Posted tagged ‘lightning’

The Plasma Universe: our Electric Connection

January 24, 2011

Gods wielding Thunderbolts: not imaginary mythological tales but formative Earth's memory of her violent past

Plasma braids:
“Thunderbolt that steers the Universe”

Heraclitus, 5th Century B.C.

Our galaxy is not void.

For years we were taught traditional theory of our Universe as ‘space’, a vacuum, inert, orderly with few surprises. It was forever expanding outward from a point of primeval Big Bang, controlled and geared by gravity (the weakest celestial force), full of black holes, with anomalous behavior in comets, meteorites and exploding galaxies explained as the work of anti-matter, ‘dark’ matter or, as in nuclear physics, attributed to ‘unknown’ factors such as quarks, charm, CERN‘s conjectural Higgs-Boson particle or the existence of the ‘weak force’, anti-gravity or String Theory’s multiple dimensions. While physicists had trouble proving their theories (many of the ‘forces’ and particles were hypothetical and had theoreticians predicting ‘mass-less’ entities and the ‘graviton’) they are now swinging to a view of the operation of the Universe via another mode of Being:

As electrically-charged plasma.

Plasma is looked upon as the ‘fourth state of matter’, different from solid, liquid, gas. And as plasma is almost exclusively electromagnetic –a cluster of ionized particles– electrical theory is being unwrapped from the closet and given another airing.

NASA, JPL, CERN and the Los Alamos National Laboratory all give explanations for their switch from traditional space theory to a more generally accepted (and more familiar electromagnetically-driven) plasma physics, whose founding father, Swedish Nobel laureate Hannes Alfvén (1908-1995) coined the phrase ‘Plasma Universe’. Originally trained as an electrical power engineer, he researched and taught many years in the field. His plasma theories describe behavior of aurorae, Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts, effect of magnetic storms on Earth’s magnetic field, magnetic and electric fields in cosmic plasmas, the terrestrial magnetosphere and dynamics of plasmas within our galaxy.

Because of its unique behavior, (unlike solids, liquids, gas) plasma is seen as the dominant form of matter in the universe. It has been called the ‘fundamental state of matter.’

When a material is heated from solid to liquid to gas phase, and then even hotter, it starts to become ionized, i.e. one or more electrons of an atom become liberated. Plasma is essentially a collection of ionized particles and while in its simplest form it behaves according to basic electromagnetic laws, at its most complex it continues to astonish specialists in its ability to self-organize into cells with different electrical characteristics.

Plasma comes in many forms, all electromagnetically active

Plasmas are not routinely encountered on the Earth’s surface. Natural plasmas, however, do form lightning and aurora, with the cool, man-made version most commonly seen in fluorescent light bulbs. Solar corona and solar flares are good examples of hot plasma. Earth’s magnetosphere contains plasma generated by particles of solar wind interacting with Earth’s own electromagnetic field, liberating ions into the Ionosphere (upper atmosphere).

Aurora borealis, Aurora australis

Aurora on Jupiter, photo courtesy John T Clarke (U.Mich)

Aurora borealis/australis is the result of charged solar wind particles clashing with and becoming trapped within the Van Allen radiation belts, where they hit the ionosphere and fluoresce. Every planet with a magnetic field generates its own plasma, like that around Jupiter and its moon Io. Beyond the solar system, in interstellar space, ions and electrons proliferate everywhere.

Fire in the Sky
A plasma discharge (spontaneous flash of light) is familiar to students of electromagnetism. To our ancestors, however, who must have witnessed many such plasma discharges in the ancient skies and recorded these (frightening) occurrences, they were seen as battles of the gods, sky heroes and god-kings clashing with sky monsters, serpents, ‘smoke-stars’, fire-dragons which, against apparently insuperable odds, they succeeded in overcoming.

As comets enter the inner solar system, a plasma tail often develops (in addition to a non-charged tail of dust), like Shoemaker-Levy 9 (1993-4) and Hale-Bopp (1995, 1997). NASA’s most famous comet-rendezvous program, Deep Impact, confirmed cometary composition (‘dirty snowball’ plus ionized particle tails) in its hit on comet Tempel 1 in July 2005 and flyby of comet Hartley 2 November last year.

Several ancient cultures name fearful comets as ‘smoking stars’ and lightning, with its thunderbolt — often in the shape of axe, jagged staff or flashing sword — was seen as the divine weapon of gods and king-heroes wielded against ‘fiery dragons’ curled inside the earth (volcanoes?) which threatened the populace.

Castor and Pollux —Alpha and Beta Geminorum, the ‘heavenly’ or ‘thunder’ twins — were revered by the Aztec as the first ‘fire sticks’, from which Mankind learned to drill fire. And, interestingly, when the Peruvian Indians became Christian, they chose to call one of those twins Santiago because their missionaries taught them that Christ named James (Santiago) and John the ‘Sons of Thunder’.

In Mesopotamia 4,500 years earlier (4000 BC), Gemini* served as pointers to mark the beginning of the new year by setting with the first new moon of spring, just as Egyptian astronomy’s pointer Dog star Sirius, Sothis signaled annual flooding of the Nile. Classical Greece called them the Dioscuri, the ‘thunder boys’, sons of Zeus.

In the opinion of seminal scholar of world mythology Prof. J. Rendel Harris:

‘Great commentators of the Christian church had missed the meaning. In demythologizing the Bible, they threw out vast sections of primitive culture’s connection to the stars.’ (Boanerges 1913)

Authors Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend of (IMHO) one of the greatest compilations of world mythology, (Hamlet’s Mill 1969, 1977, 2002) call the Bible ‘that most unscientific of records.’

Viewing cosmology in an electromagnetic context, the Mill of the title begins to make sudden sense of millennia of myth. Hamlet is a translation of Finnish/Norse/Icelandic proto-hero Amlodhi whose staff (Yggdrasil, ‘world tree’) spun the mill of the maelstrom, the whirlpool of the cosmos, the vortex, axis mundi — the Earth’s magnetic polar shaft. The Finnish quern/mill Sampo (vault of heaven, from Sanskrit skambha, pillar, pole, axis) ground out Mankind’s deep origins: it was this mill which created ocean, earth, Man. In good times it ground out ‘peace and plenty’, in bad times, salt. And, according to the Finns whose mythology is alive in recitation, it grinds still. It lingers in Vedic tradition in a hymn —Atharva Veda— to the world pillar (skambha):

A great monster in the midst of creation strode in penance on the back of the sea. In it are set what gods there are, like branches of a tree roundabout the trunk. AV 10.7.38

From such fragments of antiquity embedded in folk memory indicating a preoccupation with earth’s magnetic axis, it is tempting to believe that a polar shift, such as predicted by some for our ‘End Times’, may have occurred at least once before.

There seem to have been other cosmic cataclysmic occurrences.

Heliospheric current generates its own electromagnetic field

In an electromagnetic context within interstellar space, plasma spontaneously generates filaments which, like magnetic poles, attract each other at long distances and repel each other at short range. These filaments often braid themselves into ‘ropes’ that act like power transmission lines through space, with virtually unlimited scope in the distances and speeds they can travel.

Following precise magnetic field lines, these braids and ropes are known as Birkeland currents, after Norwegian explorer and physicist Kristian Birkeland who predicted them in 1903 after years of study of aurora in the Arctic.

Space plasma moving through a magnetic field generates its own electric current, and conducts electricity better than metals. Professor Emeritus of the Swedish Alfvén Laboratory, Carl-Gunne Fälthammar wrote (1986):

“A reason why Birkeland currents are particularly interesting is that, in the plasma forced to carry them, they cause a number of physical processes to occur (waves, instabilities, fine structure formation). These in turn lead to consequences such as accelerated charged particles, both positive and negative, and element separation (like preferential ejection of oxygen ions). Both classes of phenomena should be of general astrophysical interest far beyond that of understanding the space environment of our own Earth.”

In the medium of space, strong radial magnetic fields can make a plasma pinch like the hourglass-shaped Ant nebula, left, produce characteristic filaments like the plasma ball (top), and particle beams, as in its dense plasma center.

Filaments leave a magnetic field signature that is recognizable in the observable universe. Astronomers have been aware of these electromagnetic fields, but have historically paid them little attention.

At a most basic level, magnetic fields are produced only by electricity. So with new eyes we observe our Universe as electrically charged, electrically based and electrically-operated.

If stories transmitted through myth in all ancient cultures are taken as genuine records of visual phenomena –plasma bursts in the heavens– we begin to see formative earth peoples experiencing life on a volatile planet among cataclysmic prehistoric events happening in their skies. Our recent past, by comparison, has been a peaceful one. We can imagine how such events must have instilled fear, but faith and belief that their leaders (god-kings in ancient Egypt, China, Babylon) could and did overcome such monsters is not in our makeup. By ignoring the heavens, we have become complacent: we are no longer skywatchers. Because our history relates few cosmic incidents, we are lulled into ignoring our unique connection to our star, its orbiting companions, the Milky Way galaxy which drives us and the great space of infinity beyond.

Yet this is a running theme through all primitive earth culture, myth and art. And while science is beginning to access the bigger picture, we may be seeing a greater whole just in time: as the predicted solar maximum (increased sunspot activity, below) has the potential to return us to such tempestuous celestial activity as our ancestors experienced. Fire in our skies… perhaps eliciting earth’s (volcanic) response…

Astronomers and astrophysicists are beginning to accept that every energetic object in the universe has a plasma associated with it. Plasmas are detected by trace electromagnetic radiation (light, x-rays, radio waves), or in some cases, by the interaction of their ions and electrons with other objects.

Scientists think solar wind has been turned sideways by pressure from interstellar wind from distant stars

Distilling plasma theory down to its simplest form, and with great leaps in astronomical technology (space vehicles like Cassini and Voyager, telescopes like Hubble and SOHO), we can view and photograph from earth beautiful plasma nebulae which, excited by light from nearby stars, display precisely the same formations and explosive patterns seen in electromagnetism produced in the laboratory. It is also synchronous that Voyager is only now hurtling toward interstellar space approximately 10.8 billion miles (17.4 billion kilometers) from the sun on the outer edge of the solar system. Voyager 1 has crossed into an area of deep space where the velocity of hot ionized gas, (plasma) emanating directly outward from the sun as solar wind has slowed to zero.

Voyager 2 confirmed the existence of Van Allen radiation belts surrounding Uranus and Neptune.

As with Earth, the outer planets are affected by solar storms, but Earth’s proximity to her star (93 million miles, 1AU) makes her more susceptible.

Van Allen radiation belts surround Earth's magnetosphere

Energetic particle fluxes (radiation) can increase and decrease dramatically as a consequence of geomagnetic storms, themselves triggered by magnetic field and plasma disturbances produced by the Sun. We moved out of an unusually extended solar minimum last year. It may be in our interest to be (cautiously) more aware of the possibility of increasing solar disturbances during this next eleven-year cycle which will crown at solar maximum, thought to occur 2012.

While solar disruption on the scale of 1859’s Carrington Event may not happen, with our present dependence on electronic media for almost all human activity, we would be wise to have backup systems available, should such a CME-derived blackout occur.

Nobody in living memory knows what to do should a pole reversal occur. Angelic assistance is preferable.

Westbury crop circle July 2010 'Van Allen radiation belts'?

As we know (or rather, as some of us on this weblog community are following), 2009/2010 crop circle seasons were significant in their display of designs and consciousness-triggers alerting us to astrophysical phenomena and Earth’s fragility in its electromagnetic cocoon. Solar flares, plasma ejections (coronal mass ejections, CMEs), sunspot activity have all featured in Wiltshire wheatfields and are on the increase –see blog entries February through October 2010— alongside dimensional and spiritual instruction to prepare us for what may be around the corner.

Earth’s Mythological Past

Meantime, interdisciplinary researchers have not been idle. Given such a wealth of new information from astronomers, mythologists (following the trail begun by Hamlet’s Mill authors) have been working alongside scientists to make sense of thousands of years of transmitted lore, art, ancestral wisdom and belief which attest to hugely violent episodes in our planet’s past related to the heavens. Mythological and cultural archetypes worldwide share language, symbols and a timeframe which suggest a less-than-tranquil formative period in Earth’s evolution than the one traditionally held by astronomers.

Under the umbrella of the Thunderbolts Project of Portland, OR, scientists, authors, mythologists and historians led by Wallace Thornhill, David Talbott and electrical engineer Prof. Donald E. Scott, are cooperating with plasma physicist Dr. Anthony Peratt to interpret petroglyph symbolism used by almost every ancient civilization to depict mythological heroes and events. Peratt has for 30 years run a laboratory using computer-generated electrical activity to predict plasma bursts in celestial forms. Together they are finding remarkable resonance between plasma forms in the lab, those produced in the cosmos, and the rock art of ancient man who drew what he saw in the sky.

On a spiritual and cosmic level, an ‘electric Universe’ — via our planetary umbilical cord to our star; its energetic tie to Galactic Center and through it the galaxy’s electromagnetic relationship with all other galaxies and the most distant stars — can be viewed as a purposeful whole, held together by plasma ropes, braids of light and power transmission lines which do indeed transmit information.

We are only just learning the language of the stars.

*According to pre-Hellenic myth, the Age of Gemini (approx 6000 BC) was considered the ‘Golden Age’, Saturnia regna when Saturn/Kronos ruled. Following the Precession of the Equinoxes, each celestial Age lasts around 2200 years. More detail on successive ages here. In Mongolian myth the Age of Gemini signaled a time when ‘heaven and earth separated’ and fire was born. In other words, before the ecliptic and celestial equator fell apart (and the equinoxes started to precess), there was no fire. It was ‘given by heaven’ in the Golden Age of the Twins. 8000 years on, we entered the Age of Aquarius on February 14, 2009.

Volcanic Surprise: Take your Toys and Go Home

April 18, 2010

Eyjafjallajökull erupts during the strongest geomagnetic storm to hit Earth in 3 years; photo Albert Jakobsson

Tomorrow morning, April 19th, 2010, at around 5a.m. PST the Space Shuttle Discovery is due to reenter Earth’s atmosphere on a trajectory that takes her over the Pacific Northwest, and then on a southeasterly heading towards Cape Canaveral, Florida. She undocked from the International Space Station at the weekend in preparation for reentry.

Early birds in the states of Montana, South Dakota, Missouri and Mississippi and those driving to work in the cities of St. Louis, MO, Memphis, TN and Columbus, GA may catch a glimpse of the descending craft as it prepares for landing at the Kennedy Space Center, ETA 8:48a.m.

Trajectory of space shuttle Discovery on her way home tomorrow

Viewers in continental U.S. will be able to see Discovery as a blazing fireball in the dawn sky on first reentry over Northern California, Oregon, Washington and BC, and then, when daylight progresses, as a bright high-altitude object, as the craft heads east. Those who may not be sure of what they are seeing will hear a double sonic boom about a minute after the shuttle passes overhead.

Discovery’s appearance in the skies over continental USA is unusual, to say the least.

NASA is normally super-cautious, not only to schedule reentry on a trajectory over ocean (south Pacific or Atlantic) – to avoid potential conflict with commercial air traffic or the complication of an accident over such an important landmass – but also does not issue a specific schedule beforehand – for ‘security reasons’.

In the case of tomorrow’s landing, another issue has complicated NASA’s plans: the volcanic cloud emanating from Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. Because the eastern hemisphere is affected by dust and volcanic ash in the atmosphere resulting in the grounding of all European airlines, the shuttle’s choices were drastically reduced.

It is perhaps our present crazy world’s greatest irony that tomorrow, when the whole continent of Europe has not a single aircraft in the skies, except for patrolling military Tornadoes or light prop craft which can fly below radar, United States air traffic controllers will be overworked as they reroute planes so as not to provoke a chance encounter with the spacegoing shuttle on her way home.

Air travel all over northern Europe has been disrupted, with flights grounded or diverted due to the risk of engine damage from sucking in particles of ash from the volcanic cloud.  Even the usually noisy skies of helicopter traffic to and from North Sea Oil fields are silent.

Eyjafjallajökull sub-glacial eruption

And what of Eyjafjallajökull?

What series of convoluted circumstances caused her to erupt just when airlines the world over were pulling in their horns in response to global recession, cutting frills and flying fripperies to an absolute minimum?

Eyjafjallajökull is merely responding to a ripple in the mid-Atlantic ridge.

Iceland can’t help it: her island kingdom sits astride a large tectonic anomaly, where two plates meet, and – rather like Hawaii – has confounded scientists for centuries in their ability to ride the volcanic storms and still maintain buoyancy as islands. Icelanders have benefited in cleverly channeling underground heat from natural hot springs to provide comfort – even luxury – to every home, but, like Hawaiians, their tiny population (300,000, about the same as a medium-size British city) is not unaware of the fragility of their situation.

Eyjafjallajökull has erupted five times since human settlement in the ninth century and its most recent eruption has been going since March 20th this year, but it is only in the last week that ash from this eruption has reached the stratosphere of its continental neighbour.

And Europe is freaking out.

In terms of aviation, when almost all transport is presently airborne – people, freight, goods and services – it is understandable that Eyjafjallajökull’s blasting through its surface glacier and spewing dust and ash into the airlanes should cause concern. Health and safety have become buzzwords in industry: the natural reaction for air traffic regulators was to close everything down. So soon after Easter, when many were starting to enjoy the prospect of spring following a very hard winter, holiday travel numbers were high and planes fully booked.

Those airplanes are now dead in the water.

And, with no change in the foreseeable future, Europeans are stranded in remote locations worldwide, unable to get back home; British-based airlines may not take off and US-based airline traffic may not land in Europe.

Europe – the northern portion of it, certainly – is like a plague zone.

They’ve always said character comes to the rescue when crisis descends or hard times rule. And the other thing they say: Necessity is the Mother of Invention.

During the hard snows and frosts of winter – that in northern Scotland and pockets of Europe lasted until spring equinox – Britain went through a series of threats from companies in conflict with employment unions – with aviation and transportation strikes imminent – until intervention by a well-meaning Icelandic volcano moved the goalposts.

Suddenly, within the last week, other means of transportation – bus, taxi, train, ferry, tube, metro, hot air balloon, microlite, bicycle – have reared their heads again and a dumbed-down population re-creates, starts to think outside the box, begins to invent.

In early ‘seventies ‘3-day-week’ Great Britain, share-a-ride became an everyday occurrence, nobody drove a car without at least two other passengers, public transport was in full use and the struggling population again became aware of their parents’ post-war attitude of ‘conserving’ energy. It is possible that the present crisis may bring about a similar respect for alternative means to get from A to B, and consequently even more respect for the entity which caused the hiccup in the first place: Mother Earth.

Many of us have blogged over last winter about impending changes the Earth may put us through: for most of us those earth-changes were remote: reports from Haiti, Chile, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey. But changes are starting to happen closer to home (Home being the First World).

large swathes of Amazon rainforest under threat

The First World has not traditionally reacted well to being threatened by Nature. It has acted (particularly over the last two generations – fifty years) as if nature were subservient to Man. It has turned a blind eye to decimated rain forests, depleted habitat for endangered species, global poverty, substandard housing and polluted drinking water in those ‘other’ worlds. It’s not accustomed to having its toys taken away and told to go home.

With the grounding of aircraft run by some of the world’s most elite flying operations, those ‘toys’ are getting a shakedown. And Big Business doesn’t like it.

Already on shaky ground over fears of recession, many airlines are already in debt or about to seek bail from world governments. Now governments themselves are questioning whether there are funds in the coffers to cover planetary transportation meldown. Big Business has traditionally used London, Paris, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Amsterdam as staging posts in its hops between hemispheres. Suddenly their wind-up toys aren’t working. No immediate replacement in sight, they’re having to think of ways around the situation.

Pressure/precipitation 4-day forecast, courtesy Unisys

Fortunately, continental Europe has remarkably efficient waterways, rail links, passenger liners, trains and autobahns. Every one of them has suddenly become remarkably important as an artery of communication in an atmospherically-deprived world. But if Icelandic ash continues to spew forth it will take some really revolutionary thinking for Big Business to survive. Seven million passenger-journeys have been cancelled in a few days. There’s talk right now of losses in the millions – Emirates Airlines calculating 25 million dollars per day in lost revenue, British Airways losing one million pounds every hour. Pretty soon those losses will be billions and thereafter . . . if Eyjafjallajökull doesn’t let up – or worse, if her neighboring volcanoes on the Ridge join in – figures will be incalculable. ‘Business’ as a concept will have no meaning.

None of us wants the approach to ‘End Times‘ to come suddenly. But there have been warnings; we have had clues; our history is littered with references to ‘preparing’ for when those ‘decline and fall’ times will come. So should we be surprised when the Earth herself is the instigator?

It is a well-known phenomenon that spacecraft engineers, pilots and scientists, on their return to Earth after a space mission, express feeling ‘transformed, changed, uplifted’ and ‘born-again’ by their experience outside Earth’s atmosphere. From liftoff as hardened scientists, electrical engineers, they return as philosophers, enlightened spirits.

It might be seen by some that Discovery’s reentry to Earth coinciding with the Earth’s growling northern latitudes indicate a sign of impending doom; for others it may signal the onset of liberation from earthly institutions which were beginning to cripple creativity; a top-heavy bureaucratic mechanism that smothers the budding creative spark.

Heaven knows, now is the time for creativity to surface and be recognized: time for the toys to come alive and play for real: our future and our future home – the planet Earth – depend on it.

©2010 Marian Youngblood
Marian Youngblood is the author of a prescient novel (in the light of this week’s events) ‘SHASTA: Critical Mass‘ which relates volcanic earth changes to Man’s ability to rise above his own beginnings and become superconscious human. Her book is entered in James Twyman’s contest to find the ‘next spiritual author’. Press this LINK if you would like to read an excerpt and vote for her entry. Round One (voting round) of the competition ends on May 3rd.

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