legacy page  
     homeaboutessential guidepicture of the daythunderblogsnewsmultimediapredictionsproductsget involvedcontact

thunderblog - special edition


Excerpts From The Electric Universe
Part 4

The following is one of a series of excerpts from The Electric Universe, copyright © 2002, 2007 Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott and published by Mikamar Publishing. Reproduced with the kind permission of the authors and publisher.

Presented by Dave Smith
February 11, 2010
Through this series of Special Edition Thunderblogs it is emerging that the electric theory of comets offers a far superior explanation of observations than does the standard model. Having previously explored the main features of comets it is now pertinent to take a closer look at their many enigmatic surface features such as spires, pits and craters.

Page 99

Unexplained Surface Features

Wild 2 surface features compared to Electric Discharge Machining
Top: Comet Wild 2 in close-up.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
ABOVE: A microscopic view of an EDM surface.
Flat floored depressions with steep scalloped walls and terracing are evident.
Image credit: B. Mainwaring
[Click to enlarge]
When the roughly 5 kilometers-wide Comet Wild 2 was first seen in dramatic close-up, Donald Brownlee, Stardust Principal Investigator, said, “We thought Comet Wild 2 would be like a dirty, black, fluffy snowball. Instead, it was mind-boggling to see the diverse landscape in the first pictures from Stardust, including spires, pits and craters,” 101 features that are more likely for a solid rock than a melting, icy pile of rubble (see image [above] and on p. 101). Among the surface anomalies are two depressions with flat floors and nearly vertical walls that resemble giant footprints. They aren't structured like typical impact craters.

Regardless, a number of scientists declared that the craters were the result of impacts—the catch-all explanation for craters in the space age. But in the vast emptiness of the outer solar system, impacts are exceedingly unlikely, and with the low relative velocities there, it is inconceivable that a small body would have attracted end-to-end cratering.

Today, most astronomers distance themselves from the impact explanation of the Wild 2 surface. But that leaves the mystery of crater formation unsolved. Some astronomers suggested that the craters are sinkholes, formed when surface material fell into cavities left by the sublimation of buried volatiles. But the smooth, flat floors of the craters belie such an explanation. Nor is it reasonable to suggest that heat from the Sun would reach down through many meters of insulating material to remove subsurface volatiles in volumes sufficient to provoke surface collapse. And even if that were a plausible sequence, the miniscule gravity of comet nuclei is hardly sufficient to justify a comparison of their craters to terrestrial 'sinkholes.'
Page 100
A minority of astronomers came to suggest that some of the comet dilemmas could be resolved if comet nuclei were 'rubble piles.' But no comet, when seen close up, revealed surface features suggesting a heap of fragments. After the Deep Impact mission, NASA investigators publicly stated that the rubble pile hypothesis had turned out to be a “non-starter.”
Comet Borrelly
Comet Borrelly's nucleus, as recorded by Deep Space 1 on September 22, 2001. Details as small as 50 meters can be resolved on the 8-kilometer-long object.
Image Courtesy NASA/JPL.
[Click to enlarge]
The images of comet nuclei from passing spacecraft support a complex history. The surface features of Comet Borrelly [above] were described as “Earth-like.” Dr. Dan Britt, a meteoriticist in the University of Tennessee's Planetary Geosciences Institute, noted that the mesas on Borrelly resembled those in the American Southwest. In a characteristic understatement, NASA scientists described the findings as “somewhat surprising.”

It is no overstatement to say that none of the defining features of comet nuclei has met the expectations of the Whipple model. In contrast their features are consistent with—and predictable—under the electric comet model.
Earl Milton
Dr. Earl Milton (1935-1999) was an associate professor of physics at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. He was a close colleague of Ralph Juergens. He published several papers on the electric model of comets and other aspects of the electric universe.
Photo: W. Thornhill, 1983.
[Click to enlarge]
Another pioneer of the electric universe, Earl Milton [above], noted in 1980 that he and Juergens had independently concluded that a comet nucleus would be scarred “like an electrode in an arc. Over time the cometary nucleus should become cratered and pitted…When a spacecraft finally achieves a rendezvous with one of the comets, scientists are going to be surprised to find a surface pitted like that of the Moon, Mars, or Mercury.” 102 At the time, scientists had never seen a comet surface. The first flyby of a comet took place 6 years later.
Comet Wild 2 Spires
Numerous strange pinnacles as long as 100 meters long jutting off the surface. The pinnacles were unexpected. Other unusual Wild 2 surface features include long cliffs, deep pits and craters.
Credit: Stardust Team, JPL, NASA
[Click to enlarge]
Other surface enigmas stand out as well. Images of Comet Wild 2 have revealed unexplained bright spots (below).
Comet Wild 2 Close-up
[Click to enlarge]
In the electrical model of comets, these are the 'touchdown' points of the cathode arcs—where electric currents between the comet and the Sun 'pinch down' on the more negatively charged nucleus of the comet. The result is analogous to electric discharge machining (EDM), etching the surface into the observed “spires, pits and craters.” They appear to be
Page 101
etched sharply into rock, offering nothing to support the idea of sublimating ice or snow (see above). The caption on the Astronomy Picture of the day lamely offers, “these features are hypothesized to be indicative of a very rigid surface sculpted by impacts and explosive sublimation. Initially, Wild 2 was expected by many to be held together only quite loosely.” 103

Generating Comet Jets

Comet Wild 2 composite
Comet Wild 2. This composite image uses a time exposure to reveal the jets.
Credit: Stardust Team, JPL, NASA
[Click to enlarge]
NASA's Stardust spacecraft captured images of Comet Wild 2 on January 2, 2004. and issued a composite of the nucleus and a longer exposure highlighting the comet's jets (facing page). According to a Stardust project press release, mission scientists expected “a dirty, black, fluffy snowball” with a couple of jets that would be “dispersed into a halo.” Instead they found more than two dozen jets that “remained intact—they did not disperse in the fashion of a gas in a vacuum.” The jets “...remained strong and coherent even hundreds of miles from the comet's surface. Stardust's very bumpy ride during its passage through the coma was an unmistakable sign of the power and strength of the jets.” 104

Some of the jets emanated from the dark unheated side of the comet—an anomaly no one had expected. Chunks of the comet, including rocky particles as big as bullets, blasted the spacecraft as it crossed three jets. A principal investigator also spoke of energetic bursts “like a thunderbolt.” 105

The extreme fineness, high speed and narrow trajectories of dust particles from comets has been a puzzle ever since the first flyby of Comet Halley by the Giotto spacecraft. But from an electric viewpoint these comet enigmas are easily explained: an arc impinging on a cathode or anode surface vaporizes and sputters matter from that surface; the electric field of the arc accelerates matter off the surface; an electromagnetic 'pinch effect' provides densities in the thin jets many orders of magnitude higher than those predicted from simple radial sublimation; and instabilities in the arc cause flickering and sudden relocation of jets in exceedingly short periods.

The jets are not due to solar heating but are generated by wellfocused electric arcs wandering across the nucleus to progressively etch its surface, carving out the surface craters and flat floored valleys,
Page 102
and leaving spires and mesas, in the well-known process of cathode erosion.

Comets are, in fact, doing exactly what the electric model would predict. Given that out-gassing from an icy nucleus should vary in proportion to available surface area, it is suspicious that now five comets, adjusted to the same heliocentric distance, should have such similar rates of 'loss of water' (based on the presence of OH in the coma). But if material is being machined electrically from very small arc footprints, the surface area of the comet and solar heating are irrelevant to the volume of removed material.

Forming Comet Comas

The International Cometary Explorer (ICE) was the first spacecraft ever to pass through a comet's coma boundary, which is misnamed a 'bow shock.' Before the encounter with Comet Giacobini- Zinner, astrophysicists were not sure whether a bow shock would be encountered at all: The boundary was called simply the 'transition region.'

Without realizing it, the ICE mission confirmed the signature of electric current filaments in the plasma sheath. Electrical currents flow in the comet's plasma sheath and cause atoms there to glow. The currents announced themselves by the magnetic turbulence present.

This was not the official interpretation, of course, but the observations conformed to Alfvén's earlier electric circuit model of comets. He had written, “As Venus, like the comets, has no appreciable intrinsic magnetic field, the solar wind interaction with her is likely to be essentially the same.” 106 A report in Science confirmed Alfvén's prediction: “a similar field pattern [to the comet] has been observed at Venus.” 107 Significantly, the magnetic field at the comet peaked at six times that found at Venus, revealing the degree to which a comet transacts electrically with the solar plasma.

Deep Space 1 provided further evidence of electrical effects as it flew through the plasmasphere surrounding the nucleus of comet Borrelly. Mission specialists had expected that the solar wind would flow symmetrically around the coma, with the nucleus in the centre. They found that the solar wind was indeed flowing symmetrically, but the nucleus was off to one side, shooting out a great jet of material. “The shock wave is in the wrong place,” said Dr. Marc Rayman. Dr. David Young of the University of Michigan added, “The formation of the coma is not the simple process we once thought it was. Most of the charged particles are formed to one side, which is not what we
Page 103
expected at all.” One commentator said that it was like finding the shock wave from a supersonic jet a mile to the side of the aircraft!

However, the analogy is false. The luminous crescent in the image [below] is not due to the nucleus mechanically plowing through the plasma ahead of it. In a cometary plasma sheath, the most energetic recombination will take place under the direction of the electric force some distance from the comet nucleus in the direction of the Sun.
Comet Hyakutake
Credit: C. Lisse, M. Mumma (NASA/GSFC),
K. Dennerl, J. Schmidt, and J. Englhauser (MPE)
[Click to enlarge]
Direct confirmation of the electric nature of the coma came unexpectedly from the ROSAT satellite when it observed Comet Hyakutake in March 1996 [above]. “We had no clear expectation that comets shine in X-rays,” said Dr. Michael Mumma of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The X-rays were as intense as those the satellite usually sees from bright X-ray stars. And the X-ray variability over a few hours was “remarkable.” The observation provoked scientists to say, “This important discovery shows that there must be previously unsuspected 'high-energy' processes taking place in the comet…”
Comet Linear
As seen in this X-ray image of Comet Linear, the X-ray production occurred at the interface of the negatively charged cometary plasma with the positively charged particles of the solar wind. The excess of electrons in a cometary coma was first noted in 1986, when the Giotto spacecraft detected an abundance of negatively charged atoms in the inner coma of Comet Halley.
Credit:NASA/SAO/CXC/STScI/Lisse et al.
[Click to enlarge]
On July 14, 2000, the Chandra telescope viewed the comet Linear repeatedly over a 2-hour period, detecting X-rays from oxygen and nitrogen ions (lower right). The observatory's press release reports: “The details of the X-ray emission, as recorded on Chandra's Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer, show that the X-rays are produced by collisions of ions racing away from the sun (solar wind) with gas in the comet. In the collision the solar ion captures an electron from a cometary atom into a high-energy state. The solar ion then kicks out an X-ray as the electron drops to a lower energy state.” 108

The press release concludes that the Chandra observation “proves how comets produce X-rays.” Of course it doesn't prove anything of the sort: in a process of circular reasoning that has become embarrassingly common in science, the model provides the interpretation that is then claimed to prove the model. It is simply assumed that neutral gas from the comet supplies the electrons. However, that should produce a positively charged shell that would quickly repel further ions from the Sun. The alternative idea is not considered: that a comet is negatively charged and via the process of cathode sputtering supplies copious electrons and negative ions to the cometary electrical discharge. Negative cometary ions are a puzzle to astrophysicists because there is no way known of producing them to match the observed densities. 109 It is now clear that these negative ions and electrons are jetted into the coma, where they combine with minor
Page 104
ions in the solar wind, giving rise to the observed soft Xrays. The combination of electrons from the comet with ions from the solar wind is, of course, an electric discharge— Nature's efficient means of X-ray production.

The gas 'collision model' is also refuted by the observed Xray hot spots and rapid variability in intensity. Oscillatory and 'bursty' behavior is typical of plasma sheaths or double layers (see [below]).
Comet Halley jets
Comet Halley in false color during a flare up. The jet extends 20,000 km to the lower left. The Sun is to the upper right. “The surprises included sudden outbursts in the presumably steady vaporization of its icy nucleus and a periodic, complex pulsation of the comet's brightness.” Flickers lasting only a few tens of seconds were recorded.
Credit: T. Rettig et al., See R. A. Kerr, Halley's Confounding Fireworks, Science, Vol. 234, 5 December 1986, pp. 1196-8.
[Click to enlarge]


102 E. R. Milton, “Glimpses of an Electrical Cosmos,” from a lecture given at San Jose in August 1980.

103 See APOD website for June 22, 2004.

104 A. Alexander, “Pinnacles, Craters, and Multiple Jets: Early Results from Stardust Stun Researchers,” The Planetary Society, 17 June 2004.

105 “Comet's Dust Clouds Hit NASA Spacecraft 'Like Thunderbolt,'”

106 H. Alfvén, Cosmic Plasma, Vol. 82, 1981, p. 60.

107 T. T. von Rosenvinge et al., “The International Cometary Explorer Mission to Comet Giacobini-Zinner,” Science, Vol. 232, 18 April 1986, p. 355.


109 J. Crovisier & T. Encrenaz, Comet Science, “These [negative] ions occurred with densities 100 times greater than expected, and the discrepancy with theoretical accounts is still not well understood.”” p. 75.
Permalink to this article.

Email this article to a friend

Public comment may be made on this article on the
Thunderbolts Forum/Thunderblogs (free membership required).

To read more from Wal Thornhill please visit:


"The Cosmic Thunderbolt"

YouTube video, first glimpses of Episode Two in the "Symbols of an Alien Sky" series.


And don't forget: "The Universe Electric"

Three ebooks in the Universe Electric series are now available. Consistently praised for easily understandable text and exquisite graphics.

  This free site search script provided by JavaScript Kit  
  FREE update -

Weekly digest of Picture of the Day, Thunderblog, Forum, Multimedia and more.
*** NEW DVD ***
  Symbols of an Alien Sky
Selections Playlist

An e-book series
for teachers, general readers and specialists alike.
(FREE viewing)
  Thunderbolts of the Gods

  Follow the stunning success of the Electric Universe in predicting the 'surprises' of the space age.  
  Our multimedia page explores many diverse topics, including a few not covered by the Thunderbolts Project.  

The Electric Universe
The Electric Universe
David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill
Mikamar Publishing

Special Edition Archives

Chronological Archives

Archives by Author

Archives by Subject

Thunderblogs home


Authors David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill introduce the reader to an age of planetary instability and earthshaking electrical events in ancient times. If their hypothesis is correct, it could not fail to alter many paths of scientific investigation.
More info
Professor of engineering Donald Scott systematically unravels the myths of the "Big Bang" cosmology, and he does so without resorting to black holes, dark matter, dark energy, neutron stars, magnetic "reconnection", or any other fictions needed to prop up a failed theory.
More info
In language designed for scientists and non-scientists alike, authors Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott show that even the greatest surprises of the space age are predictable patterns in an electric universe.
More info

EXECUTIVE EDITORS: David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
SENIOR EDITORS: Donald Scott, Annis Pepion Scott
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Michael Goodspeed, Michael Gmirkin,
'Solar', The Soupdragon,
Guest's Contributions
WEBMASTER: Brian Talbott
© Copyright 2010:

Disclaimer - The opinions expressed in the Thunderblog are those of the authors of
the material, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Thunderbolts Project.
The linking to material off-site in no way endorses such material and the Thunderbolts
Project has no control of nor takes any responsibility for any content on linked sites.
top ]

home   •   picture of the day   •   thunderblogs   •   multimedia   •   resources   •   forum   •   updates   •   contact us   •   support us