Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On Predictions In Science

"...my liveliest interest is not so much in things, as in relations of things. I have spent much time thinking about the alleged pseudo-relations that are called coincidences. What if some of them should not be coincidence?" -- Charles H. Fort, writer, 1933

Immanuel Velikovsky: On Prediction in Science .

In order to bring into proper focus the significance of correct prediction in science, I offer at the start a short survey of the most celebrated cases, and it is not by chance that almost all of them come from the domain of astronomy. These cases are spectacular and, with one or two exceptions, are well known.

The story of scientific “clairvoyance” in modern astronomy starts with Johannes Kepler, a strange case and little known. When Galileo, using the telescope he had built after the model of an instrument invented by a Danish craftsman, discovered the satellites circling Jupiter, Kepler became very eager to see the satellites himself and begged in letters to have an instrument sent to Prague; Galileo did not even answer him. Next, Galileo made two more discoveries, but before publishing them in a book, he assured himself of priority by composing cryptograms, not an uncommon procedure in those days: statements written in Latin were deliberately reduced to the letters of which the sentences were composed, or, if the author of the cryptogram so wished, the letters were re-assembled to make a different sentence. The second way was chosen by Galileo when he thought he had discovered that Saturn is “a triple” planet, having observed appendices on both sides of Saturn, but not having discerned that they were but a ring around the planet, a discovery reserved for Christian Huygens in 1659, half a century later. Kepler tried to read the cryptogram of letters recombined into a non-revealing sentence, but did not succeed. He offered as his solution: “Salute, fiery twin, offspring of Mars” (“Salve, umbistineum geminatum Martia proles” ). Of this, Arthur Koestler in The Sleepwalkers (1959) wrote (p. 377): “He [Kepler] accordingly believed that Galileo had discovered two moons around Mars.” But Galileo did not discover them and they remained undiscovered for more than two hundred fifty years. Strangely, Koestler passes over the incident without expressing wonder at Kepler’s seeming prescience.

As I have shown in Worlds in Collision (“The Steeds of Mars”) the poets Homer and Virgil knew of the trabants of Mars, visualized as his steeds, named Deimos (Terror) and Phobos (Rout). Kepler referred to the satellites of Mars as being “burning” or “flaming” , the same way the ancients had referred to the steeds of Mars.

Ancient lore preserved traditions from the time when Mars, Ares of the Greeks, was followed and preceded by swiftly circling satellites with their blazing manes. “When Mars was very close to the earth, its two trabants were visible. They rushed in front of and around Mars; in the disturbances that took place, they probably snatched some of Mars’ atmosphere, dispersed as it was, and appeared with gleaming manes” (Worlds in Collision, p. 230).

Next, Galileo made the discovery that Venus shows phases, as the Moon does. This time he secured his secret by locking it in a cryptogram of a mere collection of letters—so many A’s, so many B’s, and so on. Kepler again tried to read the cryptogram and came up with the sentence: “Macula rufa in Jove est gyratur mathem etc.” which in translation reads: “There is a red spot in Jupiter which rotates mathematically.”

The wondrous thing is: how could Kepler have known of the red spot in Jupiter, then not yet discovered? It was discovered by J. D. Cassini in the 1660’s, after the time of Kepler and Galileo. Kepler’s assumption that Galileo had discovered a red spot in Jupiter amazes and defies every statistical chance of being a mere guess. But the possibility is not excluded that Kepler found the information in some Arab author or some other source, possibly of Babylonian or Chinese origin. Kepler did not disclose what the basis of his reference to the red spot of Jupiter was — he could not have arrived at it either by logic and deduction or by sheer guesswork. A scientific prediction must follow from a theory as a logical consequence. Kepler had no theory on that. It is asserted that the Chinese observed solar spots many centuries before Galileo did with his telescope. Observing solar spots, the ancients could have conceivably observed the Jovian red spot, too. Jesuit scholars traveled in the early 17th century to China to study Chinese achievements in astronomy.

Kepler was well versed in ancient writings, also knowledgeable in medieval Arab authors; for instance, he quoted Arzachel to support the view that in ancient times Babylon must have been situated two and a half degrees more to the north, and this on the basis of the data on the duration of the longest and shortest days in the year as registered in ancient Babylon.1

Jonathan Swift, in his Gulliver’s Travels (1726) tells of the astronomers of the imaginary land of the Laputans who asserted they had discovered that the planet Mars has “two lesser stars, or satellites, which revolve about Mars, whereof the innermost is distant from the center of the primary planet exactly three of [its] diameters, and the outermost Five; the former revolves in the space of ten hours, and the latter in twenty-one-and-a-half; so that the squares of their periodical times are very near in the same proportion with the cubes of their distance from the center of Mars, which evidently shows them to be governed by the same law of gravitation that influences the other heavenly bodies.”

About this passage a literature of no mean number of authors grew in the years after 1877, when Asaph Hall, a New England carpenter turned astronomer, discovered the two trabants of Mars. They are between five and ten miles in diameter. They revolve on orbits close to their primary and in very short times: actually the inner one, Phobos, makes more than three revolutions in the time it takes Mars to complete one rotation on its axis; and were there intelligent beings on Mars they would need to count two different months according to the number of satellites (this is no special case — Jupiter has twelve moons and Saturn ten*), and also observe one moon ending its month three times in one Martian day. It is a singular case in the solar system among the natural satellites that a moon completes one revolution before its primary finishes one rotation.

Swift ascribed to the Laputans some amazing knowledge—actually he himself displayed, it is claimed, an unusual gift of foreknowledge. The chorus of wonderment can be heard in the evaluation of C. P. Olivier in his article “Mars” written for the Encyclopedia Americana (1943):

“When it is noted how very close Swift came to the truth, not only in merely predicting two small moons but also the salient features of their orbits, there seems little doubt that this is the most astounding ’prophecy’ of the past thousand years as to whose full authenticity there is not a shadow of doubt.”

The passage in Kepler is little known—Olivier, like other writers on the subject of Swift’s divination, was unaware of it, and the case of Swift’s prophecy appears astounding: the number of satellites, their close distances to the body of the planet, and their swift revolutions are stated in a book printed one hundred and fifty years to the year before the discovery of Asaph Hall.
The names Philolaos, Aristarchos, and Seleukos ring a bell. What was it that Copernicus discovered again?


Anaconda said...


Yes, you read that right, a plasma experiment was the basis of a post at Universe Today.

And while the post added some non-specific narrative, and maintained a neutral tone, the experiment out of the University of Rochester clearly was observing & measuring electromagnetic forces:

Originally published in Astrophysical Review Letters.

Public release date: 9-Feb-2009,
First laboratory experiment to accurately model stellar jets explains mysterious 'knots'(Univ. of Rochester)
-- "These experiments are part of an unusal international collaboration of plasma physicists, astronomers and computational scientists. It's a whole new way of doing astrophysics. The experiments strongly suggest that the jets are fired out more like bullets or buckshot. They don't break into pieces—they are formed in pieces."

Editorial note: Plasma physics experiments have been conducted for decades.

In The Universe Today comments sections this writer placed the following comments:

Anaconda Says:
February 11th, 2009 at 11:02 am
"These jets are composed of highly collimated gas," parallel arrayed plasma, charged particles, that when in concerted motion generate magnetic fields.

It would appear that plasma physics experiments demonstrate dynamic arrayed motion of plasma generates magnetic fields, which in turn serve to "pinch" electromagnetic plasma into cells.

"It appears that magnetic processes [electric currents], not ISM interactions, shape the knotted structure of stellar jets…"

"[T] he field holds the jet together, but it also pinches the jet into bulges as it does. "

"T] he magnetic fields begin to warp and twist, creating a knot in the jet." This is consistent with other plasma experiments where the magnetic field constricts and twists the electrically charged particle plasma flow until a Z-pinch disrupts the flow of current causing a high release of electromagnetic energy.

Plasma, charged particles in motion, collimated jets, magnetic fields, "pinches", plasma cells, and the specific electrical signature of synchrotron radiation that has been detected in both X-ray and radio waves from these jets.

All aspects of electromagnetism.

Olaf Says:
February 11th, 2009 at 11:18 am
Anaconda, nowhere in the text is talked about a z-pinch.

They talk about a magnetic bubble beeing pinched off, but this has nothing to do with a z-pinch.

Anaconda Says:
February 11th, 2009 at 12:18 pm
@ Olaf"

The original press release uses the word "pinch", as does the post uses as a descriptive, but the process is essentially the same. A Z-pinch is where electric current is constricted by the magnetic field.

The press release of U of Rochester states: "[T] he [magnetic] field penetrates further and the bubble grows, however, the magnetic fields begin to warp and twist, creating a knot in the jet."

The "knot" and "twist are important words. It is well documented that electric currents in the laboratory will twist and knot as a result of constriction, causing the Z-pinch phenomenon.

The example used to characterize the process by the scientist is similar:

"Frank likens the magnetic fields' affect on the jet to a rubber band tightly wrapped around a tube of toothpaste—the field holds the jet together, but it also pinches the jet into bulges as it does."

The use of the word "pinch" explains how the plasma was divided into cells , " bullets or buckshot", as it were, and stated by the press release: "The experiments strongly suggest that the jets are fired out more like bullets or buckshot. " This suggests discrete cells of plasma, (being that you can't have "magnetic 'bubbles'" with out electric current) that have been seperated by a constricting force, thus the word "pinched."

There is little to distinghish in terms of function and process between the "pinch" in this press release and the well understood Z-pinch involving electric current in a plasma physics laboratory.

Which is after all exactly where this experiment was conducted."

Anaconda said...

A FURTHER COMMENT ON ON UNIVERSE TODAY: Stellar Jets are Born Knotted, February 11th, 2009

Anaconda Says:
February 11th, 2009 at 6:01 pm
@ [Another Plasma Cosmology supporting commenter]:

I also noticed the vagueness regarding the "high powered pulse of energy" as the input to the experiment and that most likely meant an electromagnetic source of energy.

Plasma physics relies on proven in the laboratory physical principles as opposed to assumptions based on single force of gravity.

Astrofiend states: "Gravity comes in by creating the accretion disk in the first place around stars/black holes etc. I.e. an accretion disk is formed by the action of gravitational attraction on material surrounding these objects. Frictional heating then creates a plasma accretion disk…"

Nice words, but all conjecture based on theories that have never been demonstrated in the laboratory and require violation of the physical laws of nature.

Astrofiend further reminds the readers that all matter has mass and energy. But gravity has never been shown to cause such dynamic energy exchanges, while electromagnetism has repeatedly been shown to cause such dynamic energy exchanges.

It's entirely natural to expect that electromagnetism, one of the 'Four Fundamental Forces', has a major role in the structure and dynamics of the Universe.

And when one is reminded that electromagnetism is 10^39 stronger than gravity and has already been shown by in situ observations & measurements to transport energy from the Sun to the Earth by electromagnetic Birkeland currents as recognized by NASA, it is much easier to accept and understand electrodynamics' role in the larger structures in the Universe.

Anaconda said...

Further comments:

Anaconda Says:
February 11th, 2009 at 10:13 pm
@ Excalibur:

"You assert there is a lack of charge seperation. But that is old saw put out by gravitation only astronomers. The scientific evidence is that there is an over abundance of charge seperation in the Universe and that any discontinuity or difference in various bodies of plasma set up electric potential and electric current flow and double layers.

The idea that there is little charge seperation is false. If there wasn't charge seperation, there wouldn't be plasma. And we know over 99% of the Universe is plasma.

Also, electric current is required to cause magnetic fields. Magnetic fields are ubiquitous in the Universe at all levels of astrophysical structure. And a corollary to the presence electric currents is the necessity of charge seperation.

@ Ian O'Neill:

You state: "I have no idea where the Electric Universe theory gets its energy…"

But there are galactic and extragalactic magnetic fields all over the Universe, these magnetic fields are only caused by electric currents. The cosmic web linking the superclusters of galaxies are "super highways" of extragalactic Birkeland currents that transport energy over long distances."

quantum_flux Says:
February 12th, 2009 at 12:29 am
"I think astronomers would notice if the interstellar medium was filled with plasma. You can't have accelerating and decelerating plasma without also having light given off."

Anaconda Says:
February 12th, 2009 at 1:09 am
@ Quantum_Flux:

"It is scientifcally recognized that the interstellar medium is filled with plasma, and yes, you can have plasma that doesn't give off light.

Birkeland currrents between the Sun and the Earth are recognized by NASA, but those Birkeland currents don't give off light until they enter Earth's atmomosphere and generate the aurora."

Bill Davis Says:
February 12th, 2009 at 11:07 am
"Coulomb's law of force between charges is an inverse square law, like gravity. This is in all textbooks on the subject. I don't know where Excalibur got his version. Current-carrying filaments attract or repel each other inverse to the separation, which trumps gravity. This is the Biot-Savart law. Also in all the textbooks."

Anaconda Says:
February 12th, 2009 at 11:34 am
@ Bill Davis:


It appears that the threshold question, the existence of electric currents in deep space is where propnents of the "gravity only model" want to fight their battle.

The reason is obvious enough.

Side-by-side comparison and analysis by open-minded people of the scientfic evidence for both competing theories would leave the "gravity only model" in tatters.

"The gravity only" model relies on too many unseen "objects", and "energies" that once stood up in comparison to the alternative theory of electromagnetism's role in dynamic large structure formation, would simply be an exercise in the "emperor has no clothes on."

Once a sizable number, significantly less than a majority, look at the evidence, the "gravity only model" crumbles.

Notice how Excalibur changes his argument once I responded. At first, it was (paraphrase), "there is not enough charge seperation in space."

After my response he changes course to state (paraphrase), "gravity has a greater force over distance than electromagnetism."

Bill, as you adroitly and succinctly pointed out, he subtely changed the relation of the physical forces between gravity and electromgnetism.

But I'll give Excalibur this: At least he didn't attempt to pass on the false Idea that electromagnetism doesn't act beyond atomic scales.

I read a comment where the commenter (pro "gravity only model") made that assertion and linked to an authority specifically stating electromagnetism DOES act at a distance and specifically noted electromagnetism's greater strength over distance than gravity?

This was his cite, no less.

See, they are hoping to smother the electromagnetism theory in the crib, as it were, and if it takes cutting a few corners to do it — well, the end justifies the means."

jerry Says:
February 12th, 2009 at 12:04 pm
"General relativity has been confirmed 100% by among the most exacting experiments known to man and EU has nothing to even suggest it, let alone confirm it."

Ah, we have been trying for more than thirty years to obtain direct observational evidence of gravitational waves (LIGO, ALEGRO…); the results are still zelch.

Also the Gravity B probe was a 90+% failure. The Pioneer 6 GR experiment failed. We don't have direct evidence of several phenomenon predicted by GR, but not for lack of trying."

Anaconda Says:
February 12th, 2009 at 12:25 pm
@ Olaf

"Olaf, you wanted some sources of authority regarding the idea that the interstellar medium is made up of mostly plasma.

Per Wikipedia (friendly to the "gravity only model"): "The interstellar medium consists of an extremely dilute (by terrestrial standards) mixture of ions [charged particles], atoms, molecules, larger dust grains, cosmic rays, and (galactic) magnetic fields. The matter consists of about 99% gas and 1% dust by mass. Densities range from a few thousand to a few hundred million particles per cubic meter with an average value in the Milky Way Galaxy of a million particles per cubic meter."

I would throw in electrons as well, and as previously discussed and noted in the quoted passage above magnetic fields that are only caused by electric currents.

I'm slightly surprised you don't know this, but maybe not ,as "gravity model only" proponents, mostly ignore this reality."

Anaconda Says:
February 12th, 2009 at 1:09 pm
@ Olaf:

"You state: "…sounds like you have no hard proof [of Plasma Cosmology]!"

Hmmm…what do you suppose the experiment posted is? It replicated processes observed in the pictured jet.

And it used 100% plasma energy and electromagnetism to mimmic it, too.

Not bad for "no hard proof!"