Wrong, or Blind
by Mel Acheson
The Electric Universe (EU) raises a scandalous question: How could
millions of intelligent, conscientious astronomers for centuries have
been wrong? They didn’t just overlook a few details, they missed the
The EU says the universe runs on electricity, not on gravity.
It says the astronomers have been examining an electric motor and trying
to explain it with angular momentum, mass, and inertia. They’ve ignored
the wires and only recently have become aware of the magnetic fields,
which they dismiss as epiphenomena.
But it’s wrong to say they were wrong. Until now, the gravity point
of view was reasonable for the data at hand. Humans have no senses that
detect electricity. Our perception of it has been limited to the
occasional lightning strike and the shocks we get from doorknobs after
shuffling across the carpet. Our senses are geared—not wired!—for
mechanics. Furthermore, we reasonably believe that if we don’t see
anything else, then nothing else is there: I’ll believe there’s
electricity in space when I see electricity in space.
Only recently have people invented instruments that detect
electricity; still more recently have they sent them into space. The
instruments have been going crazy, but astronomers are not prepared to
listen: For them, the instrumental chattering is just noise.
Electrical engineers and experimental plasma physicists are somewhat
better prepared. They’ve been listening to the chatter of the
instruments in their labs for several decades. They recognize the same
messages from the instruments in space: Birkeland currents. Plasma-focus
plumes. Electrical discharge instabilities. Circuits. Double layers.
Critical ionization velocities. Microwave background radiation.
“But we already have an explanation,” the astronomers say. This is
special pleading to sneak familiar assumptions past critical review. The
argument of the “already explained” is circular. The urgent question is
not about explaining but about preferring: which explanation to choose
and what criteria to use for making that decision. The EU doesn’t add
to received theories, it replaces received theories. It
rejects the consensus theories at the level of initial assumptions: the
empirically discovered electromagnetic properties of plasma are
preferred over the theoretically extrapolated hypotheses of gravitation,
gas, thermodynamics, and particle physics.
The numbers that the instruments have collected are orders of
magnitude greater than what mechanical theories can handle: A
millions-of-degrees corona outside a thousands-of-degrees photosphere.
Steady radiation from the photosphere and wildly varying radiation from
the corona. A spinning photosphere that should be flattened by
mechanical force but is squeezed by some greater force into a nearly
perfect sphere. Plasma sheaths, euphemistically called magnetospheres
(except when there’s no magnetic field to take the blame, as in
comets—or Venus). Toroidal currents, passed over as radiation belts and
accretion disks. Axial discharge channels, mystified with talk about
reified lines of force that get twisted by the rotating speck below.
The numbers are in the ballpark of electrical theories. Instead of
learning about electrical theories, astronomers are stitching patches of
fantasy over gravitational theories to cover the bloated numbers:
Neutron stars and black holes, to cram enough mass—mistaken as
matter—into a small enough space to eke out enough energy to match
what’s observed. Ultra-low densities of atoms in the coldness of space
yet so hot that they radiate x-rays. Although the atoms would be
completely ionized at that temperature, they bump into each other as
though they were a gas experiencing shock waves or gravitational
collapse. The result has been that that the theories have disappeared
beneath the stitches: Modern astronomy is an ugly patchwork of
ill-fitting ad hoc rags.
For anyone familiar with the behavior of plasma, the patches of
fantasies are absurd. So the question returns with this correction: It’s
not that astronomers for centuries have been wrong but that modern
astronomers, in an age that has become aware of plasma, can be so
deliberately blind to what’s before their instrument-enhanced eyes.