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March 19, 2007

Plasma Cosmology

Great Introductory Book

If the Sun were reduced to the size of a speck of dust, its nearest neighbor would be more than four miles away. This gives an idea of how isolated the matter in galaxies is--some would say, terrifyingly so. The standard cosmological model taught today is essentially a theory of gravity, based on concepts that derive from the time of Newton and Laplace. The mutual gravitation between matter scattered this diffusely is supposed to be what shapes galaxies and determines the large-scale structure of the universe. To account for the objects revealed by modern observational astronomy and the colossal energies associated with them, a raft of hypothetical, exotic, and unobservable processes in such forms as black holes, MACHOs, WIMPs, Dark Matter (7 types at the last count), dark energy, and 11-dimensional spaces have to be invoked, involving near-infinite concentrations of mass in order to focus the weakest force known to physics. And yet, 99% of the matter in the observed universe exists as electrical plasma, which responds to the electrical force--a force 39 orders of magnitude (that's a factor with 39 zeroes) greater than gravity. To try and put this in perspective, if the strength of gravity were represented by a millionth of a millimeter, then on the same scale the electric force would measure 100,000 times the size of the observed universe. Which force do you think would play the greater role in forming and directing the evolution of a plasma universe?

An alternative cosmology that recognizes electrical processes as dominant and is able to account for all the observations on the basis of well-understood principles that can be demonstrated in any plasma laboratory has been available for over half a century. The trouble, however, is that it was developed primarily by people like engineers and applications scientists, and the mathematical theoreticians who preside over the present-day halls of cosmology don't talk to them. However, Donald E. Scott, a former engineer with General Electric and Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, also a lifelong amateur astronomer, has written a superbly readable introduction to the subject entitled The Electric Sky.

After a review of scientific basics covering what constitutes a sound, testable, theory and what doesn't, and why quasi-religious faith in mathematical modeling cannot in itself say anything about reality, the book looks at the problems the standard model runs into and the kinds of fixes and fudges that are wheeled in to explain them away. The topics that follow include:

  • The nature and behavior of plasmas, and why they are far more than "hot gas" as many accounts state, and cannot be modeled by the laws and behavior of gases.
  • The history of plasma cosmology and the work of its key pioneer figures
  • Evidence of electrical scarring and discharge phenomena on planets, moons, and other bodies of the Solar System
  • Shortcomings of the generally accepted thermonuclear account of the Sun, and how a model that treats the Sun as the anode to an arc discharge from a current of incoming cosmic electrons fits the observations better
  • A new interpretation of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram in terms of the electric-star model
  • Galactic-scale electric currents and the formation of galaxies and galaxy strings
  • Questions concerning the conventional interpretation of redshift, and hence the validity of the Big Bang
For my money, likely to be one of those "No U-Turn" books that one comes across in life, where after reading it there's no way back. Be warned: could be the end to a large part of what you thought you knew.

The Electric Sky, by Donald E.Scott. Mikamar Publishing, Portland, OR, 2006. 248 pp. ISBN 0-9772851-1-1
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