Comets: The Loose Thread
Spacecraft have now visited four comets. What
they found contradicts what was expected and falsifies accepted
comet theory. But that theory is woven with every other astronomical
theory into a cosmology that defines the universe as we know it. The
fall of comet theory will inevitably bring us a new and different
giving accepted comet theory a hard time. Close-up images of
comet nuclei from spacecraft have contradicted about every
expectation of theory. (“Expectation” is a euphemism for
“prediction”; a disappointed expectation is practically the
same thing as a failed prediction, except with the former
you don’t expect you’ll have to discard the theory.) “If
astronomy were a science,” as one astronomer put it,
theoreticians would admit that the theory had been
falsified, and they would start over with an eye to the
evidence. Instead, they hang on to the theory with ever more
stubbornness and hope a little tinkering and adjusting will
bring the facts into line.
The facts are
apt to be more stubborn than the theoreticians: Deep Impact
kicked up ten times more dust than expected and stimulated
the comet's activity a magnitude less than expected. The
dust was not a conglomeration of sizes as expected but was
consistently powder-fine. The nucleus of the comet was
covered with sharply delineated features, two of which were
circular enough to be called impact craters. This was not
expected for a dirty snowball or a snowy dirtball or even a
The craters, of
course, weren’t actually called impact craters. They must
have been caused by subsurface explosions, because they had
flat floors and terraced walls, despite the myriad of other
craters on rocky planets and moons with flat floors and
terraced walls that are called impact craters. All
the other circular depressions with flat floors and terraced
walls weren’t craters because they had “unusual shapes”.
The hard times
began with Comet Halley. Theory expected more or less
uniform sublimation of the surface as the nucleus rotated in
the sun, much as you would expect of a scoop of ice cream on
a rotisserie. But Halley had jets. Less than 15% of the
surface was sublimating, and the ejecta was shooting away in
The theory was
adjusted to introduce hot spots, chambers below the surface
in which pressure could build up and erupt through small
holes to produce the jets. It went unmentioned that the
holes must have been finely machined, like the nozzle of a
rocket engine, in order to produce the collimation of the
jets: Just any rough hole would result in a wide spray of
the hard times harder. It was dry. And black. Theoreticians
tinkered with the dirty snowball theory until they got the
dirt to cover the outside and to hide the snow inside.
Somehow they got the dirt, which ordinarily is an insulator,
to conduct heat preferentially into the rocket chambers to
keep the jets going.
Wild 2 defied
them. Its jets were not just around the sub-solar point,
where the Sun’s heat would be greatest. This comet sported
jets on the night side. The rocket chambers now had to store
heat for half a “comet day”. And something was needed to
keep the jets coherent over great distances and to gather
their emissions into a stream of clumps: Clusters of
particles repeatedly struck the spacecraft.
announced that comets were mysteries and that the theorists
knew nothing, that they had to “think differently”. Then
they proposed adjustments to the accepted theory that would
be acceptable to the accepted way of thinking.
theories abound—but outside the walls of astronomical
acceptability. For an astronomer to recognize their
existence would be to jeopardize his position and salary.
But the characteristics of comets that are so difficult to
explain with snowballs are fairly easy to explain with
date back to the 1800s, before “electricity” became taboo in
astronomy. They were well-founded on observations and on the
proven laws of electromagnetism. In the last few decades,
they have been refined to the point where they
expected the findings
that were so hard on the fashionable theory:
electrical discharges in the thin plasma that permeates the
solar system. Because they spend most of their time far from
the Sun, their rocky nuclei are in equilibrium with the
voltage at that distance. But as they accelerate in toward
the Sun, their voltage is increasingly out of equilibrium
with the voltage and increasing density of the solar plasma.
A plasma sheath forms around them—the coma and tail. And
filamentary currents—jets—between the sheath and the nucleus
erode, particle by powdery particle, the circular
depressions with terraced walls that are typical of
electrical discharge machining. As the discharge channels
move across the surface of the comet, they burn it black.
If it were only
a matter of explaining with plasma discharges the jets and
the blackened rocky surfaces and the powder-fine dust and
the terraced depressions, there might not be so much
blinkered stubbornness. But modern astronomical theories
have been worked into an interlocking web of explanation.
Each theory supports, and is in turn supported by, nearly
every other theory. If one theory frays, if one loose thread
is pulled, the entire fabric will unravel.
comet requires an
electrified Sun. The
Sun is the focus of the electric field that causes the comet
to discharge. For the Sun to maintain its electric field, it
(and all stars) must be the focus of another electric
discharge within an
And electrified galaxies, with their magnetic fields and
x-ray emissions and ejections of quasars, must be connected
meaningless such fancies of cosmology as the Big Bang
If you pull one
electrified comet out of the well-knit structure of accepted
theories, the entire garment will become unacceptable.
Either the universe is an agglomeration of isolated,
gravitating, non-electrical bodies, or else it is a network
of bodies connected by and interacting through electrical
circuits. Either the universe is a gravity universe or it is
an Electric Universe.
And comets are
the loose thread.
Please check out Professor Don Scott's
new book The Electric Sky.
READERS: Wallace Thornhill, David Talbott, and Anthony
Peratt will share the stage with other investigators of
planetary catastrophe at the British Society for
Interdisciplinary Studies “Conference 2007” August