December 12, 1956, the front page of the New York Times
announced: "Physicist 'Creates' Universe in a Test Tube;
Atom Gun Produces Galaxies and Gives Clues to Creation".
Just over 50
years ago, plasma physicist Winston H. Bostick made the kind
of news headlines that many a scientist dreams. In his
laboratory experiment Bostick created a simple "plasma gun"
consisting of a 4-inch diameter glass jar around which he
wound a wire carrying an electric current that created a
small magnetic field. Most of the air was removed from the
jar and two titanium wires were connected to a high-voltage,
high-current electric power source.
the power switch, a 10,000 ampere electric current passed
through the titanium wires, instantly vaporizing them and
creating a puff of ionized gas (a plasma) travelling at
450,000 miles per hour. Bostick noted that the puffs of
plasma formed distinctive shapes that resembled galaxies at
various stages of aging and formation. Bostick called his
laboratory produced plasma entities, "plasmoids".
Over the next thirty years, Bostick, a
Professor of Physics at Stevens Institute of Technology in
Hoboken, New Jersey, investigated plasmoids further and
found that "not only the morphology [shape] but the
controlling dynamic elements, electric and magnetic fields,
are the same in the laboratory as in the
Bostick's theory describes galaxies as analogous to series-wound
homopolar generators (a kind of motor) that convert
gravitational energy of rotation into increasing magnetic
energy that causes galaxies to expand away from each other.
Furthermore, Bostick suggested that such a model could
produce a concentration of current perpendicular to the
galactic disk that would be a cosmic-sized "plasma focus" –
a device that produces high energy, relativistic (near the
speed of light) particle beams, or jets.
Winston H. Bostick was born in 1916, and died January 19, 1991, at age