Caption: In the fashion of a textbook frontispiece, the illustration
Jan 26, 2006
In his “Iron Sun” theory, Oliver Manuel has developed an unorthodox answer to puzzles concerning the birth of the solar system, recorded in meteorites and lunar samples. But in interpreting these samples, he has fallen prey to a conventional myth as to their origins.
The popular theoretical picture of our solar system today is strongly wedded to the “nebular hypothesis”. The theory traces the origin of the Sun and planets to a primordial cloud of gas and dust, in which the gravitational force led to the cloud’s progressive collapse into a spinning disk. Within this disk, the Sun formed at the center and all of the secondary bodies from planets and moons down to asteroids, comets, and meteorites accreted from leftover debris.
But how did gases in a diffuse “cloud” collapse against the inherent tendency of gases in a vacuum to expand and rotating systems to fly apart? Why is the Sun tilted 7 degrees to the ecliptic? Why should giant planets, recently discovered in distant planetary systems, favor a close orbit about their star, while Jupiter and Saturn orbit far from the Sun? And if the different bodies in our solar system arose from a homogenous cloud, why does their composition vary so?
Plasma cosmology provides the simple answer to the question of how stars are formed. They are formed by the powerful and long-reaching electromagnetic force of a “plasma pinch”, a principle well researched in the laboratory and now observed in detail in high resolution images of planetary nebulae.
According to Hannes Alfvén and other pioneers of plasma cosmology, a stellar system gives way to gravity only after the star is formed and as the plasma pinch subsides. In this view it is not correct to look to gravity as the cause of star formation. It is also normal for a number of stars to be formed along the axis of the plasma pinch and subsequently scatter "like buckshot" following the collapse of the pinch. Planets are generally not formed at this stage. We should expect that stars formed in this manner would, as a group, tend to have their rotational axes aligned along the direction of the galactic magnetic field.
The “Electric Universe” model of stars takes the role of the electric force further, suggesting that evolving star systems move through phases of electrical instability before achieving the equilibrium that marks our own solar system today. Stellar companions and gas giant planets are "born"—ejected—fully formed from a star before it achieves electrical balance with its new environment. That explains both the preponderance of multiple star systems and the close-orbiting gas giants. Rocky planets and moons are similarly born at intervals by means of electrical expulsion from gas giants. Rings about gas giants and stars are principally a result of electrical expulsion, not gravitational accretion.
In this view, the electrical birth pangs associated with newly-born planets and moons can immerse celestial bodies in violent plasma discharge, sculpting the surfaces of the newcomers. Planets and moons are charged objects, and subsequent encounters in an unstable system can leave surfaces dominated by electrical craters, vast trenches, and other scars. Much of the excavated material can then be lofted by the discharge into space as comet nuclei, asteroids, and meteorites, while portions of the material may fall back to form strata of shattered rock and loose soil. Electrical interactions between planets also have the beneficial effect of quickly restoring order out of chaos.
Like any biological family, the planets of our solar system were born at different times and from different parents. They have a complex history that includes electrical exchanges capable of upsetting atomic clocks and producing numerous isotopic anomalies. As rocky surfaces are excavated electrically, for example, the resulting short-lived radioactive isotopes may wind up in the grains of meteorites.
Proponents of the Electric Universe suggest that most conventional claims about the birth of the solar system, though stated with great confidence, are highly conjectural. And if one discerns something fundamentally wrong in a common teaching in the sciences, a skeptical posture toward other conventional assumptions is also appropriate. We have already suggested that Oliver Manuel, in developing his argument for the “Iron Sun”, was too willing to accept orthodox assumptions.
Manuel writes, for example: "The Apollo mission returned from the Moon in 1969 with soil samples whose surfaces were loaded with elements implanted by the solar wind," we can see that it is an assumption based on an undisturbed, clockwork planetary system. But in this case the more telling facts may relate to lunar soil isotopes that do not appear in the solar wind.
Based on the isotopic composition of meteorites, Manuel has suggested that the nascent solar system must have experienced a very close supernova explosion before meteorites were formed. But the idea that either the Sun or any other body in the solar system is the remnant of a supernova is unnecessary. There is no necessary connection between supernovae and meteorite isotopes. In fact, it was suggested long ago that the many strange features of meteorites could have been formed in gargantuan lightning flashes within a solar nebula. And Manuel has noted that grains in the Murchison meteorite have isotope abundances related to grain size that "mimic the properties of 'fall-out' grains produced after the explosion of a nuclear weapon…" The Electric Universe model satisfies both ideas.
As we have already suggested, supernovae are emphatically an electric discharge phenomenon. So the many puzzling features of meteorites may be explained by their formation in the debris of any high-energy plasma discharge. In these pages, we have documented the recent electrical sculpting of planets by cosmic scale discharges in the solar system. We have suggested that meteorites are the debris of planetary encounters, a conclusion now supported by direct observation of planetary surfaces and by the study of meteorites, the latter revealing the effects of flash heating, ion implantation, and the isotopic anomalies that would be expected from an interplanetary thunderbolt.
Of course, the close encounters required for electrical exchanges mean that the planets were not formed in their present orbits, as astronomers commonly assume. And there is good reason why virtually every rocky body in the solar system shows evidence of catastrophic encounters. The history of the solar system is one of "punctuated equilibrium" – long periods of stability punctuated by brief episodes of chaos as new members are accommodated. The fact that no simple gradation of planetary characteristics occurs within the solar family needs no other explanation.
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