Monday, February 23, 2015

The Real Electric Universe: Inspired by Velikovsky?

I find myself with an annoying backlog of posts that are almost ready, along with a bit of "writer's block" on just how to complete them satisfactorily for posting.  I'm also preparing some posts related to some inquiries in my comment stream, as well as some 'behind-the-scenes' upgrades to this effort.

So for a while, I'm going repost and polish up some of the items that I contributed to the recently invigorated "Electric Comet" thread over at the International Skeptics Forum.  That thread was rather quiet for a while as it topped 100 pages long, but has been continued in a new thread.

In response to my noting that astronomers and space physicists DO consider electric fields in space (see 365 Days of Astronomy: The Electric Universe) there was one of the claims by the participant Haig which I had not seen before:
Gee Tom, sounds like your trying to re-write Electromagnetism Space Science history.

A major catalyst for independent re-consideration of electricity and magnetism in space came in 1950, with the publication of Immanuel Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision.

Mainstream at that time denied Electromagnetism in Space or ANY need for it.
My original response to this claim is here (ISF), but in this post I'll fill in more of the details.

I have loads of papers exploring cosmic electrical phenomena prior to the publication of Worlds in Collision in 1950, so Haig's statement is demonstrably false.

The big jump in the study of electrical phenomena in space was the advent of space flight.   With the early high-altitude sub-orbital rockets like Aerobee (Wikipedia) and Viking (Wikipedia), came the prospect that we could do actual measurements of particles and fields in space.  The success of the scientific community in contributing technologies for the Allied win of World War II combined with the competition of the coming Cold War made nations around the world expand their efforts to understand the space environment, especially the space near Earth, which could become the next High Frontier.

But even prior to this, researchers looked for evidence of electric and magnetic fields in space.  For a number of years, the difficulty was that most of our knowledge of the space environment came via light, which meant that the most direct measurements of distant magnetic and electric fields came via the Zeeman effect (Wikipedia) and the Stark effect (Wikipedia) which affected spectral lines emitted by atoms in the respective fields.

After setting up geomagnetic observatories around the Earth in the early 1840s with Weber, Carl Gauss (Wikipedia, Phy6) recognized that most of the geomagnetic field was internal, but some components could be from electric currents high in Earth's atmosphere.

This is just a subset of the papers that I have found, in English, and read, related to electric fields in space, prior to the publication of Worlds In Collision.  In this list, I've not included Birkeland or Alfven's work, though I have referenced those who made use of their work, such as Carl Stormer.  This illustrates how these studies were far from limited to researchers promoted by Electric Universe supporters.   I've added comments to some of these entries.
Note that many of these are published in astronomical publications, Astrophysical Journal, The Observatory, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, etc.  so the claim by Electric Universe supporters that the astronomical community denied electric fields in space is clearly bogus.

Electric Universe (EU) advocates continue to deny this long history of the legitimate study of electric fields in space, attempting to rewrite the history.  Many of these earlier works ruled out EU claims that comets/planets/stars/galaxies/whatever derive their energy output by electrical means from some still unknown generator.  This makes it easy for EU advocates to claim any modern day mention of electric fields in the space science and astronomy community is evidence of their specific claims.  It's rather like a psychic claiming there will be a major earthquake or major celebrity death in the coming year.  It's only a surprise to people who don't pay attention to the number of large earthquakes and celebrity deaths occur every year!

Electric Universe supporters continue their track record of poor scholarship, in additional to supporting a 'theory' that has yet to generate useful predictions for planning space missions (see Challenges for Electric Universe 'Theorists'...).

Additional References


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Pseudo-Astro: Black Holes and Other Relativity Denial

Stuart Robbins @ Exposing PseudoAstronomy has a recent podcast on relativity denial.  Check out:

Podcast Episode 125: The Black Hole Conspiracy

In this podcast, he covers the mis-information distributed by various individuals on the existence (or non-existence) of black holes.

General relativity has always been a rather popular topic on this blog, especially combined with Biblical geocentrism.  A number of the threads receive a lot of viewing traffic, but that appears to be predominantly from 'fanboys' of some particular claim or claimant stalking the thread for traffic.

I do get a large number of comments on the topic of relativity, but many are posted under radically different topical posts which makes them more like spam.  I'm reluctant to release them on the off-topic posts since some cranks subsequently insist on posting page-after-page of cut-n-pasted content in these off-topic threads.  I usually just mine those comments for possible topics for future posts.

One of the recent off-topic comments in a post stated:
"It's a fallacy that GPS needs relativity. Hell, GPS doesnt even need a CLOCK on the receiver!! One simple implementation of GPS needs a few geostationary satelites that send out signals at the same time, from that the reciever can easily calculate the distance from the difference in time they arrive."
In addition to just posting their comment on a general pseudo-science thread instead of one of the many GPS threads on this blog accessible in the 'Labels' sidebar, they didn't even bother to check that I had written about the flaw in this particular claim already:
Relativity Denial: The GPS 4-Satellite Solution
The short answer is the fourth satellite just provides a fourth equation that allows us to solve the system of range equations for the receiver time in addition to the three-axis coordinate position.   That receiver time calculation must still include a relativistic correction.

Another recent claim from some relativity deniers stated that the "Engineering Manager for GPS" says that relativity is not needed in the GPS system and that only correction to the timing involves the gravitational potential "which has nothing at all to do with GR".  I've never quite found out who the 'Engineering Manager for GPS' actually is, as those using that claim never provide a clear reference.  I deal with that claim here:
Relativity Denial: The Importance of Dimensional Analysis

I also cover how the how the 38 micro-second per day accumulation of difference between the ground and GPS clocks actually accumulates into an 11 kilometer per day error accumulation in the system.
Relativity Denial: A response to more comments about GPS

In addition, one of the comments mentioned a relativity 'controversy' of many decades ago, involving the science philosopher Herbert Dingle (Wikipedia).  I am in the process of reading many of these papers and hope to post on it in the future.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My Reading List from 2014

A short summary of the books I've read in 2014, some for research related to this site and other (including work) projects, some for entertainment.  This doesn't include about 100 research papers.

Scientific & Technical

CoverTitleAuthorsISBN
Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration
Buzz Aldrin outlines a scenario for sending humans to colonize Mars on a regular basis.  I have an autographed copy.
Buzz Aldrin, Leonard David1426210175
Astronomy-Inspired Atomic and Molecular Physics (Astrophysics and Space Science Library)
Explorations in atomic physics inspired by solutions to problems in astrophysics. It will provide more information for my next iteration of "Cosmos in Your Pocket".
A.R. Rau1402004672
Python for Data Analysis: Data Wrangling with Pandas, NumPy, and IPython
Wes McKinney1449319793
Is Mars Habitable?
In 1907, Alfred Russel Wallace examines Percival Lowell's ideas of a Mars teeming with life. A fascinating examination of just how much we knew about Mars in the early 1900s.
Alfred Russel WallaceGutenberg.org
Introduction to Comets (Cambridge Planetary Science)
This book was one of my primary references for tracking down resources to deal with Electric Comet claims. It has also provided substantial information for some Young-Earth creationist comet claims.
John C. Brandt, Robert D. Chapman0521004667
Comets: A Chronological History of Observation, Science, Myth, and Folklore
This book was one of my primary references for tracking down resources to deal with Electric Comet claims. It has also provided substantial information for some Young-Earth creationist comet claims.
Donald K. Yeomans0471610119

Pseudoscience

CoverTitleAuthorsISBN
Invisible Light or The Electric Theory of Creation
I posted a review and analysis of this book here
George Woodward Warder

History

CoverTitleAuthorsISBN
Hitler's Gift: The True Story of the Scientists Expelled by the Nazi Regime
An examination of the physicists, chemists, biologists, and doctors expelled by the anti-semitic and anti-science policies of the Nazi regime. Many of these people would make dramatic scientific contributions for the United States and other Allied countries.
J. S Medawar, David Pyke1611457092

Book Club & Other Fiction

CoverTitleAuthorsISBN
Red Harvest
Dashiell Hammett
0679722610
The Razor's Edge W. Somerset Maugham1400034205
Nine Stories J. D. Salinger0316769509
The Martian: A Novel
Robinson Caruso on Mars, updated for the era of space-flight. Under development as a movie (The Martian).
Andy Weir0804139024
Ready Player One: A Novel Ernest Cline0307887448
Islands of Space
An early sci-fi novel of interstellar exploration.
John W. CampbellWikipedia