The Rembrandt impact crater basin on Mercury.  Credit: Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Smithsonian Institution/Carnegie Institution of Washington
The Rembrandt impact crater basin on Mercury. Credit: Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Smithsonian Institution/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Mercury

New Mysteries Unveiled on Mercury

30 Apr , 2009 by

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Even though Mercury looks like the Moon at first glance, scientists from the MESSENGER mission say it’s becoming apparent that Mercury is an amazingly dynamic planet, and is actually more like Mars. For example, before this mission, scientists weren’t sure if volcanism even existed on Mercury, but from the spacecraft’s two flybys, they now know it is a very important part of the planet’s history. Additional new findings from the second flyby of Mercury in October 2008 show that the planet’s atmosphere, magnetosphere, and geological past are all characterized by much greater levels of activity than scientists first suspected.

And by the way, isn’t this a stunning picture of an impact basin? It’s one of the new discoveries from MESSENGER.

One of the most exciting results from the second flyby of Mercury is the discovery of a previously unknown large impact basin. The Rembrandt basin is more than 700 kilometers (430 miles) in diameter, and actually, to see the entire basin, it took combined images from both the first and second flyby to create the stunning picture above. Rembrandt is a relatively young impact basin, and forming about 3.9 billion years ago, is younger than any other known impact region on the planet. It shows pristine terrain on the outer portion of the crater, as well as unusual tectonic fault features, not found in any other big crater.

“This is the first time we’ve seen terrain exposed on the floor of an impact basin on Mercury that is preserved from when it formed” says MESSENGER scientist Thomas Watters. “Landforms such as those revealed on the floor of Rembrandt are usually completely buried by volcanic flows. We know that after Rembrandt formed, the planet was still contracting, so it is an exciting and unique new member of planetary craters we can study.”

MESSENGER’s Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer, or MASCS, detected significant amounts of magnesium clumped in the planet’s tenuous atmosphere, called the exosphere. Scientists had suspected magnesium would be present, but were surprised at its distribution and abundance.

“Detecting magnesium was not too surprising, but what is surprising is the distribution and amounts of magnesium that was recorded,” said Bill McClintock, a MESSENGER co- investigator.
The instrument also measured other exospheric constituents during the October 6 flyby, including calcium and sodium, and he suspects that additional metallic elements from the surface including aluminum, iron, and silicon also contribute to the exosphere.

The differences in Mercury's magnetosphere in the two flybys by MESSENGER. Credit: Image produced by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory//Carnegie Institution of Washington. Image reproduced courtesy of Science/AAAS.

The differences in Mercury's magnetosphere in the two flybys by MESSENGER. Credit: Image produced by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory//Carnegie Institution of Washington. Image reproduced courtesy of Science/AAAS.


MESSENGER observed a radically different magnetosphere at Mercury during its second flyby, compared with its earlier January 14, 2008 encounter. In the first flyby, no dynamic features were found. But the second flyby was a totally different situation, said James Slavin, MESSENGER Co-Investigator.

“MESSENGER measured large magnetic flux leakage through the dayside magnetopause, about a factor of 10 greater than even what is observed at the Earth during its most active intervals. The high rate of solar wind energy input was evident in the great amplitude of the plasma waves and the large magnetic structures measured by the Magnetometer throughout the encounter.”

Slavin said Mercury’s magnetic field bears a marked resemblance to what we have at earth, but it is about 100 times weaker, which implies interior of Mercury is in part molten. “There is a dynamo action that is ongoing which regenerates and maintains the planetary magnetic field,” he said.

A subsurface interpretation of an impact basin on Mercury. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Arizona State University/Carnegie Institution of Washington.

A subsurface interpretation of an impact basin on Mercury. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Arizona State University/Carnegie Institution of Washington.


Scientists are also learning more abour Mercury’s crustal evolution, and have now mapped about 90% of the planet’s surface. About 40% is covered by smooth plains which are now known to be of volcanic origna. “These plains are globally distributed (in contrast with the Moon, which has a nearside/farside asymmetry in the abundance of volcanic plains),” said Brett Denevi, MESSENGER team member.

Data shows an enhanced iron- and titanium content in an ancient basin studied by MESSENGER, which are exposed on the surface only through impact events, and may formed when dense minerals settled out as they crystallized from a cooling magma. “There are a complex series of events going on here, but we see it everywhere, so this is a microcosm of the entire planet” said Denevi.

These discoveries are more clues to the mystery of the creation of the rocky, bizarre planet that resides closest to the sun.

Source: NASA Press conference, MESSNEGER press release

By  -        
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.


124 Responses

  1. solrey says:

    Regarding the magnetic flux leakage, from another article:

    “On Mercury, though, the twisters were 10 times as strong as any magnetic cyclones observed on Earth. With so little atmosphere to interfere, Mercury’s magnetic tornadoes are great spinning chutes that ionized gas can slide down.”
    “They act as magnetic channels or open windows that allow solar wind plasma from the sun, very fast and very hot, to come right down those field lines and impacts the surface,” said Jim Slavin of NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center. When the gas hits the surface, it knocks off neutrally-charged atoms and sends them on a loop high into the sky.”

    That’s a pretty good description of Electric Discharge Machining!

    This is what I’ve been describing as causing the “plumes” and “jets” on Io and Enceladus, discharge vortices.

    Also, I’ll bet if they examine those discharge vortices on Mercury with intention, instead of happening on one by accident, they would discover that most “impact” craters and basins are actually a result of “machining” of the surface by those “magnetic tornadoes”.

    Time to play in the garden the rest of the afternoon. I’m guessing there are gonna be some interesting comments.

  2. HelloBozos says:

    i just cought Mercury from my backyard with a 8″ telescope last weekend..its tricky cause it sets so fast..

    http://www.celestronimages.com/details.php?image_id=3408

    was the night after the Cresant Moon,Mercury an The Pleiades conjunction which was neat to view

  3. Nereid says:

    “Electric Discharge Machining”? Is that some kind of personal theory, which Fraser’s announcement specifically said should not be promoted here?

  4. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    This what I meant! There is no real physics behind what solrey, Anaconda, Oilsmastery and the rest talk about. They are good at throwing words around which have physics content, or borrowing buzz phrases from plasma physics, but there is little content to much of what they say.

    Lawrence B. Crowell

  5. solrey says:

    lbc, nereid…better take that up with NASA. They describe the process as “sputtering”, which is what electric discharge machining does.

    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/images/mercury/mercmag.jpg

    In that diagram, the surface effects are labeled as sputtering. A discharge vortex, or “magnetic tornado”, results in surface sputtering (knocking off neutrally charged atoms) which is electric discharge machining.

    Any flow of charged particles (“magnetic vortex”) that rips atoms from, or deposits atoms into, the surface of an electrode (the surface of Mercury) is EDM. It can result in excavation, or deposition, of material on the surface.

    From Wiki:
    “The term electronic sputtering can mean either sputtering induced by energetic electrons (for example in a transmission electron microscope), or sputtering due to very high-energy or highly charged heavy ions which lose energy to the solid mostly by electronic stopping power, where the electronic excitations cause sputtering. Electronic sputtering produces high sputtering yields from insulators, as the electronic excitations that cause sputtering are not immediately quenched, as they would be in a conductor. One example of this is Jupiter’s ice-covered moon Europa, where a MeV sulfur ion from Jupiter’s magnetosphere can eject up to 10,000 H2O molecules.”

    Maybe you should discuss those “buzz phrases” and “real physics” with the folks at NASA…ya know, the scientists that actually studied the raw data and labeled it as “sputtering”.

  6. Nereid says:

    @solrey: if all you are doing is using electric discharge machining as a synonym for sputtering, then it would have been a good idea for you to have said so in your first comment (though why you would choose to capitalise it – Electric Discharge Machining – I don’t know).

    However, you didn’t stop at that; instead, you went on claim that the “plumes” and “jets” on Io and Enceladus are caused by the same mechanism (sputtering). Further, you made things even more confusing by adding “discharge vortices” to the mix, thereby making up your own, idiosyncratic, definition of electric discharge machining (the normal use of this term, as a manufacturing process, does not involve “discharge vortices”).

    I also have no idea why you chose to put quote marks around jets and plumes, which are purely descriptive terms, in the same way clouds and wind are.

    But the worst part, IMHO, comes at the end, where you write “they would discover that most “impact” craters and basins are actually a result of “machining” of the surface by those “magnetic tornadoes””!

    Now I need to be nice, so if you have an old envelope, the back of which you can use to do a simple calculation, I invite you to provide a rough order of magnitude estimate of the key parameters of a “magnetic tornado” that could displace a cubic km of Mercury’s surface rock 100m vertically (you can check that this would be a really small crater). To make this simple, leave out the energy required to break the chemical bonds in the rock, to melt or liquify it, to move it laterally, and so on. As an aid to your calculation, you may choose to use 2×10^15 J as an estimate of the energy required (assuming 100% efficiency, i.e. no losses to heat, radiation, etc).

  7. Nereid says:

    @Lawrence B. Crowell: my only prior exchange of comments with solrey came in response to his (her?) April 27th, 2009 at 8:21 am one, on the UT Did Dark Matter Annihilate Our Early Universe? story.

    In that comment, solrey wrote: “Yes there is a viable, alternative theory. But ya’ll ignore it or scoff at it, hurling insults and ridicule towards those who realize the validity of the theory. And now we’re not even supposed to invoke it’s [sic] name here.”

    To which I responded: “I’m rather at a loss to know what to say.

    MOND, and the various extensions which seek to incorporate relativity, is not ignored, not scoffed at, etc. Far from it; there are dozens and dozens of papers published on these alternatives, every year!

    And these are certainly not the only alternatives that you’ll find in the pages of ApJ (Astrophysics Journal), for example, or MNRAS (Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society), to name just two of peer-reviewed journals (though there are certainly fewer papers on other alternatives, not least because they have many more shortcomings than MOND etc).

    Could it be that you are referring to a different alternative? I don’t mean crackpot ideas, of course, but one that is described in at least a handful of papers in relevant journals, within the last decade or so.”

    Solrey did not comment any further.

    Could it be that solrey considers “Electric Discharge Machining” as a cause of planetary craters to be part of this alternative theory he considers to be viable? I took it that his comments about Mercury were his own, not connected with some alternative theory of cosmology.

    I’ve not exchanged comments with OilIsMastery, but someone wrote that Total Science seems to be the same person; if so, then I can only say he (she?) provides quotes without references, and where they are provided, it’s clear they are misquotes (or are highly misleading).

    Re Anaconda: as I wrote elsewhere, he (she?) seems to be working from a quite different basis, wrt astronomy and physics, than you or I, and this results in a lot of mis-communication. I hope that he will return soon, to continue the conversation, so I can better understand the basis of his approach and we can have a meaningful discussion.

  8. IVAN3MAN says:

    Nereid:

    I’ve not exchanged comments with OilIsMastery, but someone wrote that Total Science seems to be the same person…

    Yeah, it was me! :-)

  9. Nereid says:

    testing

    testing (blockquote)

    testing (bold)

  10. Nereid says:

    OK, so now I know!

    Thanks IVAN3MAN

    Out of curiosity, do you recall if OilIsMastery provided a Peratt quote with reference(s) for Plasma Cosmology predicting that the CMB would have a temperature of 2.8K? I asked Total Science to provide one, and he (she?) has been silence ever since.

  11. IVAN3MAN says:

    @ Nereid,

    I don’t recall whether OilIsMastery had ever quoted Peratt, but Anaconda has often cited Anthony (“Dead Parrot”) Peratt — with links to “Thunderbolts.info” — on numerous occasions here and especially at Bad Astronomy — much to the annoyance of everybody there!

  12. DrFlimmer says:

    Hooray, finally. I just created a new email account somewhere else (I don’t know why the other THREE failed…) and know: Here I am ;).

    So, good evening everybody!

    Btw: Solrey, before presenting new details of your theory, please answer my question from some time ago: How is it possible that large neutral gas clouds (mostly consisting of hydrogen, detected by the 21-cm-line) are flying around in galaxies with the same velocity as the stars, although they should not be affected strongly by em-forces?

  13. Nereid says:

    Welcome DrFlimmer.

    The name seems familiar; have you, perchance, been a contributor to comments on the Cosmic Variance blog? Or the Bad Astronomer’s one (they’re both now hosted on Discover)?

  14. damian says:

    Err, Mercury, amazing. :)

    Its interesting to hear about the variability of its magnetosphere, I guess we will learn more once Messenger is in orbit. But I wonder if its change has something to do with its elliptical orbit. The dynamo being affected by its proximity to the sun? Tidal forces?

    So many mysteries.

    I wish we had instruments to see below the surface of planets. It remains undiscovered country, even here on earth.

  15. IVAN3MAN says:

    Anaconda:

    It would seem “sputteirng” [sic] is an electromagnetic process.

    Dictionary.com:

    sputterverb (used without object)
    1. to make explosive popping or sizzling sounds.
    2. to emit particles, sparks, etc., forcibly or explosively, esp. accompanied by sputtering sounds.
    3. to eject particles of saliva, food, etc., from the mouth in a light spray, as when speaking angrily or excitedly.
    4. to utter or spit out words or sounds explosively or incoherently, as when angry or flustered.

    –verb (used with object)
    5. to emit (anything) forcibly and in small particles, as if by spitting: The fire sputtered cinders.
    6. to eject (saliva, food, etc.) in small particles explosively and involuntarily, as in excitement.
    7. to utter explosively and incoherently.

    –noun
    8. the act or sound of sputtering.
    9. explosive, incoherent utterance.
    10. matter ejected in sputtering.

    ———————————————————————
    It would seem that “sputtering” is also an “Electric Universe” proponent speech process.

    😀

  16. DrFlimmer says:

    @ Nereid

    Yes, I am the same 😉 I always use this nickname. I participate at Bad Astronomy and also at Universe Today before, but I wasn’t able to register because I didn’t receive the confirmation mails due to whatever reasons. But, well, now it worked and I am happy ;-).

  17. Jon Hanford says:

    I wonder if this magnetic phenomena is (at this level of intensity) limited to Mercury due to its proximity to the Sun, its’ chemical-mineral makeup and-or its’ size? This magnetic peculiarity my also help explain “sworls” of material next to some craters as opposed to the usual ‘ray’ pattern. @Dr Flimmer, glad to see you back again. As you can see, not much has changed. But that sure is a great picture of a giant basin ( …..or an example of “Electric Discharge Machining”???) on the surface of Mercury, no :)

  18. Anaconda says:

    Interesting…

    Electromagnetism is found to have a significant role in Mercury’s near-space environoment and even at the surface (“sputtering”), hey, it’s NASA that chose the term, and comparing the Wikipedia entry for “sputtering” and NASA’s description of the process on Mercury, I’d say the processes are similar.

    This similarity, a result of electromagnetic processes being scale independent, is why what goes on in a plasma physics laboratory is relevant to processes observed & measured on and around the various planets in the solar system (it may even form a basis for prediction and understanding).

    As for the follow-up comments to solrey’s comments, they seem focussed on definitions — a reasonable concern — but as always, substance takes precedent over form.

    What is happening and what is the driving dynamic causing the process?

    It would seem “sputteirng” is an electromagnetic process.

    Is Mercury the only planet where this process takes place?

  19. star-grazer west coast says:

    I am disregarding all other comments posted on this feed.I am glad the Messenger Mission will once and for all photograph and scan the entire planet, surprizes comes in quite small packages like Mercury- the crater is hugh!!!! Perhaps in several decades, some hardened tough rover-type vehicles can explore this harsh world!!!!

  20. Anaconda says:

    @ Ivan3Man:

    And your comment is designed to do what?

  21. Nereid says:

    @Anaconda: sputtering is a technical term, and is briefly summarised by Presenter 2, William McClintock: “Ion sputtering occurs when ions in the solar wind impact the surface, “knocking off” atoms and molecules.” (source: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/messenger/multimedia/images_telecon_20090430.html).

    This kind of ion sputtering occurs on any solar system body where the solar wind impacts a solid surface, from Mercury, to the Moon, to the asteroids, to the outer moons of Jupiter, to Pluto. It also occurs where energetic ions in the Jovian magnetosphere impact the solid surfaces of Io, Amalthea, etc.

    An important question for planetary scientists is how important a process it is, in terms of producing the observed exospheres (of Mercury, the Moon, etc).

    By the way, space scientists – those who study the solar wind, its interactions with planetary magnetospheres and atmospheres, processes within planetary magnetospheres, etc – are first and foremost plasma physicists. Many are employed either with or for NASA and the ESA, or with universities or research institutes which design, build, and manage the instruments which are aboard spaceprobes such as MESSENGER, THEMIS, Cluster, Cassini, Ulysses, and so on. They are very well aware of what goes on in plasma physics laboratories around the world; indeed, many of them also work in such labs, or studied there for their PhDs. Many of these scientists attend the regular meetings of the AGU (American Geophysical Union), such as the one in San Francisco last December. If you read the scientific program of that meeting, you’ll see a great many presentations that could easily be described as applying plasma physics to the study of space. May I suggest that, given your evident interest in this field, time spent googling up this meeting (and previous ones) and the presentations and papers that were subsequently published would be richly rewarded?

  22. IVAN3MAN says:

    Anaconda:

    And your comment is designed to do what?

    Satire.

    😉

  23. Nereid says:

    Follow-up: should any reader be interested in learning more about the contemporary field of space science, the following website may be a good place to start:

    http://www.spp.ee.kth.se/

    This is the Space and Plasma Physics unit of the School of Electrical Engineering in KTH, in Sweden. It is located in the Alfvén Laboratory, which also hosts the Fusion Plasma Physics
    unit, and the Alfvén Laboratory Centre for Space and Fusion Plasma Physics.

    (I think KTH is Swedish for Royal Institute of Technology; its connection with Hannes Alfvén, who won a Nobel Prize for his work on plasma physics, is obvious).

    The webpage you get to if you follow the link says, in part “Our research deals with plasmas in space as well as in the laboratory. The vast majority of our universe is plasma. […] The research profits from a fruitful combination of laboratory experiments and space experiments as well as theory and numerical simulation. We play an active role in a number of international space missions, building instruments, planning instrument operations, and analysing data.

  24. Anaconda says:

    @ Nereid:

    Thank you for the link and for your discussion of plasma physics.

    I have a question for you: Is near-space investigation and study considered “astronomy” or something else, say, planetary physics?

    What overlap do these apparently seperate disciplines have with each other if any?

  25. Nereid says:

    Astronomy, historically, had to do with anything and everything beyond the Earth’s atmosphere (with one exception – cosmic rays), for the obvious reason that such things could not be investigated by means other than remote observation.

    The advent of space probes substantially reduced the role of astronomers – with Earth-based or balloon-based telescopes – in the on-going study of the solar system, especially with regard to objects where in situ observations have been made (and are continuing to be made), such as the Earth’s and Jupiter’s magnetospheres.

    For planetary surfaces the tools and techniques of geophysics (etc) are more appropriate, especially where ‘ground truth’ has been obtained (such as for the Moon and Mars).

    A good indication of the change is the current categorisation used by arXiv for the astrophysics section: Cosmology and Extragalactic Astrophysics; Earth and Planetary Astrophysics; Galaxy Astrophysics; High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena; Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics; Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (this is not a complete list).

    Another is some of the session names of the last AGU meeting: Planetary Sciences, Space Physics and Aeronomy, SPA-Solar Physics Division-AAS, and SPA-Magnetospheric Physics; note that their website’s logo includes “Earth, Oceans, Atmosphere, Space, Planets”.

  26. Jon Hanford says:

    @ Nereid, while looking for references to Peratt’s work (along with Alfen’s introduction and support of Plasma Cosmology), I came across this quote concerning PC and the CMB predictions “While plasma cosmology has never had the support of most astronomers or physicists, a few researchers have continued to promote and develop the approach, and publish in the special issues of the IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science that are co-edited by plasma cosmology proponent Anthony Peratt.[16] A few papers regarding plasma cosmology were published in other mainstream journals until the 1990s. Additionally, in 1991, Eric J. Lerner, an independent researcher in plasma physics and nuclear fusion, wrote a popular-level book supporting plasma cosmology called ‘The Big Bang Never Happened’. At that time there was renewed interest in the subject among the cosmological community (along with other non-standard cosmologies). This was due to anomalous results reported in 1987 by Andrew Lange and Paul Richards of UC Berkeley and Toshio Matsumoto of Nagoya University that indicated the cosmic microwave background might not have a blackbody spectrum. However, the final announcement (in April 1992) of COBE satellite data corrected the earlier contradiction of the Big Bang; the level of interest in plasma cosmology has since fallen such that little research is now conducted. ” Then, this statement “No proposal based on plasma cosmology trying to explain the cosmic microwave background radiation has been published since COBE results were announced” 17 years ago in 1992! For the complete article with many up-to-date references see the Wiki page for Plasma Cosmology here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasma_cosmology . My favorite quote: “Plasma cosmology has been developed in much less detail than mainstream cosmology and lacks many of the key predictions and features of the current models.” I hope this site may help you track down references and refutations of this now largely discredited theory of ‘Plasma Cosmology’. BTW, the Space and Plasma Physics Unit link you gave above contains some papers by Alfven promoting PC and the non-existence of the Big Bang theory and the non-cosmological source of the CMB! These are, of course , older papers published in the late 80’s and early 90’s, when Alfven was in his 80’s. Anyway, NO mention is made to a prediction by Peratt of a 2.8 degree K CMB prediction. Draw your own conclusions. Hannes Alfven’s Wiki page also has interesting insights about this researcher (and Nobel Prize winner) . As noted his Nobel was for his work in the field of MHD, not ‘Plasma Cosmology’.

  27. Nereid says:

    Thanks Jon Hanford.

    Among alternative theories to ‘the Big Bang’ theory, as cosmologies, the Steady State theory of Hoyle et al. is perhaps the best known. That Alfvén, together with some colleagues, also developed an alternative cosmological model (“Plasma Cosmology”) is less well known.

    Up to the early 1990s, before the COBE results were first published, these – and other, less well known alternative cosmologies – were shown to be more or less consistent with the relevant astronomical observations, if only marginally and with much handwaving and adhocricy (to coin a word) for many key datasets.

    COBE’s results – the perfect blackbody SED, the dipole, and the hints of micro-Kelvin features – have proven impossible for any alternative cosmological theories, or models, to account for, despite some quite strenuous efforts by the few remaining supporters of these.

    On the whole, the Steady State papers by Hoyle et al., and the Plasma Cosmology ones by Alfvén et al. are just as good, as scientific papers, as any on LCDM cosmological models (though it’s true that papers by these, and other scientists, tended to decline in quality as they enter their final years). So there’s no reason whatsoever for KTH to not list publications of one of its most illustrious academics.

    What is curious is how strongly some folk feel about what they understand to be Plasma Cosmology; not only do they seem to cling to it – despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that it has failed the ultimate reality test – but also seem unaware of how proponents like Lerner have taken it from the science it was in the hands of Alfvén to the pseudo-science it is today (prime example: Lerner’s declaration, by fiat, that General Relativity can play no role in any cosmological models).

  28. Jon Hanford says:

    In reading the Wiki bio on Alfven here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannes_Alfv%C3%A9n that I came away with what Alfven must have sensed as ridicule and rejection of some of his theories (he did consider himself after all an electrical engineer foremost). I’m sure many astrophysicists did object to an electrical engineer putting forth his theories on how the universe worked at astronomical conventions. I just found the info on his somewhat isolated status when it came to astrophysical issues an interesting parallel to some other scientists mentioned here (Peratt, Hoyle, Arp, Burbidge, Narlikar, Verschuur, etc.) I highly respect Alfven’s monumental work in the field of MHD, just as I admire Arp’s & Burbidge’s early work with star clusters and peculiar galaxies. But scientists are people, and sometimes people can make mistakes or be lead down the wrong path (ie Einstein’s ‘cosmological ‘constant’ “mistake”, which later turned out not to be such a mistake).

  29. Anaconda says:

    @ Jon Hanford:

    Kiristian Birkeland predicted over a century ago (1903) that the aurora was electromagnetic in nature and was due to plasma (charged particles) coming from the Sun to the Earth.

    So-called “modern” astronomy led by Chapman ignored, then actively rejected this idea for 70 years.

    In 1973, the Trident satellite and probe confirmed this electromagnetic phenomena.

    Recently, THEMIS has confirmed the electromagnetic “tornadoes” connecting the Sun and the Earth.

    And ‘Flux Transfer Events’ that “modern” astronomers acknowledged they thought didn’t exist, but where predicted by Plasma Cosmologists, where not only found to exist between the Sun and the Earth, but now we find they exist between the Sun and Mercury, too.

    MESSENGER has just confirmed the electromagnetic near-space environment for Mercury, as were Jupiter and Saturn both confirmed to have electromagnetic interaction with the Sun, and lest it not be forgotten, the Sun, itself, produces copious amounts of plasma, charged particles, electric current, in the form of the solar wind.

    It would seem actual in situ observation & measurement are confirming large swaths of phenomena predicted by Plasma Cosmology.

    Your pasting wikipedia boilerplate edited by “modern” astronomers, here, on this comment board rings extremely hollow considering this post explicitly confirms Plasma Cosmology.

    “Sour grapes”?

    No, more like the reaction of somebody hearing fingernails on a chalkboard.

  30. Jon Hanford says:

    @ Anaconda, concerning your statement “….this post explicitly confirms Plasma Cosmology.” could you please provide references on exactly how this post explicitly confirms that Plasma Cosmology confirms and explains all observed astrophysical phenomena in the known universe, starting with the measured anisotropy in the Cosmic Microwave Background. Published, peer-reviewed articles within the past 5 years would be preferred. Thank you.

  31. solrey says:

    Here’s a horizontal cross-section of a discharge vortex, or what NASA calls a “magnetic tornado”.

    http://ciclops.org/media/ir/2008/5297_12029_1.jpg

    Carved into the surface of Enceladus!
    I’ll bet we won’t see that raw image in any press release.
    :)~

  32. solrey says:

    Jon Hanford, where are the “mainstream” peer reviewed papers predicting what MESSENGER would find? Where are the “mainstream” papers accurately predicting galactic rotation curves? Where are the accurate mainstream predictions for the ‘Deep Impact’ mission? (Wal Thornhill nailed that one, but was ignored, btw) Although his predictions weren’t in the form of a peer reviewable paper, they were extremely accurate and valid.

    Where are the mainstream papers that explain the formation on Enceladus, in the link from my previous post?

  33. Nereid says:

    solrey writes (I added bold to emphasize the point I want to make):

    Kiristian Birkeland predicted over a century ago (1903) that the aurora was electromagnetic in nature and was due to plasma (charged particles) coming from the Sun to the Earth.

    Are you sure that’s what he predicted, in 1903, solrey? I mean, you’ve actually read his papers and you can quote the parts where he makes this prediction? I mean the one about aurora being due to plasma coming from the Sun to the Earth.

    It would be a real disappointment to discover that you are no better at historical accuracy than Total Science.

    And ‘Flux Transfer Events’ that “modern” astronomers acknowledged they thought didn’t exist, but where [sic] predicted by Plasma Cosmologists, where not only found to exist between the Sun and the Earth, but now we find they exist between the Sun and Mercury, too.

    May we know the names of these Plasma Cosmologists, the ones who predicted ‘flux transfer events’ of the kind that THEMIS detected? Oh, and may we have some references, to papers published by these people, in which we may all read of these predictions?

    It would seem actual in situ observation & measurement are confirming large swaths of phenomena predicted by Plasma Cosmology.

    As with my previous question, where may an interested reader find these predictions, as in in which papers published by which peer-reviewed journals?

    Oh, and would you mind giving a concise definition of this Plasma Cosmology, and in particular making clear the extent to which it differs from Alfvén’s and the definition given by Eric Lerner?

  34. Nereid says:

    Oops! My comment should be addressed to Anaconda, not solrey; sorry.

  35. Nereid says:

    solrey wrote (really, this time I got it right! I added bold to emphasize what I want to comment on):

    Where are the accurate mainstream predictions for the ‘Deep Impact’ mission? (Wal Thornhill nailed that one, but was ignored, btw) Although his predictions weren’t in the form of a peer reviewable paper, they were extremely accurate and valid.

    A loooong time ago now I looked into this so-called prediction, and found nothing that even remotely resembles science.

    For starters, science today is quantitative (well, at least astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology, etc are), yet Thornhill’s thing is just a bunch of words, with almost no numbers (and no equations; here is a post I wrote on that, in the BAUT forum: http://www.bautforum.com/440342-post129.html).

    But perhaps even more central to modern science (well, if the last several centuries counts as modern) is the objectively and independently verifiable part.

    You know, if you do an experiment you should write up the results in such a way that another scientist can, independently, verify your work.

    Or, if you develop a theory, you should write it out in sufficient detail that another scientist can, independently, check the math etc in your theory, and conclude that it’s sound.

    Now Mr Thornhill, to be the best of my knowledge, didn’t do any of this, despite, apparently, working on comets for over 30 years!

    But I might be wrong, so I invite solrey to tell us where we can read the details of how Thornhill worked out his so-called prediction, in sufficient detail that any of us could, by applying the equations etc that Thornhill used, reproduce his so-called predictions.

  36. DrFlimmer says:

    @ solrey (and anaconda):

    Since PC explains so much, then explain me, please, the following:

    Large neutral clouds are flying around in galaxies (we observe them with their 21cm-radiation) with the same velocity as the stars? AFAIU neutral hydrogen should not be affected by em-forces. So how is it possible that galaxies can “keep them on track”?

  37. IVAN3MAN says:

    solrey:

    Here’s a horizontal cross-section of a discharge vortex, or what NASA calls a “magnetic tornado”.

    ciclops.org/media/ir/2008/5297_12029_1.jpg

    Carved into the surface of Enceladus!
    I’ll bet we won’t see that raw image in any press release.

    Au contraire…

    Astronomy Picture of the Day (2008/10/14) An Enceladus Tiger Stripe from Cassini

  38. IVAN3MAN says:

    Here’s another…
    APOD (2008/12/22) –Labtayt Sulci on Saturn’s Enceladus

  39. IVAN3MAN says:

    Here’s a close-up of that region…
    APOD (2008/11/5) — Seventeen Hundred Kilometers Above Enceladus

  40. solrey says:

    I notice neither nereid or drflimmer has commented on the image of the vortex carved into Enceladus, that I provided a link to in my previous post.
    What say you of that?

    The predictions made for the Deep Impact mission by Thornhill do not require math. He described with words what would happen and he was right. Oh no, he didn’t provide equations…so what? The predictions were made with the written word, they were proven correct and the raw data collected, which can be used for future mathematical modeling. The written predictions, based on years of experience and research, were just a next step into enhanced levels of quantification.

    nereid said:
    “A loooong time ago now I looked into this so-called prediction, and found nothing that even remotely resembles science.”
    Your qualifications to make that judgement are…?
    rofl 😉

  41. Nereid says:

    @solrey: you wrote (I added bold to highlight my comment):

    Here’s a horizontal cross-section of a discharge vortex, or what NASA calls a “magnetic tornado”.
    http://ciclops.org/media/ir/2008/5297_12029_1.jpg
    Carved into the surface of Enceladus!

    First, what’s a “discharge vortex”?

    Second, NASA is not a person; who used the term “magnetic tornado”, and when and where?

    Third, on what basis do you equate the two?

    Fourth, how did you infer that what you see in that image is a horizontal cross section of anything (much less a “discharge vortex”)?

  42. solrey says:

    @drflimmer
    From the Jodrell Bank group:
    “Neutral Hydrogen (HI) is found in most galaxies. We can detect HI from its 21cm line emission. In a cloud of HI that is dense enough, the interactions between the hydrogen atoms is enough to stimulate the 21cm emission, therefore clouds of HI gas can be detected even when there is no other radiation present (ie: we don’t need stars to detect HI).”

    Doesn’t sound very “netural” does it? The HI clouds are embedded in the ISM ( a plasma ), plasma forms cellular structures surrounded by a double layer, seperating regions of plasma with dissimilar charge densities. The HI clouds are part of the surrounding EM environment, they even emit EMR (21cm), they are not neutral to the surrounding ISM so they are swept along on the same galactic rotation curve.

    Any thoughts on that Enceladus image?

  43. Nereid says:

    The predictions made for the Deep Impact mission by Thornhill do not require math

    How can they be independently verified (in the sense of checking the assumptions he made, the input parameters he used, the steps he took to arrive at the actual words)?

    He described with words what would happen and he was right

    Actually, he was quite wrong, scientifically, in so many ways it’s astonishing that anyone should want to promote this personal theory.

    Let’s look at one of these so-called predictions (please let me know, solrey, if this is not, in fact, one of them):

    Copious X-rays will accompany discharges to the projectile, exceeding any reasonable model for X-ray production through the mechanics of impact. The intensity curve will be that of a lightning bolt (sudden onset, exponential decline) and may well include more than one peak.

    Now the word “copious” could mean anything, couldn’t it? So any number of x-rays would fit the bill, wouldn’t it? Science points for Thornhill: 0.

    Then there’s “any reasonable model for X-ray production through the mechanics of impact“. Thornhill doesn’t say what models he examined, does he? And as he doesn’t say, we have to take his word for it, don’t we? Science points for Thornhill: still 0.

    Then there’s “The intensity curve will be that of a lightning bolt (sudden onset, exponential decline)“. Leaving aside, for the moment, whether the “intensity curve” (whatever that is) actually had those features, a lightning bolt doesn’t have a sudden onset and exponential decline, does it solrey? Science points for Thornhill: still 0.

    Finally “and may well include more than one peak“. So, if there was one peak, you’d say Thornhill’s prediction was spot on; if there were two peaks, you’d also say it was spot on; ditto if there were three, four, … 42 peaks, you’d still say it was spot on. In other words, it’s not falsifiable. Science points for Thornhill: -1.

    ’nuff said?

  44. Nereid says:

    Doesn’t sound very “netural” does it? The HI clouds are embedded in the ISM ( a plasma ), plasma forms cellular structures surrounded by a double layer, seperating regions of plasma with dissimilar charge densities. The HI clouds are part of the surrounding EM environment, they even emit EMR (21cm), they are not neutral to the surrounding ISM so they are swept along on the same galactic rotation curve.

    That’s it solrey? Are you sure you don’t want a few more days to reconsider? I mean, perhaps you’d like some time to check out a few of Peratt’s key papers on this topic, just to be sure that you’re not misunderstanding anything?

  45. solrey says:

    Nope, don’t need more time, nereid. I understand plasma physics quite well, thank you.

  46. Anaconda says:

    @ Jon Hanford:

    Please…

    Your comment reveals a willingness to distort that diminishes your credibility.

    Hanford states: “could you please provide references on exactly how this post explicitly confirms that Plasma Cosmology confirms and explains all observed astrophysical phenomena in the known universe…”

    It was implicitly clear that my comment was referring to this post and this set of facts — your over reaction simply demonstrates how “close to the bone” this NASA report strikes.

    @ Nereid:

    Nereid asks: “Are you sure that’s what he [Birkeland] predicted, in 1903, Anaconda?”

    I’ve read the relevant passages and yes that is EXACTLY what he predicted.

    See: The Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition 1902-1903

    “The knowledge gained, since 1896, in radio-activity has favoured the view to which I gave expression in that year, namely, that magnetic disturbances on the earth, and aurora borealis, are due to corpuscular rays emitted by the sun.”

    Note: The term “plasma” was not coined until the 1920’s by Irving Langmuir. Birkeland’s reference to “corpuscular rays” is an equivalent to plasma.

    Apparently, Nereid, you are not familar with electromagnetism in general and with Kristian Birkeland in particlular.

    I say electromagnetism in general because you did not know that in a bar magnet the atoms line up so that the electrons move in an ordered array causing on the micro-level electric current.

    You apparently did not know that only electric currents (ordered vector movement of electrons) cause magnetic fields as stated by Maxwell’s Equations.

    Nereid, you have engaged in this kind of faulty assumption several times, and each time have used the faulty assumption to cast aspersions.

    Is this how you conduct scientific discussion?

    Nereid states: “May we know the names of these Plasma Cosmologists, the ones who predicted ‘flux transfer events’ of the kind that THEMIS detected?”

    Kirstian Birkeland. See, above.

    Nereid asks: “As with my previous question, where may an interested reader find these predictions, as in in which papers published by which peer-reviewed journals?

    Well, considering that “modern” astronomy held that space was neutral and all bodies were isolated islands within it until relatively recently, it seems any prediction of electromagnetism whether from Kristian Birkeland to Wallace Thornhill has gone against “modern” astronomy.

    Please provide predictions of electromagnetism in the solar system made by “modern” astronomy.

    And when you fail to find many, you’ll know why there aren’t alot of electromagnetic predictions from Plasma Cosmologists in peer-reviewed journals.

    So-called “modern” astronomy has been hostile to electromagnetism since at least Chapman, if not before, and this hostility is expressed to this very day in the form of your making faulty assumptions and then using them to cast aspersions.

    Very poor form.

    Yes, this isn’t in peer-reviewed papers, but here is a set of predictions made by Plasma Cosmologists.

    My definition of Plasma Cosmology: A recognition that electromagnetism plays a significant role in space, both near-space and deep-space.

    Please, Nereid, let’s keep this focussed on the post at hand and the NASA confirmation that electromagnetism exists from the surface (“sputtering”) of Mercury, to the near-space environoment of Mercury and that this electromagnetism is connected to the Sun.

    A list of electromagnetism processes and phenomena on and around Mercury:
    Flux Transfer Events
    Sputtering
    Aurora Precipitation
    ULF Waves
    Solar Wind
    Pick-up Ions
    Magnetopause Currents
    Plasma Mantle
    Plasmoid
    Flux Rope
    B-Normal

    All electromagnetic phenomena.

    Nereid states: “For starters, science today is quantitative.”

    Except where “infinity” is relied on.

    I’m sorry, Nereid, I previously asked you if infinity can be quantified?

    Your response. “I don’t understand the question.”

    That is a complete cop-out; a dodge, nothing less.

    Dictionary definition of infinity: 1 a: the quality of being infinite b: unlimited extent of time, space, or quanity 2: an indefinitely great number or amount.

    By DEFINITION infinity can’t be quantified.

    Infinity is part and parcel of the “modern” astronomy concepts of a “black hole’ and the “big bang”.

    Nereid, you offered to supply peer-reviewed papers that did not rely on “infinity” for their conception of a “black hole”, and I accepted your offer — but you never supplied the papers. Is that because there aren’t any papers — that would be ashame if you were like Total Science, wouldn’t it?

    My point is simple: “Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

    And my orginal point about this post stands: electromagnetism is pervasive on and around Mercury.

    Get to know it.

  47. Jon Hanford says:

    @ solrey “Here’s a horizontal cross-section of a discharge vortex, or what NASA calls a “magnetic tornado”. ” “I’ll bet we won’t see that raw image in any press release.” This may not be the exact frame, but this sure looks like your ‘horizontal cross-section of a magnetic discharge vortex’ . Funny, the PRESS RELEASE fails to mention your obvious obvious observation of a ‘magnetic tornado’ in this statement. See release here: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/imagedetails/index.cfm?imageId=3344 . Silly NASA, I guess they forgot !

  48. DrFlimmer says:

    Doesn’t sound very “netural” does it? The HI clouds are embedded in the ISM ( a plasma ), plasma forms cellular structures surrounded by a double layer, seperating regions of plasma with dissimilar charge densities. The HI clouds are part of the surrounding EM environment, they even emit EMR (21cm), they are not neutral to the surrounding ISM so they are swept along on the same galactic rotation curve.

    Solrey, before you answer such things, you should investigate what you are talkting about. Because this quote shows: YOU DON’T!

    The 21-cm line is not “produced” with em-interactions. Of course, it’s an em-wave, but that is not important. The 21-cm line is produced by a flip of the spin of the electron. You can have a configuration in the hydrogen where the spin of the proton and the electron are parallel to each other. But a less “energetic” position is reached when the spins are anti-parallel to each other. This flip does not happen on its own. The atom needs a little kick – by bumping into another atom, e.g. This is the ONLY way to detect those large neutral gas clouds in space, since they don’t radiate away any other form of radiation (they are far too cold to be detected by their heat). The origin of the 21-cm line has nothing to do with em-forces. (To add: 21-cm is typical to a neutral hydrogen atom, nothing else can emit it!)

    And finally: Neutral clouds, surrounded by plasma or not; how should they interact with the plasma? If there would be a “double layer” surrounding the neutral cloud (we are talking about cloud diameters of several pc), there should be a hugh em-field, probably powerful enough to dissociate the atoms, making them non-neutral. Then we would not see any neutral gas cloud. Otherwise the neutrals are not affected by the em-field and just fly off – but they don’t AND are neutral….

    To Enceladus: Where is that “discharge vortex”? I just see an icy cover with some “canals” (just like those on Mars) and some impact craters. How do you want to judge that those canals are made by “discharge votices”? There is nothing in that picture that proves such a claim…

  49. Anaconda says:

    @ drflimmer:

    It is known that a body of gas will act as a plasma if only 1 in 10,000 atoms is ionized. I submit the “neutral” bodies of hydrogen you reference are actually tenuous bodies of hyrogen that act like a plasma because at least 1 in 10,000 atoms is ionized.

  50. Anaconda says:

    @ drflimmer and Jon Hanford:

    The NASA statement describing the picture of Enceladus in part stated: “The icy moon’s famed jets emanate from at least eight distinct source regions, which lie on or near the tiger stripes.” But nowhere does NASA specifically pinpoint the vents, maybe because there aren’t any vents to begin with.

    I submit the “jets” are in actuality electrical vortex that carve into the surface.

    Interestingly, NASA scientists did make reference to these type phenomena when referring to Mercury.

    See, Wired Science report:

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/04/messengermercury/

    This leaves its surface vulnerable to being ravaged by the solar wind at the best of times. Messenger flew by at a particularly bad moment, and ran right through a magnetic tornado.

    “Magnetic tornadoes form when the magnetic field in the solar wind links up to the field generated by a planet, a process called magnetic reconnection. Bundles of magnetic field lines connect the surface of the planet directly to the surface of the sun, and as the solar wind pushes them away from the sun, they twist and whirl like cyclones. On Earth, these cyclones (technically called “flux transfer events”) dance on the ionosphere, creating the Northern Lights and messing up GPS systems.”

    “On Mercury, though, the twisters were 10 times as strong as any magnetic cyclones observed on Earth. With so little atmosphere to interfere, Mercury’s magnetic tornadoes are great spinning chutes that ionized gas can slide down.”

    “They act as magnetic channels or open windows that allow solar wind plasma from the sun, very fast and very hot, to come right down those field lines and impacts the surface,” said Jim Slavin of NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center. When the gas hits the surface, it knocks off neutrally-charged atoms and sends them on a loop high into the sky.”

    Nereid, the above article where NASA scientists are interviewed and quoted supplies most if not all the answers to your questions.

  51. Anaconda says:

    Oh, by the way, ‘magnetic reconnection’ is better described as the formation and/or dissolution of double layers.

    Perhaps this is even a better definition: The reconfiguration of magnetic fields as a result of the reconfiguration of the supporting and uderlying electric currents.

    And electric currents can reconfigure by explosive collapse of an existing double layer or they can reconfigure by formation of a new double layer.

    Magnetic field lines “don’t do anything”. The “lines” are a conceptual aid to the mind of Man that represents a magnetic field’s continuum of force.

    In other words, the lines represent where magnetic force exists, and where the lines are closest, is where the magnetic field is strongest. But it is a continuous “field”.

    When double layers collapse, the energy in the entire circuit “rushes” to the “short circuit” and explodes in a release of electrical energy.

    As stated may times, but also, here, above, magnetic fields are only a product of electric currents.

    To mention magnetic fields and fail to mention the supporting electric currents is a failure to properly conceptualize the physical reality.

    To the extent any informed person mentions magnetic fields and doesn’t mention electric currents they are betraying a lack of understanding for what is ACTUALLY PHYSICALLY HAPPENING!

    Or it displays an intentional disregard meant to obscure the reality that electric currents are present. This absolutely has no place in scientific discourse.

  52. solrey says:

    @drflimmer
    OK, I was brief, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t understand how plasma behaves or the nature of particle interactions. I’m kinda busy and should have gotten onto my next task half an hour ago. But this is somehow morbidly entertaining.

    I understand how the 21cm emissions are created. I never said it was due to EM fields…I just said it doesn’t sound very neutral, meaning it’s active enough to emit EMR and as such, makes it a part of the surrounding EM environment.
    HI clouds are actually ‘quasi’ neutral. As anaconda stated, they can have a small fraction of ionization, and still emit the 21cm EMR of the vastly more abundant non-ionized/neutral atoms, while being internally charge neutral, but not neutral to the surrounding plasma of the ISM. Rather than the dynamic interactions of Electro-magnetism, the HI clouds hold a static charge in relation to the surrounding ISM plasma, seperated by a weak double layer (which requires an inserted probe to measure, even in high energy environments, whether in space or in the lab, btw) and therefore are pulled along with the local EM environment.

    As a comparison, Masers were ‘neutral’ clouds that are more ionized/energized by a strong EM field, usually by collimated “jets” from galactic cores or star forming regions.

  53. solrey says:

    @drflimmer
    Canals? What, do you propose, made those canals on a frozen surface? In the shape of a tornado? That’s a better depiction of a tornado than some wood etchings or petroglyphs that I’ve seen.
    Perhaps a view directly above will help. It’s a raw image, yet the tornado form etched into the surface is quite obvious.
    Welcome to Oz. 😉

  54. Nereid says:

    Nereid asks: “Are you sure that’s what he [Birkeland] predicted, in 1903, Anaconda?”

    I’ve read the relevant passages and yes that is EXACTLY what he predicted.
    See: The Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition 1902-1903

    “The knowledge gained, since 1896, in radio-activity has favoured the view to which I gave expression in that year, namely, that magnetic disturbances on the earth, and aurora borealis, are due to corpuscular rays emitted by the sun.”

    Note: The term “plasma” was not coined until the 1920’s by Irving Langmuir. Birkeland’s reference to “corpuscular rays” is an equivalent to plasma.

    Sorry to break this news to you Anaconda, but Birkeland’s “corpuscular rays” refers to what we today call “electrons”. And this is not a term Birkeland alone used, nor did he coin it, it was a standard term used by physicists of the day (i.e. the time of the discovery of radioactivity, x-rays, and the electron). As you note, the term “plasma” wasn’t invented until after Birkeland’s death.

    In other words, stating that they are equivalent to plasma, as you do, is, objectively, quite wrong.

    Further, the Preface to that document – from which you quote – is dated October 1908, so even if you strain the physics beyond its breaking point, Birkeland’s so-called prediction would have been made in 1896 (per his words in the Preface) or 1908 (the date of publication of this document), not 1903.

    Now, being nice, I may say that this comment is consistent with your earlier ones that I spent a lot of time on, pointing out confusions, misunderstandings, mis-statements, etc wrt physics and astronomy.

    And so I need also to be charitable wrt this too:

    Nereid states: “May we know the names of these Plasma Cosmologists, the ones who predicted ‘flux transfer events’ of the kind that THEMIS detected?”
    Kirstian Birkeland. See, above.

    I guess you did not mean this as a joke, did you Anaconda?

    But did you really think there is stuff in Birkeland’s papers that describes flux transfer events of the kind that THEMIS detected? And let’s not insult Birkeland, he was an outstanding scientist, so any such description would have have been quantitative, and expressed in equations, with numbers. If you really do think this, please, by all means give a reference to the relevant paper(s) (and please include a page number too).

    (to be continued, principally for the benefit of GekkoNZ and any others who may be reading along and finding my clarifications of Anaconda’s confusions and misunderstandings interesting and informative).

  55. Nereid says:

    This is what Anaconda wrote (yes, really; I added some bold):

    Apparently, Nereid, you are not familar with electromagnetism in general and with Kristian Birkeland in particlular.

    I say electromagnetism in general because you did not know that in a bar magnet the atoms line up so that the electrons move in an ordered array causing on the micro-level electric current.

    You apparently did not know that only electric currents (ordered vector movement of electrons) cause magnetic fields as stated by Maxwell’s Equations.

    This is not the place for me, or anyone else, to try to bring you up to speed on quantum mechanics, quantum electrodynamics, Maxwell’s equations, special relativity, etc, etc, etc (I recommend enrolling in a university Science degree majoring in Physics.

    Suffice it to say that (elementary) particles such as the electron and neutron have intrinsic magnetic moments which arise from something called ‘spin’. In an atom, the behaviour of electrons can be described by (atomic) orbitals, and the magnetic moment of the atom comes from the (intrinsic) angular momentum of the electrons, the nucleus, and the orbitals.. Describing this as ‘ micro-level electric currents’ is confusing and downright misleading in the extreme.

    And it’s also irrelevant; in the context of the comment where Anaconda first made his erroneous, er, ‘confusing’, statement, the only clarification that was needed was to say he was referring to (classical) plasma physics.

  56. Nereid says:

    My [Anaconda] definition of Plasma Cosmology: A recognition that electromagnetism plays a significant role in space, both near-space and deep-space.

    Well, by this definition, every astronomer, every astrophysicist, every space scientist, and every cosmologist over at least the last century are plasma cosmologists!

    Eddington – he of the (classical) Eddington limit (or luminosity) – would certainly count.

    So would Saha – check out the Saha ionisation equation and note its relationship to plasmas.

    Strömgren (he of the sphere of the same name) too.

    Astute readers will have noticed that I’m choosing examples from history that overlap with Sydney Chapman’s years as an active mathematician and geophysicist; until I read Anaconda’s comment, I hadn’t thought he had made any significant contributions to astrophysics, astronomy, or cosmology; silly me.

    You know, somehow I can’t help but think that there’s more to Anaconda’s definition that this; what could it be?

  57. IVAN3MAN says:

    Anaconda:

    Your pasting wikipedia boilerplate edited by “modern” astronomers, here, on this comment board rings extremely hollow considering this post explicitly confirms Plasma Cosmology.

    Oh, by the way, ‘magnetic reconnection’ is better described as the formation and/or dissolution of double layers [linked to plasma-universe.com].

    Well, it “rings extremely hollow [of Anaconda to make such a statement] considering this” article was plagiarized verbatim by plasma-universe.com from Wikipedia’s “Double layer” article — that is like the pot calling the kettle black!

  58. solrey says:

    ivan3man,
    The link that anaconda provided is way beyond the simplistic Wiki entry, which is merely 7 sentences and a 4 line list.. There is no comparison to the plasma universe entry, which is a full 14 PAGES and absolutely nothing is verbatim.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_double_layer

    In addition, the Wiki entry only contains 2 external links with no references or footnotes, whereas the Plasma Universe entry includes 57 footnotes, 11 external links and 3 references. That’s 71 cited sources for the PU entry vs. 2 for the Wiki entry.

    Nice try ivan3man, but I’m calling you out on your blatant dis-information campaign.

  59. IVAN3MAN says:

    Nereid:

    Suffice it to say that (elementary) particles such as the electron and neutron have intrinsic magnetic moments which arise from something called ’spin’. In an atom, the behaviour of electrons can be described by (atomic) orbitals, and the magnetic moment of the atom comes from the (intrinsic) angular momentum of the electrons, the nucleus, and the orbitals…

    It’s no use, Nereid… I did point out to Anaconda those exact facts, with links to Wikipedia, on the “Galaxies grow_from black hole seeds” thread at Bad Astronomy, and again on another thread here at Universe Today; however, just like those bloody stubborn creationists, he chooses to ignore anything that does conform to his pet “Electric Universe” hypothesis.

  60. IVAN3MAN says:

    Damn it! I pressed the “submit” button too soon… Why can’t we have a preview/edit facility here?!

    ERRATUM: At the last two lines, it should read: however, just like those bloody stubborn creationists, he chooses to ignore anything that does not conform to his pet “Electric Universe” hypothesis.

  61. IVAN3MAN says:

    solrey:

    ivan3man,
    The link that anaconda provided is way beyond the simplistic Wiki entry, which is merely 7 sentences and a 4 line list.. There is no comparison to the plasma universe entry, which is a full 14 PAGES and absolutely nothing is verbatim.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_double_layer

    In addition, the Wiki entry only contains 2 external links with no references or footnotes, whereas the Plasma Universe entry includes 57 footnotes, 11 external links and 3 references. That’s 71 cited sources for the PU entry vs. 2 for the Wiki entry.

    Do you really think that I’ve stepped off a goddamn banana boat yesterday?! You and Anaconda are worse than that jive-ass pet shop proprietor in Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch!

    Nice try ivan3man, but I’m calling you out on your blatant dis-information campaign.

    Au contraire, it is you who has been caught with their trousers down and wearing knickers!

    The Wikipedia article that I was referring to is this one: Double layer (plasma)

    So, solrey, stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

    😛

  62. Anaconda says:

    @ Ivan3Man:

    I could be mistaken, but it is my understanding the Wikipedia entry for double layers was submitted by Ian Tresman, the same gentlemen who put together the plasma.com article.

    (You’ll tell me if I’m wrong, I’m sure.)

    The “boilerplate” was entered after a protracted “negotiation” and “mediation”. I place quotations around the words because “modern” astronomers ended up writing the entry for all practicle purposes.

    Let’s be clear: Wikipedia is fine for many questions of fact, but there are times when it is captured by interests opposed or in favor of certain ideas.

  63. Nereid says:

    Nereid states: “For starters, science today is quantitative.”

    Except where “infinity” is relied on.
    I’m sorry, Nereid, I previously asked you if infinity can be quantified?

    Your response. “I don’t understand the question.”

    That is a complete cop-out; a dodge, nothing less.

    Dictionary definition of infinity: 1 a: the quality of being infinite b: unlimited extent of time, space, or quanity 2: an indefinitely great number or amount.

    By DEFINITION infinity can’t be quantified.
    Infinity is part and parcel of the “modern” astronomy concepts of a “black hole’ and the “big bang”.

    Fraser did ask that we be nice (see his Comment: the Crackdown blog, of 24 April), so please don’t misconstrue my comments, especially when you ask for one word answers.

    It has become clear to me, since my reply (that you quote), that you have a very poor understanding of physics, and this comment (that I’m quoting) is a prime example.

    Further, it seems that you do not understand some key mathematical tools that have been used by physicists since the time of Newton, physicists including Birkeland and Alfvén.

    Over a series of comments I’ll try to summarise some key aspects of the use of infinity in physics and the math on which it is based; I’ll be doing this with somewhat of a heavy heart, because I do not expect that you’ll follow it well enough to stop you writing baseless comments similar to that which I’m quoting in future (however, other readers may find my comments helpful).

    But let me start with the electron, which is absolutely critical to electromagnetism, whether the normal, textbook meaning of that term or your own, idiosyncratic one.

    The electron has both mass and charge, agreed?

    And it is thought to be a point particle, one with no structure and not composed of smaller, more elementary particles, agreed?

    OK, then by definition the (mass) density of the electron is infinite, isn’t it?

    And the charge density is likewise infinite, isn’t it?

    So, following your logic, infinity is part and parcel of electromagnetism. Now this is true, it is, but it doesn’t stop physicists being able to develop quantitative explanations for phenomena, using electromagnetism, does it?

  64. Nereid says:

    Before I begin, let me point out that neither Birkeland nor Alfvén seem to have had any problems relying upon infinity in their work.

    Start with Birkeland.

    Chapter VI of Part II of the Birkeland book Anaconda introduced is titled “On Possible Electric Phenomena in Solar Systems and Nebulae” (it starts of page 661). Starting with 132, on page 678, Birkeland presents a series of calculations; the word infinity (infinite, infinitely) appears many times in the following pages, as does the symbol ? (I’m not sure if this, a figure 8 turned on its side, will display). If you follow the calculations, you’ll see that Birkeland relies on infinity being quantitative.

    And that’s just one example, chosen at random.

    Now Alfvén.

    Magneto-hydrodynamic waves and sunspots. I, II, published in 1945 (Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 105, p.382) is a paper by H. Alfvén; it likewise contains calculations involving infinity (infinite, infinitely), and the symbol ? makes several appearances.

    And that’s just one example, chosen at random.

    Now readers with the appropriate math backgrounds will recognise that this is not at all unusual, and in fact dates back to Newton (and Leibnitz) and the introduction of calculus, to which I’ll turn next.

  65. Nereid says:

    @Anaconda (this is a bit of a break, to clear up one misunderstanding): you wrote, above:

    Nereid, you offered to supply peer-reviewed papers that did not rely on “infinity” for their conception of a “black hole”, and I accepted your offer — but you never supplied the papers. Is that because there aren’t any papers — that would be ashame if you were like Total Science, wouldn’t it?

    Let’s start by refreshing our memories of what I actually said, shall we?

    Here it is, UT date April 29th, 2009 at 11:06 am, in a comment on UT story “Rogue Black Holes May Wander the Galaxy” (I’ve added bold to the part which is my actual offer):

    A black hole will form when the local gravity of a dense object is greater than the pressure to oppose collapse, for any and every known physical process. The greatest such pressure comes from generate nuclear matter, or, possibly, quark-gluon condensates.

    If you’re interested, I can give you links to papers which quantify aspects of my nutshell summary.

    I’m sure you’ll agree that what I offered to provide and what you remembered (per your quote) are rather different, aren’t they?

    What I had in mind were two papers, one on the mass limit of neutron stars (by Oppenheimer and Volkoff, based on Tolman) and the other a General Relativity paper. I found a link to the former easily enough (link to follow, see next comment), but the Living Reviews in Relativity website was down for ages, and I couldn’t find a good alternative to Critical Phenomena in Gravitational Collapse (http://relativity.livingreviews.org/Articles/lrr-2007-5/).

    Later I realised, based on your later comments, that both would be quite too much for you (it seems that you have difficulty with even simple calculus, not to mention having highly idiosyncratic views of the nature of physics), so I didn’t follow through. My apologies.

    Anyway, as was the case with another mini-conversation we’re having (about direct and indirect observation, detection, and inference in astronomy), I’m sure you’d agree that unless and until we can find common understanding on the nature of physics and the role of math in it, we will be destined to be forever talking past each other. In this regard I hope that my next few comments, on infinity, will help get us there, but I must say that I do not have much hope that they will.

  66. Nereid says:

    On Massive Neutron Cores, J. R. Oppenheimer and G. M. Volkoff (Phys. Rev. 55, 374 – 381 (1939)): http://prola.aps.org/abstract/PR/v55/i4/p374_1

  67. IVAN3MAN says:

    Anaconda:

    I could be mistaken, but it is my understanding the Wikipedia entry for double layers was submitted by Ian Tresman, the same gentlemen who put together the plasma.com article.

    According to Wikipedia’s log history of Double Layer (plasma), the entry was created by Andrei Dukhin on 9 October, 2007; since then, there have been a number of contributors.

    I place quotations around the words because “modern” astronomers ended up writing the entry for all practicle [sic] purposes.

    You sound like the whinging creationist founder of “Conservapedia”, Andy Schlafly, who complained that the open web encyclopedia Wikipedia had a liberal, anti-Christian, and anti-American bias — in other words, he was pissed-off because Wikipedia deleted his ‘editing’ which were his opinions, not facts!

    Furthermore, several user/editors’ of Wikipedia have been caught using sock-puppets to back-up their contribution of ‘facts’ when citations were lacking; consequently, they have been banned — some indefinitely, such as Plasma Cosmology proponent “lantresman”.

    Let’s be clear: Wikipedia is fine for many questions of fact, but there are times when it is captured by interests opposed or in favor of certain ideas.

    Wikipedia’s forum policy is to challenge any article that is not backed-up with citations and/or references. Whining that there is a mainstream science conspiracy against “alternative theories” is infantile — like toddlers who throw a tantrum when older siblings tell them “there is no such thing as Santa Claus”!

  68. Nereid says:

    @general readers: please recognise the limitations I’m working within here, in trying to address Anaconda’s apparent deep confusions and misunderstandings about infinity, math, and physics. What follows can only be highly compressed, so much detail will be omitted. At times it may be that what I write is just too over-simplified; if you find it so, please say so, and add a comment of your own.

    Let’s say we have a smooth, curved line on a graph (or chart or plot), say y = e^x (I assume, Anaconda, that you are familiar with the traditional x-y graph, and with notation like y = e^x; if not, please say so and I’ll go a bit slower).

    An interesting question to ask is what is the slope of this curve, at a particular point.

    One way to find that slope is to start with the slope of a straight line that goes through the point and another one on the curve; let’s say the x-coordinate of this second point is a small amount different from that of the point we’re interested in, and call this small difference dx. Similarly, we call the corresponding small difference in the y-coordinate dy. The slope of this straight line is thus dy/dx.

    Obviously, both dx and dy are, in this example, finite and non-zero, so dy/dx is also finite and non-zero.

    Now if we bring the second point closer and closer to the one we’re primarily interested in, the slope of the line connecting them should get closer and closer to the slope of the curve. And if we shrink the distance to zero, we should get that slope exactly.

    But if we do that, we have something that many of us took away from our lessons as infinity, namely 0/0. Except that it isn’t infinity, it’s a well-defined finite number (also non-zero, in this case). This process is called differentiation, and was discovered by Newton (and Leibnitz, independently and pretty much simultaneously; note that neither expressed it in quite this, more modern, form).

    It, and the reverse process – integration – are extremely powerful, and in Newton’s hands enabled him to show that his universal law of gravitation accurately described the apparent motions of the Sun, the Moon, and the (then known) planets in the sky. Of considerable interest to another mini-conversation we’re having, Anaconda, is that Newton didn’t go out, night after night, and make direct observations of the planets; instead he showed that Kepler’s three laws were derivable from his law of gravitation (and thus stood on the shoulders of giants like Copernicus, Tycho, and Kepler, who did make the direct observations and crunch the raw data).

    This may look simple, even trivial, but in my next comment I’ll explain in a little more detail why it’s not. I’ll also look at some infinities that seem a bit more real than the infinitesimals dx and dy.

  69. Nereid says:

    In a bit more detail, the slope of our line is the limit, as dx approaches zero, of dy/dx.

    Let’s take a look at integration, and use a very common curve called the normal, or Gaussian, distribution. We don’t need to worry about what it might represent, or how it can be used, and I’ll change it a bit to simplify things and use a slightly different curve y = e^(-x^2)). If you graph this you’ll find it looks a bit like a bell, hence a common name of the Gaussian function, the bell curve.

    As x gets bigger and bigger, the bell curve gets closer and closer to zero; in fact, the limit, as x approaches infinity, is zero; and as x approaches minus infinity, the curve also approaches zero.

    So here we have a different sort of infinity, and we can ask if anything quantitative can be done given that we have this infinity. And the answer is yes, it can.

    Suppose we want to know the area under the curve, between two values of x (say, 0 and 1). That area can be found by integration, and, obviously, for this pair of numbers the answer is finite (and non-zero). But what about the total area under the curve, all the way from minus infinity to infinity? Remember that you have a confusion here Anaconda, that ‘infinity cannot be quantified’; if that were so, then the total area under this curve, from minus infinity to infinity, could not be quantified.

    Yet it is!

    And the way to calculate it is the same as how the slope of a smooth curved line at a point can be calculated; namely, by taking the limit as the variable (x, in this case) approaches infinity.

    Now there are some subtleties and knotty issues with this ‘limit process’, in general, and it took mathematicians quite some time to nail them down. One way do to this is called the epsilon/delta definition of the limit, and here is a nice applet that explains this with a visual: http://www.scottsarra.org/applets/calculus/EpsilonDelta.html

    Next: another example of a ‘real infinity’, and a few words about the relationship between infinity, math, and reality.

  70. Nereid says:

    Let’s say the y-axis, of our x-y graph, represents the vertical; a vertical line through the origin is thus x = 0.

    In reality (I’ll get onto what this means, in more detail, later), such a line is quite real, and quite quantifiable.

    Yet its slope is infinite!

    At first glance this seems like a direct contradiction of Anaconda’s “By DEFINITION infinity can’t be quantified“, because we can, clearly, quantify the line (it has the equation x = 0), yet there is an infinity (its slope).

    What happens when we rotate the axes 45 degrees? We leave the vertical line vertical (in reality); all we do is simply re-define our coordinates.

    Well, the line – which is, in reality, still the same line, right? – no longer has a slope of infinity, but now has a slope of 1 (or -1, depending on which way we rotated the axes).

    This is a simple illustration of a powerful technique often used in the math that contemporary physics is built on; namely, by some kind of transformation you can make infinities go away, without changing the underlying reality.

    But what is reality?

    For example, is there really a ‘force of nature’ called ‘electricity’? and another called ‘magnetism’? or are they manifestations of a single force, called ‘electromagnetism’? which itself is just one manifestation of the real underlying force, called ‘the electroweak force’?

    And is there a force of nature called ‘gravity’? And if so, does it ‘obey’ Newton’s law of universal gravitation? or Einstein’s theory of general relativity? or both?? or neither???

    I’m going to take a break now, because I’ve reached the point where I think the biggest difference between the way Anaconda views physics and the way I do looms very large (and, I suspect, it’s much the same difference between solrey and me). And there’s little point me starting to explore this if Anaconda doesn’t understand what I’ve just written, about infinity and quantifiability.

  71. Jon Hanford says:

    @ Nereid, I want to personally thank you for the rigor and professionalism that your posts here reflect. I, too, met many of the same challenges as you have with solrey and Anaconda as well as Oilsmastery/Total_Science. Your obvious mastery of the fundamentals of ‘modern’ astronomy is very refreshing in light of the alt-science views of some of the above posting here. I might suggest that their brand of “science” might be more properly described as ‘Plasma Physics’ (IF that, even) since neither seem to grasp the concept of cosmology as relating to the study of all aspects of the universe we inhabit. I’ve seen in links that you’ve posted that you are familiar with the ‘Thundebolts’ site and its dubious nature. I must wholeheartedly agree with you as to the “why’ question as it refers to the Plasma Cosmology advocates. With advocates like solrey and Anaconda, it’s rather easy to see why this theory is not not a hot topic among professional physicists and astronomers. Decrying the ‘establishment elitism’ regarding this topic does nothing to further this theory and actually detracts (IMHO) from serious scientific investigations into this field by legitimate researchers.

  72. DrFlimmer says:

    @ Nereid:

    Well done, indeed! But I don’t think that you will get a response, but we will see.

    But I need to respond:

    I just said it doesn’t sound very neutral, meaning it’s active enough to emit EMR and as such, makes it a part of the surrounding EM environment.
    HI clouds are actually ‘quasi’ neutral.

    There is only one respons: LOL!
    Even your body emits EMR. And that’s not due to some em-activity. It’s just due to heat. Infrared radiation can be due to heat and that has nothing to do with em, but still it’s EMR. That’s no reason!
    I am delighted to see the term “quasi neutral”. Whenever I used it, I was thrown at the wall that this term would say nothing. But btw: “quasi neutral” is the definition of a plasma!
    But still: Even if you have 1 cherged particle in 10.000 neutral particles, what is the effect of that 1 charged particle to the neutral particles? It creats an em-field. Yes. And? Neutrals are not effected be em-fields, just because they are neutral! Neutrals probably collide with charged ones, but we can neglect this effect. The cloud is mostly neutral.
    And again: neutrals are not affected by em-forces – how do keep them on track? Even a plasma wall can’t hold them! The gas is thin, remember that! Nothing will hold the neutrals…. nothing…

  73. Jon Hanford says:

    @ Dr Flimmer, Yes, the information proffered by solrey was (and is) in direct conflict with the observed 21cm line of neutral hydrogen that I read about as a teenager in Sky & Telescope in the early 1970s. This appalling lack of understanding of such a fundamental aspect of radio astronomy is just another example of the ill-conceived arguments of those fixated on “Plasma Cosmology”. At least your’re familiar with the tactics used by this vocal minority.

  74. Anaconda says:

    @ Nereid:

    There is a lot to catch up on, here.

    (And I will catch up.)

    But first things first.

    Nereid states: “Sorry to break this news to you Anaconda, but Birkeland’s “corpuscular rays” refers to what we today call “electrons”.

    Nereid, you are wrong, in that you oversimplified. Again, you came to a faulty assumption and used that to cast aspersions. That isn’t proper scientific discourse.

    Here is a definition: “radiation, corpuscular
    n subatomic particles, such as electrons, protons, neutrons, or alpha particles, that travel in streams at various velocities. All the particles have definite masses and travel at various speeds. The properties are in opposition to electromagnetic radiations, which have no mass and travel in wave forms at the speed of light. See also radiation, electromagnetic.

    That basically is what the solar wind is composed of.

    The above is a modern definition using the term “corpuscular radiation”, the term “corpuscular rays” isn’t used very much if at all in modern parlance. By my research, at the time Birkeland and the others were using “corpuscular rays” experimentation was ongoing, scientists of the day did not have a firm grasp of what “corpuscular rays” were constituted of. Basic research into the nature of “corpuscular rays” was ongoing into the early thirties.

    Scientists of the era in question certainly didn’t limit it to “electrons” as you stated.

    Basically, at the time of Birkeland’s use of the term, it was a catch-all term to describe the particles emitted by the Sun.

    And, yes, Birkeland did conclude that “corpuscular rays” were responsible for the aurora and they were emitted by the Sun.

    This basic conclusion has been confirmed by today’s scientists at NASA.

    (And that the hypothesis had long been denied by conventional astronomy.)

    Nereid stated: “In other words, stating that they are equivalent to plasma, as you do, is, objectively, quite wrong.”

    No. You are either mistaken or intentionally attempting to distract from my basic point and/or discredit me by misstating the facts.

    This has no place in scientific discourse, you would never try or get away with this kind of conduct in a peer-reviewed setting. I’m astounded you would do such a thing, here.

    As the modern definition makes clear, it is the equilalent to plasma, Birkeland most definitely thought it was electromagnetic in nature as he clearly articulated, and which of course, it turned out to be, although, it can be said that he did not know the exact partical constituents of the “corpuscular rays”.

    But the point still stands: Kristian Birkeland correctly concluded it was corpuscular rays [later identified as plasma, ionized particles] emitted by the Sun which travel to the Earth and generate the aurora. And I responded to your request by furnishing the paper where he recorded his observations & measurements and arrived at his conclusions.

    What more would you have me do?

    So, I am left to ask why you would state something that was incomplete and misleading, yet ancillary to my basic point that Birkeland did conclude the Sun’s rays were responsible for the aurora?

    I can only conclude you could not bare the thought that I was right to state that Birkeland correctly concluded the cause of the aurora and also provided a paper to back up my statement.

    And that Plasma Cosmologists hold Birkeland out as a pioneer for their understanding of the Universe.

    Your response was poor form.

    In regards to the date, 1903, was when Birkeland concluded his field work. Again, this is an ancillary issue, but again, I think it’s clear you were uncomfortable that I had backed up my assertion.

    These tactics are the wrong way for you to go, they diminish your credibility.

    In regards to the my answer to your contention magnetism can only be generated by electric current and your resort to the bar magnet example. I responded thus:

    “I say electromagnetism in general because you did not know that in a bar magnet the atoms line up so that the electrons move in an ordered array causing on the micro-level electric current.”

    “You apparently did not know that only electric currents (ordered vector movement of electrons) cause magnetic fields as stated by Maxwell’s Equations.”

    Neried responds: “I recommend enrolling in a university Science degree majoring in Physics.”

    A derogatory rejoinder that I’ve seen many times. It adds nothing to the discourse, other than to telescope your desire to communicate contempt without providing evidence for such contempt. (Because you don’t like my basic point of these comments: Electromagnetism has been observed & measured to dominate the surface and near-space environment of Mercury, But you can’t refute that — the NASA reports speak for themselves.

    Nereid goes on to respond: “Suffice it to say that (elementary) particles such as the electron and neutron have intrinsic magnetic moments which arise from something called ’spin’. In an atom, the behaviour of electrons can be described by (atomic) orbitals, and the magnetic moment of the atom comes from the (intrinsic) angular momentum of the electrons, the nucleus, and the orbitals.”

    Yes, “electrons”. The “ordered vector movement of electrons” whether it be their ‘spin’ in place or their “flow” as in electric current.

    The conclusion is the same: Magnetic fields are generated by ordered electron movement.

    So, your response is correct in a technical sense, but my statements are equally correct, if not in as technical a description. And come on, this is a popular website.

    Interestingly enough, through all you supposed condemnation ordered up in an attempt to discredit me, you never disputed that ordered electron movement is responsible for magnetic fields, rather, you focussed on whether I parried the bar magnet example to your satisfaction.

    So, my point still stands, magnetic fields are only generated by ordered electron movement and on macro levels that will take the form of electric current.

    Again, this was an ancillary issue, but you attempted to “blow it up” and distract from my basic point: In macro environments to discuss magnetic fields without mentioning the supporting and underlying electric currents is a failure to conceptionalize the fundamental dynamics of magnetic currents.

    It it a fatal failure to articulate what is actually happening.

    Sadly, apparently many “modern” astronomers are just like you and want to obscure and obfiscate the necessary articulation to understand what is actually happening in space.

    (Most likely because it doesn’t fit your narrative and agenda.)

    Where magnetic fields are detected in space, do you have an explanation for how those magnetic fields exist without electric currents supporting them?

    If not, it’s time to move on and everytime you fail to mention electric currents in conjunction with magnetic fields — you are doing a disservice to your readers and scientific understanding.

    You can’t have the “magnetic” without the “electro”.

    Finally, for this segment, you constantly attempt to tell readers I’m confused or whatever, but I would suggest this distraction is your design to diminish the facts as reported by NASA: Mercury is surrounded by electromagnetic phenomenon.

    That is my point and it is Plasma Cosmologists point as well.

    And the facts are unambiguously that not only is Mercury surrounded by electromagnetic processes and phenomena generated by the electromagnetic, electric current from the Sun, but so is the Earth, and so is Jupiter and Saturn as well.

    Does this make you uncomfortable, or just the fact that I point it out from a Plasma Cosmolgy perspective?

    If it is because I point it out from a Plasma Cosmology perspective that’s too bad because I point it it because that’s the REALITY in space, and that’s all I care about.

    Being clear about what is actually happening “out there”, nothing more and nothing less is all that is important.

  75. Nereid says:

    @Anaconda: Can you please confirm that we are reading the same document?

    The Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition 1902-1903
    Volume I On the Origin of Magnetic Storms and the Origin of Terrestrial Magnetism
    By KR. Birkeland
    First Section

    There’s also a PART II
    Polar Magnetic Phenomena and Terrella Experiments

    And a PART III
    Earth Currents and Earth Magnetism

    The Birkeland quote in your comment of UT date May 5th, 2009 at 1:44 pm is from the Preface to this, all three parts, isn’t it? And that Preface concludes “Christiania; October, 1908 Kr. Birkeland”, right?

    I freely acknowledge that you have demonstrated, many times over, in comments to UT stories, that you have a weak grasp of physics, and that you frequently use standard terms, such as ‘electromagnetism’, in highly idiosyncratic ways.

    Perhaps it is this poor grasp of physics that is confusing you concerning the fact that the term ‘corpuscular rays’, as Birkeland used it in 1908 (or, more accurately, in 1896) and the term ‘plasma’ are not equivalent; they were not equivalent in 1896, 1903, 1908, or 1927, and they are not equivalent today, in any speech community (with the possible exception of extreme proponents of the Electric Universe). Goodness, even Peratt doesn’t make such an extreme claim!

    This is a question of physics, and also a question of linguistics (etymology), and its veracity can be established objectively.

    If you insist, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that the two terms are equivalent, I invite you to work with me and examine that evidence, starting with the Birkeland document.

  76. Nereid says:

    The “ordered vector movement of electrons” whether it be their ’spin’ in place or their “flow” as in electric current.

    Anaconda, the quantum revolution of the early 20th century left us, a half century or so later, with the most precise theory in science, period; it goes by the name QED, which stands for quantum electrodynamics.

    Quantum mechanics is mind-twistingly difficult wrt interpretations, yet the math, when done correctly, is breath-takingly good at accounting for, and predicting, observations and experimental results (within its domain of applicability).

    You are, of course, entitled to use words any way you wish; however, if you want to take part in a meaningful discussion, I put it to you that you owe your partners in the discussion the duty of making a serious effort to avoid highly idiosyncratic uses of standard terms (or, if you really insist, then at least defining what you mean succinctly and clearly).

    ‘Spin’, as in ‘electron spin’, is a case in point; there are many ways to talk about it and be understood, but the “ordered vector movement of [an] electron” as a description of it is almost guaranteed to be misunderstood and/or create confusion in the minds of readers. For example, in what way is the electron’s intrinsic spin ‘movement’ of the electron (not to say ‘ordered vector movement’)?

    Do you mind if I ask you if you make this stuff up as you write? Or are you, perhaps, working from some old notes of yours? Or is it the echo of something that you read?

  77. Nereid says:

    Again, this was an ancillary issue, but you attempted to “blow it up” and distract from my basic point: In macro environments to discuss magnetic fields without mentioning the supporting and underlying electric currents is a failure to conceptionalize the fundamental dynamics of magnetic currents.

    It it a fatal failure to articulate what is actually happening.

    Sadly, apparently many “modern” astronomers are just like you and want to obscure and obfiscate the necessary articulation to understand what is actually happening in space.

    (Most likely because it doesn’t fit your narrative and agenda.)

    Where magnetic fields are detected in space, do you have an explanation for how those magnetic fields exist without electric currents supporting them?

    If not, it’s time to move on and everytime you fail to mention electric currents in conjunction with magnetic fields — you are doing a disservice to your readers and scientific understanding.

    You can’t have the “magnetic” without the “electro”.

    Anaconda, I have already addressed your misunderstandings and (apparent) confusions, and I even provided the following summary (UT date May 3rd, 2009 at 4:30 pm, in a comment on the UT story Starbursts from Dwarf Galaxies Like Fireworks).

    I’ve said this before, several times, in several different ways, and I’ll say it again: if you intend for your readers to understand what you are saying, you should try hard to avoid using standard terms in with highly idiosyncratic meanings.

    In plasma physics, you can describe the dynamics of plasmas using either the magnetic field and bulk velocity (Bv) or you use the electric field and currents (Ej). (”The alternative paradigm for magnetospheric physics (J. Geophys. Res. 101, 10587 – 10626, 1996), link to follow, explains why these two are equivalent, and why the Bv paradigm is preferred, at least for magnetospheric studies).

    If you limit your scope to (classical) plasma physics, because of the way that the E and B fields are coupled through the Maxwell equations, you can eliminate one or the other (my thanks to BAUT member tusenfem for this material).

    Link: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/1996/95JA02866.shtml

    So, would you like me to expand on this? To explain, perhaps, why the Bv paradigm is easier to work with (at least in magnetospheric studies)?

    If not, then may I ask you to stop wasting your time reminding us that, in a (classical) plasma, you cannot have an electric current and electric field without a magnetic field and bulk movement (and vice versa)? I mean, it’s such a fundamental part of (classical) plasma physics, why keep harping on it?

    There’s a corollary; I’m writing the key part in bold so you don’t miss it.

    Outside the domain of applicability of (classical) plasma physics, the dynamics of systems in which there is a magnetic field and/or an electric field may not be conveniently described using Bv paradigm, or the Ej one (e.g. accretion disks around the Eddington limit); indeed, there are systems in which neither is particularly meaningful at all (e.g. neutron star crusts and interiors).

  78. Nereid says:

    @IVAN3MAN: thanks for the link; that’s quite an eye-opener! I’ll go through it carefully when I have more time, looking for insights into what a common basis for discussion with Anaconda could be; i.e. a minimal set of concepts etc that are mutually accepted.

    @Jon Hanford: thanks for the kind words; I just hope I can keep it up for a while longer.

  79. IVAN3MAN says:

    @ Nereid,

    You’re welcome! I would like to add that I concur with Jon Hanford in congratulating you on your rigor and professionalism in responding to the likes of Anaconda and solrey — to whom my own responses tend to be blunt.

    Also, I have learned a few things from you, which I had not known before, and I thank you for that.

  80. Jon Hanford says:

    @ IVAN3MAN, I tend to view your posts as succinct, on topic, and above all, refreshing. Your insightful, satirical posts can certainly bring a smile to my face in light of the technobabble expounded on a regular basis by a few individuals. And, I, too, have learned a few things from Nereid’s posts covering everything from QED to the CMB ! Not any easy task to break these topics down to a few paragraphs on an internet blog site. And many thanks to Lawrence B Crowell, Dr Flimmer, Astrofiend. Salacious B Crumb, Dave Finton and others (you know who you are), who have also provided reliable, accurate, and cogent arguments to these pages. Your contributions and knowledge are certainly appreciated here

  81. Nereid says:

    @IVAN3MAN: thanks for the kind words.

    May I ask what two or three new things you found particularly interesting?

    Re getting to a common basis of understanding so I (at least) can have a meaningful discussion with Anaconda: from that BA blog (thanks again IVAN3MAN) there seem to be three, or four, main areas:

    1) establishing a consistent, agreed basis for what constitutes direct observation, indirect observation, detection, and inference, in astronomy. I have reached out to Anaconda twice now on this, but he (she?) has not yet responded. I’d add measurement and theorized to the mix here.

    2) developing an agreed and consistent set of objective criteria for deciding the extent to which a theory “matches observations and measurements” (to quote from one of his comments). This has been very much in the background to date, and the BA blog adds a key aspect: the extent to which “recognized physical properties which has been verified in the laboratory” must/should/can/might be added to the mix.

    3) finding an agreed approach to resolving confusions, misunderstandings, etc. I’ve commented on this many times, referring to how Anaconda’s idiosyncratic use of standard terms without providing succinct and clear statements of what he means seriously impairs communication.

    Beyond this there is an 800 pound gorilla in the room: “Matching theory and reality”. I sincerely hope we can postpone discussion of that until after we’ve nailed down the four items above.

    I’ll close with some example, from that BA blog.

    There are a number of theorized properties of “black holes” that violate known physical laws.

    Q: What’s a “known physical law”, and how do we decide what they are (I have mentioned this already)?
    Q: If the properties are merely “theorized” and not measured or detected or observed, why does it matter whether they violate laws?

    and an alternative theory which matches the observations and measurements and has better predictive value needs to replace it [the Big Bang theory].
    Plasma Cosmology does exactly that.

    Perhaps the poster-child for all three numbered points!

    Plasma Cosmology doesn’t accept space-time warping by gravity — Plasma Cosmology maintains time is not warped by gravity. I agree with that theory, but gravity may bend light without any time distortion.

    and

    This is the congenital point of failure for General Relativity, it simply omits any consideration of plasma dynamics in space. Again, at the time General Relativity was formulated, the ubiquitous nature of plasma in space was unknown, so omitting reference to plasma and electrodynamics was understandable, but science knows better, today.

    Clearly, Anaconda has many misunderstandings about both history and General Relativity.

    Resolution of the images of quasars has increased and I’ve seen a few of them that do indeed show a connection between the quasar and the “parent” galaxy. Halton Arp indeed has studied many of these images where the quasar and the connected “parent” galaxy are connected by inter-galaxtic Birkeland currents, yet have different redshift values

    I added some bold to make my point, which is that 1) above is where we should start.

    I’ve saved this one for last:

    “Dark matter” was not discovered “70 years ago, it was theorized 70 years ago. Big difference.

    Is this deeply ironic? or a reflection of an incredible double standard? or simply extraordinary confusion and misunderstanding?

    To see just how deep this one goes consider Anaconda’s comments above about Birkeland, plasmas, the solar wind, flux transfer events of the kind that THEMIS detected, etc. How many years passed between the 1908 publication of Birkeland’s document (which Anaconda cites) and the actual, direct measurement of the properties of the solar wind (by a suitably equipped spaceprobe which went beyond the Earth’s magnetosphere)?

  82. Anaconda says:

    @ Nereid:

    You offer no explanation why Birkeland’s conclusion was wrong. Birkeland’s conclusion is why Birkeland currents are named in his honor. Or is that a fraud that should be recinded?

    Nereid, you never did answer whether in macro circumstances in space there is an explanation for the presence of magnetic fields that doesn’t rely on the flow of electric currents.

    is there any circumstance that generates magnetic fields that doesn’t rely on electrons, whether it be macro “flow” or micro “spin”.

    To skip down to these last comments:

    I agree common terms are important.

    “There are a number of theorized properties of “black holes” that violate known physical laws.”

    That needs to be restated: There is a lack of observation & measurement that confirms the existence of “black holes”. And, there is a lack of theoretical basis for the existence of “black holes”.

    “and an alternative theory which matches the observations and measurements and has better predictive value needs to replace it [the Big Bang theory]. Plasma Cosmology does exactly that.”

    Yes, that is my opinion.

    To add to that briefly, the “big bang” creates something out of nothing — science doesn’t do miracles.

    Neried states: “Clearly, Anaconda has many misunderstandings about both history and General Relativity.”

    Nereid, please cite and preferably quote any passage from General Relativity that addresses issues of electromagnetism.

    What specific history do you claim I misunderstand?

    Fiat statements don’t carry any water.

    Nereid presents my [Anaconda’s] statement:

    “Resolution of the images of quasars has increased and I’ve seen a few of them that do indeed show a connection between the quasar and the “parent” galaxy. Halton Arp indeed has studied many of these images where the quasar and the connected “parent” galaxy are connected by inter-galaxtic Birkeland currents, yet have different redshift values”

    Nereid, please be specific in terms of stateing how the above statement inaccurately summarizes Halton Arp’s findings and conclusions.

    Fiat statements are empty rhetoric that rest on “drinking Nereid’s Kool-Aid”.

    Nereid presents my [Anaconda’s] statement: ““Dark matter” was not discovered “70 years ago, it was theorized 70 years ago. Big difference.”

    And Nereid responds: “Is this deeply ironic? or a reflection of an incredible double standard? or simply extraordinary confusion and misunderstanding?”

    Is there any reasoning or evidence offered at all in Nereid’s response?

    No, it’s Nereid telling readers: “I’m Nereid, I’m right, here, drink my Kool-Aid, I don’t have to offer reasons or evidence, just believe what I’m telling you and be good little boys and girls.” (An image of Nereid gently patting all the readers on the head.)

    Nereid, you really are arrogant , aren’t you?

    Nereid, you need to climb off your high horse.

    Remember the point of this post: Electromagnetism processes and phenomena play a significant and pervasive role from the surface, “sputtering”, to the near-space environment.

    Now, Nereid, I know you’re fine with the reality as NASA described it. What you don’t like and can’t stand is having a person with a Plasma Cosmology perspective rub your nose it it.

    It’s a rival analysis & interpretation to your own and that sticks in your craw.

    But you know what?

    As long as “modern” astronomy continues to be mulish about electromagnetism in space, you will continue to get beat to the punch and shown up.

    The solar system is bathed in various aspects of electromagnetism — that dispute has already been won by Plasma Cosmology.

    Unless, you want to dispute all the findings by NASA that support the above assessment, but I know you won’t because the NASA findings speak for themselves.

    No, this scientific argument is about deep-space, but rest assured Nereid, electromagnetism will be found to be pervasive there too, and all “modern” astronomy’s menagerie of exotics will be exposed as fanciful imaginings.

    Rest assured, history will treat you and the rest as believing in ghosts and goblins, fantasies of your own imaginations with no basis in reality.

    That is what this little discussion is about.

  83. Nereid says:

    You offer no explanation why Birkeland’s conclusion was wrong.

    Which conclusion would that be, Anaconda?

    The one that what the Sun emits is relativistic electrons (to express his conclusion, as explained in great detail in the work you cited, in today’s terms)?

    If so, then that conclusion is wrong because spaceprobes equipped with the right kind of instruments have observed, in situ, the medium between the Sun and Earth (and outside the Earth’s magnetosphere) and found it to be comprised of a charge-neutral wind composed of electrons and protons (with helium, and ‘metals’, ions as minor components), and that these particles do not travel at relativistic speeds.

  84. Nereid says:

    Nereid, you never did answer whether in macro circumstances in space there is an explanation for the presence of magnetic fields that doesn’t rely on the flow of electric currents.

    I did, at least twice (assuming whatever idiosyncratic meaning you have for “macro circumstances in space” refers to the IPM and planetary magnetospheres and most of the ISM and the intra-cluster medium); shall I repeat it, again?

  85. Nereid says:

    There is a lack of observation & measurement that confirms the existence of “black holes”.

    Which brings us back to the questions I asked you, twice now, concerning what, to you, is direct observation, indirect observation, detection, measurement, and inference, in astronomy.

    How about we have that discussion now?

    And when we’ve finished it, we will re-visit this assertion of yours; OK?

    To begin, I’ll repeat my questions (in a later post), and provide references to where I asked them earlier.

    And, there is a lack of theoretical basis for the existence of “black holes”.

    Nereid, please cite and preferably quote any passage from General Relativity that addresses issues of electromagnetism.

    As with the first part of my comment, this goes to a key part of my suggestions on the discussion I proposed we should be having, first; specifically, it relates to a key aspect of 2) (as well as 3)).

    But the quick response here is something like this: how well do you think you understand the theory of General Relativity (GR), Anaconda? I surmise, from reading your comments, that you have a superficial, word-level-only understanding; if so, then I cannot do any better to help you learn that a) GR provides a sound theoretical basis for the existence of black holes, and that b) GR encompasses electromagnetism in several ways (assuming I have understood the peculiar, idiosyncratic meaning you give to this term) than to recommend some university level courses for you. If not, then I apologise for my mistake, and suggest that read Sean Carroll’s “Lecture Notes on General Relativity” (available here: http://preposterousuniverse.com/grnotes/).

  86. Nereid says:

    To help me understand how you parse detection from direct observation from inference, in astronomy, I’ve prepared a series of examples. If you could please indicate the extent to which there is detection, direct observation, indirect observation, and inference in each I’d appreciate it.

    Of course, my list is very terse, and so you may not grasp what an item is about; if so, please ask for clarification.

    -> DLA systems (objects detected by the absence of photons)

    -> transiting exoplanets (ditto)

    -> exoplanets discovered solely by doppler shift methods (detection vs inference)

    -> objects discovered solely by microlensing (ditto)

    -> 10 TeV gamma-ray emission by the Crab nebula (detection/observation/inference wrt IACTs)

    -> energy and source direction of UHECRs (detection/observation/inference distinctions)

    -> proper motion and parallax of Barnard’s star as determined by HIPPARCOS (ditto)

    -> CMB angular power spectrum as determined by WMAP (ditto)

    -> galactic 408 MHz emission as synchrotron radiation (ditto).

    First time I asked the questions: Hubble Discovers a Strange Collection of White Dwarf… Dwarfs, UT date April 30th, 2009 at 6:55 am.

    Second time I asked the questions: Rogue Black Holes May Wander the Galaxy, UT date April 30th, 2009 at 9:24 am. In comments to that UT story I also provided links to each of the items, to give any reader some background.

  87. Nereid says:

    What specific history do you claim I misunderstand?

    Here is one examples (in your own words; the bold is mine, to emphasise the misunderstandings):

    Kiristian Birkeland predicted over a century ago (1903) that the aurora was electromagnetic in nature and was due to plasma (charged particles) coming from the Sun to the Earth.

  88. Nereid says:

    Scratch that last comment; it is not relevant to the question Anaconda asked, in its context (I’ll provide an answer, to the question asked, in a later comment).

  89. IVAN3MAN says:

    @ Jon Hanford:

    IVAN3MAN, I tend to view your posts as succinct, on topic, and above all, refreshing. Your insightful, satirical posts can certainly bring a smile to my face in light of the technobabble expounded on a regular basis by a few individuals.

    Thank you for your compliments, Jon. I have only recently started reading Universe Today — great work there, Fraser Cain, et al. — and also of posting comments here, mainly because of the likes of Anaconda, et al., so I am glad that I am making a difference! :-)

    @ Nereid:

    IVAN3MAN: thanks for the kind words.
    May I ask what two or three new things you found particularly interesting?

    Like, er… the “Epsilon-Delta Limits” (that’s a new one for me!) link that you have provided on this thread, and also the ESO link to “[Star] Surfing a Black Hole” (I don’t know how I missed that one!) that you have provided on the “Rogue Black Holes May Wander the Galaxy” thread here at Universe Today, as well as some other links there that I did not know about. :-)

    P.S. Excuse for not replying to you two guys earlier, but that was due to my broadband Internet Service Provider carrying out “essential maintenance” and, consequently, I was not able to access the Internet for over 4 hours! :-(

  90. IVAN3MAN says:

    Err… that should be: Excuse me for not… :-(

  91. Nereid says:

    Anaconda,

    I think we need to agree on something else, even before we get started on trying to reach a common understanding of observation, detection, measurement, inference, etc.

    And that something else is the rules of discussion.

    And I’d like to start by proposing that we avoid ‘prove the negative’ in questions and assertions.

    Let me illustrate what I mean with two examples from your last comment:

    there is a lack of theoretical basis for the existence of “black holes”

    I cannot, reasonably, ask you to ‘prove that!’, partly because any such ‘proof’ (I’ll get onto why I’m using quote marks in a moment) would necessarily entail you tracking down everything written on GR and showing that none of it constitutes a theoretical basis for the existence of black holes.

    On the other hand (OTOH), I can provide you with a reference to a paper (or similar) in which the existence of black holes is derived from GR.

    ” […] Halton Arp indeed has studied many of these images where the quasar and the connected “parent” galaxy are connected by inter-galaxtic Birkeland currents, yet have different redshift values”

    Nereid, please be specific in terms of stateing how the above statement inaccurately summarizes Halton Arp’s findings and conclusions.

    You cannot, reasonably, ask me to ‘prove that!’, partly because any such ‘proof’ would necessarily entail me tracking down everything Arp has written and showing that none of it contains images where the quasar and the “parent” galaxy are connected by inter-galaxtic Birkeland currents.

    OTOH, you can provide a reference to a paper (or similar) in which Arp presents images where the quasar and the “parent” galaxy are connected by inter-galaxtic Birkeland currents.

    With me so far? Any questions?

    ‘proof’.

    I have used the word, here, with its informal meaning, not its technical one (in mathematics). The question of whether ‘proof’ is possible, in science, is a deep one, and discussion of it would take us a long time. So what I mean is more like ‘show’ or ‘demonstrate’; in the first example, ‘proof’ would be something like a paper deriving black hole solutions to GR equations; in the second, a paper by Arp which contains the words ‘the quasar and the “parent” galaxy are connected by inter-galaxtic Birkeland currents’ (or similar).

    Can we agree on this?

  92. Nereid says:

    Anaconda,

    I would like to suggest another rule of discussion, for your consideration.

    Earlier (UT date May 7th, 2009 at 4:50 pm), you wrote:

    Fiat statements don’t carry any water.

    Yet in the comments on this UT story, UT date May 5th, 2009 at 8:59 am, you wrote:

    So-called “modern” astronomy led by Chapman ignored, then actively rejected this idea for 70 years.

    and, on UT date May 5th, 2009 at 1:44 pm:

    So-called “modern” astronomy has been hostile to electromagnetism since at least Chapman, if not before, […]

    Are these not “fiat statement[s]“?

    So how about we try very hard to not make such statements?

    Further, shall we agree to answer reasonable questions on what is/was actually written?

    For example, concerning your statements (about Chapman, that I am quoting here), I responded (UT date May 5th, 2009 at 8:16 pm):

    Astute readers will have noticed that I’m choosing examples from history that overlap with Sydney Chapman’s years as an active mathematician and geophysicist; until I read Anaconda’s comment, I hadn’t thought he had made any significant contributions to astrophysics, astronomy, or cosmology; silly me.

    To which you have yet to respond.

    Returning to my specific comment that apparently triggered your ‘fiat’ comment:

    Clearly, Anaconda has many misunderstandings about both history and General Relativity.

    Now I made this in reference to two of your comments, from the BA blog; the second is the pertinent one here:

    This is the congenital point of failure for General Relativity, it simply omits any consideration of plasma dynamics in space. Again, at the time General Relativity was formulated, the ubiquitous nature of plasma in space was unknown, so omitting reference to plasma and electrodynamics was understandable, but science knows better, today.

    Now, as promised, I will address some of the misunderstandings of both history and General Relativity evident in this comment of yours, in a later post. But let me close by repeating that I really, really, really think it would be a good idea (even a Good Idea) to start to try to reach common understanding of observations etc (my point 1) above). Are you OK with that?

  93. Nereid says:

    Anaconda wrote:

    This is the congenital point of failure for General Relativity, it simply omits any consideration of plasma dynamics in space. Again, at the time General Relativity was formulated, the ubiquitous nature of plasma in space was unknown, so omitting reference to plasma and electrodynamics was understandable, but science knows better, today.

    Let’s start with plasmas.

    As Anaconda has noted, several times, the behaviour (dynamics) of plasmas must be consistent with Maxwell’s equations (I’m restricting the scope of ‘plasma’ here to non-relativistic plasmas; for example, quark-gluon plasmas are excluded!).

    So, at a basic level, we can ask a) if GR was published before or after Maxwell’s equations, and b) if after, does it incorporate them.

    The answer to a) is ‘well after’ (Maxwell was long dead at the time GR was published).

    The answer to b) is yes (the Einstein-Maxwell equations are the EFE with the energy-momentum tensor that of an electromagnetic field in free space (I haven’t yet tracked down when these were first published).

    We can also ask whether GR is insufficiently general; specifically, whether it cannot – due to the way it is structured – incorporate plasma dynamics, even in principle.

    At its heart, GR describes the relationship between the geometry of space-time to the energy-momentum tensor, which includes mass, energy, and stress (pressure and shear; these words are all technical terms with precise meanings). So the question of whether GR “omits any consideration of plasma dynamics in space” (as Anaconda claims) becomes a question of whether there’s anything special about plasmas, beyond their matter components, their energies, etc. And the answer to that question is no, there isn’t.

    Now there’s one interesting aspect which Anaconda does not state explicitly, but, given the content of so many of his comments, is almost certainly there; namely, the application of GR to cosmology.

    And here the history is interesting.

    AFAIK, Friedmann was the first to do this, though Lemaître’s independent work is perhaps best known; today the simplest such application is known as the Friedmann-Lemaître-Robertson-Walker (FLRW) metric, which describes a simply connected, homogeneous, isotropic expanding or contracting universe. And as I have just noted, this includes a universe with plasmas, even a universe composed entirely of plasma.

    There are many fascinating historical facts around this (including Einstein’s initial skepticism of Friedmann’s and Lemaître’s work, and what caused him to change his attitude!), but the historical point is that GR was not developed in order to address questions of cosmology.

    The physics point, of the FLWR metric, is whether the universe – plasmas and all – is simply connected, homogeneous, and isotropic, and particularly whether “the ubiquitous nature of plasma in space” is inconsistent with the FLWR metric.

    As I sketched above, GR is quite general enough to include plasmas, in general, so the FLWR metric does too.

    That leads to the final point: is the universe, plasmas and all, simply connected, homogeneous, and isotropic?

    That question I’m sure Anaconda knows the answer to, and, even without resolving the issue of what we mean by ‘observations’ etc, I think Anaconda would agree that the observational evidence is overwhelming that plasma, in the universe, is distributed homogeneously and isotropically (on sufficiently large scales).

  94. IVAN3MAN says:

    Good effort, Nereid, but I think that Anaconda has buggered off!

  95. DrFlimmer says:

    Most likely. He didn’t even respond to your first comments about the infinity concept, although he said he would.

    Just like every time, pushed too hard and they disappear (but I would be glad to be proven wrong in this case!)

    But, Nereid , well done, indeed – very good explanations!

  96. Nereid says:

    Thanks IVAN3MAN and DrFlimmer.

    In case it isn’t sufficiently clear already, and also for the benefit of any casual readers, here’s what I’ve been trying to do, wrt what Anaconda has written:

    * make a strong case for a need to come to agreement on basics like “observation” vs “inference”, and “electromagnetism”, BEFORE we can engage in a meaningful discussion

    (as an example: the way Anaconda uses the word “electromagnetism” is highly idiosyncratic, making much of what he write difficult to understand; for example, in one reading of his meaning of this term, everything we know about the universe, including that part of it here on Earth, is due to electromagnetism!)

    * establish some simple ‘rules of discussion’, such as avoiding ‘prove the negative’; the objective is to raise the signal to noise ratio in comments substantially

    * address some of the apparent confusions and misunderstandings in language that I hope is appropriate to Anaconda’s level of science knowledge and math capability (but be firm that the key to meaningful discussion is to reach agreement on items 1), 2), and 3) in my list above (May 7th, 2009 at 1:47 pm))

    * per Fraser’s request, be nice.

  97. Anaconda says:

    @ Nereid:

    No, there is nothing complicated or idiosyncratic about “electromagntism” at all.

    It’s simple: You don’t like it because it comes from a rival school of analysis & interpretation.

    Nereid states: “So the question of whether GR “omits any consideration of plasma dynamics in space” (as Anaconda claims) becomes a question of whether there’s anything special about plasmas, beyond their matter components, their energies, etc. And the answer to that question is no, there isn’t.”

    Wrong.

    Electromagntism and gravity in terms of description and explanation are distinct.

    Gravity only attracts or pulls.

    Electromagntism attracks and repels — it has polarity, both in attraction & repulsion, but also in direction of flow.

    Einstein’s General Relativity simply doesn’t address this dynamic.

    Nereid, you are blind to the obvious, which is that electromagnetism isn’t addressed, and rather than your excuse, “it doesn’t need to be”, in fact it is a fundamental and fatal error not to address electromagnetism.

    And it partially explains why electromagnetism was rejected by early “modern” astronomy.

    Their “god’ was Einstein and he left it out of his discussion of the dynamics of deep-space structure.

    You want to talk about direct observation as opposed to inference, sure.

    Technically speaking all observations of space are indirect.

    Electrons can’t be directly observed, but science will excuse that because there are so many indirect observations of electrons that have been cross-checked that one can safely say electrons are directly observed.

    Yet, push me and I’ll quickly acknowledge as I’m doing now that electrons can’t be directly observed.

    So what is it? It is a continuum of “greater degree of certainty” that needs to be approached on a case by case basis.

    But my patience is wearing thin.

    Nereid, is Kristian Birkeland a fraud or not?

    Birkeland currents are named in his honor.

    Are you saying that is a fraud and should be recinded?

    You offer no evidence for you conclusion, I on the other hand have offered quotes and definitions and results of my reasearch — “corpuscular rays” was a catch-all term in Birkeland’s time.

    I’m tired of you making fiat statements and then when challenged you offer nothing.

    Same thing on the magnetic fields being dependent on electric current.

    Magnetic fields are dependent on electric current, but rather than just acknowledge the point and move on you provide a lot of talk about quantum mechanics, but nothing about actual physical processes in space that would generate magnetic fields other than electric currents.

    I’m not inpressed.

    Instead, I’m left questioning you committment to science.

    Nereid, you are an ideologue, that is what comes through loud and clear.

    A status quo idealogue.

    And its apparent you have only contempt for my ideas.

    Why should I respect you ideas when you have demonstrated a disregard for common sense application of the English language and common scientific terms.

    Magnetic fields are generated by electric currents.

    To protest the above is to state: “I have contempt for modern scientific understanding.

    Kristian Birkland predicted and claimed that electrical, corpuscular rays were responsible for the aurora.

    Your claims to the contrary make you look dishonest.

    Birkeland currents are named after Birkeland for a reason.

    “The consequence was that attempts were made to knit together all these new discoveries and hypotheses into one cosmogonic theory, in which solar systems and the formation of galactic systems are discussed perhaps rather more from electromagnetic points of view than from the theory of gravitation.” — Kristian Birkeland

    This quote is why you shamelessly attempt to claim that Birkeland was fraudulent.

    Let’s be perfectly clear: If Nereid was right (she is completely wrong and borders on dishonest) Birkeland should be stripped of his honor of having the electromagnetic currents named in his honor.

    Are you calling for Birkeland to be stripped of this honor?

    If not let’s move on.

    Nereid, so far I’m not impressed with you.

  98. Nereid says:

    Nereid states: “So the question of whether GR “omits any consideration of plasma dynamics in space” (as Anaconda claims) becomes a question of whether there’s anything special about plasmas, beyond their matter components, their energies, etc. And the answer to that question is no, there isn’t.”

    Wrong.

    You left out the first part of the paragraph of mine that you are quoting; here is the whole paragraph again:

    At its heart, GR describes the relationship between the geometry of space-time to the energy-momentum tensor, which includes mass, energy, and stress (pressure and shear; these words are all technical terms with precise meanings). So the question of whether GR “omits any consideration of plasma dynamics in space” (as Anaconda claims) becomes a question of whether there’s anything special about plasmas, beyond their matter components, their energies, etc. And the answer to that question is no, there isn’t.

    And this paragraph comes after one in which I mentioned the Einstein-Maxwell equation, which incorporate Maxwell’s equations into General Relativity.

    So we are left, logically, with the following possibilities:

    a) pace Nereid, the Einstein-Maxwell equations do not incorporate Maxwell’s equations

    b) pace Anaconda, Maxwell’s equations do not describe electromagnetism

    c) pace Nereid, plasmas are comprised of something other than, or in addition to, particles with mass and charge, and electromagnetic fields

    d) pace Anaconda, the behaviour of plasmas is not consistent with Maxwell’s equations

    e) pace Nereid, the heart of GR is something other than the relationship between the geometry of spacetime and energy-momentum tensor.

    (Of course, some combination of the above would also be logical).

    Did I miss anything? If so, what? If not, then we can examine each of these five in more detail, can’t we?

  99. Nereid says:

    @Anaconda:

    Birkeland currents are named in his honor.

    Indeed.

    However, having something named after you doesn’t *automatically* mean that you got every aspect of the thing 100% correct.

    To take two examples, one from each of the first two letters of the alphabet:

    Avogadro’s constant (or Avogadro’s number): which Avogadro did some quite important work on the general problem (he proposed that the volume of a gas is proportional to the number of molecules/atoms in it), the constant of proportionality (which bears his name) was not worked out until well after his death.

    The Boltzmann constant: Boltzmann was the first to tie entropy to probability, but it was Planck who both introduced the constant and worked out its value (and gave it its name).

    Birkeland did important work that significantly advanced understanding of the aurora, and a specific kind of field aligned current is named after him.

    There are many examples, in physics and science generally, where someone did important work to significantly advance understanding, but where today’s understanding of the issue or problem or effect came only later, sometimes much later. An example is Brownian motion; another is Avogadro’s number.

  100. Anaconda says:

    @ Nereid:

    I stand corrected that Birkeland didn’t understand or explain the plasma flow from the Sun to the Earth perfectly.

    But given the general state of scientific knowledge at the time, Birkeland did explain it pretty well.

    But your response went a lot further than that. It came across as an outright rejection of Birkeland’s work — a knee jerk reaction.

    It still stands that “modern” astronomy ignored and/or rejected his analysis & interpretation until it was confirmed in 1973 by the Trident satellite, much like your oversimplification, and as you should recall that is exactly what I characterized your response as, an over simplification.

    Another point on this old thread: Using abstract mathematical exmples to justify the “infinity” concept does nothing to justify using it to quantify “real” objects.

    Nereid stated: “There are many examples, in physics and science generally, where someone did important work to significantly advance understanding, but where today’s understanding of the issue or problem or effect came only later, sometimes much later.”

    Agreed.

  101. DrFlimmer says:

    @ Anaconda

    Another point on this old thread: Using abstract mathematical exmples to justify the “infinity” concept does nothing to justify using it to quantify “real” objects.

    So. You dislike the Big Bang. Let me ask you: Do you prefer an infinite space (and/or time)? I wonder if there is an alternative between those two. If the universe didn’t have a beginning, it must be infinite in space and time. An universe that is not infinite in space but in time should have collapsed already. An universe that is infinite in space but not in time – where did it come from?

    A very good example, why there is some truth behind a beginning and a finite space, is the solution to “Olber’s paradoxon”. It is just the simple question: Why is it dark at night?.

    I also said several times before: The current situation concerning the Big Bang and Black Holes is not very satisfying. This is due to the lack of a theory of quantum gravitation. Since we reach really small distances in Black Holes and in the Big Bang quantum effects become important – very important! Even space and time begin to fluctuate due to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. But since we lack a theory that combines quantum mechanics and gravitation we cannot explain it fully. But we can conclude: quantum mechanics will prevent a singularity (the example of the electron having an infinite charge density is a good example) – but what really happens that is a matter of research, and I hope we will find a solution in the near future!

  102. Nereid says:

    It is a pleasure to read these comments, Anaconda.

    Please, allow me to clarify a couple of things

    But your response went a lot further than that. It came across as an outright rejection of Birkeland’s work — a knee jerk reaction.

    I don’t know how my comments could lead to such an erroneous conclusion, but please allow me to set the record straight.

    Birkeland was obviously an outstanding scientist, and he did a lot of very good work. His methods were impeccable, his logic sound, and his write-ups excellent.

    However, like all scientists, he lived and worked in a particular period, and, like all scientists, his work can only be really appreciated by understanding the historical and scientific context.

    Let’s consider two more-or-less contemporaries, J.J. Thompson and Ernest Rutherford.

    Both were also outstanding scientists, and both made significant contributions to physics (discovery of the electron, and of isotopes, for Thompson; discovery of the atomic nucleus (among other things) for Rutherford).

    However, the model of the atom that each developed turned out to be wrong; the atom is not like a plum pudding (positive and negative charges spread randomly throughout its volume), nor like a solar system (the Rutherford, or planetary, model). And this is so despite the widespread depiction of the Rutherford model of the atom that continues to this day.

    It still stands that “modern” astronomy ignored and/or rejected his analysis & interpretation until it was confirmed in 1973 by the Trident satellite,

    That Birkeland’s ideas on aurora and the IPM (inter-planetary medium) may not have received much acceptance until the 1970s may be so (I really don’t know, it’s not a part of history or science I know much about).

    However, I am not aware of any of Birkeland’s work on areas of astronomy – other than the Sun and the IPM (see below) – that can be said to have any pertinence today; and the study of aurorae, even in the early 1900s, was not considered to be astronomy (was it?).

    For example, the Birkeland document you cited earlier contains work on planetary rings and “nebulae”; none of this work is even vaguely consistent with relevant astronomical observations (and his work on Saturn’s rings was even inconsistent in his day; an example of considerably less than outstanding work).

    For the Sun and IPM, you can read his work and be struck by how prescient some of it is (e.g. charged particles do travel from the Sun to the Earth); equally, you can be struck by just how far off the mark it is (e.g. the Sun is not powered by radioactive decay). But in its historical context, these results make sense, both the ones that seem prescient and the ones which seem, today, downright silly.

    Another point on this old thread: Using abstract mathematical exmples to justify the “infinity” concept does nothing to justify using it to quantify “real” objects.

    Are you sure?

    How about the example of the charge density of the electron that I gave?

    To repeat: the electron has a charge.

    The electron is currently thought to be a ‘point particle’ (i.e. it is a zero-dimensional object, with no volume and no structure).

    The definition of charge density is charge/volume; ergo, the charge density of the electron is “infinity”.

    There are plenty more examples, some of them to be found in most homes (e.g. something very real has a temperature of “infinity” in most CD players, if only for an instant).

  103. Nereid says:

    Continuing the discussion on detection, observation, measurement, inference, etc.

    Here’s what I suggested we – Anaconda and I at least – spend some time working through:

    1) establishing a consistent, agreed basis for what constitutes direct observation, indirect observation, detection, and inference, in astronomy. I have reached out to Anaconda twice now on this, but he (she?) has not yet responded. I’d add measurement and theorized to the mix here.

    Well, Anaconda did respond, thus:

    You want to talk about direct observation as opposed to inference, sure.

    Technically speaking all observations of space are indirect.

    Electrons can’t be directly observed, but science will excuse that because there are so many indirect observations of electrons that have been cross-checked that one can safely say electrons are directly observed.

    Yet, push me and I’ll quickly acknowledge as I’m doing now that electrons can’t be directly observed.

    So what is it? It is a continuum of “greater degree of certainty” that needs to be approached on a case by case basis.

    Thanks for the good start, Anaconda; can we do “detection” and “measurement” next please?

    Specifically, what are the criteria you use for determining whether something is “detected”? Ditto wrt “measured”? And where on the continuum of degrees of certainty wrt observation does a detection fit? a measurement?

  104. Anaconda says:

    @ Nereid & DrFlimmer:

    I’ll respond to DrFlimmer after Nereid:

    Nereid stated: “Sorry to break this news to you Anaconda, but Birkeland’s ‘corpuscular rays’ refers to what we today call ‘electrons’…
    In other words, stating that they are equivalent to plasma, as you do, is, objectively, quite wrong.”

    I [Anaconda] responded (along with other statements): “But your response went a lot further than that. It came across as an outright rejection of Birkeland’s work — a knee jerk reaction.”

    To which Nereid responded: “I don’t know how my comments could lead to such an erroneous conclusion…”

    Please…your whole series of responses was designed to downplay Birkeland’s findings — which is consistent with “modern” astronomy’s reaction to his work.

    Per Wikipedia’s entry for Solar wind:

    “In 1916, Birkeland was probably the first person to successfully predict that, ‘From a physical point of view it is most probable that solar rays are neither exclusively negative nor positive rays, but of both kinds’.”

    Nereid stated: “Perhaps it is this poor grasp of physics that is confusing you concerning the fact that the term ‘corpuscular rays’, as Birkeland used it in 1908 (or, more accurately, in 1896) and the term ‘plasma’ are not equivalent; they were not equivalent in 1896, 1903, 1908, or 1927, and they are not equivalent today…”

    Nereid, do you see why I called your reaction, “knee jerk”?

    So the question is why were you so adamant about downplaying Birkeland’s work?

    I submit there are three principle reasons: One, Plasma Cosmologists cite Birkeland as a pioneer in Plasma Cosmology; two, he correctly identified that the Earth was being continually bombarded by “rays of electric corpuscles emitted by the Sun”; and, three, Birkeland specifically stated the “electromagnetic” force should be investigated in regards to the “formation of galactic systems”:

    “The consequence was that attempts were made to knit together all these new discoveries and hypotheses into one cosmogonic theory, in which solar systems and the formation of galactic systems are discussed perhaps rather more from electromagnetic points of view than from the theory of gravitation.”

    It is a powerful voice that hypothesizes, investigates, reports, and concludes a fundamental finding such as Birkeland did.

    Even more so when you take into account that “modern” astronomy ignored and rejected the work and conclusions, but was ultimately shown to be wrong to do so.

    And as this post makes most clear “electromagnetic” forces are pervasive in the solar system, as Birkeland predicted, and “modern” astronomy did not.

    Nereid, your attempts to obscure and obfiscate on this issue were not to be tolerated and poorly reflected on you.

    Yes, let it be said again, Birkeland stated that “formation of galactic systems” be investigated from “electromagnetic points of view.”

    So-called “modern” astronomy ignored and rejected Birkeland’s findings for the origin and mechanism of the aurora to it’s everlasting detriment.

    Again, so-called “modern” astronomy persists in ignoring and rejecting Birkeland’s injunction to investigate galactic formation from an electromagnetic point of view in spite of mounting evidence that, indeed, electromagnetism does play a significant role in galactic formation.

    So-called “modern” astronomy ignored the evidence presented to it before; will “modern” astronomy ignore and reject evidence, again, to it’s everlasting detriment & shame?

    Your comments suggest “modern” astronomy is well on its way to doing just that.

  105. Anaconda says:

    @ DrFlimmer:

    I appreciate your following this “old thread” because you and your peers are the future of astronomy. I’ll admit I’ve been hard on you at times, but not because I enjoy it — I much prefer cooperation and collaberation — rather, I want to demonstrate the ideas that I communicated from the start have validity. Regrettably, sometimes a “hard knock” focusses the mind better than “peace offerings” that are summarily rejected.

    Because you and your age cohort are the future of astronomy, that is why I spent so much time, effort, and trouble to share scientific authority, logic and reason with you on our initial discussion back at Bad Astronomy, and yes, MY understanding has evolved since that initial discussion as I hope yours has, too.

    Anyway, to your comment:

    DrFlimmer states: “You [Anaconda] dislike the Big Bang.”

    No, rather, I’m convinced it is an incorrect analysis & interpretation of the evidence which leads to further faulty analysis & interpretations because almost all of “modern” astronomy’s analysis & interpretations flow from this fundamental premise or “landmark”. So much so that contradicting evidence is either ignored or ad hoc layers are added to preserve the “big bang” premise that takes “modern” astronomy further from matching theory with reality.

    DrFlimmer states: “Let me ask you: Do you prefer an infinite space (and/or time)?”

    No, rather I accept that Science can’t know what happened and/or whether there was a beginning or not, also whether there is an edge to the Universe.

    Science is much better off admitting to the limits of its ability to “know” something than making assumptions that then only serve to confine observations & measurements into a straightjacket of faulty conclusions because the analysis & interpretations must fit the preconceived ideas of a “beginning” that Man can not “know”.

    DrFlimmer states: “If the universe didn’t have a beginning, it must be infinite in space and time.”

    Science doesn’t doesn’t “know”.

    As unsatisfying as that may be, the ability to refrain from that natural impulse frees up Man to have a better understanding of the structures and forces existent in the present.

    The so-called ‘big bang”, notwithstanding Nereid’s statements to the contrary, is “something out of nothing”, a basic violation of the “causation principle” which is a bedrock of the Scientific Method.

    DrFlimmer states: “An universe that is not infinite in space but in time should have collapsed already. An universe that is infinite in space but not in time – where did it come from?”

    Again, natrual questions, for sure, but they are metaphysical questions that can’t be answered by Science.

    This determination to “fix” a beginning and an extent, while natural expressions of Man’s desire to ‘know” only serve to cloud and obscure a true understanding of present structures and processes.

    Sometimes, it takes mental discpline to accept and acknowledge what the limits are to Scientific understanding. But Science must recognize what it can and can not do.

    Just as every person has to know their limitations, so, too, Science as a collective must acknowledge its limits.

    DrFlimmer states: “The current situation concerning the Big Bang and Black Holes is not very satisfying. This is due to the lack of a theory of quantum gravitation.”

    No, even if a “theory of quantum gravitaion” were successfully confirmed by observation & measurement, it would shed no light on the “beginnings” of the Universe.

    DrFlimmer states: “Since we reach really small distances in Black Holes and in the Big Bang quantum effects become important – very important!”

    How do you know?

    Both concepts, the “big bang” and “black holes” rest on the “infinity” concept.

    Even Nereid, bless her heart, acknowledges that one can’t “know” beyond a certain point, the difference between her view and mine is that she and “modern” astronomy are willing to go much farther down a path that proper Science should not take.

    DrFlimmer states: “Even space and time begin to fluctuate due to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.”

    Again, how do you know?

    DrFlimmer states: “But we can conclude: quantum mechanics will prevent a singularity…”

    The “big bang” and “black holes” constructs rest on the abstract mathematical concept of a “singularity”.

    Sorry, to have to poke at another hornet’s nest, but Quantum mechanics has its own problems:

    “For many years, scientists thought that the energy of empty space averaged zero. But the discovery of quantum mechanics changed this view. According to quantum theory, empty space is filled with pairs of “virtual” particles that spontaneously pop into and out of existence too quickly to be detected.”

    Here’s the problem:

    “spontaneously pop into and out of existence too quickly to be detected.”

    Sorry, that doesn’t cut it in real Science. Things don’t “pop into and out of existence”!

    See, ScienceDaily article on “frozen” so-called “dark” energy. The article much like your comment is a series of undemonstrated assumptions stacked on top of each other that reveals how lost “modern” astronomy truly is.

    Space, itself, can’t be quantified because there is nothing to observe & measure.

    DrFlimmer states: “but what really happens that is a matter of research, and I hope we will find a solution in the near future!”

    If you basic assumptions taken into the reasearch are flawed and the methods used are flawed, it doesn’t matter how much “research” one does — you still will never find the right answer.

    But Man is expert at deluding himself and convincing himself of his inviolability even when he is subsequently shown to be completely wrong.

    History has shown this time after time.

  106. DrFlimmer says:

    @ Anaconda

    Sorry, but: LOL!

    You don’t know much about quantum mechanics, you clearly showed that in the post above.

    Believe it or not. The 20th century gave rise to two major theories that have been tested to it’s most extream predictions. And both made it beyond any test. They are the best tested and checked theories ever. That are: Quantum mechanics and (indeed) General Relativity.

    Sorry, to have to poke at another hornet’s nest, but Quantum mechanics has its own problems:
    […]

    Here’s the problem:

    “spontaneously pop into and out of existence too quickly to be detected.”

    Sorry, that doesn’t cut it in real Science. Things don’t “pop into and out of existence”!

    You just didn’t understand the Uncertainty Principle. It can be written for many things: Place and momentum, or time and energy. For the latter it reads:

    (Delta t)*(Delta E)> h-bar/2

    The Deltas stand for some kind of “error”. It is not an error of measurment, it is some kind of “error” that is deep inside nature (hard to explain, I know, and I guess I fail to make it really clear what a fundamental thing this is!).
    The result is that if Delta E aproaches zero (it means, you have a precise energy level), Delta t reaches infinity. An example: You probably know about emission lines and that they can have a width. This width of a line in a spectrum corresponds to a “Delta E”, because the spectrum shows you the energy (E=hf, f=frequency). And if a line has a width, it covers more “energy levels”. A precise energy level would line to an “infinte” narrow line (hence (Delta E)=0). According to the Uncertainty principle this leads to an infinite “Delta t”, thus a stable configuration.

    On the other hand: This results in the strange behaviour that for a short period of time a hugh amount of energy can “pop” into existance and vanishes again at the end of the time interval. This seems to violate the conservation law of energy, but it is observed.

    Ever heard of the “Casimir effect“? It shows exactly that.
    If you put two plates very close to each other you measure a force that pushes them together (we have made sure that they are not charged or something like that before the experiment, of course). The reason for this force is: Particles can be discribed as waves. Between two “walls” you can only put in those waves that fit in completly (so it must fill the gap with an integer factor of its wavelength). So if the wave corresponding to a particle is too long it cannot be between the plates. But it can be on the outside, in fact, on the outside can be any wave (or any particle) since there is no restriction.
    This means: You have more particles on the outside than between the plates.
    Now: Conduct this experiment in a vaccum. There are no particles, so there should be no force. But we measure one! It is small, indeed, but measurable. This force corresponds to particles that were created spontaneously in the vaccum (and vanished again, thereafter). We call those particles “virtual” – although they are real in the sense that we can measure their effects.

    So was a bad explanation and probably you go to Wikipedia for further reading – hopefully the article is better than mine.

    Anaconda, you dislike GR, but you cannot deny the effects of quantum mechanics. They are weired, indeed – but nature doesn’t care if we can imagine things. Nature is far beyond any imagination.
    If I may give you an advice: Quantum mechanics are really entertaining. You should try to learn more about. Probably you should read Feynman’s “QED”. It introduces his great theory in a way that everybody can understand what it is about – and it’s real enetertainment!

    DrFlimmer states: “Since we reach really small distances in Black Holes and in the Big Bang quantum effects become important – very important!”

    How do you know?

    Because QM is all about the realm of the “little folks” (no, not the hobbits 😉 ). Everything probably smaller than, say, a µm is governed by quantum mechanics. So, if something is smaller than a certain threshold it must obey the rules of quantum mechanics (like the uncertainty principle, e.g.).
    We don’t see any of those strange effects, because we are just too “big”. So we can mostly ignore QM in “our” world.
    But not every time. Even VERY big things can be governed by quantum mechanics. E.g. a star, a dead star (no, not the death star 😉 ) to be precise.
    A white dwarf has a mass of about a solar mass packed into a volume of a about earth-size. This (still) hugh object is totally governed by quantum mechanics. It is stable due to the strange effect of degeneracy.
    Electrons are so-called fermions. And fermions are weired creatures. They don’t like each other, they want to be alone! You cannot have to fermions with the same set of parameters (place, energy-level, spin, etc). At least one parameter must be different (this is called the “Pauli principle”)!
    That’s also the reason for the structure of the shell of an atom. On the innermost shell there can only be two electrons, because they can only differ in their spin (up and down, whatever this means 😉 ). No other parameter is free to be used. If you want to add a third electron to the atom it must stay farther away from the nucleus in the second shell, it cannot be farther in, the two electrons “block” it.
    The same thing happens in a white dwarf. The electrons get too close to each other, they start to feel the presence of many other electrons, the gas (or plasma) degenerates – the electrons will push away from each other (that is not literally true, but it will do this time). This effect is so extream that electrons must reach energy levels where they become highly relativistic – but they have no choice.
    This effect stabalises the white dwarf. But only up to a mass of 1.4 solar masses. At this point electron degeneracy is overcome by gravity. The electrons are sqeezed into the protons and we gain lots of neutrons. Finally all the electrons and protons have become neutrons. But the neutrons are fermions. So the same strange effect happens: The neutrons degenerate and can form another stable thing. A ball of neutrons that is only a few km across – yes, a neutron star. I know that you don’t believe in those guys. But they just obey the same law as white dwarfs, nothing more (so I wonder why you agree on white dwarfs but not on neutron stars, but that’s another topic).

    Gee, I’m talking too much ;). So, I’ll stop at this point.

    MY understanding has evolved since that initial discussion as I hope yours has, too.

    It has! After my first “troubles” (and mistakes) in our discussions I had to recheck and reverify my knowledge. I reread books and papers and asked questions here and there.

    Sometimes, it takes mental discpline to accept and acknowledge what the limits are to Scientific understanding. But Science must recognize what it can and can not do.

    I totally agree. But I guess we split in the details 😉

  107. Anaconda says:

    @ Nereid:

    Nereid states: “The electron is currently thought to be a ‘point particle’ (i.e. it is a zero-dimensional object, with no volume and no structure).”

    To my way of approaching the question, this is unsatisfying.

    Why?

    Because an electron has been assigned a “mass” and it is considered an “object”.

    Even at rest.

    If an electron has mass and is an object it must have, however so small, a volume, and a “location”.

    Nereid states: “The definition of charge density is charge/volume; ergo, the charge density of the electron is “infinity”.

    Every school boy (girl?) knows it’s improper to divide by zero.

    Apparently, “modern” astronomers do not know this basic principle.

    No doubt, your explanation is derived from Quantum Mechanics and simply an example of another of the problems with Quantum Mechanics. To the extent that probabiltiy is a substitution for direct measurement, I have no problems with that concept as long as it’s remembered that it is a “probability” and thus is a construct of Man, a map if you will, where the territory is never in one place long enough to define a location.

    Nereid your example is a classic expose` of taking the mathematical construct and reifying it into an unquantifiable object, in languistics that would be considered an oxymoron.

    The term, “infinity” in this example is a placeholder for “Science doesn’t know”.

    You have just left out the embarrassing, “Science doesn’t know” and treated “infinity” as if it can be quantified when by definition it can’t be defined.

    Quantum Mechanics is a “map” of a territory that is impossible, or near to impossible to “observe”, so Man does the best he can with the tools available.

    What practioners of Quantum Mechanics have forgotten is that it is an imperfect map of the territory, not the territory, itself. They have reified the map into the territory — it is not.

    And most assuredly, it is not proper to reify the “map” into the “territory”.

    Nereid states: “There are plenty more examples, some of them to be found in most homes (e.g. something very real has a temperature of “infinity” in most CD players, if only for an instant).”

    No, there maybe extreme difficulty in measuring the temperature at that “instant”, but the actual temperature is not “infinity”.

    No, that example proves my point. The term “infinity”, again, is a substitution for “we don’t know”.

    Which is what the term “infinity” as used in the “big bang” and “black hole” constructs is in actuality — Science doesn’t know:

    Science doesn’t know the “strength of gravity” that would overcome light and trap it; Science doesn’t know the mass of matter required to gravitationally trap light; and science doesn’t know the volume of matter needed to trap light, nor does it know the density required. Science doesn’t even know if light can be trapped by any amount of gravitational force.

    It’s a cornucopia of “Science doesn’t knows.”

    And “modern” astronomy has built it’s two basic premises on that foundation of sand: The so-called “big bang” and “black hole” constructs.

    So-called “modern” astronomy is in a world of hurt — a politician caught in the most embarrassing and compromising of positions!

    A “science” that claims and promotes the perception among the general public that it is a science of rigorous quantification, but when you inspect closely is completely without quantification at all.

    The “big bang” is the father, the “black hole” is the son, and “neutron” star is the holy ghost :-)

    (“neutron” star) 100 million tons in a cubic centimeter — lots of luck charlie!

    On your “terms” question. I stated it’s a continuum and needs to be determined on a “case by case basis”.

    So, it’s hard to define in the abstract. Those abstracts are really a pain in the rear end. They bite ya everytime.

  108. Anaconda says:

    @ DrFlimmer:

    Quantum Mechanics is a philosophical construct translated into mathematical relationships as expressed by mathematical equations.

    I don’t have a problem with the “Uncertainty Principle” per se, which is just a recognition that Man is “uncertain” about aspects of reality, principly on the sub-atomic level.

    Fine.

    Actually, that is just a recognition that the “map” is not the territory to which I heartedly agree.

    But the passage I quoted: “According to quantum theory, empty space is filled with pairs of “virtual” particles that spontaneously pop into and out of existence too quickly to be detected”, is the result of taking a truism and running it out to the logical extreme, by way of mathematical expression and then reifying the abstract logical conclusion and forgetting about reality — as I stated before “things”, objects, don’t pop in and out of existence, no matter what the mathematics says happens.

    Mathematics is not reality.

    Now, the dead giveaway was the use of the term “virtual”, which is defined as: Being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted.

    It’s a placeholder to effectuate the logical extreme of the construct.

    Mathematics is a tool that its practitioners have a bad habit of using to form logical constructs and then running out the constructs by a series of mathematical extensions of logic until they fail to have any connection with reality.

    Problem is that the practioners fail to recognize this problem — it not the fault of the mathematics — it’s just a tool, a language, it’s the fault of the practitioners who fail to recognize the constraints imposed on their logic by reality.

    They confuse abstract chains of logic with reality — they forget the starting construct, the “Uncertainty Principle”, is a recognition of this very limitation.

    This is the logical fallacy that has captured “modern” astronomy.

    They confuse mathematical language with reality. The logical principle is known as “absurd infinitum”, a logical principle taken to its extreme results ends in an absurdity.

    Just because a mathematical equation can be constructed from an a priori principle (which assumes the a priori principle is correct — and it may not be) doesn’t mean that the resultant conclusion at the end of the equation reflects the actual reality.

    It is impermissable in the Scientific Method.

    Take “uncertainty” to its extreme conclusion and we get a “thing” might be in a “location” one “instant” and in the next “instant” not there means it never existed at all.

    No, I understand the Quantum Mechanics principles, but I haven’t been indoctrinated and conditioned to accept the absurd results when these equations are taken to their ultimate conclusions

    DrFlimmer states: “The Deltas stand for some kind of “error”. It is not an error of measurment, it is some kind of “error” that is deep inside nature (hard to explain, I know, and I guess I fail to make it really clear what a fundamental thing this is!).”

    It’s not your fault you can’t explain it — it can’t be explained in the ordinary use of langauge — only the mathematics works out.

    But it’s a sign that when mathematics can’t be reduced to ordinary explanatory language then it has slipped its constraints of reality.

    And, like any tool it is more dangerous than no tool at all for it allows its practitioners to believe something or some process exists in the real world when it in fact doesn’t exist at all.

    Because why…wait for it…they have the math to prove it:-)

    DrFlimmer, how many times have we heard that. Even a mathematical construct, or langauge has its limits and the practitioners have to remember that.

    DrFlimmer states: “This results in the strange behaviour that for a short period of time a hugh amount of energy can “pop” into existance and vanishes again at the end of the time interval.”

    Sorry, reality is constrained by the “Causation Principle”. “Something out of nothing”, doesn’t happen in nature — you are expounding what is know as a miracle.

    It violates the Law of the Conservation of Energy.

    No wonder even though Quantum Machanics and General Relativity are incompatible their adherents protect each others backs.

    DrFlimmer states: “This force corresponds to particles that were created spontaneously in the vaccum (and vanished again, thereafter). We call those particles “virtual” – although they are real in the sense that we can measure their effects.”

    Time to go back to the drawing board and acknowledge there is a lack of understanding of the physics involved, rather than to deduce that a force, energy, “pops” into existence and then “pops” out of existence.

    DrFlimmer states: “I’m talking too much.”

    No, you are acting in good faith to communicate the ideas you are expressing and I appreciate that.

    You have done an excellent job of expressing the ideas in question, the Casimir effect, and I appreciate the time it took to do that.

    I might not agree, but that takes nothing away from your effort to express it.

    Good job:-)

  109. Anaconda says:

    @ DrFlimmer:

    I wanted to commend you, again, for being able to articulate the Casimir effect :-) Although, I’d like you to consider this possibility, as well:

    And, perhaps, it has been accounted for already, but consider this: The “plates” are a material substance, there is no way to conduct the experiment without using a physical substance for the “plates” whatever substance the experimenter might decide to use.

    But the “plates” as a material substance have energy, this energy is intrinsic to the substance.

    Is it not possible that the energy in the plates, themselves, eminates from the plates when the two plates are in contact and thus “pushes” the two plates apart?

    This result would provide the appearance that energy “popped” into existence and then “popped” out of existence, but in reality the energy was there all the time in the material substance constituting the two “plates”.

    How can this intrinsic energy of the plates be ruled out as a possibility in the experiment?

    All material substance has energy.

    Thus, the Law of the Conservation of Energy has not been violated and all energy has been accounted for.

    Something to think about :-)

  110. Nereid says:

    Several long comments by Anaconda, which have helped me understand just how hard a challenge it will be to establish a basis of common understanding on which to build, in order to have a meaningful discussion; thanks for the inputs Anaconda.

    To continue on the path to such a discussion, would you mind continuing to address my item 1), from May 7th, 2009 at 1:47 pm? Here it is again:

    1) establishing a consistent, agreed basis for what constitutes direct observation, indirect observation, detection, and inference, in astronomy. […] I’d add measurement and theorized to the mix here.

    As of May 13th, 2009 at 7:11 am, we’d begun “observation”, and I’d asked if we could do “detection” and “measurement” next; OK?

    (You wrote, afterwards, “On your “terms” question. I stated it’s a continuum and needs to be determined on a “case by case basis”.
    So, it’s hard to define in the abstract. Those abstracts are really a pain in the rear end. They bite ya everytime.
    ” If you are unwilling to at least have a go at a general approach, how about we switch to the list of specific examples I gave? They would be, I hope, pure ‘case by case basis’.)

    Re Birkeland, plasmas, etc.

    Nereid stated: “Perhaps it is this poor grasp of physics that is confusing you concerning the fact that the term ‘corpuscular rays’, as Birkeland used it in 1908 (or, more accurately, in 1896) and the term ‘plasma’ are not equivalent; they were not equivalent in 1896, 1903, 1908, or 1927, and they are not equivalent today…”

    Nereid, do you see why I called your reaction, “knee jerk”?

    No, I don’t.

    Here’s the key part of what I wrote, on May 6th, 2009 at 6:31 pm, that you left off (I added some bold):

    If you insist, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that the two terms [corpuscular rays and plasma] are equivalent, I invite you to work with me and examine that evidence, starting with the Birkeland document.

    The offer still stands.

    On infinity:

    Nereid states: “There are plenty more examples, some of them to be found in most homes (e.g. something very real has a temperature of “infinity” in most CD players, if only for an instant).”

    No, there maybe extreme difficulty in measuring the temperature at that “instant”, but the actual temperature is not “infinity”.

    No, that example proves my point. The term “infinity”, again, is a substitution for “we don’t know”.

    It would be getting ahead of my suggested program – this would fall into 2), and we’ve barely begun 1) – but I’m happy to walk you through the relevant physics and math, if you’d be interested (please respond, one way or the other).

    To start, we’d look at the term “temperature”.

  111. Nereid says:

    OK, I’m really curious …

    Anaconda wrote:

    If an electron has mass and is an object it must have, however so small, a volume, and a “location”.

    Nereid states: “The definition of charge density is charge/volume; ergo, the charge density of the electron is “infinity”.

    Every school boy (girl?) knows it’s improper to divide by zero.

    […]

    The term, “infinity” in this example is a placeholder for “Science doesn’t know”.

    Now follow the same chain of logic, wrt the singularity in a black hole, and you arrive at this: “The term, “singularity” in this example is a placeholder for “Science doesn’t know”.” (or did I miss something?)

    If so, then just as you have no doubt about electrons with charge, then you should have no doubt about black holes with mass, right?

    Logically, I mean.

  112. DrFlimmer says:

    @ Anaconda

    Just one word: NO!

    Ok, I use some more words….

    Please. Acknowledge the following:
    Quantum mechanics is not “just” mathematics. It’s predictions have been tested experimentally. And all we found out until now is just one thing: Quantum mechanics is RIGHT. It’s effects are real and true. They happen! They are probably unimaginable, but they are real without any doubt.

    The “classical” example is the double-slit experiment that can be performed not only with light but also with electrons. Yes, with particles!
    This little experiment proofs the reality of the uncertainty principle: We are unable to say “where” a particle is, not because we can’t measure it, but because nature “doesn’t know for itself”.
    Here is what happens: Take a double-slit and shoot electrons on it. Place a screen behind to visualize the location of the electron after it passed the double-slit. What would you expect?
    I would expect two broad lines behind the corresponding slit. But what is the result?
    Most electrons hit in the middle, “between” the slits. Then there follows a region that is almost empty of electrons. Then comes a region where are more electrons again, then no electrons again, and so on – on both side of the “middle”. You get something that looks like a wave (we call it an interference pattern). WHAT?
    The interpretation is that the electrons (one by one) went through both slits. Yes, that sounds strange (but I said many times that nature doesn’t care about our imagination), but that is just what we see. We just cannot say where the electron went through.
    We could remake the experiment with a device that would allow us to explicitly tell us which slit the electron passed. It has been done, indeed. And what happend? The wave disappeared. Just (one or) two broad lines on the screen.

    This strange effect can be explained with the uncertainty principle. I give it a try:
    We need the uncertainty principle of space and momentum, reading
    (Delta x)*(Delta p)>h-bar/2
    where the Delta’s are again the “uncertainty” in space or momentum.
    When we “launch” the electrons we are pretty sure of their direction; they are heading for the slit. That’s not the interesting region.
    When the electrons reach the double-slit they have a “choice”, where to pass through. This narrows their uncertainty of space, (Delta x) becomes quite low (where x is the direction perpendicular to the direction of motion). But according to the uncertainty principle a good certainty of space results in a large uncertainty of momentum (in x-direction). This means it gets some kind of a “push” (don’t take that literally!) when it passes the slit (in that specific moment!). This results in a new “trajectory” that is most likely not the direction it had in front of the slit. So in the next moment it is quite unknown where the electron is – it could be everywhere (until it finally crashes into our screen). Since we have two slits, the probabilities of both slits interfere resulting in the interference pattern I have spoken of before.

    Quantum Mechanics is a philosophical construct translated into mathematical relationships as expressed by mathematical equations.

    I don’t have a problem with the “Uncertainty Principle” per se, which is just a recognition that Man is “uncertain” about aspects of reality, principly on the sub-atomic level.

    No, indeed, we are very certain about that level!

    No, I understand the Quantum Mechanics principles, but I haven’t been indoctrinated and conditioned to accept the absurd results when these equations are taken to their ultimate conclusions

    LOL, that just proofs that you have not such a big grasp of QM. As I said: Every little effect that was proposed has been experimentally verified! Beyond any reasonable doubt! That’s not doctrine – that is just plain science, as you would love it! Experiments just confirmed the theory!

    I might not agree, but that takes nothing away from your effort to express it.

    Well, I was talking about real things and experiments, I wonder that you cannot agree.

    How can this intrinsic energy of the plates be ruled out as a possibility in the experiment?

    The only “intrinsic” energy I can think of is the mass-energy (E=mc^2). But it’s there in the form of mass and matter, so it will do nothing else. The Casimir effect is real, and I think the experimental guys have performed a good experiment and checked for anything that could have disturbed the result.

    But btw: You could do me a favor and answer me the question I posted above (and will write it down again in a minute). I am really interested in “your” solution to the little question:

    Why is it dark at night?

    This question is known as “Olbers’ paradox”, just in case you want to look it up!

  113. Anaconda says:

    @ Nereid:

    Nereid states: “Several long comments by Anaconda, which have helped me understand just how hard a challenge it will be to establish a basis of common understanding on which to build, in order to have a meaningful discussion…”

    Yes, that has been demonstrated.

    Nereid, just like a person who learns to ride a bicycle, or any learned behavior, you have engaged in practice, much practice — this practice develops a pattern of thinking — habit, if you will.

    You are imbued with the thinking patterns of “modern” astornomy, you are not even conscious of this pattern, just like the bike rider doesn’t think about “how to ride a bike” after many years of bicycling.

    This habitual pattern of thought has left you blinded to the failures of your communication specifically and to the failures of “modern” astronomy in general.

    It is not my job to change that imbued thought pattern, but to point out it’s fallacy and move on.

    Your “style” is not to admit anything against “modern” astronomy — you are a complete apologist with no insight into “modern” astornomy’s failing (oh, sure, you’ve made few admissions, but those were the bare minimum to avoid looking foolish).

    This attitude you have amply displayed has nothing to do with scientific discussion — it’s “pure politics”.

    In a scientific discussion the interlocutors should be seeking out agreement wherever possible.

    I have not seen nothing but rare glimpses of this proper attitude.

    So, it does not surprise me that we would not come to a common understanding.

    Detect and observe are pretty synonymous.

    Mostly interchangable, although, detect suggests that it was not observable before, as in “first detection”, whereas, observe doesn’t connote any priority.

    This then moves us on to measurement: the quantification of the observation.

    Nereid states: “No, I don’t.”

    Not surprising because you are unable to perceive your own failings of logic and reason. Nereid, you are definitely a “my way or the highway” kind of person. You have little ability to preceive other’s logic if it falls outside you own patterns of thought, and you are unconscious of your own inadequacy in this regard.

    Based on my discussions in other arenas of thought, you come across as very similar to a political ideologue. Frankly, it is hardly worth the effort to engage in discussion with that kind of person.

    Why?

    Because ideology, their “belief system” takes precedent over facts and evidence.

    Also, ideologues have a habit of misstating the facts and evidence of the opposing side when they conflict with their ideology.

    It is a complete refusal to allow opposing information to threaten their ideology.

    You have manifestly demonstrated this personality type.

    Nereid, you have evinced a complete lack of being able to set aside established ideas in the face of conflicting observation & measurement.

    This is a key requirement of an insighful scientist.

    Nereid states: “If you insist, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that the two terms [corpuscular rays and plasma] are equivalent, I invite you to work with me and examine that evidence, starting with the Birkeland document.”

    This is an example of of what I stated above.

    Nereid, I provided definitions, quotes, links to papers and an Wikipedia entry discussing the solar wind that discusses Birkeland’s contributions.and historical context to back up my assertions, the relevant passage is below:

    “The ideas of Fitzgerald and others were further developed by the Norwegian physicist Kristian Birkeland. His geomagnetic surveys showed that auroral activity was nearly permanent. As these displays and other geomagnetic activity were being produced by particles from the Sun, he concluded that the Earth was being continually bombarded by “rays of electric corpuscles emitted by the Sun”. In 1916, Birkeland was probably the first person to successfully predict that, “From a physical point of view it is most probable that solar rays are neither exclusively negative nor positive rays, but of both kinds”. In other words, the solar wind consists of both negative electrons and positive ions. Three years later in 1919, Frederick Lindemann also suggested that particles of both polarities, protons as well as electrons, come from the Sun.”

    Not to mention the undisputed fact that Birkeland currents magnetic feld aligned electric currents are named in his honor for discovery and description.

    You, above, make a declarative statement, “despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary”, but present NO evidence to support that statement. You avoid discussing the evidence I provide for my assertion, essentially ignoring it.

    And make statements in direct contradiction of the state of the evidence provided in the discussion.

    The Hallmark of a committed ideologue.

    CD players, temperatures, and infinity:

    Yes, Nereid please do follow through on one of you promises to provide evidence for you position — rarely do you ever do that, another Hallmark of a committed ideologue: promise to provide evidence in a future communication, but fail to do so.

    Nereid states: “To start, we’d look at the term “temperature”.

    Yes, what about temperature? The term temperature was first introduced by you. Don’t like my use of the term. Then Nereid explain what you mean, instead of insinuating that somehow I have missued the term. Apparently you failed to define your term when it was introduced then turn around and attempt to imply that somehow I misused the term.

    Again, another tactic of a committed ideologue.

    Nereid states:

    “Now follow the same chain of logic, wrt the singularity in a black hole, and you arrive at this: “The term, “singularity” in this example is a placeholder for “Science doesn’t know”.” (or did I miss something?)

    Yes, “singularity” is a abstract mathematical placeholder.

    But your, Nereid’s follow up shows a complete lack of ability at logical chain of thought.

    An electron (for an object that can’t be directly observed) is a known quantity with various properties and characteristics, negative charge and mass being chief among them.

    A “black hole” hasn’t been demonstrated at all. It is a mathematical construct with little in the way of even indirect evidence.

    So-called “black hole” doesn’t equal an electron. It is an example of a logical fallacy to attempt to equate them.

    “If so, then just as you have no doubt about electrons with charge, then you should have no doubt about black holes with mass, right?”

    I’m sorry, but your logic is so self-serving and idiosyncratic that I can’t make heads or tails of it. please explain what you are trying to say.

    “Logically, I mean.”

    Nereid, your logic is convoluted and non-sensical.

    Perhaps, you should go into politics.

  114. Nereid says:

    Perhaps it’s time to focus on just one thing, Anaconda?

    In a scientific discussion the interlocutors should be seeking out agreement wherever possible.

    OK, so I propose you and I focus on item 1); here it is again:

    1) establishing a consistent, agreed basis for what constitutes direct observation, indirect observation, detection, and inference, in astronomy. […] I’d add measurement and theorized to the mix here.

    In an earlier comment I added this

    As of May 13th, 2009 at 7:11 am, we’d begun “observation”, and I’d asked if we could do “detection” and “measurement” next; OK?

    (You wrote, afterwards, “On your “terms” question. I stated it’s a continuum and needs to be determined on a “case by case basis”.
    So, it’s hard to define in the abstract. Those abstracts are really a pain in the rear end. They bite ya everytime.

    If you are unwilling to at least have a go at a general approach, how about we switch to the list of specific examples I gave? They would be, I hope, pure ‘case by case basis’.)

    Shall I copy the specific examples again?

  115. Nereid says:

    Oops, I missed this:

    Detect and observe are pretty synonymous.

    Mostly interchangable, although, detect suggests that it was not observable before, as in “first detection”, whereas, observe doesn’t connote any priority.

    This then moves us on to measurement: the quantification of the observation.

    Thanks.

    May I ask how observations are quantified?

    And when you use the term “theorized”, what do you mean by it?

    Now for some case-by-case’s.

    On a clear, cloudless, and (preferably) Moonless night, you (“one”, any person with close to normal eyesight) goes outside, looks up at the sky, and sees stars (let’s assume it’s a reasonably dark site).

    I think we would both agree that such ‘seeing stars’ is direct observation, right?

    Now that experience is totally personal; each person’s observations become accessible to other people solely via some sort of communication, words either written or spoken.

    Let’s focus on the stars’ brightness.

    If we each look at the same sky, and take enough time, we could, in principle, agree a ranking of the brightness of the stars, couldn’t we? THIS ONE is the brightest; THAT ONE is the next brightest; and so on.

    Of course there’d be some disagreement (you may say THIS ONE and THAT ONE are the same brightness, for example, while I may say THAT ONE is the brighter of the two, but DrFlimmer may say THIS ONE is the brighter of the two); our lists may not have the same number of stars (you may see some faint stars that I don’t see at all); and there might be some faint blobs of light that one, or more, of us say are not stars), but we may be able to find a way to handle such.

    OK so far?

    (please bear with me on this; it may seem that this is ridiculously pedantic, or trite, but I’m actually laying the foundations of something very important …)

  116. Nereid says:

    Temperature

    CD players, temperatures, and infinity:

    Yes, Nereid please do follow through on one of you promises to provide evidence for you position — rarely do you ever do that, another Hallmark of a committed ideologue: promise to provide evidence in a future communication, but fail to do so.

    Nereid states: “To start, we’d look at the term “temperature”.

    Yes, what about temperature? The term temperature was first introduced by you. Don’t like my use of the term. Then Nereid explain what you mean, instead of insinuating that somehow I have missued the term. Apparently you failed to define your term when it was introduced then turn around and attempt to imply that somehow I misused the term.

    To start, we need to agree on a definition of temperature.

    Historically, temperature is defined by the zero-th law of thermodynamics; I’m going to take a definition from statistical thermodynamics, and use its central concept (an interesting historical note: this was first worked out by Ludwig Boltzmann, who committed suicide not long afterwards … any reader want to say a few words about his life, and death?). It is based on the concept of atoms (I assume you’re OK with atoms, Anaconda; if not, please say so and I’ll back up).

    Now we need just one result from quantum mechanics; namely, the idea that the energy of an atom is quantized (it can have only certain, discrete, values).

    In something macroscopic, like the laser in a CD player, there are a huge number of atoms (or molecules; the definition of temperature is blind to what the basic components of the system are).

    Imagine we could count the number of atoms (or molecules) in each of the allowed energy states; imagine we then plotted the number in each state against the energy of the state.

    Here comes Boltzmann’s wonderful result: such a plot will have the same shape (‘functional form’), for all systems!

    Expressed as a ratio of population with energy state E divided by population with lowest energy state, that shape is

    e^-bE

    that is e (you know e, right?) to the power of minus b times E, where b is a constant.

    This is the Boltzmann distribution.

    b is related to T, the absolute temperature, like this:

    b = 1/kT

    where k is called Boltzmann’s constant.

    This is a wondrous result!

    Why?

    Well, among other things, it ties the results from classical thermodynamics to the behaviour of atoms (a lot of work, by lots of physicists, can be summed up by saying that the T in Boltzmann’s equation is exactly the same at absolute temperature in classical thermodynamics (and how else could temperature by defined, except through thermodynamics?)

    I’ll take a break here, to allow anyone to comment, and, specifically, to allow Anaconda to ask any questions. I do hope you’re OK with this Anaconda; if not, please say so explicitly.

    After the break: infinite temperature in the CD player …

  117. Anaconda says:

    @ DrFlimmer:

    Ober’s paradox makes a series of assumptions — it is a classic self-fulfilling prophesy. Essentially, if you add up all the assumptions, which I don’t subscribe to, it adds up to a self-justification for a desired outcome (to justify an expanding Universe.

    I have no desire to work a problem where I don’t subscribe to the assumptions the problem depends on.

    It’s a classic self-delusion, self-justification, depending on your point of view.

    In regards to the double spit experiment, energy isn’t created as I understand your rendition, rather it states Science doesn’t understand the dynamics involved.

    Is it a particle or a wave? It has properties of both. This has been a conundrum of physics for a long time. i’m not about to solve the problem, here, on this comment thread.

    QM, obviously, has its uses, and many of its calculations are perfectly fine.

    It is the extreme extention of the calculations to the point where the calculations are used to predict reality as opposed to quantifying existing relationships of reality (physical objects).

    QM mechanics predicts multiple universe (the math says so). Do you subscribe to multiple universes?

    Has that been proven?

    No? Then QM hasn’t been proven in all things.

    Is the electric field made up of particles? So far no luck.

    Is the magnetic field made up of particles? So far no luck.

    Is gravity force made up of particles? So far no luck.

    So it seems not everything QM postulates has been proven.

    Better luck next time :-)

    DrFlimmer, we are getting far afield from electromagntism in space.

    Do you have a problem with this statement: Electromagnetism is pervasive in the solar system?

  118. Anaconda says:

    @ Nereid:

    Yes, you are right. I tire of this.

    Nereid states: “1) establishing a consistent, agreed basis for what constitutes direct observation, indirect observation, detection, and inference, in astronomy. […] I’d add measurement and theorized to the mix here.”

    No, I suggest you set out the definitions, since this issue seems to be an area of concern to you.

    Not that I dismiss the issue — it has value — but “modern” astronomy claims to be a “science” where rigorous quantification is applied and rigorous terms of observation & measurement are applied, as well consistent analysis & interpretation.

    The ball is in your court.

    Nereid asks: “May I ask how observations are quantified?”

    By applying some “metric” to “objects” observed.

    Nereid asks: “And when you use the term “theorized”, what do you mean by it?”

    This is a popular comment board, so excuse that occasionally I probably misuse the term.

    But a hypothesis is an initial idea of “how things work” based on a set of observations. Then predictions of relationships are made based on the hypothesis, then “experiments” are devised to test if the predictions based on the hypothesis are valid, if the tests fail to falsifiy the hypothesis’ prediction then more tests are devised until a series of tests are run. If all tests fail to falsify the hypothesis’ predictions, then one can begin to call it a theory.

    The theory is an explanation of “how things work” or an explanation of what, how, and why certain relationships interact and proceed that has been verified as valid by a series of tests (ideally these should be replicable tests).

    If one test falsifies the hypothesis’ predictions then the hypothesis is required to be rejected or modified depending on the nature of the falsication.

    One falsification may require the rejection of the entire hypothesis depending on the nature of the falsification. Known as a fatal falsification.

    Other falsifications may require only the modification of the hypothesis.

    The question becomes how to distingish a fatal falsification (requiring complete rejection of the hypothesis) versus a non-fatal falsification (requiring only modification of the hypothesis)?

    The more different tests that falsify the predictions of the hypothesis, the more likely the entire hypothsis needs to be rejected.

    But single falsifications of predictions can require complete rejection of the hypothesis.

    Also, of consideration, are there any competing alternative hypothesis of the process or object that explain the process or object that fit better with observations & measurements than the rival hypothesis.

    And the hypothesis, prediction, test, falsification, validation process is carried out on the alternative hypothesis.

    Each alternative hypothesis starts at the same “starting line” and has the same burden of evidence.

    Priority in time, or consensus does not give a “leg up” to either hypothesis.

    Each hypothesis is treated objectively the same and has the same “bar” to clear.

    Whether a failed prediction falsifies the hypothesis in total depends on the specific failure. Case by case basis.

  119. DrFlimmer says:

    @ Anaconda

    First: Multiple universes is not a theory “predicted” by QM. It is more a “philosophical interpretation”: It happend this way, but it could have happend another way, probably this other way has created a new universe where it happend. That is tha basic idea. I have some bad feelings about it, but that’s just me. But this is nothing that comes neither out of equations nor of experiments. It is really “just an interpretation”. Because one thing is true: QM has a high value for philosophers….

    Second:

    Then QM hasn’t been proven in all things.

    Oh, come on, Anaconda. This is not an argument, this is a way of sneaking away.
    String theory is also a thing of QM. But it is not even worth being called a theory – in this case I can quote you: “It is purly mathematical” (by now, I may add, but it has not come up with any testable predictions).

    Third:

    Is the electric field made up of particles? So far no luck.
    Is the magnetic field made up of particles? So far no luck.

    Well, the electromagnetic interaction is made of particles. The interaction boson is the photon. I think you “see” that photons are real.
    And according to this statement I totally agree with you:

    Electromagnetism is pervasive in the solar system

    I also agree that the interplanetary space is filled with magnetic fields created by the sun and some planets. We also have some charged particles flying around there (solar wind (no current), cosmic rays). There is also a ring current around the earth due to our own magnetic field.
    The most important force, on the other hand, is gravitation, since it keeps all large bodies on their trajectories.

    Fourth:
    About Olbers’ paradox. I didn’t want you to say that it is nonsense (as you think). I wanted you to give me an answer for the question: Why is it dark at night? . I wanted you to give me your (own or favourite) explanation.

    And one final point:
    Well done, Anaconda. What? Oh, how you got yourself around an answer about the universe (its size and age). You disagree with a beginning but also with an infinite age – that is my interpretation of your words:

    No, rather I accept that Science can’t know what happened and/or whether there was a beginning or not, also whether there is an edge to the Universe.

    This sounds rather dogmatic, somehow religious. [Don’t get me wrong: I am about to become a scientist, but I am also religious – I just (think to) know where to draw the line between both. I think both should not interfer with each other, but, well, this is another topic.]
    Why should science not be able to answer these questions? This is, indeed, a strong statement – but science has found out many things in the last few centuries. Who knows the limits? Do you know them? They are probably existing, but I think it’s beyond the mind of a human being to grasp them. What is stronger, I wonder? To ask if science has limits or to claim to know where these limits are? (This is more a philosophical or theological question, I guess…)

    To quote Obi-Wan Kenobi: Who is the bigger fool? The fool or the fool that follows him?

  120. DrFlimmer says:

    Well, Anaconda, I do agree on the last part of your last post!

    The question becomes how to distingish a fatal falsification (requiring complete rejection of the hypothesis) versus a non-fatal falsification (requiring only modification of the hypothesis)?

    I think this is the point where we start to differ (concerning some physical theories).

  121. Anaconda says:

    @ DrFimmer:

    I’m sure we do differ.

    So-called “dark” energy, and “dark” matter make up over 80% of the matter in the Universe.

    “It is an embarrassment that the dominant forms of matter in the universe remain hypothetical.” – – Jim Peebles, Princeton University

    This is what “modern” astronomy has come to? A complete reliance on theoretical abstracts because there is an absolute refusal to reconsider the basic premises of “modern” astronomy.

    In any self-respecting SCIENCE, other than some dog and pony show, a reliance on over 80% of the matter being an unknown placeholder that can’t be be detected would falsify the theory.

    FATAL FALSIFICATION.

    But not in “modern” astronomy.

    Laugh out loud.

    Oh, one other note Kristian Birkeland trained as a mathematician, but he knew experimenation was crucial to understanding.

    “We have to learn again that science without contact with experiments is an enterprise which is likely to go completely astray into imaginary conjecture.” – – Hannes Alfvén, the father of Plasma Physics, Nobel prize winner 1970.

    Over 80% “dark” energy and matter — you can’t tell me “modern” astronomy has hasn’t gone completely astray into imaginary conjecture?

    Beware of misusing mathematics:

    “Ptolemaic epicycles are perhaps the most famous example of the dangers of the mathematical approach. They were a series of orbits within orbits designed to explain the motions of the planets, and with a few tweaks they would still work today. However, despite being mathematically correct – and indeed elegant – they failed to reflect the underlying reality.”

    And:

    “In another famous example, Scientific American ran an article ridiculing the alleged flights of the Wright Brothers … some years after they had been flying successfully! This pseudo-skepticism was based on the inertia of prior belief – that heavier than air flight was not possible. Needless to say, they had the math to prove that it was impossible, too.”

  122. Nereid says:

    [digression]Thus, using Anaconda’s own criterion, one of the most commonly mentioned Plasma Cosmology hypotheses is fatally falsified (Peratt’s idea about the formation of spiral galaxies and explanation of their rotation curves):

    If one test falsifies the hypothesis’ predictions then the hypothesis is required to be rejected or modified depending on the nature of the falsication.

    One falsification may require the rejection of the entire hypothesis depending on the nature of the falsification. Known as a fatal falsification.

    Other falsifications may require only the modification of the hypothesis.

    The question becomes how to distingish a fatal falsification (requiring complete rejection of the hypothesis) versus a non-fatal falsification (requiring only modification of the hypothesis)?

    The more different tests that falsify the predictions of the hypothesis, the more likely the entire hypothsis needs to be rejected.
    But single falsifications of predictions can require complete rejection of the hypothesis.

    [/digression]

    Thanks again for outlining the way you see these key terms Anaconda, I appreciate it.

    However, what I referred to by “theorized” relates to several of your own comments:

    Also, this quote from the article is highly problematic: “The discovery takes scientists a step further to determining the nature of dark matter, which remains a mystery since it was first discovered more than 70 years ago.”

    “[D]iscovered”???

    Don’t they mean theorized.

    “Dark matter” was not discovered “70 years ago, it was theorized 70 years ago. Big difference.

    Halton Arp indeed has studied many of these images where the quasar and the connected “parent” galaxy are connected by inter-galaxtic Birkeland currents, yet have different redshift values, Arp theorizes redshift is more an indication of age than distance, quasars being younger have a higher redshift according to Arp’s work. As I said before that contradicts the conventional assumptions about redshift — Arp has been studying quasars for over 30 years.

    What you wrote addresses 2), which I intend to not begin until we are done with 1).

    Here’s 2) again:

    2) developing an agreed and consistent set of objective criteria for deciding the extent to which a theory “matches observations and measurements” (to quote from one of his comments). This has been very much in the background to date, and the BA blog adds a key aspect: the extent to which “recognized physical properties which has been verified in the laboratory” must/should/can/might be added to the mix.

    Looking forward to your next comments …

  123. Nereid says:

    To add: the key thing I think we need to come to agreement on, Anaconda, wrt “theorized”, in the context of observation, detection, measurement, and inference is what distinguishes one from all the others.

    To take a concrete example: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2002/0052/0052_xray_widefield.jpg

    The caption reads, in part “Chandra X-ray Image of Crab Nebula
    This image provides a dramatic look at the activity generated by the pulsar (white dot near the center of the image) in the Crab Nebula.

    I may be quite wrong, but I would guess that you, Anaconda, would say “… by the theorized pulsar (white dot near the center of the image) …

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