Dust Devils—or Tornados?
The usual distinction
between dust devils and tornadoes is blurred by the size of
monstrous whirlwinds on the planet Mars. Electric discharge
offers the simplest and most direct explanation for the
astonishing power of the Martian dust columns.
believe that the atmospheric forces generating dust devils
and tornadoes have little in common despite their similar
appearance. Tornadoes do not occur in dry clear air, while
dust devils do.
meteorological conditions in which the two arise are easily
distinguished. But the “Electric Universe” allows for a
unified perspective on both phenomena, with direct
implications for our understanding of the Mt. Everest-sized
dust devils on Mars.
The most telling
clue comes from the fact that both dust devils and tornadoes
exhibit strong electric fields. For the electrical theorists
both events have counterparts in other meteorological
marvels as well—lightning (including blue jets, red sprites,
and elves), hurricanes, waterspouts, and auroras. All such
phenomena can now be understood in terms of electrical
discharge between the Earth and electrified space.
In size and
strength the “dust devils” on Mars dwarf tornadoes on earth.
They achieve a diameter five times that of tornadoes, and
tower five miles above the Martian surface. Meteorologists
call them “dust devils”, not tornadoes, because they are not
associated with water-laden storm clouds, which do not exist
On both Earth
and Mars, dust devils form when the ground heats up during
the day, warming the air just above the surface. But why
does the rising air rotate, and how does this rotation
achieve its impressive energy? Here is the conventional
explanation: “Pockets of warm air rise and interfere with
each other, sometimes causing one pocket or another to begin
a swirling motion” (From a story at space.com, paraphrasing
the work of William Farrell of NASA's Goddard Space Flight
Center and his research team.)
rising warm air randomly “interfering” with each other can
hardly be a compelling explanation for electrified dust
devils’ power of rotation. Those offering the explanation
are forgetting something—the measured electric field
of the Earth. At sea level in dry air the field is about 100
volts per meter. The presence of this electric field means
there is no need to generate charge separation in a
dust devil. It already exists between the Earth and the
ionosphere! When warm dry air rises from the surface the
vertical movement of charged dust particles forms a weakly
ionized plasma. It is a characteristic of plasma to shield
electric fields within it by forming a thin “double layer”
or sheath, where most of the electric field strength is
concentrated. This is what researchers have found at the
base of dust devils, where the field has been measured to
rise as high as 4,000 volts per meter. An electric field of
that strength near the earth is capable of lifting small
charged dust particles and generating a vertical current.
Rotation is electromagnetically induced between parallel
vertical current streams to form a vortex – as we have noted
in numerous prior references to rotating
“interference” of rising air pockets create the power of
dust devils? One way to answer the question is to consider
their cousins, water spouts. Here, the first visible effects
are seen not in the air, but in the water below, and these
effects are certainly not a result of colliding air pockets
above. First a circular white spot appears, surrounded by an
irregular dark area on the water's surface. Next a pattern
of light and dark bands spiral outwards. Then a dense,
swirling ring of spray, called a cascade, appears around the
dark spot and rises toward the clouds.
breakthrough in understanding waterspouts came from the work
of Russian plasma physicist V. A. Rantsev-Kartinov. From his
investigation, he concluded that these phenomena are the
result of a long-lasting discharge current between the
plasma networks of the ocean surface (or lake surface) and
the electrical charge of the clouds above. Both the rotation
and the narrow, coherent, and undulating funnels of
waterspouts are thus explained in terms of plasma discharge
behavior. See Picture of the Day, October 29, 2004—Electric
All of this
relates to issues of charge separation. The electrical
theorists insist that the greatest mistake by meteorologists
is to follow the cosmologists’ notion of an electrically
neutral and disconnected universe. By accepting this
unsupported assumption meteorologists are required to
mechanically separate charge wherever they see electrical
activity. A flood of discoveries has disproved the
assumption in recent years. Yet it still stands in the way
of understanding the origin of lightning on Earth and the
associated strange phenomena found stretching up toward
space. Our Earth is connected to the circuitry of the Sun.
The Sun is similarly connected to the currents flowing along
the arm of our Milky Way.
In the same way,
electrified dust devils on Mars are inseparable from
planet-wide circuits. These circuits, in turn, connect Mars
to the electric system of the Sun. Mars has no storm clouds
to distribute and to lower charge to the surface. The result
is that huge, diffuse discharges take place directly between
the ionosphere and the surface. It is these discharges that
form the towering dust devils on Mars and are responsible
for the enigmatic global dust storms seen on that planet
from time to time.
electric force is1039 times more powerful than
gravity. In its various manifestations it holds the universe
together. It creates galactic structure, forms and lights
the stars, and drives the formation of planetary systems.
Electric fields not only pervade the macrocosm, they are
active throughout our solar system. And on Earth charge
separation is not an effect of the movement of air or
water—it exists already and is a primary cause of
movement. At the most basic level, electric currents are the
prime cause of rotational movement in the universe.
We live in a
connected, electrically animated universe. And Nature does
not ignore the utility of the electric motor!
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