How the sun shines

Michael Mozina
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RE: Thanks for the lengthy

Message 71673 in response to message 71668

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Thanks for the lengthy reply Michael.

I must say that I'm now rather confused.

Back on 26 December, 2007, in this thread, you wrote, in answer to the question "How does he propose the Sun generates its energy? (3.9e26 W is not a trivial affair - aside from nuclear reactions I really can't see any way)":

The sun does not generate the bulk of it's energy, though it does generate some energy locally. The bulk of the energy comes from the electrical current that flows through the sun.

Your more recent post is much more tentative, to the point of all but declaring 'anything goes' ("There are many possible options to choose from, and there is currently little if any way to determine how much of the total energy release is due to any of these potential influences.")

Your confusion is perfectly understandable. It's not an "anything goes" position on my part, it's an "any rational scientific option must be logically and methodically considered" position. Based on satellite image data and heliosiesmology studies, and even empirical chemistry data, I can really only "observe" what is going on in the upper atmosphere of the sun. No photons from below about .995R are visible to me in satellite images, so I have no way of knowing for sure (based on pure observational evidence) exactly what structures might be sitting underneath that crust. The sun could in fact be powered by a small neutron core as Manuel suggests. It could be powered by fission as Birkeland suggested. No internal power source however could account for the acceleration of solar wind particles, or that image of neutrino emissions I posted earlier. No matter what internal process that we might consider as a possible internal energy source for stars, we cannot simply ignore the effects of external energy components.

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In any case, can you provide us with references to papers which describe the details of the hypothesis that "the bulk of the total energy release of the sun comes from an external energy source (flowing electrons)" and which include estimates of what that energy is (i.e. the extent to which it satisfies requirement 1)?

Hmm. I'll have to go back through Alfven's work and Peratt's work to see exactly what they did in this regard. I can't think of such a paper off the top of my head at the moment, so I'll have to get back to you on that question.

Michael Mozina
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RE: If the nuclear strong

Message 71674 in response to message 71666

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If the nuclear strong interaction does not power stars, what is its utility? To give electricity to France through its nuclear reactors? Remember Occam's Razor (entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem). But the strong force is evidently necessary.
Tullio

Such interactions *may indeed* power stars. The only reason *any* internal energy source is needed is because we "assume" that stars are their own power source. If we remove that assumption, we can't be sure that anything is "necessary" other than current flow. I do think that their is a strong nuclear force involved, I just don't believe that this force accounts for all the energy released from the sun.

Nereid
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Just quickly

Message 71675 in response to message 71673

Just quickly ...

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[snip]
It could be powered by fission as Birkeland suggested. No internal power source [of the Sun] however could account for [...] that image of neutrino emissions I posted earlier.

[snip]


Here, AFAIK, is the source of that image.

The discussion of it, earlier in this thread, contained a few errors and misunderstandings*; too bad Bob Svoboda's text accompanying the image wasn't included: "This image is a 500-day exposure from 7-25 MeV. It is a plot of the difference between the sun's RA (x-axis) and DEC (y-axis) and those of the reconstructed neutrino-induced secondary electrons. This secondary scattering process smears out the image, so that it is many times the actual size of the sun."

I'm sure you realise, Michael, that hundreds (if not thousands) of those papers I referenced earlier, in respect of source A, present a multi-faceted, robust case for exactly the opposite of what you assert.

In a nutshell (1,000 words or less), would you mind summarising the reasons for your assertion?

If you'd be so kind, perhaps you could start by addressing the apparent inconsistency between "it's an "any rational scientific option must be logically and methodically considered" position" and the categorical certainty of your assertion.

* not least of which a comment on the Cosmic variance blog, from whence Michael took it, addressed well: "Mr. nc, (or dr. nc?) why so grumpy? It is not a figure or illustration, it is art based on the physical world.

You learned neutrinos can pass through the earth relatively unimpeded didn’t ya? Not bad for a piece of art."

Nereid
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RE: RE: RE: RE: […]

Message 71676 in response to message 71672

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[…] no one has produced, in the lab, many of the nebular lines (including the very common green [OIII] one).

That’s nebulium, don’t you know.

(Excuse the levity.)


Indeed.

There are actually two [O III] 'green' lines, at 495.9 and 500.7 nm.

Curiously, another part of the history of astronomical spectral lines appears in the Birkeland material, 'coronium' ... of course Birkeland cannot have known that this is not a 'new element', but, unlike nebulium, coronium lines can be produced in the laboratory.

The guy was working with the best information he had in 1908.


He was, indeed.

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It's not surprising that we can think of ourselves as "more enlightened" today.


I didn't mean to imply that we were ... writing a history of an idea, especially one in what was then a purely observational science (in situ data wasn't collected until many decades after Birkeland's death), is quite tricky; for one thing, it is so easy to make revisionist mistakes, or slip in anachronisms (as in the Peratt article, for example).

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It's all relative however. If it turns out he was right, his willingness to embrace EU theory 100 years ago puts him way ahead of mainstream astronomers of today.


But Michael, there's no doubt at all: many of the things in that >900 page tome of Birkeland's are just plain wrong! Even Peratt said so!!

And isn't 'EU theory' just as much an anachronism as Peratt's mistake (about spiral galaxies)? Is this a term Birkeland himself uses, in his writing? Was it common in the relevant scientific community of the first decade of the 1900s?

And even if "it turns out he was right", much of the being "right" was little more than a lucky accident. There's nothing controversial, or demeaning, or condescending, or ... about this; it's a very common aspect of all of science, when examined across gulfs which span revolutions.

FWIW, I think the biggest mistake one could make, when doing science, would be to place the work of some giant on a pedestal and not test, refine, re-test, re-refine, etc the ideas they proposed. Einstein provides an excellent example: GR ranks with Newton's work on gravitation and Darwin's on evolution as among the greatest. Yet Einstein, to the very end, did not embrace quantum mechanics. Not too long after his death, one of his most potent objections (the EPR paradox) was tested ... and the universe declared Einstein wrong.

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You might be able to nitpick on a few details, but he was way ahead of where you are today as I see things, at least from a theoretical and physical testing perspective.


I don't really understand this ... the theoretical underpinnings of his work are just Maxwell's equations, aren't they? And the GB of in situ IPM and Earth's magnetosphere data are surely far more important than any lab simulation, aren't they?

Michael Mozina
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RE: The discussion of it,

Message 71677 in response to message 71675

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The discussion of it, earlier in this thread, contained a few errors and misunderstandings*; too bad Bob Svoboda's text accompanying the image wasn't included: "This image is a 500-day exposure from 7-25 MeV. It is a plot of the difference between the sun's RA (x-axis) and DEC (y-axis) and those of the reconstructed neutrino-induced secondary electrons. This secondary scattering process smears out the image, so that it is many times the actual size of the sun."

I think we all assumed that was the case but maybe I "assumed" you understood something about the equipment they use to detect neutrinos. It's "messy" in the sense of scattering effects.

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I'm sure you realise, Michael, that hundreds (if not thousands) of those papers I referenced earlier, in respect of source A, present a multi-faceted, robust case for exactly the opposite of what you assert.

If by "robust" case, you mean someone has higher resolution neutrino images that show a definite and distinct point source of neutrinos coming from the core of the sun, then I know for a fact that no such "robust" observation exists. If you mean that lots of a papers *assume* that the sun is mostly made of hydrogen and helium and it's not separated much by mass, and neutrinos 'oscillate' (another law of physics defying move), then sure, I do realize lots of people believe in hydrogen/helium suns.

The problem with those mathematical papers Nereid is that in the real world (real sun) we have a rigid set of features sitting .995R. From even a theoretical perspective there's lots of problems with a hydrogen/helium model. Plasma tend to mass separate in gravitational and electromagnetic fields so the sun should be one giant mass separator of plasmas. You can't support your hydrogen sun theories with much empirical scientific evidence however, particularly once we start looking at that mass separation problem, those heliosiesmology images, and those running difference images.

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In a nutshell (1,000 words or less), would you mind summarising the reasons for your assertion?

I'll summarize it in two sentences and one paper:

We observe gamma ray emissions in the solar *atmosphere* in Rhessi images:
http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/428876
There is every likelihood that we will observe full disk composite images of the sun due to atmospheric neutrino emissions.

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If you'd be so kind, perhaps you could start by addressing the apparent inconsistency between "it's an "any rational scientific option must be logically and methodically considered" position" and the categorical certainty of your assertion.

Unless you can explain to me why I would not expect to observe neutrino emissions from the high energy events in the solar atmosphere, I see no reason to believe that they do not occur there, or that I would not see surface related "hits" from such events. Lots of different kinds of high energy cosmic ray interactions might release neutrinos in the upper atmosphere of the sun. I could almost be logically certain to observe more than just a single point source of neutrinos from the sun's core.

Michael Mozina
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RE: I didn't mean to imply

Message 71678 in response to message 71676

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I didn't mean to imply that we were ... writing a history of an idea, especially one in what was then a purely observational science (in situ data wasn't collected until many decades after Birkeland's death), is quite tricky; for one thing, it is so easy to make revisionist mistakes, or slip in anachronisms (as in the Peratt article, for example).

The thing I like about Birkeland's work is that it *is* based on standard scientific methodologies, and it has certainly yielded very useful scientific predictions, starting with the idea that there are electrical currents flowing from the sun to the Earth. NASA has already confirmed the existence of a "magnetic rope" between the Sun and the Earth that carried massive amounts of electrical energy.

Now we can pick at his ideas if we like based on 20/20 hindsight. We can giggle about his lack of knowledge as it relates to emission wavelengths and how they relate to various ions. We can note that he didn't fully understand the nature of the solar wind, even though he said that space was filled with flying ions *of all kinds*, but in reality, he was way ahead of where "modern" astronomy is today IMO.

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But Michael, there's no doubt at all: many of the things in that >900 page tome of Birkeland's are just plain wrong! Even Peratt said so!!

But some of it was just plain right too Nereid. Now what?

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And isn't 'EU theory' just as much an anachronism as Peratt's mistake (about spiral galaxies)? Is this a term Birkeland himself uses, in his writing? Was it common in the relevant scientific community of the first decade of the 1900s?

No. Let's not get lost in semantics.

Every theory has it's "founders" and plasma cosmology theory/electric universe theory/Electromagnetic cosmology theory (I like the last name the best) has it's founder in Birkeland. He's the first guy to systematically experiment with, and describe the electromagnetic forces and how these forces affect objects in space. He tinkered with the variables, he played with the surface materials. He did all the "hands on" things that a scientist is supposed to do before pointing to the sky and claiming "my new idea did it"! Of course he worked with limited information, and of course he made mistakes. On the other hand it's been demonstrated now that Birkeland was right about the electromagnetic nature of physical reality and how the electromagnetic forces of nature affect bodies in space.

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And even if "it turns out he was right", much of the being "right" was little more than a lucky accident. There's nothing controversial, or demeaning, or condescending, or ... about this; it's a very common aspect of all of science, when examined across gulfs which span revolutions.

A lucky accident? Excuse me? His experiments were *methodical*. His methods of collecting data were *methodical*. His willingness to brave the elements of nature to take such measurement was above and beyond what most human beings would be willing to endure. There was absolutely nothing "lucky" about his work Nereid. It's called "sweat equity science" the way it's supposed to be done.

Compare and contrast methodical effort and scientific controlled testing with Guth pointing down at a math formula he dreamed up one day and claiming "inflationdidit". Luck had nothing to do with Birkeland's work Nereid.

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FWIW, I think the biggest mistake one could make, when doing science, would be to place the work of some giant on a pedestal and not test, refine, re-test, re-refine, etc the ideas they proposed.

Sometimes I would agree with you.

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Einstein provides an excellent example: GR ranks with Newton's work on gravitation and Darwin's on evolution as among the greatest. Yet Einstein, to the very end, did not embrace quantum mechanics. Not too long after his death, one of his most potent objections (the EPR paradox) was tested ... and the universe declared Einstein wrong.

Well, batting 999 out of 1000 ain't too bad.

Then again, Einstein also never embraced "black holes" or the push-me-pull-you brand of Lambda-CDM theory either. I'll bet he wasn't wrong on those issues and you're still wrong, even with all your 20/20 hindsight.

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I don't really understand this ... the theoretical underpinnings of his work are just Maxwell's equations, aren't they?

How about the practical underpinnings of his *real life experiments* Nereid? Theories always look good on paper. It's when we test them against what we observe in "reality" that separates good theoretical underpinnings from useless theoretical underpinnings. He did the lab work to tell the difference between a good theory and a bad one.

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And the GB of in situ IPM and Earth's magnetosphere data are surely far more important than any lab simulation, aren't they?

Of course. That "magnetic rope" that NASA found "in situ" using THEMIS is important confirmation of Birkeland's theories. So were the satellite observations of Birkeland currents flowing into the the Earth from satellites of the 70's. Each step takes our understanding of electrical currents further out into the solar system and further out into deep space. Mainstream scientists of today however always act so surprised anytime they see something the involves the flow of current through objects in space. Birkeland already understood the "basics" over 100 years ago, and yet here we are 100 years later being "surprised" but "magnetic ropes" that flow from the sun to the Earth. They were all actual "predictions" that were made by Birkeland over 100 years ago. These predictions weren't "lucky guesses", there were based on sweat equity scientific research in a lab using controlled scientific methods, not pie-in-the-sky mathematical theories that can never be tested. Birkeland understood the mathematical theories he was working with, but he took the next step and applied his theories to "reality" and then he noted what he observed in his experiments. From there he made legitimate scientific "predictions" that are only now being "confirmed" by in-situ measurements.

The part that "irks" me about astronomers of today is that they aren't even aware of Birkeland's predictions, they've never read his work, and they are always "surprised" every time they find some electrical interaction in space.

That "surprise" from the mainstream is based on pure ignorance of a lot of sweat equity research that was done over 100 years ago. Plasma is a nearly perfect conductor of electrical current. Many things we've observed in space involve the flow of current. Therefore, it should not be a surprise to anyone that spacetime contains current flows and plasma threads containing current. Even still, every month there's some new story about a "surprised" astronomer that has observed a "twisted plasma filament" here, or a "magnetic rope" there. How silly. Birkeland would be utterly dismayed to see his hard work being so under appreciated by astronomers of today. He would think we all had amnesia or something.

Nereid
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RE: [snip]RE: In a

Message 71679 in response to message 71677

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In a nutshell (1,000 words or less), would you mind summarising the reasons for your assertion?

I'll summarize it in two sentences and one paper:

We observe gamma ray emissions in the solar *atmosphere* in Rhessi images:
http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/428876
There is every likelihood that we will observe full disk composite images of the sun due to atmospheric neutrino emissions.


Hmm ... isn't that a good example of the logical fallacy called 'false dilemma' (or 'false dichotomy')?

In other words, you seem to be using the detection of gammas from the solar atmosphere as precluding any and every other possible source of solar neutrinos.

Isn't this inconsistent with the uncertainty and tentativeness of your earlier post ("There are many possible options to choose from, and there is currently little if any way to determine how much of the total energy release is due to any of these potential influences.")?

Further, wouldn't any valid test of the hypothesis that at least some solar neutrinos come from the core require a robust, tightly constrained estimate of the neutrino emission expected from the 'gammas in the solar atmosphere'?

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If you'd be so kind, perhaps you could start by addressing the apparent inconsistency between "it's an "any rational scientific option must be logically and methodically considered" position" and the categorical certainty of your assertion.

Unless you can explain to me why I would not expect to observe neutrino emissions from the high energy events in the solar atmosphere, I see no reason to believe that they do not occur there, or that I would not see surface related "hits" from such events. Lots of different kinds of high energy cosmic ray interactions might release neutrinos in the upper atmosphere of the sun. I could almost be logically certain to observe more than just a single point source of neutrinos from the sun's core.


Indeed ... on this we agree completely.

As I just said, the next step, in testing one or other hypothesis, would be to make a robust, ranged estimate of the expected neutrino emission (under that hypothesis).

In the case of 'gammas in the solar atmosphere', I'm not aware of any such estimates - can you provide references to any please?

Michael Mozina
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RE: In other words, you

Message 71680 in response to message 71679

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In other words, you seem to be using the detection of gammas from the solar atmosphere as precluding any and every other possible source of solar neutrinos.

I don't need to "preclude" any energy source. Even a fusion reaction in the core isn't going to make those surface emissions go away. If standard theory is accurate about fusion reactions in the core, then I might expect to see a very bright dot in the core, but I would still see surface discharges from the gamma ray point sources and I would still see the effects on cosmic rays on these observations. I can't eliminate your model, but I can make somewhat different predictions about these emissions patterns based on an EU solar model.

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Isn't this inconsistent with the uncertainty and tentativeness of your earlier post ("There are many possible options to choose from, and there is currently little if any way to determine how much of the total energy release is due to any of these potential influences.")?

Those gamma rays are observed in the solar atmosphere, irrespective of the energy sources involved in the total solar energy output. These gamma emissions should also emit neutrinos, irrespective of the energy sources involved.

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Further, wouldn't any valid test of the hypothesis that at least some solar neutrinos come from the core require a robust, tightly constrained estimate of the neutrino emission expected from the 'gammas in the solar atmosphere'?

In theory at least, a high resolution neutrino image based on standard theory would have a very compact core with very little else around it. That should be quite distinguishable from an external energy source which would be more apt to create an entire "surface effect" in the neutrino emission patterns. Shouldn't we be willing to make some predictions about neutrino images patterns based on our models? I'm willing right now to predict that high resolution neutrino images will show the moderately bright outline of a whole solar surface, even if there is another internal energy release process that emits neutrinos. Based on the limited resolution image I've seen thus far, I see nothing that resembles a strong "point source" for these neutrino emissions.

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As I just said, the next step, in testing one or other hypothesis, would be to make a robust, ranged estimate of the expected neutrino emission (under that hypothesis).

Were I to make one of those kinds of postdicted "predictions", I would base it strictly upon the observations of the various types of neutrinos and I would assume no "oscillation" effect of any sort. In short, it would take a lot of cosmic rays to pull it off.

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In the case of 'gammas in the solar atmosphere', I'm not aware of any such estimates - can you provide references to any please?

I'm not aware of any such estimates either.

Mike Hewson
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RE: Unless you can explain

Message 71681 in response to message 71677

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Unless you can explain to me why I would not expect to observe neutrino emissions from the high energy events in the solar atmosphere, I see no reason to believe that they do not occur there, or that I would not see surface related "hits" from such events. Lots of different kinds of high energy cosmic ray interactions might release neutrinos in the upper atmosphere of the sun. I could almost be logically certain to observe more than just a single point source of neutrinos from the sun's core.


Alas Michael, and I say this with genuine respect and kindness, the history of science is littered with faux pas based upon arguments of personal credulity. Unless your wording here is a mere literary device, that type of approach is not generally considered a convincing route to better definition of the physical world.

While all theories have some type of mental model within, the main virtue of their inner intellectual mechanics is to construct a framework for *quantitative* prediction. A terrific example is Tycho Brahe who was one of the first to suggest and enact our 'modern' program - to measure some phenomena to the best accuracy available, in order to then present a body of data as a benchmark for comparison of any candidate models that are presented as purporting to explain said phenomena.

A large slab of both theoretical and observational effort is devoted to 'radii of variation' - for measurement we call this observational error ( various categories ), and similiarly for theory. But data has prime place, as it is the razor that slices off any errant models that lie outside the radius. So if newer concepts are to displace any currently well performing ones ( that are within the radius ), they have the burden ( under this modern program ) of equalling or bettering any incumbents. To me it appears that the criticism of EU ( and not of yourself as a person ) in this thread seems to relate to whether it compares favourably to existing quantitative knowledge. I don't know if EU does or does not, I'm just pointing out that there may be differing assumptions hereabouts as to what is a valid standard of proof to judge that.

It can be quite amazing what turns up sometimes:

Feynman's path integral method, a very exacting calculational machine in quantum electrodynamics ( & later generalised ) specifies that all possible alternate ( but unseen ) event sequences are summated. The result are probabilities, including a normalised denominator - a non-trivial exercise of itself. That then leads to very exact testable quantitative predictions. The measurement of the electron's magnetic moment ( ratio of it's dipole strength to angular momentum ) disagreed with the QED number only after the ninth decimal place! This is despite that we really have no everday gut-feeling clue as to what it really means by all possible alternates summating. ( Note that the integral is of the behaviour of virtual particles ie. 'existing' only to suit the model ). But an arrow that accurate is going to be kept however weird it seems.

Einstein, as mentioned, deduced quantum entanglement as a consequence of QM as it then stood. He felt and openly declared that because entanglement 'must' be false/paradoxical then : EPR following from QM => QM invalid. Poor chap didn't have the benefit of later data - as likewise he didn't have Hubble's data on galaxy recession when proposing the cosmological constant to yield a static universe model.

Planck proposed quanta of energy to solve equilibrium radiation properties of 'black' bodies. A continuous integral of infinitesimal amounts gave an infinite answer, whereas a finite sum of discrete terms ( then subjected to a mathematical limit ) yielded not only a finite result but an experimentally agreeable one. It's quirky that while he is immortalised by the name of that constant, he never accepted quanta as 'real' and spent a goodly portion of his remaining work trying and failing to gain a workable classical explanation.

My reason for mentioning any of this is to point out the error we all make at one time or another - inappropriately firm generalisations. Well, assuming one respects the 'logical positivism' approach of science that is. Quantitative measurement and prediction, with a test of alignment between the two, rises above individual foibles. This is largely why reproducibility of experiment ( in the sense of controlling observable variables ) is considered a key property of scientific success ( eg. the cold fusion debacle ). Of course we frequently can't control or reproduce findings, there's certainly no dials on the Sun for us to twiddle. Poorer, but still effective substitutes if done carefully are surveys, sampling ( the more the merrier ), or simply watching and waiting, to name a few strategies.

To summarise : unfortunately without exacting predictions we can wind up with theories that are sufficiently vague as to explain everything, which is the same result as explaining nothing. String theories are in this bind at present.

and thanks to you for your contributing here .... :-)

Cheers, Mike.

I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter. Blaise Pascal

Nereid
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RE: RE: I didn't mean to

Message 71682 in response to message 71678

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I didn't mean to imply that we were ... writing a history of an idea, especially one in what was then a purely observational science (in situ data wasn't collected until many decades after Birkeland's death), is quite tricky; for one thing, it is so easy to make revisionist mistakes, or slip in anachronisms (as in the Peratt article, for example).

The thing I like about Birkeland's work is that it *is* based on standard scientific methodologies, and it has certainly yielded very useful scientific predictions, starting with the idea that there are electrical currents flowing from the sun to the Earth. NASA has already confirmed the existence of a "magnetic rope" between the Sun and the Earth that carried massive amounts of electrical energy.


Michael, there are excellent records by what we might call 'Chinese astronomers' or 'Chinese observers' which clearly indicate that they 'knew' there was a solar wind (they concluded this from the appearance of comets).

And these records pre-date Birkeland, Maxwell, and (IIRC) Newton.

Should we conclude that they, not Birkeland, were first to correctly describe the nature of the IPM?

As I said in my previous post, you seem to be employing a logical fallacy called 'false dichotomy' ... the fact that Birkeland got some things (very) right does not preclude him having got some things (very) wrong.

And the nature of the IPM, and the specifics of how the mechanisms by which electrons give rise to aurorae, and ... are among those which Birkeland got wrong (as Peratt said).

From your comment, I would guess that your source is a NASA Press Release, and not the preprint(s)* associated with the team's work. In any case, how about we look at the actual paper(s)? I suspect a cool-headed comparison between the observational results presented there and what Birkeland wrote will show a more nuanced correspondence than your dramatic summary.

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Now we can pick at his ideas if we like based on 20/20 hindsight. We can giggle about his lack of knowledge as it relates to emission wavelengths and how they relate to various ions. We can note that he didn't fully understand the nature of the solar wind, even though he said that space was filled with flying ions *of all kinds*, but in reality, he was way ahead of where "modern" astronomy is today IMO.


And of course you are entitled to your opinion, just as all of us are.

However, no matter what the details are of Birkeland's observations, the contemporary understanding of the magnetosphere and the IPM rests far more on the GB of in situ data from space missions (note too that those who study these are called 'space scientists', not 'astronomers', to reflect the huge difference between remote observations based solely on the detection of photons and data from in situ instruments).

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But Michael, there's no doubt at all: many of the things in that >900 page tome of Birkeland's are just plain wrong! Even Peratt said so!!

But some of it was just plain right too Nereid. Now what?


We acknowledge Birkeland's fine pioneering work, in writing the history of this field of science, and return to getting on with making progress ... by designing new missions, collecting more data, testing and refining (tweaking) hypotheses, etc.

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And isn't 'EU theory' just as much an anachronism as Peratt's mistake (about spiral galaxies)? Is this a term Birkeland himself uses, in his writing? Was it common in the relevant scientific community of the first decade of the 1900s?

No. Let's not get lost in semantics.

Every theory has it's "founders" and plasma cosmology theory/electric universe theory/Electromagnetic cosmology theory (I like the last name the best) has it's founder in Birkeland. He's the first guy to systematically experiment with, and describe the electromagnetic forces and how these forces affect objects in space. He tinkered with the variables, he played with the surface materials. He did all the "hands on" things that a scientist is supposed to do before pointing to the sky and claiming "my new idea did it"! Of course he worked with limited information, and of course he made mistakes. On the other hand it's been demonstrated now that Birkeland was right about the electromagnetic nature of physical reality


Nitpick: most of that work was done, up to centuries before, by many others ... leading to the classical unification (Maxwell's equations).

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and how the electromagnetic forces of nature affect bodies in space.

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And even if "it turns out he was right", much of the being "right" was little more than a lucky accident. There's nothing controversial, or demeaning, or condescending, or ... about this; it's a very common aspect of all of science, when examined across gulfs which span revolutions.

A lucky accident? Excuse me? His experiments were *methodical*. His methods of collecting data were *methodical*. His willingness to brave the elements of nature to take such measurement was above and beyond what most human beings would be willing to endure. There was absolutely nothing "lucky" about his work Nereid. It's called "sweat equity science" the way it's supposed to be done. Compare and contrast methodical effort and scientific controlled testing with Guth pointing down at a math formula he dreamed up one day and claiming "inflationdidit". Luck had nothing to do with Birkeland's work Nereid.


I think you are confusing effort with results ... thousands and thousands of scientists have done just as much "sweat equity science", only to find many of the conclusions they drew from their data overturned - even in their own working lifetimes.

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FWIW, I think the biggest mistake one could make, when doing science, would be to place the work of some giant on a pedestal and not test, refine, re-test, re-refine, etc the ideas they proposed.

Sometimes I would agree with you.

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Einstein provides an excellent example: GR ranks with Newton's work on gravitation and Darwin's on evolution as among the greatest. Yet Einstein, to the very end, did not embrace quantum mechanics. Not too long after his death, one of his most potent objections (the EPR paradox) was tested ... and the universe declared Einstein wrong.

Well, batting 999 out of 1000 ain't too bad.


But Michael, the universe doesn't do batting averages, nor keep track, nor even care ...

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Then again, Einstein also never embraced "black holes" or the push-me-pull-you brand of Lambda-CDM theory either. I'll bet he wasn't wrong on those issues and you're still wrong, even with all your 20/20 hindsight.


And that's just my point ... whatever Einstein embraced, or didn't embrace, is now pretty much irrelevant; the primary test of any hypothesis is how well it accounts for good, reliable observations and experimental results (preferably independently verified, like the resolution of the EPR paradox).

Or do you think we should stick with Einstein's views, no matter what the data says?

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I don't really understand this ... the theoretical underpinnings of his work are just Maxwell's equations, aren't they?

How about the practical underpinnings of his *real life experiments* Nereid? Theories always look good on paper. It's when we test them against what we observe in "reality" that separates good theoretical underpinnings from useless theoretical underpinnings. He did the lab work to tell the difference between a good theory and a bad one.


Perhaps you wrote too fast?

Here's what my comment was in response to (my bold): "You might be able to nitpick on a few details, but he was way ahead of where you are today as I see things, at least from a theoretical [...] perspective."

I addressed the second part ("[...] at least from a [...] physical testing perspective.") in my second question, which follows.

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And the GB of in situ IPM and Earth's magnetosphere data are surely far more important than any lab simulation, aren't they?

Of course. That "magnetic rope" that NASA found "in situ" using THEMIS is important confirmation of Birkeland's theories. So were the satellite observations of Birkeland currents flowing into the the Earth from satellites of the 70's. Each step takes our understanding of electrical currents further out into the solar system and further out into deep space. Mainstream scientists of today however always act so surprised anytime they see something the involves the flow of current through objects in space. Birkeland already understood the "basics" over 100 years ago, and yet here we are 100 years later being "surprised" but "magnetic ropes" that flow from the sun to the Earth. They were all actual "predictions" that were made by Birkeland over 100 years ago. These predictions weren't "lucky guesses", there were based on sweat equity scientific research in a lab using controlled scientific methods, not pie-in-the-sky mathematical theories that can never be tested. Birkeland understood the mathematical theories he was working with, but he took the next step and applied his theories to "reality" and then he noted what he observed in his experiments. From there he made legitimate scientific "predictions" that are only now being "confirmed" by in-situ measurements.

The part that "irks" me about astronomers of today is that they aren't even aware of Birkeland's predictions, they've never read his work, and they are always "surprised" every time they find some electrical interaction in space.

That "surprise" from the mainstream is based on pure ignorance of a lot of sweat equity research that was done over 100 years ago. Plasma is a nearly perfect conductor of electrical current. Many things we've observed in space involve the flow of current. Therefore, it should not be a surprise to anyone that spacetime contains current flows and plasma threads containing current. Even still, every month there's some new story about a "surprised" astronomer that has observed a "twisted plasma filament" here, or a "magnetic rope" there. How silly. Birkeland would be utterly dismayed to see his hard work being so under appreciated by astronomers of today. He would think we all had amnesia or something.


If I may make a guess, I'd say you've not taken even an undergraduate course in space science, much less done a PhD in it.

May I suggest you spend some time on the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) School of Electrical Engineering Alfvén Laboratory website?

For a start, here's an extract from the main KTH EE Space and Plasma Physics page:

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Our research deals with plasmas in space as well as in the laboratory. The vast majority of our universe is plasma. The only (although important) exception is cold solid bodies like planets, comets, and asteroids. Thus, plasma physics has universal applications.

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.


I think you'll find the reality of the day-to-day work of space scientists, such as those at KTH, rather different from your characterisation above.

* It's possible the review process is complete by now, and the paper(s) published; however, I doubt it.

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