this area of science in the popular press and journals like Nature, Scientific American and Science.
Figure 4 PIC Simulations
Figure 4 is a collage of images of plasma simulations using Particle in Cell (PIC) computer Simulation using the laws of Maxwell and Lorentz. In the top left hand image are two linear electric currents that are perpendicular to the page and as time progresses, left to right, then second row, left to right, start rotating around each other to produce a spiral shape. The initial conditions were simply two parallel Birkeland currents travelling in the same direction which then started to rotate around each other producing a spiralling motion or vortex.
This experimental work was done by Dr. Anthony Peratt, a former Scientific Advisor to the United States Department of Energy, Washington DC and a member of the Associate Laboratory Directorate of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He was a graduate student of Nobel Prize winner Hannes Alfven. He is a world renowned electrical engineer who first received notice among the general public through the publication of his work involving computer simulation of galaxy formation in E. J. Lerner's 1991 book "The Big Bang Never Happened". Peratt had worked on those simulations for several years prior to that time. By 1986 he had achieved sufficient professional stature to be asked to serve as Guest Editor of the Dec. 1986 IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science (Vol. PS-14 No. 6). In that issue he published two articles: "Evolution of the Plasma Universe: I. Double Radio Galaxies, Quasars, and Extragalactic Jets; II. The Formation of Systems of Galaxies. He has served on the Administrative Committee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.
In the issue of the IEEE Transactions that Peratt edited there were two articles by his mentor, Hannes Alfven. There were other articles by the astronomer Halton Arp as well as many top plasma scientists and engineers. It is a seminal publication that sets out the fundamental basis of the Electrical/Plasma Universe. It is, for the most part, readable by any reasonably informed lay person interested in astronomy. It should be available in the library of any good college of engineering.
Peratt used an extremely large computer to apply the Maxwell - Lorentz equations (the basic laws governing the forces produced by, and the interactions between, electric and magnetic fields) to each of a huge ensemble of charged particles. He calls this Particle in Cell (PIC) simulation. His results are almost indistinguishable from astro-images of actual galaxies, see Figure 5 below.
Figure 5 PIC Simulation and Galaxy Shapes
Peratt went on to publish the text: "The Physics of the Plasma Universe" (Springer-Verlag, '92). It is an up-to-date presentation of the mathematical laws of physics that govern the behaviour of plasmas. It provides the fundamental argument for why electrical effects cannot be ignored in any modern study of the cosmos.
Clearly the physical theory of electric plasma, on which the Electric Universe is based, is sound; especially when computer modelling based on its principles produces results almost indistinguishable from actual galaxies. In the case of climate science where the models don't seem to work well at all, the implication being that the basis of the science on which the modelling is based is wrong, or innately impossible, tells us that we are dealing with pseudoscience.
So if it walks, waddles and quacks like a duck, then perhaps the electrical forces (Twisting Birkeland currents) that produce the galaxies may also be responsible for those spiralling phenomena on the earthly scale as hurricanes, cyclones and twisters.
An important fact has to be mentioned concerning electricity passing through plasma - it does so in three distinct modes.
Dark Current Mode - The strength of the electrical current (flow of charged particles) within the plasma is very low. The plasma does not glow. It is essentially invisible. We would not know plasma was there at all unless we measured its electrical activity with sensitive instruments. The present day magnetospheres of the planets are examples of plasmas operating in the Dark Current Mode. The electric current flowing from the wall socket to the coffee maker is another example and more surprisingly dark mode plasma discharge in air is detectable as a breeze. The solar wind is another example of plasma in Dark Current Mode.
Normal Glow Mode - The strength of the electrical current (flow of charged particles) is significant. The entire plasma glows. The brightness of the glow depends on the intensity of the current in the plasma. Examples: Any neon sign, emission nebulae, and the Sun's corona.
Arc Mode - The strength of the electrical current in the plasma is very high. The plasma radiates brilliantly over a wide spectrum. Current tends to form twisting filaments. Examples of this mode of operation are: An electric arc welding machine, lightning and the Sun's photosphere.
The centre of a hurricane, or cyclone, is essentially that of a vortex, and in plasma physics terminology the eye is called a charged sheaf vortex which is simply a fast spinning tube of electrically charged air which has been modelled experimentally in the laboratory. Other examples of charged sheaf vortices are land based tornadoes or twisters.
So if the plasma physicists and electrical engineers are right, that we live in an electrical universe, then an electric solar system could hardly exclude an electric Earth.
And once we see electrical phenomena on Earth in relation to the larger circuitry, our planet's atmosphere can be compared to the leaky dielectric in a “self-repairing capacitor”: the charge is already waiting in the ionosphere to be unleashed in storms in the atmosphere. We have seen the electrical connection of thunderstorms to the ionosphere in the appearance of giant lightning bursts to space. These electrical displays have been named “red sprites” and “blue jets”.
It is generally believed that for lightning to occur in storms charge separation has to occur and it is thought that strong vertical winds do that. Except that in the case of Peratt's PIC simulations using the Maxwell-Lorentz equations, no wind was needed, (and gravity does not matter as it is too weak a force) - rather the electric current caused the rotation in the galaxies, and in duck-like manner, also the rotation in hurricanes and on land, tornadoes.
From an electrical viewpoint, the vertical winds are not the cause of charge separation because charge separation already exists; the winds are driven by electrical discharge activity. But in a tornado or hurricane the discharge takes on a familiar circular motion, whereupon powerful electromagnetic forces constrain the discharge to what has been called a "charge sheath vortex." Here, the energy of the discharge goes into driving the vortex, imparting to it a devastating power, though visible arcing (lightning) may be minimal (Dark Current Mode).
In hurricanes that show no lightning effects, it simply means that the electric currents were weaker and thus in Dark Current Mode. In the case of the hurricanes of 2005, the electric current possibly intensified and went either into glow or infrequently into arc mode, and of course the stronger the current, the larger and more destructive the hurricane. But we know little about the electrical behaviour of hurricanes or cyclones, as admitted by the NASA scientists.
There is a general well entrenched belief, in astronomical circles, that charge separation does not exist in space, and that therefore that space cannot conduct electricity.
Someone should tell the people at NASA that because the THEMIS satellite has discovered enormous magnetic ropes connecting the Earth's ionosphere to the Sun.
Photo of the March 23 aurora taken by Daryl Pederson. Copyright: Daryl Pederson.
NASA have not yet made the intellectual leap to realising that the magnetic ropes identified from the THEMIS mission are simply enormous electric Birkeland currents in space. All electrical currents generate magnetic fields, and a magnetic rope in space is simply the equivalent of a linear magnetic (rope-like) field around a long copper wire conducting electricity all of us are familiar with on Earth. In any case the cartoon showing the flux ropes is basically telling us that electric currents do indeed travel through space, the implication being that the battery in space is actually the Sun.
Meteorologists with computer models know a lot more about the weather than ever before. Computer models calculate the interplay of a large number of variables to produce likely weather scenarios for several days. Meteorologists then decide which scenario is most likely. More often than not they're right. But the times they miss could be because they are leaving out an important factor.
Like most sciences, meteorology still considers the Earth to be an isolated body in space. It is not. It is a charged body moving through an active plasma environment, surrounded by a web of electric currents commonly called the magnetosphere. Earth's surface and atmosphere are electrically connected through this magnetosphere to electrical conditions in space and on the Sun.
Astronomers Sallie Baliunas and Willy Soon have shown that for as long as temperature records have been kept, the global temperatures of the Earth have correlated to the sunspot cycle. And the sunspot cycle also affects radio transmission and power grids.
The Electric Universe identifies more effects: Currents to the surface affect the jet streams, moving them closer to the equator when solar activity causes geomagnetic storms. These currents power thunderstorms, waterspouts and hurricanes. Figure 3 above is hurricane Kate. Its form is that of a plasma spiral, mimicking on a small scale the shape of a spiral galaxy and on a large scale the shape of interacting Birkeland currents in the laboratory.
It is entirely possible that all of the weather on Earth is the effect of a complex interplay of electric currents in the Earth's atmosphere. For the most part these are in Dark Current Mode and apart from some discomfort with static electricity, most of us would never realise that electric currents were about us. We only need to be reminded of the fact that air ionisers can actually produce breezes in air - and that perhaps stronger electric currents might be responsible for the winds we have to put up with. Often we find hot and dry winds associated with an increase in static electricity, assuming then that it is the wind producing the electricity when in reality it is the other way around. That no one has been able to experimentally produce electricity from rotating columns of air suggests that the idea is basically wrong.
It is even possible that the low and high pressure systems that ubiquitously populate our synoptic weather charts are themselves the effects of weak electric currents leaking to and from the Earth into space via the atmosphere.
And if one's science training is such that charge separation cannot occur in space, and thus electric currents cannot occur, then all sorts of novel imaginals have to be invented to explain new observations. NASA scientists call Birkeland Currents in space "Magnetic Flux Ropes", for example, because while technically proficient, few have studied electricity during their undergraduate years, and thus are ignorant of electrical forces. It is much like a blacksmith, armed with only a hammer, anvil and furnace trying to work out how to solder a loose wire back onto am electric circuit board.
(It might be useful to point out that electrical forces are 10 to the power of 39 (or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000), stronger than gravitational forces in the cosmos, in the atomic realm and in our own experience on Earth. While gravity might hold a small bearing in place on the ground, all it needs is a child’s magnet to lift it off the ground to show how weak indeed that gravity is).
And if the Earth's weather is essentially an electrical phenomenon, powered by the enormous electrical energy interchange between the Sun and the galaxy and the Earth, then it is difficult to see how a trace gas like CO2 can affect this system, if at all.
Let’s say that again – if the Earth’s weather, and thus its climate, is the effect of the electrical interaction between it and the electrically active solar plasma, then any variations in atmospheric CO2 concentration will also be an effect and not a cause of weather. Little wonder that climate models can't predict future climate when they are based upon the wrong ideas. And the latest attempt to solve the problem is not to question its theoretical basis, that of CO2 climate sensitivity, but to ask for more money for larger computers (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080506124443.htm)
Paraphrasing the late British astronomer Fred Hoyle, if a large number of scientists, together with the expenditure of a large amount of money, still can't agree on some scientific problem, over a long period of time, then it is quite likely that they have been using the wrong ideas, or theories, to explain that problem.
The problem in climate science, astronomy and to a lesser extent geology is that the deductive method has become dominant at the expense of empiricism. Astronomy has stalled itself in a mathematical cul-de-sac, climate science in a computerised based Stanley Steamer era physics modelling and geology in a Lyellian inspired chronological one.
All three sciences seem to have forgotten one fundamental fact:
If occasionally physical evidence does not square with formulated laws, it should be remembered that a law is but a deduction from experience and experiment, and therefore laws must conform to physical facts, not facts with laws.
Internet links to the Electric Universe.
The Plasma Universe – Anthony Peratt: http://public.lanl.gov/alp/plasma/TheUniverse.html
Good introduction for newcomers: http://www.plasmacosmology.net/
Another excellent site: http://www.electric-cosmos.org/