Did you ever look up at a beautiful night sky then shake your head regretfully because the stars were beyond your grasp? That’s how I felt – since I never took advanced classes in physics or abstract mathematics, I thought that understanding the behavior of the universe was beyond me. Without the requisite Master’s Degree or Ph.D, in mathematics I was automatically excluded from that elite club that understand the complexities of black holes, magnetars, multiverses, dark matter, and other building blocks of reality.
But what if we didn’t really need all that math? What if astrophysics had taken a wrong turn several decades back and the design of the cosmos was actually a lot simpler than we have been led to believe? There is a growing number of scientists who are beginning to question the theories of conventional science and are offering an alternative theory to make sense of how the universe works.
Conventional astrophysics tells us that gravity is the dominant force in the universe and has played the primary role in the formation of gas, the stars, the dust and the galaxies that make up the universe, and that thermonuclear events are what power creation. When scientists come across phenomena they couldn’t explain, they came up with ever more mathematically complex interpretations of the universe to shoehorn what they observed into the conventional Standard Model (SM) of the universe, which is why we have dark matter, dark energy, and multiple dimensions, among others.
Those who support the Electric Universe (EU) model of cosmology believe it is a more simple, elegant and a more scientifically sound way to explain reality. Plasma is one of the four fundamental states of matter in the universe (the other three being solid, liquid and gas), and is the most abundant form of ordinary matter – it forms 99.9 percent of the visible universe. Plasma is also an incredible conductor of electricity, forming current filaments (Birkeland currents) throughout the universe that follow magnetic field lines. Filamentary patterns are ubiquitous in the cosmos. Those who support the Electric Universe theory of cosmology believe that Birkeland Currents act as the powerhouse to the universe, and that what we see in space – stars, galaxies, quasars, neutrinos, black holes, quasars, etc. – are all fundamentally the same thing; concentrated bodies of plasma reacting to different levels of electrical energy. In an Electric Universe x-ray astronomy is very important because it reveals discharge activity that produces x-rays – the Chandra X-ray Observatory has some good visuals (and is my source for many of the images in this article).
Scientists can fight about their theories, but the proof is whether it works. …And the EU theory explains – and simplifies – many phenomena in the cosmos for which the Standard Model comes up short. One of the best introductory books on this subject is A Beginner’s View of Our Electric Universe by Tom Findlay (a radio and electronics hobbyist rather than an astrophysicist). Some illustrative points he covers are:
- Dark Matter: Back in the 1930s astronomer Fritz Zwicky realized that the light coming from distant galaxies was 400 times greater than expected taking into consideration those galaxies’ gravitational masses. Instead of questioning whether gravity was really the dominant force, he theorized that there must be a considerable amount of matter in those galaxies that we couldn’t see – matter sufficient to provide the gravitational force necessary to cause the surprising luminosity as well as keep the galaxies from flying apart. The theory of Dark Matter was a convenient fix to account for that missing gravity. In the EU model, electromagnetism is sufficient to everything that the SM theorists say Dark Matter does.
- Dark Energy: When astrophysicists came to the conclusion that the universe was expanding (due to redshift, more on this below), they had another problem – they could not explain why the galaxies were moving away from each other at an accelerating rate. How could the universe be expanding if there was already a binding force (gravity) keeping it together? In 1998 cosmologist Michael Turner theorized that there was an “anti-gravity” force – dark energy – that would act to push bodies away from each other. EU theorists don’t need dark energy, believing that the science does not support using redshift as a tool that would indicate that galaxies are moving away.
Note: Neither Dark Matter nor Dark Energy – both which are mathematically necessary fixes in the SM of a gravitational universe and now said to account for 96% (!) of it – have ever been observed. It might be just me, but if you need to invent 96% of a universe to make the behavior of the universe fit into your theory, it’s time to go back and rethink the basic assumptions of your theory.
- Redshift: In the context of SM astronomy, redshift is the term applied to light as it is seen coming towards us from objects that are themselves judged to be moving away from us. Redshift is used to tell us how far stars are from us and by how much they are accelerating away. If a star is moving away from us, its light wave is towards the red end of the visible spectrum, and the fainter (and presumably father away) a star is, the faster it is moving away. But it is now known that, while almost all observed galaxies are redshifted, the Doppler interpretation of this shift does not provide a reliable measure of velocity or (indirectly) of distance. Quasars and galaxies of different redshift stand in physical proximity to each other and are observed to be connected by filaments of matter. Quasars, whose high redshift would indicate they are the oldest and furthest away high-energy emitting objects in the universe, have been found to be physically and energetically linked to nearby low-redshift active galaxies. Because proponents of the Electrical Universe support Halton Arp’s theory that the redshift of an object is composed to two component parts – velocity and, more importantly, age (the younger the object, the higher the redshift) – these new observations hold no conflict.
- The Big Bang: Astronomers observed that redshift indicated that the speed of these stars appeared to be increasing as their distance away from the Earth increased, and concluded that since everything was apparently traveling away from everything else, then all the matter in our universe must have been located at the same central point in the very distant past – the Big Bang. (Imagine the math involved to prove that the entire universe was created from nothing in less than a nanosecond!) Because supporters of the EU model do not believe that redshift shows that the galaxies are all moving away from each other, they do not support the Big Bang theory of the creation of the universe – nor do they believe the universe is expanding. However, they also admit that the EU model does not readily offer an explanation of how the universe was created.
- Black Holes: The theory of black holes came about to explain the concentrated sources of energy seen at galactic centers – those who support the standard gravity model of the universe attributed the energy to colossal gravitational forces produced by near-infinite concentrations of mass. Textbooks tell us that the gravity of black holes is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape it (more complicated and abstract math!), and a majority of astrophysicists now believe there is a black hole at the center of every galaxy. Electric universe theorists credit powerful electromagnetic forces for what is observed in the center of galaxies, including the jets of matter now known to be coming from the center (impossible in a black hole scenario).
- Comets: The SM says that comets are dirty, cold snowballs left over from the formation of the solar system. However, EU supports believe that the evidence clearly points to typical comets being electrically charged rocks left over from catastrophic collisions and/or destructive interbody (inter-planetary or moon) electrical discharge events in the past: 1) recent close-up photos clearly show rocky and sharply defined curfaces, where instead, a melting ice surface would definitely not appear this way; 2) comets are among the blackest objects in the solar system, appearing as if they have been burned; 3) scientists have actually observed bright spots (possibly electrical arcing) on elevated and sharply defined features on the surface of comets. Actually, comets might be the issue that finally brings the electric universe theory into the mainstream. In 2005, the Tempel 1 comet was deliberately struck by a component of NASA’s Deep Impact probe; the two major predictions of the EU model – that the outburst upon impact would be more energetic than expected, and that the comet would be rocky with little water in its interior – were proved correct. Observations of other comets – the Rosetta mission to comet 67 P, the Stardust mission to comet Wild 2 in 2004, and ESA Giotto space probe fly-by images of Haley’s Comet in 1986 – all show the jagged, rocky topography predicted by the EU model. Long-held theories die hard though – when asked why the comets didn’t have an icy surface, scientists have said the ice “must be” buried beneath that rocky-looking crust, or that “It’s rocky-like stuff, but not rock.”
- Those Mysterious Lights on Ceres: The internet has been agog with the recent images taken from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft which clearly show some rather spectacular lights emanating from the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres. Ancient astronaut enthusiasts believe that they are signs of extraterrestrial life. NASA scientists speculate that the lights may be a reflection of a surface salt deposit or, less likely, ice (the ice theory is less likely because the Dawn spacecraft indicates that the bright spots only reflect 40% of the light hitting them – much less than would happen should they be made up of ice). In a conversation with Tom Findlay, he confirmed that those who support the EU model are confident that these lights will eventually be proven to be electrical in nature. In an EU model not all craters on planets, moons or comets are the result of meteor crashes. Instead, there is a process referred to as EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining), in which a Birkeland Current scours an area, creating the crater while removing the debris from the area (which is why you often fail to observe rubble around a crater). And yes, this phenomena is reproducible in a scientific laboratory. EDM is a slow process rather than an explosive one – the lights on Ceres may indicate that the crater is still being formed.
It is clear from the scientific evidence that the EU model could more fully explain the workings of the universe than the gravity model. But scientists who would like to conduct research find that the standard gravity model has become so firmly entrenched that they are unable to obtain grants or funding. Those scientists who bravely (or naively) persist in their investigations find that their careers stall and fail. When astronomer Dr. Halton Arp, who worked with the celebrated Edwin Hubble for 25 years, first advanced the theory that redshift was not an accurate tool for determining the distance or velocity of cosmic objects, conventional astrophysicists felt so offended (and threatened?) that they had Dr. Arp denied time on all major telescopes in the United States and made his working life so miserable that he was forced to leave his job a the Mount Palomar observatory (he eventually moved to Germany to work at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics). Any mainstream astrophysicist who embraces the EU model of the universe will likely encounter a crushing amount of professional hostility.
But what is the importance of this scientific disagreement in the grander scheme of things? Or, more importantly, what does it matter to you and me? On his website, The Electric Universe, Wal Thornhill elegantly states: “First we must acknowledge our profound ignorance! We know nothing of the origin of the universe. …(But the Electric Universe model suggests that) the speed of light is not a barrier. Real-time communication over galactic distances may be possible. Therefore time is universal and time travel is impossible. Anti-gravity is possible. Space has no extra dimensions in which to warp or where parallel universes may exist. There is no “zero-point” vacuum energy. The invisible energy source in space is electrical. Clean nuclear power is available from resonant catalytic nuclear systems. We are not hopelessly isolated in time and space on a tiny rock, orbiting an insignificant star in an insignificant galaxy. We are hopefully connected with the power and intelligence of the universe.”
I sing the body electric
I celebrate the me yet to come
I toast to my own reunion
When I become one with the sun
And I’ll look back on Venus
I’ll look back on Mars
And I’ll burn with the fire of ten million stars
And in time, and in time we will all be stars
(I Sing the Body Electric lyrics, from Fame)