The Inappropriate Language of Cosmologists
by Dave Smith
December 25, 2008
If there's something wrong with my car, I take it to a
mechanic. BUT if the problem looks to be electrical, he or she
will likely refer me straight to the nearest auto-electrician -
it's not rocket science, it simply makes sense to go to those
who have the right knowledge when looking for helpful answers -
and it's high time cosmologists looked to plasma physicists for
some of their answers, as the cosmologists seem to have things oh, so wrong...
A recent press release from spitzer/caltech got me seriously
thinking about the highly speculative and downright incorrect
"gravity only" dogma which has become modern cosmology,
and the misleading terminology both scientists and
scientific media alike choose to describe their strange universe.
Rivers of Gas Flow Around Stars in New Space Image
For Release: December 08, 2008
A new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows a turbulent
star-forming region, where rivers of gas and stellar winds are
eroding thickets of dusty material.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Povich (Univ. of Wisconsin)
[Click to enlarge]
The picture provides some of the best examples yet of the
ripples of gas, or bow shocks, that can form around stars
in choppy cosmic waters.
Somewhere along the line, cosmology has lost its way, and
committed itself to explanations of space which don't match
the observations. They can't possibly - they use mechanical
language to attempt to explain what are clearly (to plasma
physicists) electrical phenomena. Reading further through
the release, the use of such inappropriate language is rampant:
“The stars are like rocks in a rushing river,”
said Matt Povich of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
“Powerful winds from the most massive stars at the
center of the cloud produce a large flow of expanding gas.
This gas then piles up with dust in front of winds from
other massive stars that are pushing back against the
“Rivers of gas”
- Any rivers of gas would quickly expand and dissipate in
space, just as they do in laboratory tests right here on
Earth. The only way gas can form a river-like structure
within a vacuum is if it is an ionized gas, or plasma.
And the easiest way to produce a plasma is by energising
the gas with electricity.
- Our solar "wind" was correctly identified by
Kristian Birkeland over 100 years ago as an electric current.
This was confirmed over 70 years later by THEMIS and again
more recently by NASA. Why should other stellar
"winds" be any different? And why call a current
“Eroding thickets of
dusty material” - In the context of space this is an
invented, meaningless phrase and thus worthy of nothing but
contempt and ridicule. The tendency of ionized gas in a
vacuum to take on a cellular structure where it encounters
a region that has a different degree of charge separation
was one of the phenomena which inspired Irving Langmuir to
name such ionized gasses PLASMAS, because of the similarity
of their behaviour to that of biological blood plasma. Later
Nobel laureate Hannes Alfvén coined the term Double Layer to
describe these intercellular boundaries, some of which are
seen in the image above. Yet today cosmologists and astronomers
still insist on using terms more suited to a boat yard than a
“Ripples of gas, or bow
shocks that can form around stars in choppy cosmic waters”
- This description of double layers is nothing more than ‘purple
prose’ (prose that is overly extravagant, ornate, flowery, and
misleading). Drawing an erroneous analogy between the behaviour
of cosmic plasma and the way water flows over rocks is completely
misleading. No responsible educator, let alone our respected
scientific institutions, should intentionally resort to the use
of inappropriate false analogies no matter how clever they may seem.
Matt Povich of the University of Wisconsin should be deeply
embarrassed by his use of blatantly misleading phraseology
such as: “rocks in a rushing
river ... Powerful winds ... flow of expanding gas ... gas then
piles up with dust in front of winds from other massive stars that
are pushing back against the flow.” Please spare us this
exhibition of ignorance of basic plasma physics and consult with
someone who knows something about the behaviour of ionized gasses
Until astrophysicists and cosmologists adopt a truly open
interdisciplinary approach and consult plasma physicists when
dealing with plasma instead of pretending they know what they're
talking about, they will continue to force-fit the behaviour of
plasma in space into false analogies about how water flows over
rocks. When the public wakes up to the fact that these fanciful
explanations are demonstrably wrong, the level of professional
embarrassment among astrophysicists and cosmologists will be
unsurpassed in the annals of science.
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