Magnets aren’t miracles, but neither are they a phenomenon that physicists completely understand. Particularly big magnets, like the sun. Until recently, the annals of research failed to completely explain how massive currents blooming on the sun’s surface burst into solar flares, releasing incredible volumes of energy in short time frames.

Peter Sweet was vexed by this problem when, in 1956, the English physicist traveled to Stockholm for a meeting of the International Astronomical Union. He presented a partial solution: When two magnetic fields meet, a current sheet forms between them, and plasma (fiery blobs of energy) erupts at the seam. An American physicist named Eugene Parker saw Sweet’s presentation, and worked out the math on his flight back to the states. For fifty years, their Sweet-Parker model has been crucial for explaining not just solar flares, but other large-scale magnetic activity, like Earth’s aurora.

However, Sweet-Parker is too slow. Under that model, solar flares would take weeks to burst. “Imagine you have many persons in a room, but just one door to exit,” says Luca Comisso, a heliophysicist–sun scientist–at Princeton University. “The rate at which they can leave is fixed, so it takes a long time for them all to leave.” But solar flares discharge their energy in minutes. The problem is Sweet-Parker assumes magnetic fields remain stable when they meet. Like sophisticated guests at a society ball, the accumulated quanta of energy would exit the current sheet in orderly fashion.

Comisso says it’s not that kind of party. Magnetic field behave more like fraternity ragers being busted by the cops: People crawling out windows, leapfrogging through doors, busting down walls to escape. He and some co-authors recently published an alternative theory, on the open physics exchange arXiv. “Current sheets are not stable in time, they evolve, get narrow, become more intense,” says Comisso. This dynamic activity causes the huge, burning plasmas carried by the current sheets to intensify. “Plasmoids are like small blobs in this current sheet that grow until they break,” he says. “At a certain point they become big enough to burst, and destroy their current sheet and you have an explosion of current energy.”

Comisso and his co-authors built on 10 years of research by themselves and others on plasmoid instability to develop their mathematical solution. The theory calculates a given plasmoid’s size, and the size it would need to be in order to destroy its current sheet. “We can characterize the properties of plasmoid instability, and identify which blob of plasmoids will become big first,” he says. Developed more fully, their theory could become a the basis for things like early warning systems for the satellite-wrecking waves of energy emanating from bursted solar flares.

Nuclear physicists working on fusion energy might find the theory useful, as well. A tokamak is a type of fusion reactor that uses electromagnetic coils to control donut-shaped plasmas of energy. But heating the plasma to fusion-hot temperatures–about 10 times hotter than the center of the sun–is complicated. Because just like on the sun’s surface, the current sheets between magnetic fields in the tokamak want to burst. This releases energy, lowering the temperature, making safe, stable fusion impossible. But, if scientists can predict when and where plasmoids will burst, they can use some external force, like radiofrequency waves, to keep the current sheet stable. And if they figure all that out? Well, talk about a miracle.

11 Comments

  1. Bravo for you!

    Now can you explain to me what your comments have to do with mine?

  2. The Dude of Dudesville

    I have no intention of wasting my time arguing with a moron like you so I have blocked you. Feel free to spout your nonsense to whatever other losers you can take in.

  3. You forgot to mention that EU theory includes the work of two Nobel Laureates—
    Irving Langmuir and Hannes Alfven.

    Kristian Birkeland was another major contributor to EU theory.
    His research of the aurora borealis helped him to be nominated for the Nobel prize seven times.
    People with limited intellectual resources, like you, couldn’t ‘see’ that he was correct.

    It’s as historian Dan J. Boorstin once wrote:
    The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance…
    it is the illusion of knowledge.

  4. Without any knowledge about the theory that I presented for review–
    you denigrated me and the theory.
    You must have attended the Saul Alinsky School of Science… am I correct ‘The Dude’?

    If you’re looking for work, the political left would love to employ
    folks like you for their ‘climate change’ propaganda campaign.
    You have just the qualities they are looking for.

  5. The Dude of Dudesville

    In other words, “I know you are, but what am I?”

    The classic response of the scientifically-challenged and their… unique… theories is to claim that the reader simply is too unenlightened to understand their “theory”, which as anyone with a science background knows, is pure male bovine excrement.

  6. “With the growing Internet presence of The Thunderbolts Project, it
    places a spotlight on interdisciplinary research, direct observation,
    and experimental work confirming the pervasive role of the electric
    force in nature. Founder and director is David Talbott. Chief science
    advisor is the Australian physicist Wallace Thornhill.”

    Yes we get it. Self proclaimed scientists.

  7. Prevaricating and denigrating only reveals your envy and ignorance.
    Again, my suggestions were for open- minded readers.
    Take your entropy generating behavior elsewhere.

    Besides the videos, empirical evidence for the Electric Universe theory can also be found
    at thunderbolts.info.

  8. David Talbott and Wal Thornhill aren’t scientists. They believe in “planets alignment theories” and ancient cultures. But without any proof, they only formulate a thesis and then try to convince people to believe that thesis to establish themselves as “pseudo”-scientists. Caution.

  9. I’m a daily viewer of his earthquake app and suspicious observers site.
    He is also a regular presenter at the Electric Universe conventions.

  10. Ben Davidson has a you tube channel “Suspicious0 (zero not O) bservors wwhere he promotes the Electric Universe theory and also accurately predicts major (6.0 & higher) earthquakes. Worthy of checking out.

  11. Physicists are confused about the Sun’s magnetism because they have ignored the Electric Universe possibility.
    Open- minded readers are welcomed to view the following YouTube presentations:

    –David Talbott:Exposing the Myths of “Settled Science”
    and for a more technical presentation: The Electric Sun by Don Scott

    “From the smallest particle to the largest galactic formation, a web of electric circuitry connects and unifies all of nature,
    organizing galaxies, energizing stars, giving birth to planets and, on our own world, controlling weather and animating
    biological organisms. There are no isolated islands in the “electric universe”….
    The medium for this more “holistic” view is plasma, a highly conductive state of matter distinguished
    by the presence of freely moving charged particles.”—–David Talbott and Wal Thornhill

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