"There are a thousand hacking at the
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Wrong, or Blind
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 entire picture.
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.