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Plasma Cosmology

[This section is based mostly on the discoveries made by plasma cosmologists, exposed in Eric J. Lerner's The Big Bang Never Happened.  However, I must make clear that I don't embrace his exposition of ancient philosophy made by him.  Also, I reject his psychologist idea that formal mathematics only exist as a product of the human mind in order to understand the universe.  For an exposition on views I mostly agree on, look at my article on Edmund Husserl's Philosophy of Mathematics.]

Eric J. Lerner - The Big Bang Never Happened
In Association with Amazon.com


    I would like to begin this page stating that I'm not a professional scientist, but I want to share with everybody a theory that is not so popular within the scientific community and the public alike, but I think it has a strong explanatory power.  I personally think that it might be stronger than the traditional view held by cosmologists about the Big Bang theory.  Here, I'll expose the present problems of the Big Bang  theory, and then expose the reasons why I think plasma cosmology will have much success in the future.


Problems With the Big Bang

    Because of the experimental success of the general theory of relativity, the discovery of the Hubble expansion, the Big Bang has been accepted by most scientists and cosmologists today.  However, there were other series of observational problems that are practically not discussed in conventional books on cosmology.  For example, starting alone from the gravitational view of general relativity, we can't still explain why galaxies have the spiral form and have "arms," (Trefil 1992, 367) or how the formation of the Solar System is possible.


How Much Mass Does the Universe Have?:  The Problem of Dark Matter

        Einstein's theory offered infinite models of the universe in expansion.  These mathematical models depend on the quantity of mass that is present in it.  The way that we could predict the model is to measure the density of the universe, which is represented by the variable omega.  If omega is less than one, then the universe would expand up to a point and then would contract, and would finish into what cosmologist call a Big Crunch.  If omega equals one, then the universe would cease to a point but would not contract; and if omega is greater than one, then the universe would continue continue to expand eternally.  According to the way matter disperses in the universe, Big Bang theorists stated that in order for this theory to work out, omega must be close to 1.  The problem was that the measure of the density of matter that fills the universe, according to the calculations, is equal to .02.

    Gerard DeVancouleurs, a prestigious astronomer, wrote in 1970 an article in Science journal, in which he summarizes his findings about certain ways in which matter organizes in the universe and the Big Bang theory.  He pointed out, not only that the galaxies were grouped into clusters, but also that these clusters were grouped in superclusters.  This kind of organizing patter of the universe revealed that the cosmos is grouped in a form of a "hierarchy."  This discovery would give Big Bang theorists more headaches, because if what DeVancouleurs says is true, then the value of omega would not be .02, but .0002 (DeVancouleurs 1203-13).

    Cosmologists ignored this study and supposed that there was no hierarchical universe, but later there were some studies that confirmed DeVancouleurs' discovery.  Dr. Brent Tully, of the University of Hawaii, and his colleague J. R. Fischer wanted to measure the distances of the nearest galaxies to us in such a way, that it would be possible to construct a three-dimensional cosmic map, which came to be published in the book Atlas of Nearby Galaxies.  These maps showed that the clusters of galaxies are grouped into superclusters, which have some millions of light years, and that extend through hundreds of millions of light years, beyond the limits of Tully's and Fischer's maps  (Tully and Fischer, Tully 25).  Most cosmologists didn't want to believe these results.  Even one of them, Marc Davis, of the University of Berkeley, stated:  "I think Tully is connecting dots and says that these are clusters of clusters."  However, after a rigorous analysis, Tully stated clearly that it would be highly unlikely that these superclusters could appear at random (Lerner 1992, 24).

    Tully's allegations were further confirmed beyond all doubt by the data obtained by Margaret J. Geller and John P. Huchra of Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who made more accurate maps of galaxies within six hundred of light years from Earth, and found a "Great Wall" of clusters of galaxies nearby which is more than two hundred of light years long, twenty millions of light years think, and seven millions of light years high.  This Great Wall coincided perfectly with Tully's maps (Lerner 24;  Riordam and Schramm 113-121).

   These discoveries not only represented a threat to the Big Bang theory about the density of the universe, but also would mean that would add to the universe's age.  According to Big Bang theorists, the universe was formed 10 to 20 billion years ago.  However, all of these exposed discoveries about superclusters reveal that the universe would have formed 150 billion years ago, according to David Koo of Lick Observatory and T. J. Broadhurst of University of Durham, in England (Lerner 1992, 25).

    Why does this create a problem?  Why is it a problem that the universe is so big?  James Trefil in his book The Dark Side of the Universe explains this problem clearly.  He explains why, if the universe is so big, with so much less matter density galaxies should not exist:

1.    Galaxies could not have formed before the atoms:  If cosmologists' calculations are correct, then atoms should have delayed very much in being formed in such a manner that they would have come to be almost at the same time that galaxies were formed.  This makes absolutely no sense.

2.    Galaxies could not have had time to form solely on gravity:  If atoms would have delayed that much, then stars would have delayed too, very much.  Therefore, it is not supposed that galaxies exist in the present time.

3.    Turbulences also do not work to explain the formation of galaxies:  It doesn't matter which forces could have intervened in the formation of galaxies, there is simply no time for them to form and exist right now.

4.    If there is no time to form galaxies, therefore the clusters are not supposed to exist either, not to say superclusters either.

5.    If radiation hits matter, we could say that the interaction of matter and radiation would have formed galaxies, but if this is true, then the uniformity of the background radiation is left unexplained because it is not supposed to happen (Trefil 1989, 55-66).

    If we follow strictly the Big Bang theory as formulated, then we wouldn't be here.  But here we are!  And there they are... the galaxies, clusters and superclusters!  How can Big Bang theorists solve this huge problem?

    One of the most accepted solutions in this issue is that we are assuming that the visible matter is the only matter there is.  What happens with the matter that we don't see?  What if there was a significant amount of dark matter, this means, a matter that doesn't emit any kind of radiation that would let the value of omega be almost one?  What if this dark matter was responsible for the formations of galaxies, clusters and superclusters?  Hawking states the following:

[. . .] our uncertainty about the present average density of the universe is even greater.  If we add up the masses of all the stars that we can see in our galaxy and other galaxies, the total is less than one hundredth of the amount required to halt the expansion of the universe, even for the lowest estimate of the rate of expansion.  Our galaxy and other galaxies, however, must contain a large amount of "dark matter" that we cannot see directly, but which we know must be there because of the influence of its gravitational attraction on the orbits of stars in the galaxies.  Moreover, most galaxies are found in clusters, and we can similarly infer the presence of yet more dark matter in between the galaxies in these clusters by its effect on the motion of galaxies.  When we add up all this dark matter, we still get only about one tenth of the amount required to halt the expansion.  However, we cannot exclude the possibility that there might be some other form of matter, distributed almost uniformly throughout the universe, that we have not yet detected and that might still raise the average density of the universe up to the critical value needed to halt the expansion (Hawking 45-46).

    This dark matter theory, which has been postulated in almost all cosmology books, presents also empirical problems.  Mauri Valtonen of the University of Turku, Finland, and Gene Byrd of the University of Alabama joined forces to look for dark matter in the universe.  They used redshift, which measures the distance of stars and other bodies, to identify the galaxies within a cluster and measure their velocities within it.  This presented a problem.  If there would have been a closer galaxy to us than the cluster, we could confuse it with a galaxy within that cluster.  Therefore, they used "interlopers" -galaxies that seemed to form part of the clusters, but were too far from them (too far in the front and too far in the back).  If we include those interlopers in the calculations, their velocities would lead us to find mass in the cluster where apparently there is none:  this would be our dark matter.  They, after checking every possible potential error, they measured the velocities of the clusters, and discovered that galaxies had exactly the same mass that they were seeing.  What does this mean?  Very simple:  There is no dark matter (Valtonen and Byrd 523-34).  E. Shaya of the University of Columbia confirmed these data, and measured simultaneously the amount of mass in the clusters, and found that the value of omega is .03, very close to .02 found by Valtonen and Byrd (Lerner 1992, 35-39).

    Also, we must point out that DeVancouleurs about the hierarchical universe excludes all possibility of dark matter be the 90 to 99% of the universe.  If this was so, its gravitational force would make galactic objects spin at a higher velocity than they are perceived.  Unless dark mater is distributed in perfect uniformity in the universe, DeVancouleurs results excludes it completely (Lerner 1992, 222).


The Problem of the Microwave Background

    If we assume that space-time is smooth and homogeneous like Einstein suggested, then these structures (galaxies, clusters and superclusters) cannot be explained.  Therefore it seems that the universe is somehow clumpy and heterogeneous, that has structures like superclusters which should not have been formed during the primordial explosion.  This means more problems because if this is true, then we can't explain why the microwave background is so homogeneous.  Therefore, one of the keys to understand the origin of the universe can be found in the radio microwave background that we detect from all parts of the universe.  According to scientists, the radiation distribution of the microwaves should look similar to the distribution graphic of the radiation of the blackbody spectrum.

    With this and other purposes, NASA sent to space the satellite Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) in 1989.  When COBE processed its data, the diagram presented exactly that the graphic of the specter of the blackbody.  This was the reason for celebration for cosmologists, but this was only for a short while.  According to Paul Richards, of Berkeley University, there should have a small variation of the graphic from the graphic of the blackbody spectrum:  there was none.  The graphic was just too perfect to show the Big Bang.  Therefore, the cosmologists, who initially saw this as a big triumph, looked at this event as another big headache (Lerner 1992, 30-31; Smoot and Davidson 241-44).

    Not only this was a problem, but also obtained more information about the manner in which matter is distributed in the universe.  Before, through Fred Hoyle, we could say that the distribution of helium, deuterium and lithium in the universe corresponded perfectly with the Big Bang  theory.  Today, we cannot say the same.  From April 1991, accumulated data suggests that there are much less helium, deuterium and lithium than the theory predicts (Lerner 1992, xix).

    However, cosmologists never gave up, despite all this.  The renowned scientist George Smoot predicted that the COBE should find small fluctuations of the microwave background in the universe that would reveal the existence of "wrinkles" in space-time.  As we said, if we assume that space-time is smooth and homogeneous, then we can't explain how such structures as galaxies, clusters and superclusters formed.  Therefore, the universe must have had small "wrinkles" in space-time at the moment of the Big Bang.  COBE could find those fluctuations, which solved, at least for the time being, their headaches about the Great Explosion.  Even Stephen Hawking stated that this was the "discovery of the century, if not, of all time" (Smoot and Davidson 283).

    Though of everything mentioned, this is the only thing that comforts cosmologists for the time being, that the Big Bang is true.  But this is not the only view of the universe among scientists.


Plasma Cosmology


    An alternate view of the universe began with the Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland (1867-1917) who was the first scientist to explain the "aurora borealis".  Experimentally he demonstrated that this phenomenon was related to electromagnetic events of the sun and the earth.  It was in 1904 that he stated:  "Space is filled with electrons and flying electric ions of all kinds" (Lerner 1992, 169).  This is precisely what plasma cosmology states:  the vast majority of the universe is not empty, but is filled with great masses of ionic particles called plasma and that this is how electromagnetism travels throughout the universe.  The universe structures itself not only according to gravitation, but also by electromagnetic fluctuations.

    The two people who continued Birkeland's work were Sydney Chapman, and Nobel Prize winner, Hannes Alfvén (1908-1995).  Alfvén started his scientific work ever since he was a young man, and became acquainted with the Big Bang theory proposed by the priest and scientist Lamaître, and some scientific theories that cosmic rays (which don't refer in this case to the microwave background) came from a first Great Explosion.  Robert Millikan, the scientist who discovered the charge of the electron, objected this point of view and formulated a theory in which the origin of the cosmic rays is the matter already present in the universe.  Alfvén proposed a better theory:  the electric interactions with electrically charge stellar dust would produce these cosmic rays (Alfvén 1933).  This theory was not accepted until the years fifties and seventies (Lerner 1992, 182).

    Though he never discussed much about the Big Bang his studies on the aurora borealis and the Solar System would gradually create a conflict with conventional cosmology.  For example, traditional cosmologists wanted to explain the existence of the Solar System solely on general relativity, and therefore explain its formation only from gravitation.  The problem with this picture is that general relativity alone cannot explain why the Sun has a 2% of angular momentum, while Jupiter has 70%, Saturn 27% and the rest of the planets 1%.  Somehow, all the angular momentum of the Sun was transferred to the other planets, specially the most massive ones (Jupiter and Saturn).  According to general relativity, if the Solar System is the product of the contraction and rotation of a dust cloud, then there would be 700 times more angular momentum than is observed today in the Solar System.  Such a cloud could not have formed a star, because it would have augmented its rotational speed and would have stopped contracting at a radio of twenty billion of kilometers approximately, which would be too big for a star.  All that would form is a proto-star, but which wouldn't generate sufficient heat to change hydrogen to helium.  How is possible then that the Solar System formed the way it is today?

    Alfvén provided a solution to this problem.  Let's suppose that the dust cloud is surrounded by plasma clouds which are not rotating so rapidly.  This would have formed an electric field that would rotate along the central body.  This electromagnetic force would make the cloud rotate in the direction of this force, and by doing so, it would transfer angular momentum from the central body (proto-star) to the remaining proto-planetary bodies.  At the same time, the electromagnetic current, when returning to the sun, would reduce its rotational speed.  This would give the proto-star the opportunity for the Sun to form along the rest of the planets of the Solar System (Alfvén 1971; Lerner 1992, 188-89).

   In 1979, when the Voyager satellites passed over Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, scientists were surprised to find an enormous amount of fluctuations, homopolar generators, and great electromagnetic fields on these planets.  This confirmed everything that Alfvén stated about the Solar System.  Today, this is the accepted model about the origin of the Solar System, accepted by astronomers and astrophysicists, and it is currently used for the exploration of planets, comets and other bodies.  Further discoveries of proto-stellar systems in the universe have confirmed this fact.


Plasma Cosmology and Galaxies

   Alfvén's electromagnetic theories, empirically confirmed in the case of the Solar System, extended to the field of galaxies.  He and Per Carlqvist, his colleague, formulated a new theory about the origin of galaxies.  Let us we consider two stellar clouds electrically charged.  Because of the action of this charge, they would start spinning one over the other, making the majority of their mass be concentrating in the center of this movement.  The rest of this mass would leave traces of the movements of these clouds which would be the famous arms of the galaxies.  Electromagnetism would flow through the arms of the galaxy to the center, in which all electromagnetic force would concentrate.  This would be called the pinch effect.  When this happens, then a huge electromagnetic burst gets out of the galaxies perpendicularly of the plane of the galaxy.  It can be one or two bursts, which scientists call "radio jets".  This could corroborate this phenomena through computer simulations carried out by a plasma physicist, Anthony Peratt.  These simulations imitate perfectly the manner which the galaxies behave in the universe.  (Click here to see galaxy simulations)  (Alfvén 1978, Peratt 1984).

    However, cosmologists believe that these "jets" are created by black holes in the center of the galaxies.  According to them, black holes can spin at high speeds, which would explain why plasma at their center spins at great speeds.  However, there are important studies of Farhad Yusef-Zadeh of the University of Columbia, which predicts this phenomenon in all galaxies, even ours, and this is not due to gravitation, but to electromagnetic forces (Yusef-Zadeh and Morris 721) .  Yusef-Zadeh's hypothesis was further confirmed by G. H. Rieke and M. J. Rieke.  They discovered that the plasma in the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way,  moves at a speed close to 1,500 km/seg.  However, the stars that spin within this plasma, have a speed of 70 km/seg.  Because stars have to respond to gravitational force, its speed shows that there is no black hole at the center of the Milky Way.  Gases that travel at high speed should be trapped by an electromagnetic force, not necessarily by a gravitational one (Rieke and Rieke L33-37; Peratt 19-22).  Here are two examples of galaxies radiating jets:  Cygnus A and Galaxy M87.

   Another aspect which cannot be explained by conventional cosmology is the existence of stars which also transmit radio jets.  In this case, obviously, cosmologists can't use the black hole argument to explain it.  Stars like Eta Carinae emits an enormous amount of plasma to space at a speed of 1,000 km/seg. through two radio jets it emits at both poles.  Other stars known as Herbig-Harrow objects, which could emit those radio jets too in the process of formation or if stars are unstable (Lerner 1992, 252).

   Eric J. Lerner and Anthony Peratt also made a series of observations about these radio jets emissions by stars and galaxies.  If what plasma cosmology states is true, then the universe is filled with electrically charged particles of all kinds and transported by electromagnetic filaments.  Every particle that travels at an enormous amount of energy through the lines of the magnetic fields should absorb radiation.  If they absorb the microwave radiation background, they would re-emit those microwave radiations too, which would lead to an homogeneity of the distribution of electromagnetic energy in the universe. This can explain why the microwave background is so homogeneous.  Now comes the question, where does the microwave background come from?  The origin must be big source of energy, as those produced by radio-galaxies and "radio-stars."  If particles in the universe absorb that energy emitted from these bodies, then would be re-emitted throughout the universe, creating the microwave background, which conventional cosmologists attribute to the Big Bang (Lerner 1990, 63-68).

   And what about the tiny fluctuations of microwave background which cosmologists attribute to "wrinkles" in space-time?  Those fluctuations are nothing more than irregularities in the microwave radiation fog in the universe.  This fact was predicted by plasma cosmologists:  there has to be a fog of radiation between galaxies.  This radiation is emitted because of the electromagnetic concentration of clusters and superclusters.  Therefore, it is not surprising that cosmologists interpret the microwave fluctuations as "wrinkles" in space-time (Lerner 1992, xix-xxi).


The Hubble Expansion Mystery

    Confronted with the fact that the plasma cosmology view of the universe can explain phenomena better than the traditional view and that it denies the possibility of a Great Explosion that created the universe, how can it explain the Hubble Expansion?

    Alfvén has a hypothesis based on the fact that all energy transforms in matter and anti-matter:  there exists an equal amount of matter and anti-matter in the universe.  From this hypothesis, he developed his fireworks model.  He based his theory on DeVancouleurs' discovery of a hierarchical universe, and posited the existence of another cosmic structure bigger than a supercluster, which he called metagalaxy.  This metagalaxy would contract gravitationally up to the point that the matter and anti-matter previously separated in it, mixed up and explode.  The Hubble expansion is nothing more than this explosion made by this contraction of the metagalaxy (Lerner 1992, 223-26; Alfvén 1966; Alfvén 1979, 23-37; Alfvén and Klein 187-94).

    This theory would explain observations already made about DeVancouleurs about the velocity limit (called the DeVancouleurs velocity limit) which objects in the hierarchical structures of the universe have.  If an object of space exceeds this limit, it would form different explosions of matter and anti-matter; therefore, all cosmical objects have to obey this limit.  This fireworks model of the universe can explain also the Hubble expansion is not symmetrical, because objects in the universe are getting further away at very different rates.

    There were scientists that wanted to prove Alfvén's theory.  To obtain a certain consistency of the fireworks model, Alfvén and Oskar Klein formulated the hypothesis that there exist areas of explosion of layers of matter and anti-matter, which do not annihilate completely, but would only annihilate that part of the area of contact between both layers which would generate low density hot plasma that would repel both clouds of matter and anti-matter.  This explains the DeVancouleurs' limit, any excess of velocity of this limit would make matter and antimatter collide and create more explosions.

    Scientists thought that if there was much anti-matter as Alfvén hypothesized, then we should detect these particles on Earth.  An experiment was carried out that tested this hypothesis, and they found no evidence of that amount of anti matter (Smoot and Davidson 99-109).  Other people, like Gary Steigman, stated on Nature magazine, that if there would me more presence of gamma rays in the universe than those observed (Lerner 1992, 225).

    Carlqvist y Alfvén replied to that article stating that Steigman's mistake is in the fact that all these experiment suppose the homogeneity of the universe.  We have a metagalactic explosion that happened in a specific area of the universe ten or twenty billion years ago, the gamma rays of the initial annihilation of matter and anti-matter depends on a specific density of matter in the universe that would correspond to the fireworks model and DeVancouleurs' data (Lerner 1992, 226).

    Despite this observation, a physics professor of San Diego, William Thompson, skeptic about Alfvén's statements, he tested them and looked for these matter and anti-matter layers in galaxies.  Supposing that a galaxy of matter collides with an anti-matter one, the stars of both galaxies would not necessarily collide with each other, just would go right beside them.  This would prevent the emissions of gamma rays.  Besides that, Thompson showed that Steigman's statement need not to be true, but he didn't prove that definitely Alfvén was wrong (Lerner 1992, 226-27).

   However, recently in the Compton Observatory of Gamma Rays, enormous amounts of gamma ray emissions was discovered within the center of our own galaxy, which suggests a huge presence of anti-matter there (more than previously believed) (Discover 7-8).



   We see in this page that there is the possibility of the substitution of the Big Bang cosmology with plasma cosmology.  Obviously the position of plasma cosmology is that the universe has always been there, it has always existed.  It continues to change forever due to gravitation, plasma and electromagnetic fluctuations.  This view can explain most of the objects in space more than conventional general relativity alone.  It is time to look at stronger theories about the universe, and this apparently is a valid alternative.

Home Up

Works Cited:

Alfvén, Hannes.  "Hubble Expansion in a Euclidean Framework."  Astrophysics and Space Science. vol. 66 (1979):  23-37

- - -.  "Origin of Cosmic Radiation." Nature vol. 131 (April 29,1933):  619-20.

- - -.  Plasma, Physics, Space Research, and the Origin of the Solar System. Nobel lecture. Stockholm: Kungl, Boktrycheriet P. A. Norstedt & Soner, 1971.

- - -. World-Antiworlds: Antimatter in Cosmology. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1966.

Alfvén Hans and Oskar Klein, "Matter-Antimatter Annihilation and Cosmology." Arkiv For Fysik. vol. 23 (1962):  187-94.

Alfvén, Hannes and Per Carlqvist, "Interstellar Clouds and the Formation of Stars." Astrophysics and Space. vol. 55 (1978): 487-509.

DeVancouleurs, Gerard. "The Case for a Hierarchical Cosmology." Science. Vol. 167 (Feb. 27, 1970): 1203-13.

"Fuente de antimateria." Discover (en español). (Octubre 1997): 7-8.

Hawking, Stephen W.  A Brief History of Time:  From the Big Bang to Black Holes. US: Bantam Books, 1988.

Lerner, Eric J.  "Radio Absorption by the Intergalactic Medium." The Astrophysical Journal. vol. 361 (Sept, 20, 1990):  63-68.

- - -.  The Big Bang Never Happened:  A Startling Refutation of the Dominant Theory of the Origin of the Universe. NY:  Vintage Books, 1992.

Peratt, Anthony L. "Are Black Holes Necessary?" Sky and Telescope. vol. 66 (July 1983):  19-22.

- - -.  "Simulating Spiral Galaxies." Sky and Telescope. vol. 68 (August 1984): 118-22.

Rieke, G. H. and M. J. Rieke, "Stellar Velocities and the Mass Distribution in the Galactic Center", The Astrophysical Journal. vol. 33 (July 1, 1988):  L33-37.

Riordam, Michael and David N. Schramm, Las sombras de la creación. Madrid: Acento Editorial, 1991.

Smoot, George and Keay Davidson. Wrinkles in Time. New York: Avon Books, 1994.

Trefil, James. The Dark Side of the Universe.  US:  Doubleday, 1988.

- - -. 1.001 cosas que todo el mundo debería saber sobre ciencia.  España: Plaza & Janés Editores, 1992.

Tully, Brent. "More About Clustering on a Scale of .1c," The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 303 (1986).

Tully, Brent  and J. R. Fischer, Atlas of Nearby Galaxies. Cambridge: Cambridge University. Press, 1987.

Yusef-Zadeh, Farhad  and M. Morris, "The Linear Filaments of the Radio Arc Near the Galactic Center", The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 322 (1987).