Exposing PseudoAstronomy

June 2, 2014

Request for Questions: Electric Universe

In what promises to be as epic – or even more-so – than when the Flintsones met the Jetsons or if the Love Boat ever went to Fantasy Island, Exposing PseudoAstronomy will be meeting up with Crank Astronomy / Dealing with Creationism in Astronomy for a future episode or possibly two, or possibly more down the road.

I will be interviewing Tom Bridgman in a few weeks for at least one episode to be released in July. His area of expertise is the bane of my existence – electricity and magnetism – and he has talked a lot about the electric universe (or “EU”) idea on his blog before. I’ve gotten a lot of requests from listeners and readers to talk about this, but there’s no way I can do it justice.

I think Tom can.

We’re going to talk briefly about the history of EU and then probably about the “electric sun” phenomenon, but he and I want to open this up to any questions that you, the readers/listeners, may have for me to ask or topics for him to talk about. IF there are a lot, perhaps we’ll go longer and split into multiple episodes.

Please use the Comments here to put down topics/questions for discussion.



  1. I look forward to new material for the RationalWiki article!

    Comment by davidgerard — June 2, 2014 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

  2. I’m looking forward to this as well, sadly I don’t know enough about this particular brand of pseudo-science to know just what to ask, beyond asking what connection it has to ‘Plasma Cosmology’ something I encountered in a book review in a 1990’s issue of Sky and Telescope magazine.

    Comment by Graham — June 3, 2014 @ 9:56 pm | Reply

    • Stuart, I’ve found the old issue of Sky and Telescope the review was in and i’ve sent a scan of it to you via email. Let me know if both pages are readable. If not, I’ll resend. It’s hard to believe that in 1991 this stuff was able to be published in hardcover by Random House.

      Comment by Graham — June 9, 2014 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

      • Yes, got it.

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — June 10, 2014 @ 8:00 am

  3. A general overview please, I don’t know what I don’t know.

    Comment by andrew — June 6, 2014 @ 8:41 am | Reply

  4. One thing I always wonder when discussing with EU-Theorists is that shouldn’t one see those giant currents powering the stars? They would surely light up cosmic dust, magnetic fields could be measured. What is powering those currents?

    What is their creation model? How old is the electric Universe?

    How is the effect known as “gravity” work as purely electrical phenomenon? I tried to charge myself up elektrostatically and float to work and failed. Did I choose the wrong charge?

    Comment by Paul-Wolf Gangy — June 30, 2014 @ 2:52 am | Reply

    • Interesting questions. The reason that I’ve interviewed Tom is that E&M is not my strong suit, but it is his. I’ll direct him this way and see if he can respond to your questions.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — July 1, 2014 @ 4:35 pm | Reply

    • A EU proponent would probably answer that, because there are three modes of plasma, dark, glow, and arc, many of the structures are simply not readily visible. They would point to instances such as the Twin Jet Nebula, however, which do have the strong appearance of stellar plasma structure.

      As for a creation model, I know that most EU proponents are skeptical of the big bang, but rather seem okay with a steady state universe. A creation model is of course not scientifically suggested by a steady state universe.

      Proponents seem to vary on their detailed explanations of gravity, but most seem to hold that it does exist as an effect, but that its role is overstated. This, for instance, is central to the assertion that dark matter is not needed by the EU model, because galaxies are plasma structures.

      As for your attempted commute, perhaps you should try the tollway, I think they’d be happy to “charge” you. 😉

      Comment by Nate Allan — April 22, 2017 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

  5. To Paul-Wolf Gangy,

    We do cover a number of the consequences of various proposed ‘electric sun’ models in the interview, in terms of particle fluxes and magnetic fields. Many of these are also summarized under the “Death by Electric Universe” section at “Challenges for Electric Universe ‘Theorists'”:

    Many EU supporters claim the ‘origins’ problem is not relevant (perhaps their universe was created by a magical cosmic ‘electrical engineer’? ;^) or has always existed. No mention of how all these electric currents are generated.

    I’ve only looked at a few of the ‘gravity as electric’ claims in detail. Some of these ideas go back to pre-1900s due to the similarity of Newton’s gravitation to Coulomb’s law. It’s an idea that has probably been entertained by anyone who’s taken physics 101 (including myself!) but they always eventually boil down to hand-waving or making gravity even more complex than General Relativity.

    Comment by W.T. Bridgman — July 3, 2014 @ 6:56 pm | Reply

  6. The “Electric Universe” is the new name for “Vekilovsky’s theories.” Just as we don’t have “creation science” any more – it’s “intelligent design” – the “Electric Universe” enables people to talk about the same crazy old Velikovsky theories without using the “V” word.

    Comment by Robert Sheaffer — July 17, 2014 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

    • EU stuff pre-dates Velikovsky (which we discussed in episode 115), but many neo-Velikovskians DEFINITELY have adopted EU into their ideas.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — July 18, 2014 @ 9:00 am | Reply

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