on the matter of the Electric Star Hypothesis
What follows is a copy of a message I sent to a mailing list, in response to the peculiar theory that the sun, and other stars, are really electric discharge phenomena. In the as-yet poorly presented theory of the electric universe (see Wallace Thornhill's online presentation Lightning of the Gods), stars are not the giant gass balls we all think we know they are. No, they are the focal points of enormous galactic currents. As the currents fall onto the surface of the star, they release their energy and the star shines. Orthodox physicists, we are told, have for years overlooked the obvious evidence. I have retained as much of Thornhill's message as necessary to retain context for my own remarks, but you can read the full text of his original message, if you want to.
I have used the HTML pre tag to save myself the trouble of reformatting the message for an HTML environment, so this is a faithful reproduction of the original that I sent on the evening of May 5, 1998. I have stripped all E-mail addresses out of this, as well as Thornhill's original. I do it to protect the electronic privacy of the individuals involved, though I have retained all of the true names.
This is really too long, but I put some effort into it, so I will send it out anyway. That's life. We have now seen several messages from Thornhill, forwarded by Dave Talbott. They are so bizarre that it it difficult to understand how to respond. Without ever offering a particularly good reason (nor for that matter, even a particularly bad one), Thornhill simply and expediently denies the validity of all physics. Every time a counter point is made to one of his assertions, the canned answer takes the form of "if I am right, everything about physics is wrong". And so I will pick one message that just happens to mention me by name, but I really want to address the question of "grey areas" in standard theory.
[ Date: Sun, 3 May 1998 17:01:16 +1000 ]
[ From: (Wal Thornhill) ]
[ Subject: Re: 2 Going backwards on questions ]
[ Thornhill ... ] [ ... ] > (I pointed out some years ago that the possible oscillatory nature > of such circuits may offer a simple explanation for some variable > stars and pulsars. The explosive effects are seen in novae and some > features on the sun). This is the beginning and the end of the electric star "hypothesis". Prose is easy, and anyone can string together words to create the most outlandish of hypotheses. But where is the substance. In the face of an overwhelming body of observational and theoretical evidence that describes all of these phenomena in tremendous (and successful) detail, why should anyone pay attention to this? Thornhill presents a bizarre theory, and he must know that everyone is going to ask "how does that happen?" Yet on every occasion, when the opportunity arises to actually provide some informative insight, Thornhill fails the test badly. > [ ... ] My last post on the subject attempted to highlight the > problems of such mutual avoidance when a respected plasma physicist > noted, within weeks of first looking at the problem of the dynamics > of solar prominences, that it was obviously an electrical discharge - > so he asked why were the astrophysicists concerned only with the > magnetic structures? One ... ========================================================================== LARGE-SCALE ELECTRIC-FIELDS IN SOLAR-FLARE REGIONS Article (Refs:23) by Pudovkin-MI (*R) Zaitseva-SA Shumilov-NO Meister-CV St Petersburg State Univ,Inst Phys/St Petersburg 198904//RUSSIA/ -------------------------------------------------------------------------- SOLAR PHYSICS v178(1): pp125-136 (1998 Feb) ABSTRACT A method of separating electric field in the flare region in the potential and vortex (induced) parts is discussed. According to the proposed model, the motion of flare ribbons from the central line of the Bare region is caused by the vortex component of the coronal electric field, while the motion of bright spots within the flare region towards the central line is driven by the potential component of that field. The intensity of both the components of the flare region electric field is estimated to equal approximately 1-3 V cm(-1), which provides the input of the electromagnetic energy into the active region at a rate of about 10(10) erg cm(-2)s(-1). ========================================================================== Two ... ========================================================================== CHROMOSPHERIC HEATING BY ELECTRIC CURRENTS INDUCED BY FLUCTUATING MAGNETIC ELEMENTS Article (Refs:12) by Lorrain-P (*R) Koutchmy-S Mcgill Univ,Dept Earth & Planetary Sci,3450 Rue Univ/Montreal /Pq H3A 2A7/CANADA/ -------------------------------------------------------------------------- SOLAR PHYSICS v178(1): pp39-42 (1998 Feb) ABSTRACT We refer to two papers by Goodman (1995, 1996) on the heating of the chromosphere by large scale electric currents, and to our paper (Lorrain and Koutchmy, 1993) on magnetic elements. Goodman assumes that the dynamo that runs a magnetic element stops operating at t = 0. From then on, the magnetic field decays exponentially, and the induced current; heat the chromosphere. The time constants calculated by Goodman disagree with the observed values, possibly because he disregards the driving dynamo. Also, he assumes static conditions, but his magnetic force density appears suddenly when the dynamo stops, and it is about equal to the gravitational force density. The magnetic force acts downward and fluctuations in the current flowing through the magnetic element should induce vertical oscillations at the photosphere. This point should be investigated further. ========================================================================== Three ... ========================================================================== ON THE ION-SCALE STRUCTURE OF THIN CURRENT SHEETS IN THE MAGNETOTAIL Article (Refs:11) by Hesse-M (*R) Winske-D Birn-J NASA,Goddard Space Flight Ctr/Greenbelt//MD/20771 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- PHYSICA SCRIPTA vT74: pp63-66 (1998) ABSTRACT A numerical and analytical investigation of the formation and structure of thin current sheets which form in a magnetotail-like plasma model is presented. Current sheet formation is driven by the application of a boundary electric field similar to what would be expected from solar wind driving. As a result, a thin current sheet forms which involves strong Hall-type electric fields, which, by means of electric field drifts, strongly increase the electron contribution, and reduce the ion contribution to the cross-tail current density. This result is also supported by analytical investigations of the total plasma momentum. The thin current sheet forms on strong gradients in the ion density and the magnetic field. The simulation leads to a well defined equilibrium state. ========================================================================== Four ... ========================================================================== ELECTRON ACCELERATION BY RANDOM DC ELECTRIC-FIELDS Article (Refs:49) by Anastasiadis-A (*R) Vlahos-L Georgoulis-MK Univ Thessaloniki,Dept Phys,Sect Astrophys Astron & Mech/ GR-54006 Thessaloniki//GREECE/ -------------------------------------------------------------------------- ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL v489(1) Part 1: pp367-374 (1997 Nov 1) We present a global model for the acceleration of electrons in the framework of the statistical flare model of Vlahos et al. In this model, solar flares are the result of an internal self-organized critical (SOC) process in a complex, evolving, and highly inhomogeneous active region. The acceleration of electrons is due to localized DC electric fields closely related to the energy-release process in the active region. Our numerical results for the kinetic energy distribution of accelerated electrons show a power-law or an exponential-law behavior, depending on the maximum trapping time of the energetic particles inside the acceleration volume. ========================================================================== Even "respected plasma physicists" need to take more than a week to understand complex theories, and to understand the real current status of research in a wide ranging field. The question & answer only illustrate that the "respected plasma physicist" did not yet know what he was talking about. It just so happens that solar, and other astrophysicists most certainly *do* concern themselves with electric and magnetic fields, and electric and magnetic structures; both of these are all over the literature. But it takes time to learn, and more than a week. We know that sunspots are primarily magnetic "bubbles", because we can measure the magnetic field strengths by Zeeman splitting (aside from the observation that the trapped plasma makes the magnetic field lines visible). We know that electric fields are present because, contrary to your constant stream of misunderstanding, the rest of the physicists in the world actually do know that "electro-" and "magnetism" do go together. The rest of the physicists in the world also know that electric fields tear plasmas apart, and magnetic fields confine them. So, when you see a plasma confined by a field, which kind of field are you looking at? It would appear that the "respected plasma physicist" had failed to do his homework. > Tim Thompson is merely repeating aspects of the standard model which, > as you say, "appears correct". But Tim has the unfortunate habit of > the SKEPTIC of presenting arguments in black-and-white terms when > they are actually all shades of grey. I have made no such argument; evidently my real purpose has sailed over your head, so I will make it explicit. We are presented with a constant stream of assertions that you have uncovered anomalies which standard theory "cannot explain". I have shown in each instance, and sometimes repeatedly so, that your assertions are contradicted by fact. In each case standard theory either has already solved the problem of the alleged anomaly, or has introduced a line of research that shows promise of doing so in the future. You have yet to make a convincing case that there is any weakness anywhere in the body of standard theory, which is so pronounced as to cause us to bring that standard theory into question. I have nowhere argued that standard theory is "right"; but I have argued, and continue to argue that (a) standard theory is much more complete than you imply, and (b) standard theory is vastly superior to the electric star hypothesis in all respects, save one: Standard theory does not allow a Saturn centered planetary configuration, but the electric star hypothesis provides a philosophical framework for allowing electromagnetic torques to do what gravity will not. This is your real reason for seeking the hypothesis in the first place, as you have already said ( http://www.marmsweb.com/euniverse.html ). This also explains the lack of physics to back an argument primarily physical in nature. You use the assumed truth of the Saturn configuration to support your hypothesis instead of any known physics; hence, your appeals to unknown physics instead. I think bizarre is the right word. [ ... ] > When it comes to identifying grey areas in the standard model, > they are legion. The greyest of all is the source of the energy to > hypothetically support the sun against gravity. As Parker & Rolfs > wrote in their paper, Nuclear Energy Generation in the Solar Interior, > "...we may be forced to conclude that after more than 60 yr, we still > have only qualitative evidence for thermonuclear reactions in the > solar interior." (Solar Interior and Atmosphere, 1991, Cox, Livingstone > [Livingston - TJT] & Matthews, Editors, p.33). I submit that "qualitative" evidence for thermonuclear reactions in the solar core is vastly superior to "no" evidence for the electric star hypothesis; so why should we abandon the one in favor of the other? Physicists are by nature about the most skeptical lot around; like the legendary Missourian, our motto is "show me". It is easy to verify that the standard model predicts physical conditions in the solar core that literally cry-out "fusion". However, knowing that the theory implies thermonuclear fusion, and actually seeing it face-to-face are two different things, and that is what Cox et al. are talking about. The only source for "quantitative" evidence would be something that allows us to probe the solar core directly. As far as I know, only neutrinos and helioseismology will do that. Helioseismology I will take up below, but neutrinos I can deal with here. I have already made several references to the standard literature on the solar neutrino problem, one which Thornhill thinks that physics is defenseless against, but mistakenly so. The neutrino flux from the sun is certainly diagnostic of the thermonuclear state of the core, and certainly imply the presence of thermonuclear fusion. However, they also imply that either (a) there is not as much fusion as expected (because there are fewer neutrinos than expected), or (b) we don't know as much about neutrinos as we thought. I appears likely now that the answer is (b) and that neutrinos really do have a rest mass. This is certainly a significant turn of events, but it does not bring physics to its knees. Once the question is settled, if it is determined that neutrino oscillations are real, then we will have our quantitative tool for analyzing thermonuclear fusion directly in the solar core. > Helioseismology is supposed to be the new tool to unravel what is > going on inside the sun. Yet here is another grey area. The > fundamental question of what causes the oscillations is unanswered by > the standard model: "Another unclear problem is that any oscillation > must be triggered: The flute does not produce music unless one blows > in it, so to speak. Therefore one is led to the question: Who is > blowing the pipe?", Pecker, The Global Sun, ibid, p.21. A serious misrepresentation by the esteemed Thornhill. The standard theory most certainly does answer this problem, in spades as they say; no "grey area" here. Thornhill would have the unsuspecting reader believe that this rumination from Pecker implies that there is no known mechanism to excite the oscillations. But the real problem is that there are *too many* excitation mechanisms available, which makes it quite a challenge to figure out which role is played by which mechanism! There are thermal, electric, and magnetic instabilities galore on and in the sun, any or all of which could kick-start just about any oscillation you can come up with. All this aside from the fact that the sun, like everything else, once was not, and then was! I doubt very much that any scenario for the genesis of the sun, in any theory, would have left it oscilatorally silent. So much for that "grey area" > Electrical discharges are inherently very noisy. If the granulations > in the photosphere do represent the tops of gigantic electrical > discharges (as suggested by another unexplained phenomena in the > standard model - the filaments of penumbrae), then there should be a > constant barrage of explosive pressure waves directed downward, > sufficient to set the sun ringing like a bell. Remember, filaments are unexplained by standard theory. One ... ========================================================================== A DYNAMICAL MODEL FOR THE PENUMBRAL FINE-STRUCTURE AND THE EVERSHED EFFECT IN SUNSPOTS Article (Refs:24) by Schlichenmaier-R (*R) Jahn-K Schmidt-HU Kiepenheuer Inst Sonnenphys,Schoneckstr 6/D-79104 Freiburg//GERMANY/ -------------------------------------------------------------------------- ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL (LETTERS) v493(2) Part 2: ppL121-L124 (1998 Feb 1) ABSTRACT Relying on the assumption that the interchange convection of magnetic flux tubes is the physical cause for the existence of sunspot penumbrae, we propose a model in which the dynamical evolution of a thin magnetic flux tube reproduces the Evershed effect and the penumbral fine structure such as bright and dark filaments and penumbral grains. According to our model, penumbral grains are the manifestation of the footpoints of magnetic flux tubes, along which hot subphotospheric plasma flows upward with a few km s(-1). Above the photosphere the hot plasma inside the tube is cooled by radiative losses as it flows horizontally outward. As long as the flowing plasma is hotter than the surroundings, it constitutes a bright radial filament. The flow confined to a thin elevated channel reaches the temperature equilibrium with the surrounding atmosphere and becomes optically thin near the outer edge of the penumbra. Here the tube has a height of approximately 100 km above the continuum, and the flow velocity reaches up to 14 km s(-1). Such a how channel can reproduce the observed signatures of the Evershed effect. ========================================================================== Two ... ========================================================================== THE VECTOR MAGNETIC-FIELD, EVERSHED FLOW, AND INTENSITY IN A SUNSPOT Article (Refs:38) by Stanchfield-DCH (*R) Thomas-JH Lites-BW Univ Rochester,Dept Phys & Astron/Rochester//NY/14627 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL v477(1) Part 1: pp485-Continues (1997 Mar 1) ABSTRACT We present results of simultaneous observations of the vector magnetic field, Evershed how, and intensity pattern in a nearly axisymmetric sunspot, made with the Advanced Stokes Polarimeter at the Vacuum Tower Telescope at NSO (Sacramento Peak). The vector magnetic held is determined from the Stokes profiles of the magnetically sensitive lines Fe I 630.15 and 630.25 nm, and Doppler velocities and intensities are measured in several lines including the weak C I 538.03 nm line, formed in the deepest layers of the atmosphere. The strength of the magnetic field decreases with increasing zenith angle (angle of inclination to the local vertical), and this decrease is nearly linear over most of the range of values in the sunspot. Magnetic field strength and continuum intensity are inversely related in the sunspot in a manner similar to the characteristic nonlinear relationship found by Kopp & Rabin in the infrared line Fe I 1564.9 Mn. A different relationship is found between magnetic field strength and core intensity (in Fe I 630.25 nm), however, with the curve doubling back to give two distinct values of field strength at the same core intensity in the penumbra -t he higher and lower field strengths corresponding to the inner and outer penumbra, respectively. In the penumbra the magnetic field pattern consists of spokelike extensions of stronger, more vertical magnetic field separated by regions of weaker, nearly horizontal magnetic field, as found by Degenhardt & Wiehr and Lites et al. The penumbral magnetic field extends outward beyond the outer continuum boundary of the sunspot, forming a canopy at the height of formation of Fe I 630.25 nm. Our results for the Evershed flow confirm the discovery by Rimmele that this flow is generally confined to narrow, elevated channels in the penumbra. In the Fe I 630.25 nm line and other strong photospheric lines we see isolated, radially elongated channels of Evershed flow crossing the outer penumbra. These flow channels lie in regions of the penumbra where the magnetic field is very nearly horizontal. In the weak C I 538.03 nm line (formed at a height h = 40 km) the flow pattern shows small, isolated patches of upflow, lying at the inner end of the Fe I how channels where the magnetic held is more inclined to the horizontal. These patches presumably correspond to the upstream footpoints of the arched magnetic flux tubes carrying the Evershed flow. For some of the flow channels we find isolated patches of strong downflow in the C I line just outside the penumbra that might correspond to the downstream footpoints of these flux tubes. There is a weak association between the Evershed flow channels and the dark filaments seen in continuum intensity in the penumbra, but a much stronger association between the flow and the dark filaments seen in core intensity measured in the same spectral line. ========================================================================== Three ... ========================================================================== SUN CENTER OBSERVATIONS OF THE EVERSHED EFFECT Article (Refs:34) by Rimmele-TR New Jersey Inst Technol/Newark//NJ/07102 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL v445(1) Part 1: pp511-516 (1995 May 20) ABSTRACT Results of observations of the Evershed effect for a round sunspot at disk center are presented. Using the 20 m Angstrom UBF/FP filter at the VTT of NSO/Sacramento Peak we recorded a 2 hr time sequence of Fe I 5576.099 Angstrom velocity maps, Mn I 5394.675 Angstrom intensity maps, and white-light images. By computing the 2 hr time average we were able to filter out the vertical Evershed component of a few hundred m s(-1) from the back-ground of oscillatory and granular velocities, which dominate individual images. The averaged velocity fields show distinct filaments which extend beyond the white-light boundary of the sunspot by as far as 10,000 km. The velocity profile along these filaments is consistent with the picture of an arched magnetic loop carrying the Evershed flow. These loops reach their maximum elevation at less than 300 km above continuum height. The portions of the loops seen in velocity maps have a length of up to 20,000 km. Within the penumbra the velocity filaments are correlated with dark filaments observed in the core intensity map of the temperature-sensitive Mn I line. However, beyond the penumbral boundary the same velocity filaments coincide with enhanced brightness, relative to the photospheric intensity, suggesting that the gas in the downstream legs of the loop is at a higher temperature than the surrounding photospheric material. The temperature excess in the downstream legs is of the order of 200 K. A possible explanation is a standing tube shock that occurs in the downstream legs and near the penumbral boundary as modeled by Montesinos and Thomas (1993). Some velocity filaments end in porelike features which are 5%-10% darker than the average photosphere and reveal a pronounced redshift. ========================================================================== So much for penumbral filaments being "unexplained" by standard theory. Meanwhile, as I have already pointed out, we do happen to know for a fact, by virtue of direct observation, that granules in the photosphere are convection cells. I have already posted references to several papers that describe the observational evidence in detail. However, just for the sake of completeness, I will repeat one here. ========================================================================== 3D VELOCITY-FIELD OBSERVATION OF SOLAR CONVECTION I - CHARACTERISTICS OF MESOGRANULATION Article (Refs:36) by Ueno-S (*R) Kitai-R Kyoto Univ,Kwasan Observ/Kyoto 6078471//JAPAN/ -------------------------------------------------------------------------- PUBLICATIONS OF THE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF JAPAN v50(1): pp125-Continues (1998) ABSTRACT In this series we report on the results of our 3D velocity-field observation of the solar photosphere. The observation consisted of a 2D granulation imaging observation and a 1D slit spectroscopic observation. Both observations were performed simultaneously using the Domeless Solar Telescope of Hida Observatory, Kyoto University. In this paper we focus on the solar meso-sized velocity structure, i.e., mesogranulation. We investigated its spatial size, lifetime, velocity amplitude, and the relation between horizontal velocity and radial velocity. Our results are as follows: (1) The characteristic size of meso-granular cells is about 18". (2) Especially at the region where the slit was placed, the patterns of the horizontal velocity divergence and of the radial velocity are closely related to each other, and their spatial sizes are also very consistent. (3) The peak of its lifetime distribution is located at 30-40 min, and (4) the relative frequency of mesogranular cells having a longer lifetime than 60 min is only 26%. (5) Solar mesogranulation is confirmed to be a convective phenomenon. An exceptional example of upward gas flow at the boundary of a strong mesogranulation cell was found Discussions are also given concerning this abnormal phenomenon. ========================================================================== Another "grey area" disposed of, so we will move right along. > Another grey area is the high temperature of the solar corona. The latest > reports are coming down in favour of transfer of energy from within the > sun by "magnetic reconnection" rather than Alfven waves. Wrong. Magnetic reconnection provides the energy source that drives the Alfven waves that accelerate the solar wind. This is not a "change" in the theoretical outlook, just a failure on Thornhill's part to know what "standard theory" is; a failure which in itself is rapidly becoming "standard theory". > But magnetic reconnection in a plasma is, in my opinion, a euphemism for > an electrical discharge phenomena. The unwillingness of astrophysicists > to deal with first order (electric current) implications of second order > (magnetic) effects is quite striking. Backwards; the electric current effects are definitely 2nd order compared to magnetic effects in the solar photosphere. Only magnetic fields can contain a hot plasma, never electric fields. Activity at the photosphere is dominated by magnetic containment, which we can see directly. Electric currents serve only to generate magnetic fields (a fact well known to the astrophysics community), and are certainly an important part of the photosphere environment, as I have noted above already. However, the big boy on the photosphere block is the magnetic field, not the electric currents and not electric fields. > Of course, the generation of the solar magnetic field by a solar dynamo is > another very grey area. DeLuca and Gilma, The Solar Dynamo, ibid, p.303, > write "In closing, we remark that, after many years through which the > prevailing opinion was that the problem of the solar dynamo was "solved" by > mean field electro-dynamics applied to the bulk of the solar convection > zone, new observational and theoretical results have now overturned that > belief, leading to a stimulating new period of proliferation of solar > dynamo theories." Vintage Thornhill. Just because we are not able to lay the finished answer at his feet, ribbons attached, then all aspects of the theory must be totally false. That is a ludicrous position to take. As I have said before, the fact that any question is not *answered* does not automatically mean that it is *unanswerable*, despite Thornhill's belief to the contrary. In the early days of dynamo, it was indeed thought by some that an answer would be quickly at hand. This turned out not to be the case. So what? Does this mean that all dynamo theories are so bad, so useless that they should be abandoned? And if so, for what? Electric stars?? Thornhill has nothing, a totally empty theory, and he expects the rest of the world to drop whatever it's doing like a "hot potato" and follow him to oblivion? Not likely. In order to make the argument that dynamo theory does not work, you first have to know what it is, and then show by some direct means that it is either internally inconsistent, or that it is inconsistent with observation. Neither of these is forthcoming. Add to that recent very strong results from geodynamo theory (which is much easier that the solar dynamo), and we have every reason to believe we are on the right track [the "strong results" refer to the Glatzmaier & Roberts achievement of modeling a geomagnetic field reversal in geodynamo simulations, as reported in "A three-dimensional self-consistent computer simulation of a geomagnetic field reversal", Nature, 377, 203-209 (1995)]. > The motions inside the sun suggested by helioseismology > have generally conflicted with models of the solar dynamo. Quite wrong. And quite the contrary, helioseismological observations have pinned down the location of the solar tachocline, where the inner radiative core stops and the outer convective region begins. Since the solar dynamo should be located in the convective region, this is good news for dynamo theorists, who now know where and how to confine the mechanism. > The more recent discovery that the magnetic field lines near the > poles of the sun are evenly spaced rather than crowding together > like a normal dipole field, actually fits the model of the sun being a > focus for an electric discharge. It also fits well the model of the sun being a *source* of the solar wind plasma, which will stretch out the magnetic field as seen. A nice confirmation of the standard theory. However, if the sun is the focus of an electrical discharge, then the solar wind should be in-bound instead of out-bound. Or, more precisely, an electric current should be in-bound. But such is not the case; protons and electrons both flee the sun rapidly in all directions, consistent with a thermally driven wind, and inconsistent with an electrical origin. The field and plasma observation actually serves to *disprove* the electric star hypothesis, and to confirm the standard theory. > In that model, the field lines trace the current flow and are evenly > spaced because of the short range repulsion of Birkeland currents. The > filamentary nature of most of the phenomena above the photosphere is > characteristic of Birkeland currents in a plasma. Wrong again. Birkeland currents in the earth's ionosphere propagate *downwards*, whereas the solar wind propagates *upwards*, away from the sun, not towards it. > Another grey area is that of the acceleration of the solar wind. > Withbroe, Feldman & Ahluwalia, The Solar Wind and its Coronal Origins, > ibid, p. 1094, write: "Finally, we still do not know how the coronal > plasma in these regions [coronal holes] is heated and accelerated to > form the solar wind; the coronal heating mechanism is unknown and there > are uncertainties as to the role of wave-particle interactions in > accelerating the solar wind." As there is no other reference to this work, I can't follow the "ibid". If it's a book, I can find no trace of it. Not that this matters all that much, as this is just another of Thornhill's non-grey "grey areas". The speed of the normal solar wind (~400 km/sec) is readily explained by the "thermally driven wind" theory of E.N Parker, which was published in the Astrophysical Journal in 1958 (v. 128 p. 664) [ref "Plasma Astrophysics", Tajima & Shibata, Addison-Wesley, 1997, page 20]. The real problem has been the fast solar wind (~800 km/sec). The fast solar wind comes from coronal holes, and is the subject of the remark by Withbroe et al. However, as I have already pointed out at least twice, recent work has essentially solved that problem. In a set of papers I have already referenced, we see the fine structure of the magnetic field over the photosphere revealed for the first time. That fine structure, dubbed a "magnetic carpet", provides the network for reconnection that supports the Alfven waves that accelerate the fast solar wind. While this scenario I describe is by no means final, it is quite reasonable, and consistent both with observation, and Alfven wave models for solar wind acceleration. This "grey area" is rapidly approaching the status of a problem solved. The best place to look for a simple explanation of all this is the March 1998 issue of "Physics Today" (v. 51 #3), pages 19-21. But the key paper is this one: ========================================================================== SUSTAINING THE QUIET PHOTOSPHERIC NETWORK - THE BALANCE OF FLUX EMERGENCE, FRAGMENTATION, MERGING, AND CANCELLATION Article (Refs:47) by Schrijver-CJ (*R) Title-AM Vanballegooijen-AA Hagenaar-HJ Shine-RA Stanford Lockheed Inst Space Res,Dept H112,Bldg 252,3251 Hanover St/ Palo Alto//CA/94304 ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL v487(1) Part 1: pp424-436 (1997 Sep 20) ABSTRACT The magnetic field in the solar photosphere evolves as flux concentrations fragment in response to sheared flows, merge when they collide with others of equal polarity, or (partially) cancel against concentrations of opposite polarity. Newly emerging flux replaces the canceled flux. We present a quantitative statistical model that is consistent with the histogram of fluxes contained in concentrations of magnetic flux in the quiet network for fluxes exceeding approximate to 2 x 10(18) Mr, as well as with estimated collision frequencies and fragmentation rates. This model holds for any region with weak gradients in the magnetic flux density at scales of more than a few supergranules. We discuss the role of this dynamic flux balance (i) in the dispersal of flux in the photosphere, (ii) in sustaining the network-like pattern and mixed-polarity character of the network, (iii) in the formation of unipolar areas covering the polar caps, and (iv) on the potential formation of large numbers of very small concentrations by incomplete cancellation. Based on the model, we estimate that as much flux is canceled as is present in quiet-network elements with fluxes exceeding approximate to 2 x 10(18) Mr in 1.5 to 3 days, which is compatible with earlier observational estimates. This timescale is close to the timescale for flux replacement by emergence in ephemeral regions, so that this appears to be the most important source of flux for the quiet-Sun network; based on the model, we cannot put significant constraints on the amount of flux that is injected on scales that are substantially smaller than that of the ephemeral regions. We establish that ephemeral regions originate in the convection zone and are not merely the result of the reemergence of previously canceled network flux. We also point out that the quiet, mixed-polarity network is generated locally and that only any relatively small polarity excess is the result of flux dispersal from active regions. ========================================================================== > The electrical model of the sun has a simple plausible qualitative > explanation for most, if not all, of the features we see on and above the > photosphere. On the other hand, the standard model seems to rely on ever > more complex ad-hoc and disjoint theories to wind up with a grey, murky > picture which is supposed to provide us with a standard by which to measure > all stars. Exactly the opposite from the truth. The standard model is both elegant and powerful, even if it is a tad complicated. I am sorry indeed that the standard theories cannot be easily composed into a prose that is acceptable for one more interested in myth than science, but that's the way it is. If you want to do real physics, you just have to get your hands dirty, so to speak. On the other hand, the electric star hypothesis requires a network of tortured ad-hoc presumptions right out of the gate. The sun is supposed to be the focus of an electrical discharge, but there is no electricity moving towards the sun! Is that "simple and plausible"? The sun is supposed to be "isothermal" throughout, an assertion which only requires that we ignore everything we know about the physics of plasma or neutral gas. Is that "simple and plausible"? Thornhill rigidly denies that solar granules are convective, even though we can put our eyeballs right up the the them (astronomically speaking, of course) and watch them convect! Is that "simple and plausible"? I think not. Thornhill has it bass-ackwards, as they used to say in Texas. > The electrical model lends itself to laboratory simulations which should > quickly show its worth. Exactly false, and exactly what Alfven's contemporary Falthmammar warned against in a passage I posted yesterday, and will repeat a snippet of here: "As soon as the thermonuclear effort made it possible to conduct experiments in the new parameter range of very hot plasmas, the limited validity of classical plasma theory became evident." ["The Plasma Universe", in the book "Basic Plasma Processes on the Sun", E.D. Priest & V. Krishan, eds.; Kluwer, 1990; proceedings of the 142nd symposium of the International Astronomical Union, Bangalore, India, 1-5 December, 1989]. Thornhill is doing what Falthammar already did, and found to fail. > Anyone who scans the journals of plasma physics will see that this approach > is essential since the papers are littered with caveats that anode and > cathode behaviour in electrical discharges are poorly understood. But anyone who actually *reads* the journals of plasma physics will quickly discover that this is not the case. Some things are understood very well, and some not. But the entire argument is irrelevant, because as Falthammar already has pointed out, you can't just assume that all that cathode-anode stuff works in an astrophysical setting. And anyone who reads the literature on space plasma physics and plasma astrophysics will quickly learn that Falthammar was right. > It is not necessary for me to provide a full working model of an electric > star. I have many ideas, but our physics is lacking in some crucial areas. I would say it's lacking in *all* areas, but I might be biased, since I actually have not seen any physics come out of Thornhill yet. But this is ever the case in the Velikovskian crowd. It has been 50 years since Worlds in Collision hit the stands, and ever since then it has all been "preliminary" work. No real model yet, but we will get one. No real science yet, but we will find one. It has been that way for 50 years, and taken all together, they have accomplished a grand total of exactly nothing. Highly impressive, but not very awe-inspiring. > And, a point I tried to make in my earlier post, which didn't seem to > penetrate, is that we do not know the true radius of the sun if the > photosphere merely defines the visible limit of a spherical discharge. We do not know the "true radius" of the sun in standard theory either, since it does not have one. The "true radius", for what it is worth, is *defined* as distance from the center of the sun to the visible surface of the photosphere. That should be good enough, and I fail to see how this 'glitch' over the solar radius stops Thornhill from espousing a theory. > So even if the body of the sun obeyed the standard gas theory, the > boundary conditions defined by the photosphere are not primarily related > to anything going on inside the sun and cannot be used to deduce > conditions in its centre. Exactly false; all boundary conditions are always bound to an arbitrary boundary, and the photosphere is as good as any other. Indeed, this is such a surprising statement that I am surprised any physicist would say it. So somebody tell me, is Thornhill really a physicist, with a real degree in physics from a real school? I don't believe it, at least for now. > Certainly, if the true radius of the sun is appreciably smaller > than that defined by the photosphere, conditions at the centre of the sun > will be less conducive to nuclear fusion. The lack of neutrinos tends to > confirm this view. Exactly false once again. The location of the "true radius" is arbitrary in either theory, and not relevant to the discussion. Photospheric boundary conditions *do* constrain the interior model, a fact that should be known to anyone who ever worked out a boundary value problem. That much is just red-herring nonsense from Thornhill to throw readers off the straight and narrow. And, finally, the "lack" of neutrinos means nothing of the kind. The presence of any neutrinos at all shows that fusion is happening, almost certainly. However, the fact that there are fewer neutrinos than expected leads one to believe that either there is less fusion going on than was previously thought, or that our understanding of neutrino physics is deficient (the latter is now the most popular view). This leaves open questions, to be sure, but hardly counts as a fatal flaw. > It is sufficient, surely, to tie together phenomenologically and > quantitatively all of the complex phenomena we can actually see to have a > strong argument for consideration of the electric discharge model. No, it is not sufficient at all (nor has it been done at all). Once you get to the point of "tying together" all these phenomena, then you need to test your "qualitative" theory against known physics by quantitative analysis. What I have seen so far, limited though it is, bodes ill for the quantitative test; especially in Thornhill's propensity to deny the reality of that which is in front of him. > As Sir Arthur Eddington wrote all those years ago: "Perhaps in the crude > stages of a theory qualitative evidence is more significant than quantitative." > The Internal Constitution of the Stars, 1926, p. 310. But when your theory remains qualitative for 50 years, maybe it's time to get quantitative or get a new theory. Tim Thompson http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/8851/
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