squiz wrote:Is it just me or does anyone else get a giggle out of the term "creationism in astronomy"? You know with the big bang and all, kind of ironic don't you think?
February 16th: The Electric Universe, Podcaster: W.T. Bridgman
http://365daysofastronomy.org/2012/02/1 ... -universe/
Bio: W.T. Bridgman is a support scientist and blogger with an interest in making debunking of “Creation Science” and similar pseudo-science accessible to more students and to the general public. Years ago, he discovered just how poor the science was in many of these pseudo-sciences and realized that many of the errors and misinformation were accessible to students at a more introductory level, especially when they could be linked to the science behind specific technologies. He obtained his Masters and Ph.D. in Physics at Clemson University working with the nuclear astrophysics group. His specific fields of study included x-ray processes in supernova remnants and high-time resolution variability of the black-hole candidate, Cygnus X-1.
So with all these examples, why don’t astronomers talk about cosmic electric fields more? There are several key reasons.
Electric fields are very difficult to measure with remote sensing technologies. George Ellery Hale tried to measure electric fields on the Sun as early as 1915 but was only able to place an upper limit on the strength of such a field. Measurement techniques have improved since then, but still, it’s difficult to talk about it if you can’t reliably measure it in the first place.
Since matter is normally electrically neutral in bulk quantities, it takes at least as much energy to separate the positive and negative charges in neutral matter as you obtain when the charges recombine. This is because energy is conserved and the fact that moving charges radiate photons, resulting in an additional energy loss in both the separation and recombination process.
If an electric field is created purely by charge separation with no additional forces keeping the charges apart, it can’t last very long in free space. Opposite charges attract each other and eventually they will move to cancel the electric field.
The flip side of this cancellation process is that for a time, the moving charges create an electric current. Electric currents create magnetic fields, and since the current changes with time, so does the magnetic field. And the process can repeat, maintaining this field for quite some time after the original current is gone. Magnetic fields are much easier to detect with remote sensing techniques. Since the magnetic field is easy to tie back to actual observations, astronomers principally talk about the magnetic field, and use Maxwell’s equations and plasma physics to infer the electric fields behind them.
This is just an introduction to the long history of how astronomers have recognized the action of electric fields in space. All of these mechanisms create the charge separations and resulting currents using energy from other processes, which can usually be traced back to processes driven by gravity. The charge-separation itself is not the original energy process, but can provide a mechanism to convert energy in thermal processes to non-thermal energy distributions.
Now if you do an online search for information on electrical processes in space, you will no doubt eventually come across the pseudo-science of the “Electric Universe” whose central creed is that astronomers ignore the contributions of electric fields in space. Electric Universe ‘theorists’ go so far as use discoveries in mainstream astronomy’s understanding of electric fields described above, to justify their own more bizarre claims such as that the Sun is powered not by internal nuclear fusion, but by cosmic-scale external electric current streams. Their cosmology essentially depends on the Universe being filled with gigantic, invisible, electric currents powered by similar generators. Of course, we don’t detect the currents and they provide no information on the origin, nature, or even location of those generators.
So with this gentle introduction, perhaps you have a new appreciation for the real role of electric fields in the cosmos. And you have a way to counter those who claim that astronomers ignore cosmic electric fields.
This means the faster moving electrons can form a thin ‘atmosphere’ around the ions. This charge separation generates an electric field, forming a structure sometimes called a ‘double layer’ by laboratory plasma researchers...
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