mirrored file at http://SaturnianCosmology.Org/ For complete access to all the files of this collection see http://SaturnianCosmology.org/search.php ========================================================== THOTH A Catastrophics Newsletter VOL VI, No 2 March 15, 2002 EDITOR: Amy Acheson PUBLISHER: Michael Armstrong LIST MANAGER: Brian Stewart CONTENTS THE LOGIC OF PROOF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mel Acheson LIGHTNING DOGS . . . . . . . . . . . discussion with Rens van der Sluijs DARK RIDER AND THE LORD OF THE RINGS . . . . . . . . . . . Wal Thornhill >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>-----<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< THE LOGIC OF PROOF by Mel Acheson Scientific theories-or, for that matter, theories of any kind-are "if-then" statements: If a theory is true, then certain events can be observed. If Relativity is true, then starlight passing near the sun will be bent twice as much as Newton's theory predicts. If evolution is true, then variations in a species can develop into independent species. If the Big Bang is true, then there will be a cosmic background radiation corresponding to the temperature to which space has cooled since it Banged. One of the tools logicians use to evaluate statements is the truth table. On one side are listed all the possible combinations of truth and falsity of the components of the statement. On the other side are listed the resulting truth values of the statement. So for the theory "if A, then B" we have this truth table: A B If A then B T T T T F F F T T F F T I'll illustrate this with the following theory: "If the moon is blue, then my desk is black." Premise A is: "The moon is blue." Prediction B is: "My desk is black." The first line of the truth table says that in case the moon really is blue and my desk really is black, the theory will be true. In other words, the theory is verified or confirmed. The second line says that in case the moon really is blue and my desk is not black, the theory is false. In other words, the theory is falsified. But consider the third and fourth lines: If the moon is not blue -- that is, if the initial assumption of the theory is false -- my desk could still be black, or, for that matter, any color at all. The theory would be logically true -- if the moon were blue. In other words, a false premise can imply anything. The critical thing to notice is that confirmation of the theory's prediction -- that my desk is black -- doesn't prove the theory. There could be another explanation for the color of my desk. Verification only allows the theory to stay in the running: It MIGHT be true. The only certain conclusion we can get from this truth table is falsification. Verification is ambiguous. Let's apply this to a real theory. If the Big Bang is true (premise A), then there should be a cosmic background radiation (prediction B). If no background radiation were found (assuming the search was thorough), B would have a value of false. Looking at the truth table, we see there are two possibilities: Either the theory is false (line 2) or the premise is false (line 4). In either case, the theory has been falsified. But if we find the background radiation, B would have a value of true. And the radiation has been found. The discovery was announced as proof of the Big Bang. But is that logical? Again, looking at the truth table, we see there are two possibilities. In the first case (line 1), both the theory and the premise are true. We've verified the theory. It's a proven truth you can take to the bank -- or in this case to the press conference. But wait: There's that second possibility (line 3). The premise could be false. Remember I said a false premise can imply anything? Our proven solid-gold truth has clay feet. Our moment of certainty passes before we can get in the door of the bank. The publicity about proving the Big Bang turns out to have been a wishful pretense. In fact, a search of the astronomical literature reveals several predictions of background radiation by various theories dating back to the late 1800s. The only certain argument that can be constructed from this truth table is this: "If A, then B. Not B. Therefore, not A." It's called "Modus Tollens," or "denying the consequent." The argument that claims to prove a theory is this: "If A, then B. B. Therefore, A." It's called "affirming the consequent", and it's been known to be a fallacy since the time of Aristotle. (Let me emphasize again: "fallacy" doesn't mean the argument is necessarily wrong; it means it's indeterminate.) This means you can never prove the truth of a theory. No matter how many predictions are confirmed, you can never be sure the insolent little crackpot across the street won't come up with a better idea. If crackpots disturb you, you're going to have a bad day. You can never get rid of them with logic. But if the prospect of discovering better ideas thrills you, you can look forward to a long and exciting life. There will always be better ideas ... for better living ... through logic. Mel Acheson thoth at whidbey.com www.dragonscience.com ************************************************************ LIGHTNING DOGS: in myth and plasma labs discussion with Rens van der Sluijs Cardona: people's beliefs about natural phenomena often don't make sense with regard to those phenomena. The lightning was on all continents regarded as a dog or wolf descending from heaven. G. Johannesson: One of the most common themes in plasma discharges is an item called hetermomacs, that originated in the experimental laboratories of the Kurchatov Institute. The common theme is dogs and foxes all over the place. van der Sluijs: lightning as a canine animal [Meso-America, Europe, Malaysia, Africa] 'The Chinese "celestial dog" is similarly a thunder and lightning deity, and there are many references to it in the Chinese books, including the following: "When dark clouds covered the sky everywhere at night, a noise of thunder was heard in the north -- This was what people call a descent of the celestial dog ... "It has a shape of a large moving star, and produces a noise. When it descends and reaches the earth it resembles a dog. Whatever it falls upon becomes a flaming fire; it looks like a fiery light, like flames flaming up to heaven" ... "The celestial dogs live on the top of high mountains" ... The dogs are mentioned "as a kind of badgers living in the mountains, or as birds or plants ..., or dragons."' [D. A. MacKenzie, Pre-Columbian America (New Jersey) 1923: 246] 'According to the Matacos Indians of the Gran Chaco, the jaguar was in possession of fire and guarded it before man had procured it for himself'. [Sir J. G. Frazer, Myths of the origin of fire; an essay, London 1930: 208] 'The Bakairi Indians of Central Brazil allege that in the early days of the world the Lord of Fire was the animal which naturalists call Canis vetulus.' [Sir J. G. Frazer, Myths of the origin of fire; an essay, London 1930: 208] 'However, in other parts of British New Guinea the dog is said to figure in most stories as the animal which brought the first fire to men.' [Sir J. G. Frazer, Myths of the origin of fire; an essay, London 1930: 209] 'The Shilluk of the White Nile relate how, ..., they swathed the tail of a dog in straw and sent him to fetch fire from the land of the Great Spirit; the dog returned with his tail ablaze, and ever since the Shilluk have had fire.' [Sir J. G. Frazer, Myths of the origin of fire; an essay, London 1930: 210] 'The Sia Indians of New Mexico say that they procured fire from the coyote ...' [Sir J. G. Frazer, Myths of the origin of fire; an essay, London 1930: 211] On the Maya thunder dog: "At times he is dotted with spots to represent stars ... His body is often in human form, carrying a torch in each hand ... he falls from the sky ..." [D. A. MacKenzie, Pre-Columbian America (New Jersey) 1923: 247] 'The dog is associated with the night and is a god of death and lightning; he fell from heaven' (Maya). [MacKenzie a] 'Keeping one's distance from the family DOG is also a good idea, as dog's tails are alleged by some to attract lightning.' [D. Pickering, "Dictionary of superstitions", 1995: 157 ad "lightning"] 'A dog coming into a house during a storm will "draw lightning" and the same applies to a horse.' [N. N. Puckett, Folk beliefs of the Southern Negro, New York, 1969: 48] 'Some people are afraid of wet dogs and horses in a thunderstorm, believing that they "draw" the lightning; ...' (Europe). [M. Leach (ed.), Standard dictionary of folklore, mythology and legend, 1984: 621 ad "lightning"] 'Sometimes he (Kadaklan, the creator, MAS) sends his dog Kimat (the lightning) to bite a tree, a field, or a house. He amuses himself by playing his thunder drum' (Malaysia, MAS). [H. R. Hays, In the beginnings; early man and his gods, New York, 1963: 358] 'Kadaklan, the thunder-god of the Tinguian people of the Philippines, lived in a tree with his dog Kimat, lightning, and sent him to bite people he disliked'. [K. McLeish, Myth; myths & legends of the world explored, London 1996: 605 ad "Thunder"] 'In the Congo, it was believed that lightning was a magic dog that gave a sharp bark.' [T. Andrews, Legends of the earth, sea and sky; an encyclopedia of nature myths, 1998: 5 ad "Africa"] That should be enough to give an impression. Similar connections exist between lions/cats and lightning, etc. etc. Next to nothing about mythical lightning seems to be 'ordinary'. Rens van der Sluijs ************************************************************ DARK RIDER AND THE LORD OF THE RINGS: Sprites, gnomes and elves at the edge of space by Wal Thornhill In August 2001 a high-altitude balloon was sent aloft into the dark, moonless night. Its mission was to ride far above the great storms of the USA mid-west where it could spy on ephemeral sprites*, gnomes** and elves***. [see glossary at end of article] They hold the secret to the giant expanding rings of light on the edge of space. In the 1920s, the Scottish physicist C. T. R. Wilson predicted the existence of brief flashes of light high above large thunderstorms. Almost 70 years later, Bernard Vonnegut of SUNY Albany realized that evidence for Wilson's then-unconfirmed predictions might appear in video imagery of Earth's upper atmosphere recorded by space shuttle astronauts. He encouraged NASA's William Boeck and Otha Vaughan to look for evidence. Their search was successful. At the 1990 fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, Boeck and Vaughan presented evidence for upper-atmosphere flashes. Evidence of a different nature came from the University of Minnesota's John Winckler and his colleagues, who had serendipitously observed a flash in moonless night skies over Minnesota in 1989. Few direct measurements have been made of the flashes, now dubbed "sprites". Research aircraft cannot fly in the thin mesosphere and it is too low for orbiting spacecraft to access, so most of what's known comes from low-light video cameras and electromagnetic sensors based in mountain-top labs. Prof. Edgar Bering, a physicist at the University of Houston in Texas, has recently changed that. He heads a team from NASA's National Scientific Balloon Facility to study sprites by the tricky business of flying a high-altitude balloon above major thunderstorms. (See Rider on the Storm by Harriet Williams, New Scientist Vol. 172 No. 2321, 15 December 2001, p.36) How is a sprite formed? The sprite lies above horizontal (so-called spider) lightning in the lower portion of the upper stratiform cloud. The spider lightning's large horizontal extent shows the large layer of electric charge that feed the positive ground flashes. Such lightning flashes are not generally found in ordinary isolated thunderclouds. It is generally thought that an energetic positive cloud-to-ground discharge, in which the positive charge is neutralized by an upwards flow of electrons from the ground, causes the negative charges left in the lower part of the cloud to set up what physicists call a "quasi-electrostatic (QE) field"-an intense electric field that extends high into the atmosphere." "There is absolutely no question in my mind," says Umran Inan, director of the Space, Telecommunications and Radioscience Lab at Stanford University. "Sprites are caused by QE fields." Only two sprites have ever been clearly associated with flashes of negative cloud-to-ground lightning, whereas the number of sprites verifiably produced by more energetic positive cloud-to-ground lightning runs to thousands. Although the characteristics of positive lightning are different from those of negative lightning, the differences are still inadequate to account for the pronounced asymmetry. The extraordinarily rapid initial growth of sprites is not well understood. >From New Scientist: After more than a decade of disagreement, atmospheric physicists think they are finally close to agreeing on how sprites form. Bering's balloon offers one of the first real chances to confirm their theories. But it seems a storm is brewing that threatens to set Bering against his colleagues. What little information we have has led to a model of sprite formation that many in this close-knit community of investigators now agree on. It depends on intense but short-lived electric fields created in the atmosphere by lightning discharge. How a sprite is formed [conventional hypothesis] Although most lightning originates in the negative charges at the bottom of storm clouds, roughly 1 in every 5 lightning strikes originate in the positive charges near the cloud tops. This results in an energetic positive cloud-to-ground discharge, in which the positive charge is neutralised by an upwards flow of electrons from the ground. The negative charges left in the lower part of the cloud set up what physicists call a "quasi-electrostatic field"- an intense electric field that extends high into the atmosphere. The critical breakdown limit for air depends on its density. At very high altitudes-about 75 kilometres up-where air density is low, the QE field now exceeds the critical breakdown limit for air. Electrical breakdown occurs and molecules such as nitrogen and oxygen are ionised, releasing electrons. Under the influence of the QE field, free electrons are accelerated upwards, while positive ions accelerate down towards the ground. Edgar Bering's balloon flights suggest that the currents responsible for sprites may carry far more oomph than anyone had suspected. Previous estimates suggested that the sprite-inducing current carries about 3000 amperes. Bering's data, on the other hand, puts the figure nearer 12,000 amperes. Whether this huge current could pose any direct physical danger to anyone is unknown. Airliners don't fly in the mesosphere, but sprites can reach down into the cloud tops. And it is certainly possible that sprites could affect spacecraft, Bering suggests. In particular, sprites are the prime suspect in the unexplained downing of a high-altitude balloon a few years ago. Almost as quickly as it appears, the sprite fades away, disappearing completely in just a couple of milliseconds. However, the QE field lasts much longer. Researchers on the ground can monitor its presence using radio receivers since the field produces a continuous electromagnetic signal at frequencies from a few hertz to tens of kilohertz. The signal often persists long after the sprite has disappeared, slowly fading as charges in the cloud disperse. This electromagnetic signal, Inan and his colleagues argue, is the signature of the QE field. But what scientists need now are direct measurements of the electric field-and what could be better than information gathered by a balloon flying high above the clouds? The team scoured the results for the signature of a QE field-the low-frequency radio hum. But they were in for a surprise. The balloon's instruments did not record it. As dawn breaks, the researchers realize the favoured model of sprite formation doesn't measure up. The results from the ground stations suggest that once a positive lightning strike occurs, the intensity of the electric field in the mesosphere builds up over two or three milliseconds until breakdown occurs, and the sprite lights up. This delay may be related to the flow of currents created by the lightning which bring the high-altitude electric field to the level required for breakdown, says Victor Pasko, an atmospheric physicist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. Then, once the sprite has faded, charges in the clouds begin to disperse or flow away, and the electric field observed from the ground decays slowly over tens of milliseconds. However, the balloon data paints a very different picture. It implies that sprites are produced by a sudden burst of current and there is no slow build-up of the electric field. Several milliseconds after the positive lightning strike, sensors recorded a sudden upward-flowing current pulse. Just 300 microseconds later, the sprite lit up in the sky. To add to the mystery, the electric field disappears far more rapidly than ground observations suggest, in just a few milliseconds. Bering's results-some of which he presented at the recent American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco-turns sprite theory on its head. "The charge that produces sprites is not below in the cloud, it's in the mesosphere itself," suggests Bering. So now there are new puzzles: where could this charge be coming from, and if there's no QE field, what causes the delay between lightning and sprite? "We have a problem understanding why the sprite takes so long to form," admits James Benbrook, a colleague of Bering's in the physics department at the University of Houston. And what of the low-frequency hum picked up by labs on the ground? Bering thinks the signal may be caused by the lightning strike itself rather than the mechanism that lights up a sprite. Researchers on the ground face an additional problem, they are close to one electrical contact of the global electric circuit-the Earth itself. The low-frequency hum could be an artifact and we hear it if we are on the ground when the charges in the clouds flow to earth, Bering suggests. Benbrook agrees. The signal received on the ground is more likely due to the rearrangement of charge in the cloud tops, he says, or the flow of current in the lightning channel. "But I don't see what that has to do necessarily with an excitation mechanism in the mesosphere." Other researchers urge caution in interpreting Bering's results. "At high altitudes the field can be very small," says Pasko. Inan suggests that more sensitive instruments on the balloon may have picked up the hum of the QE field. "Whether or not there is a continuing field signature is a matter of how sensitive your measurements are. It could be there but below the noise level of your instrument." Most sprite investigators agree that Bering should have been able to detect the low-frequency hum, and blame his instruments for failing to do so. Bering defends the quality of his experiment and insists his instruments were working. "We wouldn't have seen the electric signal of the sprite if they weren't." Can the QE field theory recover from this blow? "My personal guess is no," says Bering. "None of the existing models will survive when people finally pay attention to what our data actually says." Toward an Electric Universe model of Sprites The size and color of sprites is simply explained by the very low air pressure at great heights. In the same way that a long spark in a laboratory discharge tube becomes an extended glow as the air is pumped from the tube, so the "sparks" of lightning at ground level become colorful glows and filaments when occurring in the upper atmosphere. In Physics Today, November 2001, Earle R. Williams* made the obvious connection in a feature article, Sprites, Elves, and Glow Discharge Tubes. "The venerable field of gaseous electronics underlies the understanding of a lightning-like phenomenon of spectacular extent, shape, and color. Sprites and elves are a grand natural manifestation of ideas and laboratory experiments conceived many decades ago by Rayleigh, Thomson, Wilson, and Langmuir--all of whom won Nobel prizes--and by a host of 19th century glow discharge tube spectroscopists." * Earle Williams is a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. He works at the Parsons Laboratory on the main campus and at Lincoln Laboratory. The discharge tube model has been confirmed by many ground-based experiments. But discharge tubes require a power supply to function. Where is the power supply for sprites? Anyone who says that it is powered by the thunderstorm hasn't understood the question. If we don't understand how a thunderstorm generates lightning then we have much further to go than is generally admitted by researchers. Bering writes, "from what is known to date, it may be speculated that sprites or jets, or both, are an integral feature of every thunderstorm system of moderate size or larger in the terrestrial system, and may be an essential element of the earth's global electrical circuit. Further, it seems likely that they have been a part of thunderstorms that have occurred over previous millions of years or longer. One may speculate about the possible occurrences of similar phenomena associated with lightning on other planets where lightning has been detected, most notably Jupiter and Venus." Bering's speculations are well-founded from the Electric Universe point of view but the stumbling block to further progress is immediately apparent in the use of the words "earth's global electrical circuit." It is a circuit that assumes heat driven convection in clouds is the global electricity generator. It separates electric charge mysteriously in clouds to power world-wide currents. It is "unplugged" from any electrical connection with any other body in the universe. It is a most serious constraint on theorists. In July 1993 at the Cambridge, U.K., Conference of the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies* I presented a paper about the planet Venus that dealt with reports of lightning. I said: "The principal difficulty in understanding the origin of lightning is likely to be the assumption that the Earth and Venus are closed electrical systems with no input from the solar plasma environment via the magnetosphere." There has been one crucial name missing from the earlier list of Nobel Prize winners. Kristian Olaf Bernhard Birkeland (1867-1917) was the founder of experimental astrophysics. Note the crucial adjective "experimental" as distinct from modern theoretical astrophysics. He studied under Poincaré and Hertz and was a professor at Oslo University at the age of 31. Wealth and fame accompanied his many achievements in technology and applied physics. He was the good guy in a 50-year dispute involving the idea that electrons streaming along magnetic field lines caused the Earth's auroras. His opponent was the astronomer Sydney Chapman who maintained that the Earth moved through a vacuum. In 1974 space probes found in Birkeland's favour. Chapman and others then promptly made space plasma superconducting, which relieved them from the complications of dealing with electric fields. Birkeland actually demonstrated his theory long before in an experiment called a "terrella". It consisted of an electromagnet contained within a sphere and placed in a large vacuum chamber. By initiating an electric discharge in the chamber he was able to reproduce a light show with many of the odd features of auroras. The importance of this simple experiment cannot be overstated because it demonstrates that aurorae and lightning seem to require an electrical power source external to the Earth! That would explain the puzzle raised by Bering: "The charge that produces sprites is not below in the cloud, it's in the mesosphere itself." Thunderstorms are not generators, they are motors. The violent winds and lightning are driven by electric power focused on the Sun but minutely intercepted by the Earth. Bering is right, similar phenomena will be encountered on other planets, but modified by the planet's environment. It is quite sobering that a century ago Birkeland was writing that similar experiments could be done to model other planets, the Sun, and galaxies. He wrote: "S experiments were carried out under these conditions for many years. It was in this way that there gradually appeared experimental analogies to various cosmic phenomena, such as zodiacal light, Saturn's rings, sun spots and spiral nebulae." * See http://www.knowledge.co.uk/sis/sisbacks.htm Wal Thornhill's full Venus article, "Evidence for the Extreme Youth of Venus" (and much much more) is printed in the _Proceedings of the 1993 Cambridge Conference: Evidence that the Earth has Suffered Catastrophes of Cosmic Origin in Historical Times_. The proceedings are available on the Catastrophism CD-ROM, which can be purchased from several groups in both the UK and USA at the following web site: http://www.catastrophism.com/costs.htm Do we have any proof of interplanetary electric currents? In the Venus paper I wrote, "The magnetic flux 'ropes' of the solar wind, entwined about the planet, are indicative of electric currents flowing directly into the planet's ionosphere. ...Any cosmic body which is charged relative to the surrounding plasma has a plasma sheath or magnetosphere. It is a region in which electric current flows and energy is released. The sheath is generally invisible unless the current is strong enough to generate light, such as on the Sun and in the coma and tails of comets." Four years later in a news item, "Planet's tail of the unexpected" on 31 May 97, New Scientist reporter, Jeff Hecht, wrote: "One of our neighboring planets can still pack a few surprises, it seems. Using satellite data, an international team of researchers has found that Venus sports a giant, ion-packed tail that stretches almost far enough to tickle the Earth when the two planets are in line with the Sun. 'I didn't expect to find it,' says team member Marcia Neugebauer of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. 'It's a really strong signal, and there's no doubt it's real.' NASA's Pioneer Venus Orbiter first found the tail in the late 1970's. Around 70,000 kilometres from the planet, the spacecraft detected bursts of hot, energetic ions, or plasma. The tail exists because ions in Venus's upper atmosphere are bombarded by the solar wind, a stream of plasma that blows out from the Sun. But now Europe's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), a project partly sponsored by NASA, has shown that the tail stretches some 45 million kilometres into space, more than 600 times as far as anyone realized. This satellite, which sits about 1.5 million kilometres away from the Earth, passed through the tail last July, when it was roughly in line with Venus and the Sun. Neugebauer suspects the tail is 'a lot of little stringy things' like those of some comets, which can have several ion tails. If so, says Neugebauer, 'the theorists are going to have fun trying to explain why they're as narrow as we saw them'. Standard physics says that narrow plasma streams are unstable and should dissipate fast. No one can yet explain how they hold together over tens of millions of kilometres. This surprise has since been repeated for comet Hyakutake with its tail stretching half a billion kilometres across the solar system! No one can explain 'stringy things' in space? Birkeland's name has been given to an electrical phenomenon very important in space plasma. He found that electric currents move through space largely by means of electrons spiraling along magnetic field lines. Such a plasma current is known as a "Birkeland current". When two Birkeland currents are parallel they experience a long range attractive force that brings them closer together, or pinches them. When they get very close, a short range repulsive force holds them apart so that they maintain their identity. The result is that separate Birkeland current filaments come together to form pairs and the pairs may form a twisted, filamentary "rope" of electric current in space. Plasma physicists have shown that Birkeland currents can remain coherent over intergalactic distances. The prescient Birkeland again: "According to our manner of looking at the matter, every star in the universe would be the seat and field of activity of electric forces of a strength that no one could imagine. We have no certain opinion as to how the assumed enormous electric currents with enormous tension are produced, but it is certainly not in accordance with the principles we employ in technics on the earth at the present time. One may well believe, however, that a knowledge in the future of the electrotechnics of the heavens would be of great practical value to our electrical engineers. It seems to be a natural consequence of our points of view to assume that the whole of space is filled with electrons and flying electric ions of all kinds. We have assumed that each stellar system in evolutions throws off electric corpuscles into space." Birkeland is right. The "stringy things" that puzzled astronomers are proof positive of an electric current in plasma. Venus-and Jupiter-are part of an electric circuit that involves the Sun. The Sun is part of a circuit that involves the entire galaxy. The Earth with its own Langmuir sheath (misnamed magnetosphere) is wired in to the same power grid. This raises a serious question about the study of weather and climatology because a crucial energy input to the Earth is unrecognized. If that is so then predictions about the Earth's climate are presently worthless. It may explain why scientists are having difficulties explaining weather systems on other planets. Jupiter, for instance, is known to be the source of intense electromagnetic activity. That energy is thought to be derived from Jupiter's rotation-in other words it is a giant electrical generator. If so, it should be expected that the equator is being 'braked' in the process. What do we find? The equator is spinning fastest of all! Jupiter is an electric motor, not a generator. Enormous power is being intercepted by its vast Langmuir sheath, lighting up the moon, Io, with cathode arcs, on its way to Jupiter. This simple electrical model also explains why the fastest winds in the solar system, 1000 mph, are found on Neptune, the most distant planet from the Sun. It explains the enigmatic "spokes" in Saturn's rings. Bering notes that short duration (~1 ms) gamma ray (1 MeV) bursts of terrestrial origin have been detected by the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory over thunderstorm regions, and their source is believed to lie at altitudes greater than 30 km. X-rays and gamma-rays are hallmarks of electric discharge processes. An external source delivering power through an atmosphere, which is increasing in density, can be expected to give rise to the highest energy radiation at the top of the atmosphere or at the footprints of arcs on the surface (lightning). It is a situation we see on the Sun where the hardest radiation comes from high above the photosphere, except when an arc touches down and a solar flare results. The predilection for sprites to accompany positive cloud-to-ground discharges is probably due to the higher energy discharge, which makes them more visible, but also to the likelihood that the Earth plays a cathode role in the Sun's discharge and therefore is in the business of supplying electrons to space and receiving solar wind ions. It is interesting therefore that the presence of solar wind ions inside the earth's magnetosphere has also puzzled scientists. So, like Tolkien's character, Bering's "dark rider" didn't find what it was looking for. The problem facing the wizards of science is to let go of their old mythology of an electrically sterile universe. Switch on the light! It then requires no magic. If Tolkien will forgive me, There is one power to rule them all and in the darkness, light them. An interesting footnote to lightning on Venus: It is known that lightning backscatters microwaves at wavelengths of a few centimetres. One of the most puzzling discoveries by the Magellan Venus Orbiter was that all high terrain on Venus reflected radar signals as if it were coated by metal. I explained this phenomenon several years ago as being due to a glow discharge in a dense plasma. It is the most prevalent form of lightning on Venus because that planet doesn't have clouds like the Earth to provide a convenient path to ground for cosmic electric power. Without clouds on Earth we too would have glowing mountain tops and destructive super-bolts from a blue sky. The Galileo spacecraft detected super-bolts on Venus. Full article with photos available at: http://www.holoscience.com/news/balloon.html Glossary: *What is a sprite? Sprites are colossal towers of red and blue light up to 10 kilometres across, usually climbing up to 30 kilometres from a starting height of about 50 kilometres, well above the storm. They glow for only a few thousandths of a second, which makes them difficult to see and record. Most importantly they seem to be triggered by lightning flashes in storms far below. Although we are all familiar with the story of vertical movements of water droplets in storm clouds giving rise to lightning, the truth is that it is not known what causes a thunderstorm. Somehow negative charges collect at the bottom of a cloud and positive charges at the top. Eventually the intensity of the electric field between cloud and ground causes electrical breakdown of the air. The freed electrons are accelerated by the field toward the ground in the form of sinuous "stepped leaders." This is a weakly luminous process. On reaching the ground a conductive channel is now available between the ground and the cloud. The result is the brilliant arc of the "return stroke" - a bolt of lightning. The simplest and smallest sprites are single vertical columns named C sprites. Large collections of C sprites resemble a mammoth fireworks display. A subset of the sprites with tendrils--often the largest and most energetic--also exhibit upward branching toward the ionosphere, and are named carrots. Very large sprites with diffuse tops and lower tendrils extending down to altitudes of 30-40 km have been dubbed angels, jellyfish, and A-bombs. With maximum vertical extents exceeding 60 km, these giant sprites extend vertically three times farther than the largest thunderstorms. Long-lived species may also be present at lower altitudes-in the long tendrils that stretch down below the sprite's body to the cloud tops like the tentacles of an octopus. These tendrils light up with bright, spherical "beads" which on some occasions outlive the main sprite, lasting up to a hundred milliseconds in some cases, and can even momentarily flare up long after the sprite body has faded. "Such bright spots give the impression of embers in a dying fire," says Stenbaek-Nielsen, from the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska. A good web page is: http://lightning.nmt.edu/sprites/sprites.html **What is an elve? Elves are shaped quite differently from sprites and were first identified in 1990 as brief brightenings of the airglow layer in space shuttle imagery. The ringlike elve in Figure 1 (not "elf": the acronym stands for "emissions of light and very low frequency perturbations from electromagnetically pulsed sources") is centered on the vertical channel to ground. ***What is a gnome? "We're seeing things we've never seen before on top of active storms-electrical discharges coming out the top of clouds that could be a new form of lightning," says Lyons. They have tentatively been christened gnomes. "They look like fingers of light going straight up out of the cloud but at rather slow speedIt looks like lightning in pictures but takes over a second or two to happen." Could gnomes be more energetic than sprites? "I wouldn't volunteer to sit in one," says Lyons. Sprites have tremendous amounts of energy spread over a great volume. We've got no idea how much energy is in a gnome, but it's compressed into a smaller area." ~Wal Thornhill visit the electric universe at www.holoscience.com ************************************************************** PLEASE VISIT THE KRONIA GROUP WEBSITE: http://www.kronia.com Subscriptions to AEON, a journal of myth and science, now with regular features on the Saturn theory and electric universe, may be ordered from this page: http://www.kronia.com/html/sales.html Other suggested Web site URL's for more information about Catastrophics: http://www.aeonjournal.com/index.html http://www.knowledge.co.uk/sis/ http://www.flash.net/~cjransom/ http://www.knowledge.co.uk/velikovskian/ http://www.bearfabrique.org http://www.grazian-archive.com/ http://www.holoscience.com http://www.electric-cosmos.org/ http://www.catastrophism.com/cdrom/index.htm http://www.science-frontiers.com http://www.dragonscience.com ----------------------------------------------- The THOTH electronic newsletter is an outgrowth of scientific and scholarly discussions in the emerging field of astral catastrophics. Our focus is on a reconstruction of ancient astral myths and symbols in relation to a new theory of planetary history. Serious readers must allow some time for these radically different ideas to be fleshed out and for the relevant background to be developed. The general tenor of the ideas and information presented in THOTH is supported by the editor and publisher, but there will always be plenty of room for differences of interpretation. We welcome your comments and responses. thoth at Whidbey.com New readers are referred to earlier issues of THOTH posted on the Kronia website listed above.