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Cause of Aurora Borealis Confirmed

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the it's-not-eskimo-ghosts-more's-the-pity dept.

Space 172

An anonymous reader writes "There are reports that satellites have aided scientists in confirming why the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) exists. 'New data from NASA's Themis mission, a quintet of satellites launched this winter, found the energy comes from a stream of charged particles from the sun flowing like a current through twisted bundles of magnetic fields connecting Earth's upper atmosphere to the sun. The energy is then abruptly released in the form of a shimmering display of lights.'"

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The More Important Discovery (5, Interesting)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693160)

The interesting new information is actually the following:

"THEMIS encountered its first magnetic rope on May 20, 2007," says Sibeck. "It was very large, about as wide as Earth, and located approximately 40,000 miles above Earth's surface in a region called the magnetopause." The magnetopause is where the solar wind and Earth's magnetic field meet and push against one another like sumo wrestlers locked in combat. There, the rope formed and unraveled in just a few minutes, providing a brief but significant conduit for solar wind energy. Other ropes quickly followed: "They seem to occur all the time," says Sibeck.

What happens within the laboratory with *electrical* plasmas is that the plasma will tend to form filaments of charged particles. It is a natural state of the plasma. Furthermore, multiple filaments will tend to possess long-range attraction and short-range repulsion with one another. In other words, they will twist around one another without fully combining. This can be observed by any layperson by looking closely at the point where your novelty plasma globe's filaments touch the glass. What appears as one filament from a distance is in fact two filaments twisting around one another like a rope that unwind with contact to glass. This roped structure within the laboratory constitutes a flow of charged particles, and as those charged particles move across the rope in response to voltage potentials, this flow of charged particles will in turn create helical magnetic fields around the filaments. Maxwell's Equations demand it.

The observation of a roped magnetic structure connecting the Sun and Earth is extremely important because we know from our laboratory experiences with plasmas that rope-like structures occur when the plasma is electrical. I'm very curious what the response will be from the astrophysical community about this *structure*. Will they argue that the similarity in morphologies is actually coincidental?

If so, somebody should share the talking points with NASA, because they appear to be off-message ...

From http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/themis/auroras/northern_lights.html [nasa.gov] :

"THEMIS also has observed a number of small explosions in Earth's magnetic bow shock. "The bow shock is like the bow wave in front of a boat," explained Sibeck. "It is where the solar wind first feels the effects of Earth's magnetic field. Sometimes a burst of electrical current within the solar wind will hit the bow shock and--Bang! We get an explosion."

Re:The More Important Discovery (3, Insightful)

Kagura (843695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693214)

So to sum up your entire post for those that come after me, you are saying "electric universe rules".

Re:The More Important Discovery (2, Interesting)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693334)

Every single person who doubts that this is more than coincidental can surely be excused for the sole reason that the implications are kind of hard to get a full handle on. It's really kind of shocking. But, it's important that people be aware of the possibility of Birkeland Currents in space, and even more, I think perhaps people should just accept that there is a distinct possibility that we just live in interesting times.

Re:The More Important Discovery (4, Funny)

Shining Celebi (853093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693582)

Every single person who doubts that this is more than coincidental can surely be excused for the sole reason that the implications are kind of hard to get a full handle on. It's really kind of shocking.

Why yes, I suppose it would be.

i'm a talking doggie! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21693614)

See subject.

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

mgmirkin (1203064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694638)

True, the implications are as vast as the galaxy, nay, the universe.

Shocking, indeed! Very amusing! 8^)

Cheers, ~Michael Gmirkin

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695458)

Hmm. Modded down for mentioning plasma cosmology. A similar thing happens on Wikipedia. I find the vigour with which plasma cosmology (small p,small s) is shouted down rather worrying. And it is almost always merely shouted down, I rarely see scientific arguments used against it, which is more than can be said for total bullshit like creationism. I'm not saying I believe everything proponents of Plasma Cosmology (big p, big s) have to say, just that the debate doesn't semm to be in the best traditions of science.

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695842)

I have no idea how you got modded troll there. I'm guessing it's from your talking about people expecting this is coincidental, which they then relate to you somehow talking about God and then want to ruin your karma. Teehee. Anyway, you forgot to say FRIST TOSP!!! up there :o

Re:The More Important Discovery (1, Funny)

GreenLED (1202039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694158)

To sum up the whole story, the
universe is incredibly fascinating.
It's hard to believe all of this stuff
could possibly be made of of chance.

A magnetic rope, wow.

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694432)

So they're finally sure it's not just some kids with flashlights?

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

mgmirkin (1203064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694660)

Maybe a 30 kV [google.com] flashlight (pumping 650,000 amps into the arctic)?

Heck of a light show! Might burn out the bulb, tho'.

Cheers,
~Michael Gmirkin

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

GreenLED (1202039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695010)

I guess that depends on
whether you're using an
incandescent bulb, or
an LED, don't you think?

Re:The More Important Discovery (2, Funny)

GreenLED (1202039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694984)

We're so smart, it took us, oh...
"millions" of years to figure this
out. Hmmm, if you figure that
the earth has been around for
6,000 years, that actually puts
us in a better "light" -- we must
be pretty stupid. I wonder how
much longer it will take to figure
out that it's impossible to throw
a boat-load of random plane
parts on a tarmark, come back
5 billion years later and find out
"It's A Plane!!!!!!" Om my goodness!

Even video gamers realize you have
to program a game before you can
have fun playing it. :)

Re:The More Important Discovery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21695904)

I can't tell if you're trolling or just being cute. By your choice of analogy, you've been reading "The Blind Watchmaker" in either case, I presume.

The real kicker is that you don't have to design a human to get a human. You're pretty unlikely to get any complex thing in particular, but you're guaranteed to get a complex thing of some sort. The "some sort" that are a bunch of ape descendants do like their video games though.

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695730)

They're finally sure it's not a communist conspiracy to... uh... ??? and Profit!?

Re:The More Important Discovery (4, Interesting)

mgmirkin (1203064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694582)

"So to sum up your entire post for those that come after me, you are saying "electric universe rules"." -Kagura


No, I think that what he's saying is something to the effect that this shouldn't be news to anybody, but the fact that it is happens to be disheartening.

Specifically, Kristian Birkeland predicted this in his book Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition [live.com] (section 2, I believe).

Specifically, if one references the images contained in the book, things become clear quite quickly:
Chapter VI: On Possible Electric Phenomena in Solar Systems and Nebulae [plasma-universe.com]

Take, for instance, an extreme case of his terella in operation:
Figure 259 [plasma-universe.com]

How do you like them "flux ropes?"

This image hows the terella operating in a mode that exposes the electrical currents for what they are. In this shot, the currents are in "arc mode" (akin to sparks or lightning). Whereas the auroras around Earth are akin to a "glow mode" discharge. Birkeland currents in interplanetary space are a "dark mode" discharge (IE, not glowing, but still slowly transferring electric charges in a "dark" current, much like an electrical wire, but in this case a plasma filament). Look it up. Standard plasma physics.

In essence, the solar system can be likened to a virtual "plasma globe." In the "plasma globe" model of the solar system, the sun is the central electrode. The planets are akin to people pressing their fingers to the outer glass because it's cool to watch the filaments connect to the spot you touch. The "magnetic flux ropes" are akin to the plasma filaments connecting the central electrode to the outer glass where fingers touch. The "magnetic flux ropes" are a byproduct of the electrical current (flow of charged particles) connecting the sun to the Earth.

Here's a colorized version of a plasma globe I made for reference:
Plasma globe "sun" [google.com]

So, yeah, it's something like that [google.com] .

I really wish it would let me put images in this thing. Ohh well, I said it better over on BAUT anyway (assuming they don't immediately MOD it out of existence, for being presumptuous enough to mention astronomers' apparent blindspot regarding electricity in space).

Did I forget to mention NASA's own rather candid admission that there's an electrical link between the sun and the Earth? "Flux rope" pumps 650,000 Amp current into the arctic! (30 kV battery in space) [google.com] (Noted on this page: Multimedia for the Press Event for THEMIS [nasa.gov] .)

In all, what Pln2bz says is quite sage, and I suggest that we listen to him... Rather carefully. He may not be quite as "insane" as some think. It's quite necessary to review the argument based on its merits, and see where it leads. Might just turn science on its ear.

After all, we've just re-learned that Birkeland currents power the magnetosphere. This was confirmed in t he 60s / 70s when we started shooting satellites into space, and it was predicted in the 1900s (appx 1902-1903 was when Birkeland went north; 1908 was when he published Norewgian Aurora Polaris Expedition, to great acclaim pretty much everywhere, except England and America, where an electrically neutral/sterile cosmology had already taken hold, unfortunately, setting us back a ways).

It wasn't until we knew what plasma was, and how to look for it, that we decided to look for it, and discovered space was not a neutral/sterile vacuum, but rather it was teeming with plasma. In fact, it's a recognized fact that 90-99% of the visible matter in the universe, is in the plasma state. Our "solid/liquid/gas" world is by far in the minority of matter in the universe. Light / sparse plasma (which constitutes the majority of plasma out there; I think, though don't quote me on that) is also an extremely good conductor of verboten, yet omnipresent, "electrical current(s)."

Pln2bz, is simply stating that the erroneous assumption of electrical neutrality / sterility needs to be removed, and we need to consider one of the fundamental forces of nature in order to fully understand the workings of the universe. Without it, any theory of the universe IS NOT COMPLETE. Period.

The planets are connected back to the sun via "flux ropes" or "Birkeland currents." Of course the next logical question is, "But from whence does the sun's charge come." A natural question. The likely answer is that "the galaxy powers the solar system / sun, and the sun offloads that current to the planets." But, then, "from whence the galaxy?" Keep in mind that currents tend, by nature, to flow in filaments through light plasma. And what is the structure of the universe? You guessed it! Filaments [nasa.gov] and more filaments [nasa.gov] !

From whence does the power for the filaments come? That's an open question. That's the BIG question. Akin to "what came before the Big Bang?", if there was such a mythical beast...

But, I've probably talked your ears off... Consider what I've said, meditate upon it, look it up (BEFORE flaming, preferably; hopefully no flaming, but only intelligible coments, please?). Do your own research. I am one, you are many. But hopefully my words fall on non-deaf ears.

Cheers,
~Michael Gmirkin

(A nowhere man, from NowhereLand, sitting in a nowhere chair, making all his nowhere plans, with nobody...)

Re:The More Important Discovery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21694870)

Huh... I didn't realize this was such a big issue among astronomers. I just assumed this was how things worked... That is, I learned about plasmas, the magnetosphere and such, and information about the Aurora Borealis being caused by electrons moving about magnetic field lines and at some point made the connection that electrical currents fluctuated in this space plasma... What with all the magnetic fields and plasma about, it seemed logical.

Re:The More Important Discovery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21695650)

No, I think she is saying "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo rules"

This must be a great day for you (0, Redundant)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693240)

You got first post on a story about plasma! Is there a little 'Electric Universe Slide" dance you do? I keed, I keed... ;-P

Re:This must be a great day for you (0, Redundant)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693268)

I prefer "Nailed it." :)

Re:This must be a great day for you (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693576)

Just for you, an aurora. [flickr.com]

Re:This must be a great day for you (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21694530)

take your fag picture and shove it up your ass

stop pushing your photography on us
it's all bullshit anyway

Re:This must be a great day for you (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695096)

Homophobic much?

Re:This must be a great day for you (1)

mgmirkin (1203064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694616)

Another nail in the coffin for the "electrically neutral" solar system, galaxy, universe.

See my other post for a more thorough discussion:
Here [slashdot.org]

Cheers,
~Michael Gmirkin

Re:The More Important Discovery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21693390)

I work at NASA, and I know the people involved with the nasa.gov release. Just exactly would you like your dumbed down science, such that it fills all peoples understanding of electromagnetism and astrophysics all at once? If you could tell me the proper way of dumbing science down so that all denominators are equally satisfied, let me know so I can forward your request to those scientists.

Dumbed down until you don't see anything new (1)

sweet_petunias_full_ (1091547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693912)

"If you could tell me the proper way of dumbing science down so that all denominators are equally satisfied, let me know so I can forward your request to those scientists."

Maybe they could learn a lesson from Wikipedia on that point? Their article on the subject (Aurora_borealis) is pretty readable, has collected some nice images, but it includes plenty of links to more tedious (but informative) reading material at the bottom. The CNN blurb is so dumbed down that it's impossible to figure out what exactly is NEW about this experiment, seeing as most of us already knew that the Lights had something to do with charged particles from the solar wind flowing across the magnetosphere in the polar regions. As far as I could tell, no scientific progress was made here because we haven't discovered anything we didn't already know.

When that happens, the dumbing down passed the mark.

Re:Dumbed down until you don't see anything new (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695134)

My understanding is that they observed the theory in action and thereby proved it to be true. Of course I am taking that from the submission's title, Cause of Aurora Borealis Confirmed. As a typical slashdoter, i haven't RTFA yet which might be why your confused (you have read it).

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693502)

good thing you posted that cuz I was like "Yeaaaaaaaah I learned that in fifth grade"

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

jnik (1733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693526)

What are you saying? What, to you, distinguishes an "electrical" plasma from any other type of plasma? (What other types do you assert exist?) The magnetic connection between the Earth and the Sun is not a new idea; it was first seriously proposed by Dungey in 1961 and has survived some very rigourous testing. What is "off-message"? The existence of large-scale currents in space? Those have been accepted for decades at least--otherwise there can't be a magnetopause. Field aligned currents? Again, long established. Parallel electric fields? Necessary in some form for auroral acceleration (although beyond that there's still some debate.) Oh, yes, and flux ropes aren't particularly new, either. The interesting thing here is their role in transferring solar wind energy to the magnetosphere.

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694234)

Do you agree that these are Birkeland Currents?

Also, out of curiosity, what do you believe is the mechanism for the acceleration of the solar wind? Why does it continue to accelerate even as it passes the planets?

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

mgmirkin (1203064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694796)

I vote "charged particles in an electric field." (Easiest way to accelerate charged particles in the lab...) What's the more technical term? "Voltage drop," I think?

I might also chime in with the term "heliospheric current sheet." Just to prod the conversation a bit.

Cheers,
~Michael Gmirkin

Re:The More Important Discovery (3, Interesting)

mgmirkin (1203064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694890)

Okay then...

Here's a question for the astrophsycists, if they know of "things electric" (such as the Birkeland currents powering the auroras), has anyone drawn out the solar electric circuit(s)? If so, where are they diagrammed (can you point me to them, I'd love to see them, as they're never discussed in public; so far as I know)?

If not, why not. If astrophysicists realize this is essentially an electrical engineering problem, why has it not been diagrammed as such and "solved," so to speak? Why do scientists and/or news releases always seem to exclaim surprise about all things electrical they discover in the solar system?

Likewise, why do so many scientists, papers, and news releases still talk in terms of "winds," "rains," and "shock fronts," instead of Electrical Engineering terms like "plasma filaments," "Birkeland currents," "double layers," "closed circuits," "inductors," "capacitors," "relaxation oscillators," "plasma sheaths," "dark mode discharge" (Birkeland currents; while between the sun and Earth), "glow mode discharge" (auroras, sun's photosphere), "arc mode discharge" (lightning, solar prominences, coronal loops & flares), "anodes," "cathodes," etc.

It seems like the astronomers' language is still rooted in terms from the Victorian era. Or is there just a language barrier between various disciplines and they're all just talking about the same things (in their own specialized terms)? If so, how do we get everyone to use the same language for the same things, so we can recognize the same things in the same ways, when talking between disciplines?

Just wondering, please don't take offense. It's an interesting topic to me. =o]

Maybe the EE's and astrophysicists just need to sit down at the same table (a really big table, with the best and brightest), compare notes on "how things work in the lab" vs. "how things work in space," and come up with a set of standard terms and definitions? Where they can't agree, perhaps more research is needed... Frankly, I think that such a "meeting of the minds to compare notes across multi-disciplinary lines" should be a yearly thing. If it doesn't already happen. Just to keep everyone on the same page.

Cheers,
~Michael Gmirkin

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

iantresman (811154) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695472)

I believe that all plasmas are electrified by definition, in that they consist of moving charged particles that self-generate magnetic and electric fields. There are lots of different "types" of plasma, such as (a) cold, warm and hot plasmas, (b) magnetic and non-magnetic plasmas (all space plasmas are magnetic) (c) neutral and non-neutral plasmas (d) complex plasmas which includes dusty plasma. Some of these are described at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasma_(physics) [wikipedia.org]

Climate Implications? (1, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693660)

Well, does it follow that there might be climate implications from um, having this giant sun literally plugged into the earth? It seems to me that having an electrical current running between two giant celestial bodies ought to have some impact in terms of climate.

Re:Climate Implications? (1)

mgmirkin (1203064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694704)

You'd think so, wouldn't you?

Do they figure in the giant "battery in space [google.com] ," when talking about climate forcings?

They probably just missed the memo...? It's a bad habit, skipping the staff meetings where they talk about how the solar system is like a giant plasma globe [google.com] , I know.

C'est la vie!

Cheers,
~Michael Gmirkin

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693848)

Actually I kind this kind of interesting, the explanation I had always heard was that a wave of charged particles boiled off of a sunspot and that it was electrical charge of that wavefront collapsing some field lines and streaming down the magnetic holes at the poles. Knowing that there is actually a continuous event from the sun to the earth is an interesting realization for me.

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

falconcy (1082517) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694744)

Isn't this old information? AFAIK the ESA found most of this on the Cluster II missions http://clusterlaunch.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=8 [esa.int] Funny how NASA seems to get a monopoly on discovering things, even if the do find out later ;-)

Re:The More Important Discovery (2, Funny)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694920)

I thought it was Dust...

Re:The More Important Discovery (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695938)

"It also fits well the model of the sun being a *source* of the solar
wind plasma, which will stretch out the magnetic field as seen. A nice
confirmation of the standard theory. However, if the sun is the focus
of an electrical discharge, then the solar wind should be in-bound
instead of out-bound. Or, more precisely, an electric current should be
in-bound. But such is not the case; protons and electrons both flee the
sun rapidly in all directions, consistent with a thermally driven wind,
and inconsistent with an electrical origin. The field and plasma
observation actually serves to *disprove* the electric star hypothesis,
and to confirm the standard theory."

http://www.tim-thompson.com/grey-areas.html [tim-thompson.com]

You try to pretend that astro-physicists ignore the electro- side of electromagnetism. They obviously have a close relationship. Without going into the many other flaws of Electric Universe theory, where are the electrons flowing back towards the sun from this supposed electrical current between the sun and earth?

Obviously (2, Interesting)

Mr Bubble (14652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693182)

it's dust.

Re:Obviously (3, Funny)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693280)

You've RUINED my Christmas. I always thought it was Santa who caused the lights.

Sincerely,

Billy Widget, Age 8, Cleveland Ohio

P.S. I bet you're going to tell me next that there is no Easter Bunny, storks don't deliver babies, and Microsoft sells flawless software. I'm not THAT dumb.

Re:Obviously (2, Funny)

zolaar (764683) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694122)

Did you ever stop to think that, maybe, Santa made the Sun? When Santa and the Y'ter Bunny (having returned to Santa seeking guidance from its "creator") merged consciousnesses and ascended to a higher plane of existence?

As for your other assertions, I'll leave you with this: weiners make more than just pee-pee; Microsoft, on the other hand, doesn't.

Not offtopic. Pop-culture humor. (2, Informative)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693360)

By "dust," he means the mysterious substance that drives the powers-that-be of Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy to distraction. And it's the cause of the Northern Lights in that alternate universe.

The first book of the trilogy -- known as "The Golden Compass" in the U.S. and "The Northern Lights" in Britain -- opened in theaters last week.

Re:Obviously (1)

Wolfraider (1065360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21696178)

"We're all dust in the wind"

Lights, Camera, Action (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21693198)

Who is the real star [about.com] of this picture [borealis2000.com] ?

It's TWUE! (3, Funny)

interiot (50685) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693252)

I'm sure the electric universe guys [wired.com] will have a field day [thunderbolts.info] with this...

Mod him funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21693514)

There's a great pun in there. See it yet?

Re:It's TWUE! (3, Funny)

deft (253558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693534)

"I'm sure the electric universe guys will have a field day with this..."

I'd say they will have a magnetic field day with this one.

Al Gore's Carbon Footprint (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21693536)

Please tell me that the cause is the Gore-acle's (peace be upon our prophet) massive jet-setting carbon footprint.

You know, if he lived something reasonably close to the life he advocates for the rest of us, I might think he actually believes what he says.

But no he has just carved out the Jimmy Carter niche for himself, without having to ass-kiss up to Anti-Semitic terrorists like Arafat.
Nice work if you can get it actually.

Losing the election may have been the best thing that happened to him.

Re:Al Gore's Carbon Footprint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21694066)

Honestly, I haven't listened to a thing Gore has said about global warming.
What's this guy all about, anyway?

Re:It's TWUE! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21693774)

I'm sure they will, meanwhile we'll be doing actual experiments and using wonderful things called "equations"

Re:It's TWUE! (1)

Jekler (626699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695608)

On a serious note, I'm surprised the scientific community hasn't been faster to adopt the "electric universe" theories. It really does seem to be another valuable piece of the physics puzzle, it's a shame that it's mostly being ignored, even as new evidence validates many of the theories on a consistent basis. I guess it's just that scientists are scared that it replaces their existing knowledge rather than extending it.

Re:It's TWUE! (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695698)

On a serious note, I'm surprised the scientific community hasn't been faster to adopt the "electric universe" theories.

I think the main problem there is that, well... 'electric universe' attracts an awful lot of loonies, who then give the whole concept a very bad reputation. Maybe there are some electromagnetic interactions being overlooked, but the 'electric universe' crowd are pushing for the complete rewriting of the entirety of astronomy based on not very much.

Re:It's TWUE! (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695912)

Actually, the evidence and observations often directly contradict the electric universe theories, and they just ignore the studies they don't like - then claim that standard model astrophysicists are ignoring the electro- side of electromagnetism, as seen upthread.

No true scientist is afraid of being proved wrong, they embrace it and use it to improve their work. Electric Universe proponents rarely provide ways for their theories to be falsified, and when what should be there according to their theories isn't, it's because we're not looking hard enough/in the right places/with the right equipment.

Electric fields disrupt plasma, magnetic fields contain them from observation, plus magnetic fields are much bigger than electrical fields in the sun's corona, plus where is the flow of electrons back towards the sun? Electric Universe proponents have no explanation for where all the energy is coming from that concentrates in the 'pinch areas' of stars. It shares many of the same characteristics as the over-unity (free energy) crowd. Standard model nuclear fusion matches many observations, though there's still some kinks around neutrinos.

I'm no astro-physicist, but of the research I've done into this, the majority of Electric Universe theories are poorly thought out horse pucky that don't match observational data, that try to explain holes in standard theory that aren't there.

http://www.tim-thompson.com/grey-areas.html [tim-thompson.com]

"It also fits well the model of the sun being a *source* of the solar
wind plasma, which will stretch out the magnetic field as seen. A nice
confirmation of the standard theory. However, if the sun is the focus
of an electrical discharge, then the solar wind should be in-bound
instead of out-bound. Or, more precisely, an electric current should be
in-bound. But such is not the case; protons and electrons both flee the
sun rapidly in all directions, consistent with a thermally driven wind,
and inconsistent with an electrical origin. The field and plasma
observation actually serves to *disprove* the electric star hypothesis,
and to confirm the standard theory."

What? (2, Funny)

Jethro (14165) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693262)

I thought it was already well established that the aurora was caused by Santa's reindeer throwing up.

Re:What? (5, Funny)

bpsbr_ernie (1121681) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693860)

I always thought it was fairy dust or glitter from the angels... obviously, I was wrong, its the sun farting in our general direction...

Oblig. (5, Funny)

Xinef Jyinaer (1044268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693274)

Aurora Borealis? At this time of year? At this time of day? In this part of the country? Localized entirely within your kitchen?

Re:Oblig. (1)

liquidf (1146307) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693344)

can i see it?

Re:Oblig. (1)

Xinef Jyinaer (1044268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693368)

No.

Re:Oblig. (3, Funny)

operagost (62405) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693790)

Mmm... steamed hams.

Re:Oblig. (1)

dankasfuk (885483) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693986)

Mod parent up please

at this time of year? (2, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693282)

There are reports that satellites have aided scientists in confirming why the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) exists. 'New data from NASA's Themis mission, a quintet of satellites launched this winter, found the energy comes from a stream of charged particles from the sun flowing like a current through twisted bundles of magnetic fields connecting Earth's upper atmosphere to the sun.

That's not true at all. It happens when you're cooking steamed hams, and your kitchen catches on fire.

Yes, but what about the alternatives? (5, Funny)

commisaro (1007549) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693300)

What about the "Intelligent Twinkling" explanation? Scientists seem completely unwilling to even CONSIDER this possibility!

And that means: (4, Funny)

nofrak (889021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693318)

We still know what we already knew. Tonight I can finally sleep easy!

Re:And that means: (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695026)

That doesn't mean that what we know now is true though. The aurora could also be a conspiracy against us. Because of this, I'm afraid you'll have to give up a few human rights, such as going outdoors alone when there is one being active. The major news networks will air a press conference detailing these new potentially dangerous theories soon. Thanks for your cooperation.

Tagging (1)

omfpe (1168715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693364)

"Dust" might be a good tag for this, given all the Golden Compass hullabaloo.

Okay... (0, Redundant)

alshithead (981606) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693366)

Well that's comforting. We've confirmed a theory that was already pretty well accepted as being fact.

Next...?

Global climate change?
Evolution?
Silent but deadly versus loud and fruity?

Move on folks, nothing to see here.

Re:Okay... (5, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693412)

"We've confirmed a theory that was already pretty well accepted as being fact."

Way to understate the importance of confirming theories. Heh.

Re:Okay... (1)

alshithead (981606) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693598)

"Way to understate the importance of confirming theories. Heh."

Well, of course no "proven" theory has later been found to wrong either has it? Such as spontaneous generation, perhaps? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis [wikipedia.org]

I'm not sure the importance of this "confirmation" ranks as front page news. Honestly, I'd much rather see some, any theory of our current climate changes proven. At least then we might be able to start effectively making some changes. For that matter, proving the theory of cold fusion would go a long way to improving our lives.

Bah, I guess I'm a little overly critical at the moment...I'm having a bad week.

Re:Okay... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693796)

"I'm not sure the importance of this "confirmation" ranks as front page news. Honestly, I'd much rather see some, any theory of our current climate changes proven. At least then we might be able to start effectively making some changes. For that matter, proving the theory of cold fusion would go a long way to improving our lives."

Hey, that's fine. But the guys working on the aurora aren't the same guys working on cold fusion. It's like throwing aerospace engineers into cancer research. We don't focus our energies like that. (I'd argue that we're better off that way. Diversity has ways of helping out other fields...) On top of that, something has to happen before it makes the front page news. It's not like cold fusion was bumped out for this story.

"Bah, I guess I'm a little overly critical at the moment...I'm having a bad week."

I hear ya on that. Have a good night, man.

Re:Okay... (2, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693928)

"Well, of course no "proven" theory has later been found to wrong either has it?"

Strike two, equate science and proof again and your outta here!

Climate change: Did you fall for the "science has nothing to do with consenus" meme?

Cold fusion: Rejected as a worthwhile inquiry since after a lot of attempts nobody has been able to confirm the original finding.

OT: Climate Change (2, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694624)

Climate Change "No Consensus": That is a pretty bad meme. Obviously, lay people have little more to go on that the "consensus" of the body of work. Unfortunately, the consensus wrt Climate Change formed way before the measurements were sufficient to really say anything, and became entangled in political discourse as a result. (or maybe as the cause)

Either way, it is now extremely difficult to separate the good science from the bad, especially for lay people, as the consensus in that field was tainted. Even if the Scientists themselves hadn't gotten involved in the politics, the various very-loud-groups have been squawking and over hyping the preliminary results to further their half-baked utopian ideas.

Many are using the "Well, even if we're not sure, don't you think it would be a good idea to take action just in case?" argument and then proposing action that would be akin to starting a course of radical chemotherapy on the advice of a team of chiropractors. Others are demanding Action! Now! Then starting companies to do something known to be ineffective and changing nothing about their own lives, even to the point of flying around by private jet to deliver a powerpoint presention partially about the dangers of wastefully burning fuel by flying private jets. Almost as if they really don't believe what they're saying, and are just cynically using it as a political springboard or worse, as hype for modern indulgences scams.

I think what you're seeing, with a lot of the so-called "deniers," is the natural lash-back against a very real hysteria which, in the absence of sufficient critical ability to make impassioned arguments for moderation based on the real data, which again, is itself sometimes difficult to trust, has latched onto whatever arguments it finds, however specious. Certainly there is some wisdom in being skeptical of any consensus when it has a real effect on how you live your life.

Re:Okay... (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694116)

Well, of course no "proven" theory has later been found to wrong either has it?
fail. it isn't that our theories are "perfect" or even "correct" as they are accurate in explaining what we are actually seeing. most of the real science deals with actually doing experiments and seeing if they do or do not confirm what your theories predict. If by experiment we find something that doesn't match up with current theory, we have two choices: first, modify said theory incorporating any new data- which is what happened with Einstein's theories which better explained gravity and space than did Newton's theories. Newton's theories were for a lack of a better word "correct" under most conditions but einstein's work expanded on them to include very high velocities and high gravity fields. the second choice is more radical, and that is to throw the whole theory its self out the window so to speak. This is what happened with spontaneous generation and geocentrism. why? neither theory could be modified to explain any of the new data. they tried with geocentrism, postulating an ever increasing number of concentric rings by which planets orbit but this no longer predicted any new phenomena with any where near the accuracy of the heliocentric theory. newton's advances in gravitational theory put the last nails in the coffin of geocentrism and later experiments confirmed the findings of heliocentric/gravitational theory. The point is that our current theories are correct to some degree, that is to say our current theories will always be good for predicting phenomena at this particular level of testing, further testing of the theories may indeed require current theories to be expanded or thrown out but new theories will need to explain what current theories do *and* predict future phenomena.

Why confirm an already proven theory. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21695386)

May be it's a confirmation for you westeners, but I'm from the ex-communist block (now in the EU block). And 20 years ago we knew that this has been confirmed by russian sats. It just proves NASA is 20 years back not only in rocket science but in science in general.

Re:Why confirm an already proven theory. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21696062)

"It just proves NASA is 20 years back not only in rocket science but in science in general."

Maybe you mean how NASA designed a smaller moon rocket than the Soviet version using a more advanced chemical propulsion mechanism which gave it a far greater payload, and then built several of them and didn't have *any* let alone *ALL* of them blow a few seconds into flight?

Maybe you're talking about NASA's Space Shuttle system, which the Soviets felt obliged to copy even though their knock-off was not as capable despite coming later and despite the debatable utility of the concept?

Maybe you mean to address the competence of Soviet scientific procedure, which led to a press conference being called to announce an extraterrestrial communication signal that turned out to be a false alarm because they reacted too quickly. Compare that to similar detections by NASA science operations which were calmly and thoroughly investigated and since they turned up negative required no embarrassing press conference.

Maybe you mean to address how the NASA has conducted all of its manned missions in full public view with international press and dignitaries in attendance, whereas Soviet manned flights beginning with the very first one have often been conducted in secrecy so as to deny the existence of their failures, as sometimes necessary?

Maybe you mean to talk about how American rocket technology is responsible for the majority of launches in history thus far, commercial, scientific and military alike?

Perhaps about how NASA is responsible for more geophysical, oceanographic, and climatological research and planetary exploration than any other single institution in history?

No?

Just borealis? (1)

wingman358 (912560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693450)

What about the aurora australis? For those that don't know, the aurora australis is the aurora borealis' southern counterpart.

Re:Just borealis? (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693642)

Aurora australis is the color of the big elephant, totally unrelated to borealis in every aspect...

(Seriously, if it is a counterpart then it should be the same, or at least a cheap knockoff :D)

Summary: (1)

Telepathetic Man (237975) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693478)

Yep, we were right. Told you so.

Johnny Mercer is not OT (0, Offtopic)

opencity (582224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693508)

Your lips were like a red and ruby chalice, warmer than the summer night
The clouds were like an alabaster palace rising to a snowy height.
Each star its own aurora borealis, suddenly you held me tight
I could see the Midnight Sun.

I can't explain the silver rain that found me--or was that a moonlit veil?
The music of the universe around me, or was that a nightingale?
And then your arms miraculously found me,suddenly the sky turned pale,
I could see the Midnight Sun.

Was there such a night, it's a thrill I still don't quite believe,
But after you were gone, there was still some stardust on my sleeve.

The flame of it may dwindle to an ember, and the stars forget to shine,
And we may see the meadow in December, icy white and crystalline,
But oh my darling always I'll remember when your lips were close to mine,
And we saw the Midnight Sun.

Nonsense. (4, Funny)

Moofie (22272) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693512)

It's Dust.

Where's MY Panserbjørne?

So let me get this straight (3, Interesting)

427_ci_505 (1009677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693868)

We've always hypothesized this, but just got evidence/confirmation?

Or am I misinterpreting it here?

(I was about to tag this as being very old news before this).

Re:So let me get this straight (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695312)

From what I understood, we just have a new and better confirmation. But a small step towards knowledge is still a good one.

I'll believe it when . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21696192)

. . . Netcraft confirms it.

PeopleNET (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21693898)

What if we could use these tunnels between the sun and the earth as patch cables between planets? If we could get teleportation down we could just beam over the 'Net to another planet in seconds.

Zonk - WTF-Over? (1)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693930)

Uhmmm i think I learned that in like 6th grade science class and that was like in 1969!

You call this news!?

Re:Zonk - WTF-Over? (2, Funny)

zolaar (764683) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694286)

Ooh, yeesh... buddy, hate to be the one to break it to you... "science" class got cut from your kids' school's budget back about... well, about two or three years after the Beijing Wall came down and Germany finally gave up Communalism in favor of Christianity...

Yeah, I know, bummer.

Would it make you feel better to know that, once a week, we show the kids our HD-DVDs of "Smarter Than A 5th Grader - Season 1"? We feel that seeing another child succeed on television helps develop a child's positive self-image. An incredibly handy attribute when you're standing in the unemployment line.

Re:Zonk - WTF-Over? (1)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695178)

Damn this is one of those rare occasions when I want to be able to MOD the thread I am participating in. Oh hell its not that rare, but I would MOD your post funny as hell, if it were not so sadly true.

Thankfully most of my brain cells survived my misspent youth and I can teach my kid science, since that does not seem to be a priority of our educational system these days. But then again /sarcasm=on we Do need to spend more money on football and cultural sensitivity. /sarcasm=off

Fucking Dr. Spock anyway

I really liked him. (0, Offtopic)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693942)

I don't understand what they mean by "the cause of" him, but I thought David Borealis played the role of Angel in Buffy extremely well and I enjoyed his spin-off show "Angel". It's too bad the show as canceled.

Re:I really liked him. (1)

westcoast philly (991705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694612)

Then watch him in Bones. he gets to carry a gun, and has a sexy scientist pal.

Happy Birthday (2, Interesting)

plasmana (984377) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693946)

Happy Birthday Kristian Birkeland. 140 years old today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birkeland_current [wikipedia.org]

Re:Happy Birthday (1)

Malekin (1079147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694750)

Uh, you're a day late. 10:1 you're an American and forgot you're half a day behind the rest of the world.

NASA doubletalk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21693974)

Gee whiz!

I received my Ph.D. in 1983 on the subject of the interaction of auroral energetic charged particles (electrons) originating in the magnetosphere with the earth's upper atmosphere, wherein I developed a very successful computer model of these interactions, including all the relevant quantum collision processes. The origins of the aurora had been known for at least 50 years before that, and my model was certainly not the first.

This latest announcement is, sadly, just another NASA press release to justify its dwindling science budget to congress. The basic mechanisms of the aurora have been known for some time, and what THEMIS does is dot the i's and cross the t's on the energy transfer mechanisms. These details are certainly important (to auroral researchers), but to claim that THEMIS has found the source of the aurora is absolutely ludicrous, given the well-established history of auroral research.

lyrics (3, Funny)

grayNOISEeffect (911023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694138)

"flowing like a current through twisted bundles of magnetic fields"

Aren't those the lyrics to some 90s trance song?

Re:lyrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21694188)

Who the hell remembers the 90s?

I was dropping so much acid that... ah... um... Nevermind.

I'm a grown up, now, with a job to protect and a past to hide. ;)

Re:lyrics (1)

theurge14 (820596) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695334)

Trance has lyrics?

Everyone knows (1)

Enigma1625 (544974) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694276)

it's Santa Clause's doing! :)

This is the way it's supposed to work (5, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694614)

An excellent example of how science is supposed to get done.

We think we know. We're pretty sure we know. We're damned sure we know and nobody's even close to providing a better explanation. Alright.....this is how it is; take it to the bank. (But we'll still give you a hearing if you have convincing proof something else is happening. You'd better have a testable hypothesis, though).

The method isn't perfect, but it spits out right answers more often than anything else.

Now, (1)

Martian_Kyo (1161137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21694800)

geomagnetic has got to be one of the coolest words I heard in a while.

now this might be a stupid question buuuut:

twisted bundles of magnetic fields connecting Earth's upper atmosphere to the sun.

There are magnetic fields that connect earth's upper atmosphere to the sun?

Let me guess.... (1)

madbawa (929673) | more than 6 years ago | (#21695762)

....too much broccoli at dinner?
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