History of Electric Comet Theory: Part 4
By Hannes Täger Ph.D.
The Situation in the early 20th Century
As was mentioned in Part 3 (Electric Comet Ideas Infiltrate Mainstream – 19th Century), the success of Arrhenius’ theory of the ray pressure of the Sun seemed to satisfactorily explain parts of comet tail phenomena, which diminished much of the excitement and investment in the Electric Comet field of research.
However, several noteworthy factors contributed to the decline of electric comet theory’s influence. Physicist Wal Thornhill and Comparative Mythologist David Talbott describe the circumstances of that era:
“Early electrical models of charged bodies in space, based on simple electrostatics, faced many problems. They lacked the benefit of later experimental research, including investigation of gas discharges and electrical circuits. So it is perhaps understandable that, early in the 20th century, opposition to electrical theories became entrenched. Space was thought to be a vacuum, a perfect insulator, making the flow of electric currents through this ’emptiness’ impossible.”[i]
These opposing theories faced little critical examination as the Space Age had not yet been reached, and it was impossible to test the sweeping assumptions or collect data to improve and develop alternative theories. Furthermore, there was a significant gap in the knowledge and understanding of plasma. The term “plasma” itself was not even coined until the year 1928 by Irving Langmuir. World War One and its ramifications significantly worsened the situation during the 20th century. It seems this global catastrophe promoted the development and final acceptance of irrepresentable, counterintuitive, mystical, and irrational theories in mainstream physics.
The growing success of Albert Einstein’s (1879-1955) paper on Special Relativity Theory with the misleading title “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” (1905) helped solidify the accepted omission of electromagnetism from cosmological theories. Strengthening this effect were the works of the Russian mathematician Alexander Friedmann (1888-1925) and the Belgian priest and astrophysicist Georges Lemaître (1894-1966), as the Big Bang theory with its “Only-Gravitation-Universe” became increasingly accepted and finally becoming “settled science.”
The growing narrow-mindedness of scientific institutions and scientists developed into a climate of general ignorance. This turn of events thwarted progressive ideas and discoveries, including the work of an early Norwegian pioneer of astrophysics and plasma research who was nominated seven times for the Nobel Prize.
Decline and Rebirth of Electric Comet Theories
20th Century and Beyond
1916 A.D. – Kristian Birkeland
Kristian Birkeland was born in Christiania (Oslo today), Norway. He spent much of his career working at the University of Oslo. As a physicist, he became well known for his research of the Aurora Borealis phenomenon. In his book “The Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition,” Birkeland predicted: “The earth’s magnetism will cause there to be a cavity around the earth in which the [solar] corpuscles are, so to speak, swept away.” However, this early description of a “magnetosphere” was rejected and blocked by astronomers like Sydney Chapman (1888-1970) for several decades. In 1916, Birkeland predicted, “it is most probable that solar rays are neither exclusively negative nor positive rays, but of both kinds”. In other words, he claimed that rays of electric corpuscles from the sun consist of negative electrons and positive ions. This concept became widely accepted decades after his death in what is now described as “solar wind”.
Birkeland described the interaction between the electrical corpuscle-rays and comets, imagining the comet would become charged negatively by cathode-rays from the sun. Successful experiments in the laboratory were convincing evidence in his efforts to reproduce cometary jets. Furthermore, he described cometary tail deflection and rapid disintegration of the cathode in his experiments. His conviction that electromagnetism is equal to or even more important than gravitation is still a challenge for modern astronomers.
Developments in the Scientific Mainstream
Despite general ignorance of Birkeland’s findings, mainstream science did not completely exclude electricity from space. It allows, for example, minor photoelectric effects for comets.
1943 A.D. – Karl Wurm
Karl Wurm, a Siegen-born German astronomer, played an important role in the scientific exploration of comets since the 1930’s. In particular, his work “The Nature of Comets” (1943) was pushing forward the modern research of cometary atmospheres. Wurm was one of the first to recognize the distribution of neutral and ionized gases in cometary atmospheres. His research showed that the ray pressure of the sun was not sufficient for explaining typical phenomena of comet tails.
Karl Wurm thought that photodissociation was important on comets. He discovered that many of the molecules found in comets were chemically very active, signifying they could not have been present for very long.
He suggested that more stable parent molecules were their source, a hypothesis that was supported by conclusions from Pol Swings (1906-1983), a Belgian Astrophysicist. After studies of Encke’s comet, Wurm thought the parent molecules were water, methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, all of which had been in the form of ice before being heated by the sun.
1951 A.D. – Ludwig Biermann
German astrophysicist and astronomer Ludwig Biermann studied the plasma tails of comets, which led him to the conclusion that the sun emits a permanent stream of particles, a solar corpuscular radiation. In 1951, he published the article “Comet Tails and Solar Corpuscular Radiation” in the German magazine “Zeitschrift für Astrophysik”. Biermann assumed an interaction between the cometary ions in the tail of comets and a stream of electrically charged particles from the Sun with velocities of several hundred km/sec. Later, the rather misleading name “solar wind” was coined by Eugene N. Parker. The existence of this stream of electrons, protons and alpha particles was confirmed by Soviet and US-American space probes (Luna I and II, Explorer X, Mariner II, etc.) between 1959 and 1962.
Early 1950’s A.D. – Fred Whipple
In 1950, 1952 and 1955, American astronomer Fred Whipple published a series of articles titled “A Comet Model.” Based on several calculations, beginning with: 1) calculations of the acting forces, 2) chemical composition of the material, 3) the theory of the heat transfer in the core, and 4) the characteristics of fragile materials, he came to the conclusion that only water ice and other volatile materials match the data of comets. Indeed, his “icy conglomerate model” began his winning run because it seemed to match the data. The press called it “dirty snowball” model. Roughly at the same time, in 1950 the Dutch astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort (1900-1992) published his idea for the source of the long-periodic comets – it became known as hypothetical “Oort Cloud.” Oort’s and Whipple’s ideas are still core elements of today’s mainstream comet theories. However, when the public at large was able to observe Halley’s Comet for the first time in 1986, it should have caused massive doubts regarding Whipple’s model and its modern interpretations.
New Electric Comet Ideas and a Rebirth
1944 A.D. – Charles Bruce
Charles Bruce was a physicist, electrical engineer and cosmologist born in Shettleston, Scotland. Beginning in 1941, he studied electric discharges before turning to Astrophysics. Roughly 100 of his more than 130 publications were dedicated to the electrical foundations of different cosmological phenomena. In 1944 Bruce’ article “A New Approach in Astrophysics and Cosmogony“ was published. He thought the lacking success of many attempts to explain the major phenomena in Astrophysics would justify an essentially new approach. Electrically charged particles, electric fields, and electric discharges played the decisive role for the nature and direction of universal evolution in this approach.
Bruce thought that “…both Jupiter and Saturn were at one time minor stars and that their satellite systems were formed as the result of minor or planetary nova outbursts.” Furthermore, he wrote about the physical and dynamic characteristics of comets.
“(They) would appear to be the result of the disturbance of this tenuous atmosphere by the passage through it of high-speed cometary nuclei. The latter hit the atmospheric atoms at velocities reaching at times about 5 x 107 centimetres per second, thereby ionizing them and rendering them visible by their recombination. Since the atmosphere is positive, the tail is relatively much more extensive than the head owing both to the greater mobility and penetrating power of the electrons and to the fact that the inwardly directed positive ions are proceeding into regions of higher gas pressure.”
In 1960-1961, an article published in Electrical Review summarized the focus of Charles Bruce’ work best: “An All-Electric Universe.”
1946 A.D. – Immanuel Velikovsky
Immanuel Velikovsky was a well-known and polarizing physician and catastrophist, born in Vitebsk, Russia (Belarus today). After his study of medicine in Moscow, he worked in different European countries and became a psychoanalyst. Later, he relocated to the United States. Here he dedicated a lot of work to mythology and began to publish his findings.
As early as 1946, his cosmological article “Cosmos without Gravitation” pointed to contradictions between gravitation and the behavior of comets. For example, he wrote about the repulsion of a comet’s tail by the sun:
“The head of a comet and its tail are charged under a great potential difference, accounting for the manifest repulsion of the tail and attraction of the head. The neck of the comet is probably composed of positive and negative elements in equal proportion, thus forming a neutral zone between the head and the tail. Under the influence of the temperature in space, the charges change and the comet returns on its orbit.”
In his earth-shaking work “Worlds in Collision“, Immanuel Velikovsky surprised the international scientific community with his assumption that Venus was once a comet and caused havoc in our solar system only a few thousand years ago before it settled into planetary orbit. Later, he attempted to convey to Albert Einstein that comets are electric phenomena, and discussed four plans of the universe with different gravitational and electromagnetic properties. Specifically, his 1954-55 exchange of letters with Einstein highlighted his purpose. An intense personal discussion between both scientists followed on March 11, 1955, but this discussion was cut short due to Einstein’s death only weeks later.
1972 A.D. – Ralph E. Juergens
Cosmologist Ralph E. Juergens was a trained civil engineer from Arizona, USA. In 1960 he moved to Hightstown, New Jersey, and studied Velikovsky’s work. He worked as Associate Editor of Pensée magazine, Senior Editor of Kronos journal and co-authored books. In 1972, he published “Reconciling Celestial Mechanics and Velikovskian Catastrophism” with his idea of an “Electric Sun.” Juergens refused the standard view that the Sun is powered by nuclear fusion from within. He underlined “…the interplanetary medium suggest not only that the sun and the planets are electrically charged, but that the sun itself is the focus of a cosmic electric discharge — the probable source of all its radiant energy.“ 
This Electric Sun hypothesis implied consequences for comets that Juergens described as follows:
“A comet on an extremely eccentric orbit spends by far the greater part of its time in the uttermost parts of the solar system. This is because, according to Kepler’s Laws, orbital speeds near aphelion are so much less than near perihelion. Supposing, then, that space potentials in such regions are vastly greater, in the negative sense, than they are close to the sun, as the discharge hypothesis requires, any long-period comet could be expected to acquire local space potential quite readily during its long sojourn far from the sun. Quite possibly, too, its body materials would become electrically polarized in response to the buildup of charge on its surface.
Consider next what would happen to this charged, electrically polarized body as its orbit brings it with ever increasing speed back toward the sun. By the time it reaches the orbit of Jupiter, solar-wind protons will have stripped away its superficial blanket of negative charge. No longer does its surface potential match that of its surroundings, yet its internal (radial) polarization produces an external electric field, just as polarization in an electret made of wax exhibits an external field here on earth. A space-charge sheath will begin to form to shield the interplanetary plasma from the comet’s alien field.
As the comet races toward the sun, its sheath takes the form of a long tail stretching away from the sun. This happens, not because the electrified sun repels the tail material, but because voltage differences between the comet and the interplanetary plasma vary sharply with direction, and because sheath thicknesses are dictated not only by voltage differences, but by gas pressure as well. The potential difference between the head of the comet and the plasma in the direction of the sun might be substantial. But in any case, the potential difference between the comet and plasma farther out from the sun will be greater still. Also, the plasma density is greater nearer the sun than farther from the sun. Hence the sheath remains close to the comet on the sunward side, and it reaches perhaps millions of miles into space on the antisolar side.”
Juergens did not consider this explanation for comet tails as a definitive answer to the comet-tail mystery. He hoped for a discussion of the explanation in the light of the discharge hypothesis, but his untimely death left his work unfinished.
1979 A.D. – Earl Milton
The Montreal-born chemist and physicist Earl Milton was a professor of physics at Lethbridge University in Canada, as well as a founding member of the UK-based Society for Interdisciplinary Studies (SIS) in 1974 and the Canadian Society for Interdisciplineary Studies in 1982. Both societies were formed to examine the ideas of Velikovsky and other catastrophists. He collaborated with Juergens in the field of electromagnetism and astronomy. After Juergens’ early death in 1979, he continued Juergens’ work on the electric sun model and electrical discharges of comets. Milton compiled the article “Electric Discharge as the Source of Solar Radiant Energy” from the incomplete manuscripts and notes left by Ralph Juergens and published it posthumously in Kronos journal in Fall 1982 and Winter 1983.
At the SIS annual meeting in April 1980, Earl Milton explained Juergens’ hypothesis regarding the comets:
“The cometary body takes on the properties (author’s note: electric charge) of the space in which it has spent most of its time. On those infrequent apparitions when it comes into the space of the inner SOLAR SYSTEM, the body of the comet gets out of equilibrium because it now moving in an electrically different environment than the one it is adjusted to. An electrical flow then occurs to rectify the situation. The sheath which builds around the cometary body glows brightly and assumes the characteristic shape of the comet’s head and tail.”
Mid-1980’s A.D. – Wal Thornhill
Physicist, cosmologist, and computer systems engineer Wallace Thornhill was born in Melbourne, Australia. He earned a degree in physics and electronics from the University of Melbourne and continued onto postgraduate studies. While working for IBM in Canberra and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, Thornhill devoted much of his time to studying plasma and electricity in astronomy. He attended the first international Velikovskian conference on “The Recent History of the Solar System” in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in 1974. It was there he first met David Talbott and Immanuel Velikovsky. Today, he is Chief Science Advisor of The Thunderbolts ProjectTM, founded in 2004.
Wal Thornhill further developed Juergens’ and Milton’s electric comet ideas. In 2001, he made successful predictions of electrical interactions on comet “Tempel 1” when the spacecraft “Deep Impact” fired an 800-pound copper projectile at the comet. Thornhill criticized five core beliefs of astronomers regarding comets. This Thunderblog shows the “the differences in approach, assumptions, and expectations of the standard model of ‘dirty snowballs’ and of the ‘electric comet’ model.”
Wal Thornhill further developed Juergens’ and Milton’s electric comet ideas. In 2005, he made successful predictions of electrical interactions on comet “Tempel 1” when the spacecraft “Deep Impact” fired an 800-pound copper projectile at the comet. Earlier in 2001, Thornhill had criticized five core beliefs of astronomers regarding comets. In 2005, Thornhill and Talbott laid out “the differences in approach, assumptions, and expectations of the standard model of ‘dirty snowballs’ and of the ‘electric comet’ model.”
The latter model classifies comets as results of electric interactions between celestial bodies in our solar system and postulates:
“Comets follow their elongated paths within a weak electrical field centered on the Sun. In approaching the Sun, a charge imbalance develops between the nucleus and the higher voltage and charge density near the Sun. Growing electrical stresses initiate discharges and the formation of a glowing plasma sheath, appearing as the coma and tail. The observed jets of comets are electric arc discharges to the nucleus, producing ‘electrical discharge machining’ (EDM) of the surface. The excavated material is accelerated into space along the jets’ observed filamentary arcs. Intermittent and wandering arcs erode the surface and burn it black, leaving the distinctive scarring patterns of electric discharges. The jets’ explode from cometary nuclei at supersonic speeds and retain their coherent structure for hundreds of thousands of miles. The collimation of such jets is a well-documented attribute of plasma discharge.”
This discussion of this model frequently updated in Space News articles. You can view the full documentary here: “The Electric Comet” (2013), and an additional video here: “The Electric Comet II – Best Evidence” (2015).
1981 A.D. – James McCanney
American physician, mathematician, and archeologist James McCanney, while serving as a lecturer in Cornell University’s physics and mathematics department, published a series of three articles discussing “The Nature and Origin of Comets and the Evolution of Celestial Bodies” from 1981 to 1983 in Kronos magazine. Contrary to the approach of Juergens and his followers, McCanney assumed the sun to be left with a negative net charge because of the continuous ejection of primarily protons in the solar wind. The resulting “solar capacitor” is completed by a positive anode far beyond the orbit of Pluto, where he assumed a large ionized cloud of dust and gases was present. Asteroids and larger comet nuclei that enter the solar system routinely discharge this capacitor. Comets are to be considered asteroidal or larger rocky objects, which ignite a complex electrical discharge of the solar capacitor when they enter the Sun’s electrical field.
Additionally, McCanney followed the historic electrical idea of Johann Ernst Basilius Wiedeburg (1733-1789) that comets would grow. McCanney looked at comets as growing cosmic vacuum cleaners and claimed they would draw in the tail material, therefore grow larger as they travel along their orbits in the solar system.
However, this so called “Plasma Discharge Comet Model” is restricted by the lack of any discoveries in regards to growing comets.
1996 A.D. – Subhon Ibadov
Born in Tajikistan, Subhon Ibadov studied Physics at the Moscow State University (MSU) in the 1960s. After earning a PhD in Physics-Math, he became a Senior Scientist at the Institute of Astrophysics, Tajikistan Academy of Sciences (IA TAS) and headed the Comets and Asteroids Department (1989-2005). He is currently Chief Scientist there and Coordinator of Scientific Cooperation between MSU and TAS. He has authored nearly 200 papers about plasma physics and for decades has dealt with physics of comets. In 1998, he described the “Possible Mechanism of Cometary Outbursts” as follows:
“The possibility of transformation of the kinetic energy of high-energy (more than 1 MeV) protons ejected during solar flares into the electrical energy of macroscopic electric double layer in the subsurface region of a cometary nucleus is considered. It is found that at certain conditions, concerning dielectric properties of the nucleus, the energy of the electric field generated during strong solar flares is restricted by discharge potential of the nucleus material. This energy is comparable to the energy of large cometary outbursts. Simulation of the electric discharge mechanism of cometary outbursts in the corresponding technical high-voltage generating device seems a relevant problem.”
Subhon Ibadov was a featured speaker at the EU2016 Conference: Elegant Simplicity.
2013 A.D. – Franklin Anariba
Chemist and molecular electronics expert Franklin Anariba was born in Honduras, lived in El Zapote, Atlántida, and later became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He earned a BA in Chemistry from Rutgers University, as well as a Master of Science (MSc) in Analytical Chemistry and PhD in Molecular Electronics from Ohio State University. Today, Dr. Anariba is a lecturer at Singapore University of Technology and Design.
At the EU2013 conference, Dr. Anariba gave a lecture titled ”Cometary-Electrochemistry: Can Electrochemical Processes Occur in Comets?“ In 2015, he updated his findings and proposed an electrochemical model for cometary bodies. Anariba analyzed what 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was displaying regarding cometary electrochemistry. He listed anomalies in Whipple’s model, which he called the “Sublimation-condensation” theory, e.g. the presence of ions, radicals, and electrons in the vicinity of the nucleus, much closer than photoionization would allow.
Anariba thus proposed his electron-stripping electrochemical model. This model accounts for observed H2 clouds, dust jets, a coma and plasma tail. It suggests that electrons are stripped from the surface of the nucleus by a voltage differential between the nucleus and the surrounding plasma environment. Electrons travel outward radially from the nucleus and ionize chemical species in the coma via electron impact. Formation of molecular hydrogen gas in the interstellar medium is suggested to occur via surface chemistry and the formation of a surrounding molecular hydrogen gas cloud is the result of electrochemical processes. Minerals are the source of electrons within the nucleus. Dust particles in the coma provide a wide range of available surface area for electrochemical reactions. The recent observations of physical and chemical phenomena of comets point to a paradigm shift in the science of cometary bodies.
A series of five Space News interviews with Dr. Anariba, published in December 2015, gives a comprehensive overview of the direct evidence for electrical cometary activity.
2016 A.D. – Eugene Bagashov
Particle physicist Eugene Bagashov is from Minsk, Belarus. Currently, he works at the Joint Institute for Power and Nuclear Research – Sosny (one of the institutes of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus) and there is conducting PhD research in particle physics, quantum field theory, and quantum chromodynamics (QCD). He expanded upon his interest in Electric Universe ideas at the EU2015 and EU2016 conferences, where he was a presenter and was interviewed for various Space News.
In his talk “Elec-centricities of Cometary Orbits,, Bagashov discussed various parameters of the cometary population of the Solar System in order to further develop the theory. The basic idea is that the high eccentricity of the orbit makes the interaction with the electric field of the solar wind easier as the body passes through areas with different electromagnetic environments along its orbital path. Thus, with growing eccentricity, the number of comets should increase. This is the case but the dependence is nonlinear. Therefore, Bagashov suggested further research activities and fields of discussion should be initiated.
It is very pleasing to see that young scientists like Eugene Bagashov are searching for new and innovative ways to clarify the centuries-old mysteries of comets. However, I think established scientists who still remain hesitant to embrace these alternative models, will have no choice but to include the principles of plasma physics and electrical engineering as they continue to investigate the universe in the coming years.
[i] Thornhill, Wallace/Talbott, David. The Electric Universe, Portland, Oregon: Mikamar Publishing, 2007, p. 6
 Birkeland, Kristian. The Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition, Christiana: H. Aschehoug, 1908, p. 619
 Birkeland, Kristian. Are the Solar Corpuscular Rays that penetrate the Earth’s Atmosphere Negative or Positive Rays? in: Videnskapsselskapets Skrifter, I Mat — Naturv. Klasse No.1, Christiania, 1916.
 Bruce, C.E.R.. A New Approach in Astrophysics and Cosmogony, London and Woking: Unwin Brothers Ltd., 1944; http://www.catastrophism.com/texts/bruce/astro.htm, see (7)
 ibid, see (8.1)
 Juergens, Ralph. Reconciling Celestial Mechanics and Velikovskian Catastrophism, Pensée, Vo. 2, No. 3, Fall 1972; see IV in www.mikamar.biz/pdf/reconciling%20celetial%20mechanics.pdf
 Goodspeed, Michael. The True Origins of Electric Comet Theory, 2004, see https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/electric_universe/esp_electricuniverse21.htm
 Gmirkin, Michael. Evidence Confirms Electric Comet Model, 2008, see https://www.thunderbolts.info/thunderblogs/archives/mgmirkin08/030108_evidence_confirms_electric_comet.htm
 Thornhill, Wallace/Talbott, David. The Electric Comet, Poster Presentation, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, 33rd International Conference on Plasma Sciences (ICOPS), Traverse City, Michigan, June 4-8, 2006, p. 5; see http://www.thunderbolts.info/pdf/ElectricComet.pdf
 Minor Bodies in the Outer Solar System: Proceedings of the ESO Workshop, Held at Garching, Germany, 2-5 November 1998, ESO ASTROPHYSICS SYMPOSIA. ISBN 3-540-41152-6. Edited by A. Fitzsimmons, D. Jewitt, and R.M. West. Springer-Verlag, 2000, p. 177
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Hannes Täger is an engineer-economist and author, who resides in Germany. He got a vocational training as a metallurgist for molding and rolling milling in the Refined Steel Factories of Freital near Dresden. He studied business administration at the Technical University Mining Academy Freiberg (OreMountains), then he became a teaching assistant and received his Ph.D. in Economics. He now publishes in the field of early aviation history. For many years, Hannes has acted as one of the German translators for The Thunderbolts ProjectTM. Hannes was a conference scholar and a speaker in the Breakout Room at the EU2016 Conference, and his work was highlighted in a podcast called “History of the Electric Comet Theory.” He can be reached at email@example.com or http://www.flugplatzgeschichte-grossenhain.de/Kontakt.htm.
Thunderblogs in this series:
History of Electric Comet Theory: An Introduction
History of Electric Comet Theory: Part 2
History of Electric Comet Theory: Part 3
History of Electric Comet Theory: Part 4
Credit: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1976MitAG..38…14V – Karl Wurm
Credit: http://www.phys-astro.sonoma.edu – Ludwig Franz Benedikt Biermann
Credit: www.plasma-universe.com – Charles Edward Rhodes Bruce
Credit: http://www.everythingselectric.com – Ralph E. Juergens
Credit: http://www.velikovsky.info/Earl_Milton – Earl Richard Vincent Milton
Credit: www.thunderbolts.info – Wallace “Wal” Thornhill
Credit: https://caravantomidnight.com – James M. McCanney
Credit: www.thunderbolts.info – Subhon Ibadov
Credit: www.thunderbolts.info – Franklin Anariba
Credit: www.thunderbolts.info – Eugen Bagashov
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Edited by Jeffrey Whitlatch
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