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What Is The Electric Universe?

Open a standard astronomy textbook and read the discussion of galaxies, stars, and planets. It will appear that gravity alone organized the cosmos and now keeps it running. We all know that electricity powers our lights, runs our computers and, in an unleashed form, creates static shocks and awe-inspiring lightning bolts. But for hundreds of years, astronomers believed that across interplanetary, interstellar, and intergalactic distances, only gravity could do the real work. Only gravity could gather clouds of gas and dust into a star or a planet. Only gravity could produce galaxies and massive clusters of galaxies.

The Electric Universe challenges this gravity-centric viewpoint.

Lightning is electric—like a welding arc. The Northern Lights are electric—like a neon sign. A sunny day is electric. We work and play in an electric field. We don’t think about it because we’re used to thinking only gravity is there. Space probes find electric features in comets, planets, stars, and galaxies. X-ray and radio telescopes find electric features connecting stars and galaxies. The Electric Universe is a way to begin thinking about all that electricity in the cosmos. —Mel Acheson The Thunderbolts Project

Though not replacing gravity, the Electric Universe adds the essential role of charged particles in motion. Charged particles fill all of space as electrically conductive plasma. Plasma behaves differently than gas. The Sun is plasma. Stars are plasma. Galaxies are plasma. The filaments of magnetized and radiating matter between stars and between galaxies are plasma. The isolated islands we once imagined in space do not exist. A web of electromagnetism connects planets, moons, stars, and galaxies.

The movement of charged particles is an electric current. These currents give rise to pervasive magnetic fields and high-energy electrical events. They power exploding stars and erupt as intensely energetic jets from galactic cores. Modern telescopes can now view these events at high resolution and across the full electromagnetic spectrum. Unexpected, elaborate structure has sprung to life in radio, infrared, ultraviolet, and X-ray wavelengths. These surprises of the space age call for a reexamination of long-held theories about how the universe works.

The Electric Universe is a growing body of fact and theoretical interpretation—a new perspective on the cosmos. The factual content comes primarily from space observations and laboratory experiments. In contrast, much of the gravity-centric view is based on mathematics. Gravity is relatively easy to model mathematically. But electricity in space is a much different matter, due to the complexinterplay of electric currents and magnetic fields. It will not be mathematics that opens the door to the Electric Universe, so much as direct observations and experimental analogies.

Our subject is not just a theory, but a new paradigm. At every scale, the electric force plays a vital role. Its effects range from the most subtle interactions of subatomic particles to the immense alignments of galactic clusters. You can begin your personal investigation at either end of the scale, or anywhere in between. And wherever you begin, you’ll be surprised at how many of today’s scientific discoveries support this new view of the cosmos.

The visible universe is a theater of charged particles. A dance of electrons and protons holds it together. We see its rhythms and geometries in microscopic detail, even as its music plays out across the cosmos: atoms and molecules joined by the electric force; stars and galaxies organized and energized by the same force; and on our little planet Earth, living organisms animated by the electricity of life. No empty space exists. Everything we now see is connected by the universal dance of charged particles. —David Talbott, The Thunderbolts Project

Why We Should Care

It’s only natural that inquisitive minds seek out things that science may have missed or simply misunderstood. Discovery inspires human imagination. It expands our vision of ourselves and the world around us. Inquisitive minds, free to explore and encouraged by new possibilities, are those most likely to develop into critical thinkers and innovators. They are the guarantors of tomorrow’s advances in science.

Take away the inspiration of discovery and you diminish the sense of personal connection to the scientific adventure. Among young people today a catastrophic decline of interest in science has already occurred. How did this happen? When science fails to inspire students, how much of the responsibility rests with the teacher, and how much could be due to the loss of scientific vision, or the rise of a sterile dogma, or a cultural failure to see new frontiers for what they are?

In contrast to the larger social trend, newcomers to the Electric Universe have responded with enthusiasm, wonder, and astonishment. They discover that the usual picture of the universe, the picture they were taught in school, is far from the “settled science” publicly advertised. This is not an unnerving discovery. It’s the fuel for curiosity and for scientific progress.

The great surprises of the space age, then, become pointers to new lines of inquiry. Science is no longer fragmented into isolated compartments. Specialists in every field are invited to reconsider theoretical assumptions. A new and more interdisciplinary language of science emerges.

Today, nothing is more important to the future and credibility of science than liberation from the gravity-driven universe of prior theory. A mistaken supposition has not only prevented intelligent and sincere investigators from seeing what would otherwise be obvious, it has bred indifference to possibilities that could have inspired the sciences for decades. —David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill, Thunderbolts of the Gods

Is it possible that the celebrated Big Bang was just a mathematician’s guess? How accurate is our grand picture of the cosmos? If 20th century science embraced mistaken ideas about the forces that drive the universe, what is the cost to the institutions of science? What is the cost to the larger communities that support basic research? What is the cost to our educational system?

We’ve been told for decades that, at its core, the Sun is a controlled hydrogen bomb. But today a different view of the Sun is emerging. More than a hundred years of laboratory experiments and a steady stream of space age discoveries support this alternative view. Its proponents say that the electric field of the Sun, although immeasurably weak across a few meters, extends out from the Sun for billions of miles: The total charge within the heliosphere could suffice to light the Sun electrically. That is a testable hypothesis. But the tests will require innovators who want to know.

The Electric Universe now touches all of the sciences. In recent years, the Electric Universe community has grown increasingly aware of the “body electric,” connecting the life sciences to discoveries about electricity in the laboratory and in space. The nervous system and electromagnetic bio-field have come into greater focus for health and wellness. The new picture also throws dramatic light on solar system history, Earth history, and the evolution of life on Earth. Even the ancient sky, as seen and described by our early ancestors, challenges the commonly told story.

The awakening interest in the Electric Universe begins with the realization that mistaken assumptions can have serious consequences. In the second half of the 20th century, a narrowly defined “scientific consensus” gave the appearance of settled questions. But how secure was the theoretical edifice as a whole?

In truth, the costs of a few core mistakes may be incalculable. How much science and education funding has been wasted asking the wrong questions? Too often the claims of “settled science” serve only to anchor in place our earlier mistakes. When theoretical speculations then combine with public relations and financial controls, they can only compromise scientific integrity.

The Electric Universe is an invitation to curious people of all ages and all walks of life. It does not answer every question a human being could ask. But whatever your deeper interests, it will help clear the path ahead of you. On the deepest scientific questions, it will expose our conditioned layers of thought and perception. That is how we begin to see the accumulating evidence for what it is—nature itself calling us to a sweeping intellectual revolution.