Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space Science

Spiraling Magnetic Signal Shows Up In the Cosmic Background 168

Posted by timothy
from the headline-can-only-hold-so-many-words dept.
pln2bz writes "Astronomers looking for confirmation for emissions from early stellar formation in the cosmic microwave background radiation instead found a signal indicating large amounts of unaccounted-for spiraling magnetic fields in space, but without any accompanying infrared emissions. The discovery possibly dredges up the claims of plasma cosmologists like Eric Lerner, who claim that the intergalactic medium is a strong absorber of the CMB with the absorption occurring in a fog of narrow filaments. These filaments are the result of plasma's natural tendency, as observed within the plasma laboratory and in novelty plasma globes, to form braided, ropelike structures which are collimated by coiled magnetic fields."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Spiraling Magnetic Signal Shows Up In the Cosmic Background

Comments Filter:
  • Err..what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2009 @05:23AM (#26384149)

    This news is too nerdy to understand. Can someone explain it in more detail?

    • Re:Err..what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Klootzak (824076) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:04AM (#26384311)

      I'll try as best as I can (this topic is beyond my level of understanding of Physics).

      Essentially they've found something, they don't know what it is... a speculation is it could be caused by Black Holes which were formed by the first Stars to exist in the Universe Imploding [wikipedia.org] (as predicted by Einstein).

      The other part of the submission leads on to say that if they are correct in their first speculation, it could possibly validate other theories like the one made by Eric Lerner, on how the Universe "works" in terms of the various structures of matter and energy in the space between large masses (like planets or stars).

      I'm suspect as to the accuracy of the first link in the article, it quotes:

      Dust grows over time as stars manufacture heavy elements called metals, like carbon, silicon and oxygen, that make up dust and then spit them out into space.

      The reason I'm suspect, is because Oxygen [wikipedia.org] and Carbon [wikipedia.org] are both nonmetallic elements (or at least I understood they were - I checked Wikipedia to confirm).

      I hope that helps you a bit, this stuff is a bit of a mindbender.

      • Re:Err..what? (Score:5, Informative)

        by thePjunisher (858667) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:28AM (#26384423)
        Everything that's not hydrogen or helium, is a metal.


        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal#Astronomy [wikipedia.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cyxxon (773198)
        The difference here is that astronomers call a lot more elements "metals" than chemists do, it seems to be a convention for this specific field of work. So in that context that quote is not really wrong. At least that is what I have heard, I am neither ;)
        • Re:Err..what? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Salamander_Pete (1377479) on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:42AM (#26384829)
          I am a chemist, and as such I would say a metal is an element which favours losing electrons to form positive ions and electron 'clouds', rather than forming covalent bonds (electron-sharing between only a few atoms - normally 2). It seems that there is a specific definition of 'metal', which is used by the astrophysics guys, meaning any element heavier than helium. This says nothing about the ability/mechanism of the element to join with other elements, just its mass. As this is an astrophysics story, I'd have to go along with the 'heavier than helium' definition...
        • by mbone (558574)

          Really, it's the cosmologists. If it is not hydrogen or helium, it's a metal. I am not really sure why - maybe because there is a fair amount of lithium, and that is a metal.

          This convention is not used by, say, the astronomers who deal with extra-solar system planets.

          • Really, it's the cosmologists. If it is not hydrogen or helium, it's a metal. I am not really sure why - maybe because there is a fair amount of lithium, and that is a metal.

            Hydrogen and helium are primordial elements, formed in the Big Bang. Anything heavier than helium was made in stars - hence the cut-off there. Why the word 'metals' in particular came to be used to describe heavy elements I don't know.

      • by Goaway (82658)

        Astronomers call anything heavier than hydrogen and helium "metal".

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        "Essentially they've found something, they don't know what it is..."

        Well, I think it's obvious -- it's the Force! ;)

      • by Evil Pete (73279)

        Astrophysicists call everything other than Hydrogen and Helium as 'Metals'. There may be reasons to be suspicious but this is not one of them.

    • by MRe_nl (306212) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:30AM (#26384429)

      "Spiraling Magnetic Signal, Cosmic Background emissions in the cosmic microwave background radiation, a signal indicating large amounts of unaccounted-for spiraling magnetic fields in space, but without any accompanying infrared emissions. The intergalactic medium is a strong absorber of a fog of narrow filaments. These filaments are the result of plasma's natural tendency, to form braided, ropelike structures which are collimated by coiled magnetic fields."

      Jeez Dungeon Master, all I did was cast "Detect Magic", no need to go all cosmic on us...

    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Friday January 09, 2009 @08:20AM (#26385115) Homepage Journal

      It's more proof that the Pastafarians are right!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's called spiral energy. Giga!!! Drill!!!!! BREAAAAAAAKERRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!
  • by gardyloo (512791) on Friday January 09, 2009 @05:45AM (#26384243)

    Had to go look at the Electric Universe's webpage (won't link to it now; the curious can drive traffic). I see no mention of anything like this structure predicted on any sort of scale like this, though they post-hoc claim that galactic-sized spiraly bits can be explained with their theory. Probably their page is in need of revision, though, with these new findings...

    • by Kartoffel (30238)

      I'd like to give Electric Universe proponents a fair chance, but their theories seem to attract a disproportionate of pseudoscientists and kooks. It's a shame, because this has tainted the entire subject to the point that few will risk their reputation to publish on it.

      Maybe this radio background discovery will help (a) discredit the crackpots and (b) give proper science a valid platform from which to investigate EM fields on very large scales.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by arminw (717974)

        ....that few will risk their reputation to publish....

        Yet, it has been the few, the daring to be different, not the ones feeling safe in the crowd, that have contributed the most to major knowledge in the early history of experimental and observational science.

        This was true centuries ago and still is true today. Danish Astronomer Roemer was the first to assert that light did indeed have a finite velocity, even though the prevailing majority opinion (politically correct) at the time was that light travelled

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Yet, it has been the few, the daring to be different, not the ones feeling safe in the crowd, that have contributed the most to major knowledge in the early history of experimental and observational science.

          Other early scientists, such as Kepler, Copernicus, Pasteur and others also had to fight the majority status quo establishment, but were finally, after a long uphill battle proven to be right.

          "The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown." -- attributed to Carl Sagan

          • by pln2bz (449850) *

            Well, I would add to that that when it comes to the topic of physics, ridicule possesses the power of a psychological weapon. Studies demonstrate that when a spectator observes somebody else being ridiculed, the spectator will be inclined to avoid the same thing happening to him. In this manner, when it comes to the topic of physics, ridicule is perhaps one of the most effective tools available for keeping people from discussing or thinking about controversial subjects. People already fear making an ass

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pln2bz (449850) *

        The Electric Universe is lumped in with the fringe sciences purely because it is not the conventional paradigm. The model itself is workable because there's a high correlation between observations of the Sun and heliosphere, and the action of an anode within a plasma glow discharge. No mathematical debunking can argue against these key correlations since they are based upon laboratory observations. If the key features match up, then the mathematics can be made to work for a model.

        What you might not reali

    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary&yahoo,com> on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:53AM (#26387177) Journal

      He has a history of posting any story that can possibly be interpreted as supporting the electric universe theory, along with his speculations as to why the story proves EU correct. Just saying...

      • by pln2bz (449850) *

        Ah, the memories ...

        Spun, the people of Slashdot do actually need to be reminded when an alternative cosmology is supported by an observation. The Slashdot debunkers like yourself tend to keep the masses here ignorant of what the competing paradigm actually says, so I do add value when I remind people.

        Debunkers crack me up. I've been spending a lot of time lately with Tim Thompson, Tom Bridgman and Leroy Ellenberger. You guys try so hard to disprove that the math can be made to work. But, you shoot your

        • by spun (1352)

          Oh, man, I wasn't trying to censor you, I was just trying to put this in context. Of course it's good to discuss this theory. But it's also good to understand that you are drawing conclusions that the scientists themselves are not.

          • by pln2bz (449850) *

            "the scientists"? Are they programmable lemmings? Or are people permitted to formulate their own opinions on these sorts of things?

            You know, when a new paradigm comes in, it will only be interesting to people if it simplifies our current understanding of our relationship with the universe. When you defer to authority, you ignore this simple fact. What we have here is a situation where the plasma glow discharge behaves strikingly like a miniature Sun. If you look at some of the most perplexing problems

        • by khallow (566160)

          What is the "electric sun" hypothesis really? I read [electric-cosmos.org] the following:

          The Sun may be powered, not from within itself, but from outside, by the electric (Birkeland) currents that flow in our arm of our galaxy as they do in all galaxies.. This possibility that the Sun may be exernally powered by its galactic environment is the most speculative idea in the ES hypothesis and is always attacked by critics while they ignore all the other explanatory properties of the ES model.

          It puzzles me that such an important thing is left dangling. Is the Sun externally powered or not? Yes or no? It is obvious why critics focus on this. It is easy to rebut.

          The Sun being externally powered would be easily observable from Earth. In fact, we would see similar inflow of energy into our atmosphere, dramatically heating up the surface of the Earth and by our space probes. We would observe the plasma flowing in onto the Sun. The fac

          • by pln2bz (449850) *

            Okay, your posting is full of errors here. If you care to see why, please read on. Otherwise, I would advise not posting on the subject until you learn more about glow discharges ...

            The Sun being externally powered would be easily observable from Earth. In fact, we would see similar inflow of energy into our atmosphere, dramatically heating up the surface of the Earth and by our space probes. We would observe the plasma flowing in onto the Sun. The fact is we don't observe these effects. Hence, we can discard that prediction of the theory, assuming someone ever gets bold enough to make it.

            To your own credit, you have actually read more than most. The problem is that you're listening to the likes of Tom Bridgman and Leroy Ellenberger, who collectively know absolutely nothing about plasma physics.

            A typical quote from Leroy Ellenberger goes something like this:

            "The REAL point is that I do not have to pick one iss

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by khallow (566160)

              Here's the fundamental problem with the Electric Universe theory. It's really quite simple. Our observations do not fit the EU theory. We do not see energy falling into the Sun to ignite fusion. If fusion is occur at or near the surface of the Sun, then it needs to have a substantial input from the external world. We would detect that energy flux on the surface of the Earth (especially at night) since the Earth would intercept a portion of it and in our observations of the Solar System. We do not see it. In

              • by pln2bz (449850) *

                Khallow, with all due respect, you appear to be refusing to learn about what a drift current is. We already see that charged particles, when subjected to the electric field of an electric discharge, can actually flow upstream of an outflow of positively charged particles being accelerated away. This is what happens when high-voltage DC trolley lines ionize the surrounding air. The transmission line is the anode and the surrounding atmosphere is the virtual cathode. The same thing also happens in a glow

    • by mbone (558574)

      I would also point out that these papers did not detect anything like filaments or braids.

      The EU is wrong on so many levels that IMHO it is not even interesting. I. E. Segal's ideas were at least interesting.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:06AM (#26384325)

    The universe really is made out of spiral energy!

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:13AM (#26384355) Homepage Journal
    Maybe it's the explanation for the problem these hippies' [slashdot.org] are having? No, on second thoughts, the problem is that they're hippies.
  • by mbone (558574) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:32AM (#26384453)

    Interpretation of the extragalactic results (the real source of the OP) :
      http://arxiv.org/abs/0901.0559 [arxiv.org]

    Note that the above paper does not mention the "wildly speculative" spiraling magnetic fields idea.

    Extragalactic results in general :
    http://arxiv.org/abs/0901.0555 [arxiv.org]

    Galactic results
    http://arxiv.org/abs/0901.0562 [arxiv.org]

    A description of the instrument :
    http://arxiv.org/abs/0901.0546 [arxiv.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mbone (558574)

      In fact, if you read the New York Times article, these guys are experimentalists, and they are just trying to get theorists involved.

      Dr. Kogut and his colleagues stressed that they do not really know where the signal comes from and they hope that theorists will take up the quest."

      I would not put too much weight on their theoretical musings.

    • by radtea (464814) on Friday January 09, 2009 @08:36AM (#26385271)

      Note that the above paper does not mention the "wildly speculative" spiraling magnetic fields idea.

      But this is /., where no one cares about science unless it is wildly speculative.

      Good critique of Lerner: http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/lerner_errors.html [ucla.edu] Dunno why the summary mentions him at all.

      • by drerwk (695572)

        Good critique of Lerner: http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/lerner_errors.html [ucla.edu] Dunno why the summary mentions him at all.

        Thanks for the link - nice to see a collection against the nuttiness. I'm waiting for my favorite reply, "But the sun is charged, it emits charged particles, what do you think the solar wind is?". I want to help those people....

        • by pln2bz (449850) *

          Who needs help? Plasma physicists?!

          The Electric Universe is based upon the simple premise that the Sun can be modeled as a plasma glow discharge based upon our observations of the glow discharge in the plasma laboratory. It really shouldn't even be controversial, to be honest. And you shouldn't dismiss it until you can at least rattle off all of the key characteristics of both a glow discharge and the heliosphere.

          They both have quasi-neutral positive columns. They both exhibit an inverse temperature jus

          • by drerwk (695572)
            Wow, I see some AC beat me to an answer. I was going to ask if that plasma glow discharge you were talking about is AC or DC current? Then I was going to point out that peer review is not actually a popularity contest, we try to accept work that is consistent with observation; and presently the Big Bang is fairly consistent with what we see. I also disagree that Science is inherently controversial, it is inherently unfinished.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:35AM (#26384477)

    ...which is "what are the implications of this discovery with regards to the development of FTL travel and subsequent discovery of green alien chicks in bikinis?"

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      It's all fun and games till you discover that green aliens bear a striking resemblance to Roseanne.

  • by syousef (465911) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:44AM (#26384527) Journal

    I suspect that there are a lot of slashdotters who aren't strong on Cosmology and won't be bothered looking up the significance of the CMB on Wikipedia (I must say the Wikipedia article is particularly dense and won't be the easiest for non-specialists to digest).

    So in a nutshell, the CMB is the the radiation we see in every direction of the sky. It's a little more complicated but you can think of it as the afterglow of the big bang. (Note: That is an over-simplication. To understand it better you have to look at a timeline of what happened after the big bang, especially hyper-inflation and recombination).

    The reason it's so important is that it is the result of and thus put limits on the conditions at the time of the Big Bang. Since we don't have time machines and can't observe the universe from the outside, it is a critical piece of observational data against which we test our theories.

    It is a particularly important piece of the puzzle when trying to work out what's going on with regards to dark matter because the amount of dark matter and the way in which it formed must be consistent with conditions that produced the CMB we observe.

    • by gardyloo (512791)

      you can think of it as the afterglow of the big bang.

      Oh, as though slashdotters know what "afterglow" is.

    • by Kartoffel (30238)

      Yep! Based on observations of CMB / high-Z supernovae / galaxy cluster lensing, the universe appears to be nearly flat, finite, with accelerating expansion.

      If you discredit the CMB portion of the data, it may invalidate that model of the universe, or at the very least introduce more uncertainty.

      If what we think of as "CMB" is affected by galactic EM fields, the ratio of dark energy and dark matter to baryonic matter could be way off.

      This is a very interesting time to be doing astronomy.

  • They are just the spending by USGovernment!

    The spending is spiraling out of control, out of this world and is astronomical, as every one knows.

    • by arminw (717974)

      ...The spending is spiraling out of control,...

      That's why big numbers are no longer labeled "astronomical" but are now "economic" numbers in terms of the total debt owed by everybody to everybody.

  • Not this again... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Karma Bandit (1305259)

    Experimental data speculation + crackpot plasma theory = Slashdot science?

  • That the universe is a big giant plasma ball that hasn't been played with in a while... so what happens when someone plugs us back in and touches the glass again?

  • A man conceived a moments answers to the dream, Staying the flowers daily, sensing all the themes. As a foundation left to create the spiral aim, A movement regained and regarded both the same, All complete in the sight of seeds of life with you. Changed only for a sight of sound, the space agreed. Between the picture of time behind the face of need, Coming quickly to terms of all expression laid, Emotion revealed as the ocean maid, All complete in the sight of seeds of life with you.
  • DNA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by el_jake (22335)
    Three letters spring into mind - DNA
    • Fascinating idea -- recursive mirroring on such a scale as this... :D

      Some descriptions of the universe talk about how, if you go in one direction far enough, you'll wind up back where you started. Maybe it's the same for size as well? I.e., if you get big enough, you wind up back at the small, and vice-versa. Fun thought.

      Cheers,

      • Anyone who's seen photomicrographs of IC chips has probably had a similar unsettling thought, looking down on a city from an airplane window. Self-similarity is practically everywhere you look, even in our own creations.

        If they found large-scale double-helix structures in space, I'd pretty much shit my drawers. Then I'd start a religion around it and make big bucks.

  • If each universe (as discussed in previous post) has some thing in common, maybe, like a gravity-field and each of the universes were in a Mega-verse levity-field (you can laugh now) floating around like galaxies in our own small universe, then maybe ....

    A gravity field universe passing through a levity-field mega-verse would generate a background energy halo. The mechanics much like magnets generation of electricity..., but gravity is not magnetism and levity is not electricity (laugh again, please).

    What

  • ELECTRIC UNIVERSE!!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by frankie (91710) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:04AM (#26385603) Journal

    Please recall that Mr pln2bz [slashdot.org] is an Electric Universe fanatic, pretending to be an objective outsider who was swayed by the Thunderbolts' persuasive arguments.

    • by pln2bz (449850) *

      It has been a wonderful joy watching the people here on Slashdot completely misunderstand the Electric Universe debate. It will be even more fun 20 years from now when you guys are claiming that you never actually argued against electricity over plasmas in space, but that the Electric Universe is still wrong!

      • by gardyloo (512791)

        It has been a wonderful joy watching the people here on Slashdot completely misunderstand the Electric Universe debate.

        Once some unambiguous predictions (or even post-dictions) are made which are more comprehensively explained by an Electric Universe theory than by more traditional theory, then perhaps the misunderstandings will be resolved. Until then, expect to work very, very hard at making things understood, and expect more push-back.

  • First Sign? (Score:2, Funny)

    by aCodeCowboy (968633)
    Could be somebody up there pulled the handle and we're just starting the spin down the bowl?
  • "It's exciting new evidence of something new and exciting going on in the universe."

    This guy must be from the dept-of-redundancy-dept

  • I see no support whatsoever for plasma cosmology in the new data. It's an unexpected bright spot in the CMB spectrum. There are quite a few possible explanations and not really enough evidence yet to prefer any one of them in particular.

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

Working...