Changes in Earth’s gravity in relation to magnetic field measured

From the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres

Rapid changes in the Earth’s core: The magnetic field and gravity from a satellite perspective

Fig. 4. Results of the singular value decomposition (SVD) for both time series. The left-side panel shows the temporal behavior of the two series: secular acceleration of the vertical downward geomagnetic field component (red) and gravity (blue). The right-side panels show the spatial pattern for the geomagnetic (top) and gravity (bottom) data.

Annual to decadal changes in the earth’s magnetic field in a region that stretches from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean have a close relationship with variations of gravity in this area. From this it can be concluded that outer core processes are reflected in gravity data. This is the result presented by a German-French group of geophysicists in the latest issue of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States).

The main field of the Earth’s magnetic field is generated by flows of liquid iron in the outer core. The Earth’s magnetic field protects us from cosmic radiation particles. Therefore, understanding the processes in the outer core is important to understand the terrestrial shield. Key to this are measurements of the geomagnetic field itself. A second, independent access could be represented by the measurement of minute changes in gravity caused by the fact that the flow in the liquid Earth’s core is associated with mass displacements. The research group has now succeeded to provide the first evidence of such a connection of fluctuations in the Earth’s gravity and magnetic field.

They used magnetic field measurements of the GFZ-satellite CHAMP and extremely accurate measurements of the Earth’s gravity field derived from the GRACE mission, which is also under the auspices of the GFZ. “The main problem was the separation of the individual components of the gravity data from the total signal,” explains Vincent Lesur from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, who is involved in the study. A satellite only measures the total gravity, which consists of the mass fractions of Earth’s body, water and ice on the ground and in the air. To determine the mass redistribution by flows in the outer core, the thus attained share of the total gravity needs to be filtered out. “Similarly, in order to capture the smaller changes in the outer core, the proportion of the magnetic crust and the proportion of the ionosphere and magnetosphere need to be filtered out from the total magnetic field signal measured by the satellite,” Vincent Lesur explains. The data records of the GFZ-satellite missions CHAMP and GRACE enabled this for the first time.

During the investigation, the team focused on an area between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, as the determined currents flows were the highest here. Extremely fast changes (so-called magnetic jerks) were observed in the year 2007 at the Earth’s surface. These are an indication for sudden changes of liquid flows in the upper outer core and are important for understanding the magneto-hydrodynamics in the Earth’s core. Using the satellite data, a clear signal of gravity data from the Earth’s core could be received for the first time.

This results in consequences for the existing conceptual models. Until now, for example, it was assumed that the differences in the density of the molten iron in the earth’s core are not large enough to generate a measurable signal in the earth’s gravitational field. The newly determined mass flows in the upper outer core allow a new approach to Earth’s core hydrodynamics.

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“Recent changes of the Earth’s core derived from satellite observations of magnetic and gravity fields”, Mioara Mandea, Isabelle Panet, Vincent Lesur, Olivier de Viron, Michel Diament, and Jean-Louis Le Mouël, PNAS 2012; doi:10.1073/pnas.1207346109

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/10/11/1207346109.full.pdf

62 thoughts on “Changes in Earth’s gravity in relation to magnetic field measured

  1. Perhaps there is more in TFA, but I’m not finding the graphic to be compelling evidence of correlations between the two, not averaged over the globe. I don’t argue that there aren’t any, but I fail to see it in the picture. Perhaps a systematic computation of the spatially and/or temporally averaged correlation function reveals one, but the picture not so much.

    rgb

  2. And they, of course, do not entertain the idea that the changes in the core field are caused by the Sun, or any external agent [jupiter shine or whatever]. This is real science, and not hand waving.

  3. A change in the position of a magnetic anomaly has the potential to alter the amount of gcr reaching the Earth and it’s relative effect. A localised increase in gcr would be more likely to increase cloud cover if it occurred over ocean than over desert.

  4. So where does this leave the measurements of ice loss/gain as measured by Grace for Antarctica and Greenland. If the gravity changes the measurements may be bogus.

  5. Fascinating.

    I would have thought the area to concentrate on was around Patagonia. It seems from figure4 that it is the epicentre of a gravitational oscillation the propagates out across the Pacific and Southern oceans and up at least as far a Mexico.

  6. Correct link for the overall article:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/10/11/1207346109.abstract?sid=b763519b-f73a-48b0-8931-54bf47d153af

    Movie 2 is especially interesting. You can see a strong gradient developing between eastern North America and Greenland; higher gravity in NA and lower in Greenland. What’s right in the middle of that gradient? The North Magnetic Pole, which is accelerating quickly toward the Greenland end of that gradient.

    Connects with something I’ve been wondering about:

    http://polistrasmill.blogspot.com/2012/09/no-it-doesnt-unless.html

  7. “The main field of the Earth’s magnetic field is generated by flows of liquid iron in the outer core”.

    Not possible. Iron heated above 770C, the Curie point, loses its magnetism. Liquid iron is much hotter than 770C.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curie_temperature

    Above 770C iron changes from a ferro-magnet to a para-magnet. The difference is that a para-magnet needs an external source to induce magnetism. The most likely source for this external excitation is the Sun’s magnetic and electrical fields.

  8. OT Great tip!

    Here is a NEW video from the Sidney Institute.Salbys lecture is real dammening with new arguments and data .Its a real CAGW killer! Check the graphs especially presented (27 min).

  9. @sunshinehours1

    Actually no. Higher gravity = higher sea level, as the seawwater mass is attracted to and mounds up over seabed areas of anomalously high mass/gravity, eg over subemerged seamounts that rise from the deep ocean floor, which can be detected in satellite-borne radar altimeter surveys on account of the elevated sea surface that rises up (ever so slightly) over them.

  10. Leif Svalgaard says:
    October 23, 2012 at 5:26 am

    And they, of course, do not entertain the idea that the changes in the core field are caused by the Sun, or any external agent [jupiter shine or whatever]. This is real science, and not hand waving.

    We can all see how paranoid you are with respect to solar system drivers. The old guard is fighting, but the writing is on the wall.

  11. I was wondering if the changes in gravity are enough to effect air pressure, changing an areas ability to either form or alter the pressure extremity of masses of air, thereby providing a shift in climate, by changing the likelihood or degree of high or low pressure centers’ formation.

  12. “the measurement of minute changes in gravity caused by the fact that the flow in the liquid Earth’s core is associated with mass displacements. ”

    I believe the key word is minute. For 99 percent of practical applications the earth’s gravity can be modeled as a emanating from a single point in the geometric center of the spheroid. Shifts in density thousands of miles down must be borderline immesurable. Anyone got a unit? 1.0e-N g’s?

  13. Thank you for scientific confirmation of what many of us have long suspected…

    my scale lies!

  14. This is very interesting. I think it is a good start and little more. Way to many unknowns, to many assumptions and to narrow a hypothesis focus. Never the less it calls into question some of the earlier assumptions about the core, liquid-solid or in between. That in itself is a progress type step.

  15. Interesting.

    Once, a long time ago now, I was a navigator in Strategic Air Command. Back in the days of paper, pencil, circular slide rule, and celestial, the only way to navigate over large tracts of open water (or ice) was by dead reckoning aided by clestial observations. Through most of the 1960s I used to fly between the Hawaiian Islands and the Marianas Islands fairly often. One thing I learned quickly was that the usually reliable N-1 fluxgate compass became unreliable on the transit between Honolulu and Guam. Mid-way between Honolulu and Guam the deviation between what the N-1 told me the mag heading was and what a celestial heading check said it actually was differed by as much as five degrees. That much deviation is guaranteed to get you way off course quickly. In all the years of the 1960s I made that crossing I was always careful to keep a constant check of my heading by celestial means over the tract of open ocean between Honolulu and Guam. The compass deviation was always there in spite of what my charts indicated.

    I assume that there was some localized change in gravity that changed the magnetic field, and thus the magnetic heading, more than what my charts said was the value I should be using.

  16. Leif, you missed the thread where the WUWT demolished the credibility of Grace. Sorry according to the folks here its data is total garbage.

  17. Geoff Sharpe: the writing is on the wall.

    Hmm. The writing may support Dr. Svalgaard’s choice of relevant phenomena. I believe the text was something like “weighed in the balances and found wanting.”
    : > )

  18. Steven Mosher says:
    October 23, 2012 at 8:29 am
    Sad that you have to resort to painting all with one big brush. Your desperate posts are getting tiresome.

  19. Leif Svalgaard says:
    October 23, 2012 at 5:26 am
    And they, of course, do not entertain the idea that the changes in the core field are caused by the Sun, or any external agent [jupiter shine or whatever]. This is real science, and not hand waving.

    First off, that level of snark is beneath anyone who claims to be a scientist.
    But beyond that. These scientists haven’t proposed a mechanism by which the changes in gravity should be correlated to changes in the magnetic field. All they have done is document a correlation.
    Yet for some reason, this correlation is “science”. But the others who point to correlation are charletons.

  20. Looks to me like the period of both the gravity and magnetic anomalies are about 11 years. Do we know of any thing else that has a natural periodicity of about 11 years? There does seem to be some lag between the magnetic/gravitational periods and solar cycles 23/24.

  21. Yep, just as expected: practically zero ‘gravity’ recordable anywhere near Rio, Cancun, Copenhagen, Bali etc… Bit of a bouguer. People of Qatar, it’s already upon you – flee now whilst you still can…!!

  22. Looks suspiciously like it might be tied in to solar cycles.

    It’d be nice to see that graph overlaid with one depicting the magnetic field of the sun and also sunspots. 4 curves on one graph.—— Vuk ?

    sarc on /
    It all makes sense now.
    So obviously, co2 causes earthquakes, which move the core, which drives the magnetic field of the earth and this causes the magnetic field of the sun to move which causes sunspots which heat up the co2 and if we don’t return to the stone-age soon we will destroy the planet.
    sarc off /

  23. So why is gravity over land by and large weaker than gravity over sea. I thought rock weighed more than water ?

    Or is it that perhaps magma weighs less and is nearer the surface of land than the surface of the sea ?

    The odd man out is Australia, presumably time must go more slowly in Australia and they therefore live longer than the rest of us. Maybe that’s why the Ausies are so chilled out.

  24. Didn’t Nir Shaviv talk about this in the old documentary about Svensmark and the cosmic ray theory. He talked about the fluctuation in earth’s magnetic field and the cycle of the magnetic reversal of the poles that occurs every now ant then on a geological timescale and should be about to happen in our “near” future and that we presently had two magnetic north poles?

    I think it was from this program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anxzOZMU_3k

  25. I just have to weigh in on this one. It’s nothing but mass hysteria. These scientists must have watched way too many gravi-toons as kids. /stupid puns

  26. Sadly, I read TFA and I’m even less convinced that they’ve found anything like what they claim. Their figures suggest that they have looked at the whole globe, picked a place where there is some positive correlation between the two fields for some finite time, and used that to assert that the correlation is causal and real. I look at their “best shot” — the principle mode correlation from an undescribed singular value decomposition fit (the figure above) and to me the only thing that is “correlated” at all is that some of the places where there is a large gravitation anomaly correspond to some of the places where there is a large magnetic field anomaly (where “large” means “almost infinitesimally above the noise” and other stuff that they’ve subtracted to get the anomalies at all, which presumes in and of itself that that “noise” is well enough known to estimate and subtract it, another story altogether).

    However, the signs don’t match up terribly well even where the amplitudes are both large, and there are numerous places where one is large and another is neutral, along with no particular correspondence in sign. If I guestimate the spatial autocorrelation of this mode (including the signs) I get something that is very small, not something compelling. If one squared the signals and then generated the correlation of the variance, one would have a much better argument, but still a far from compelling one, and this is squaring what is already a fit to an autocorrelation based on asserting a strong correspondence in a particular (dare I say cherrypicked?) region where the signals appear to match up.

    In the end, I’m far from convinced. The physical argument is plausible, but I cannot yet feel confident that they aren’t simply showing colorful graphs of amplified, accidentally coincident quasiperiodic signals that happen to heterodyne in the particular region they are looking at at the particular time they are looking, because signals like that have to heterodyne somewhere and if you focus on that place sure, it will like “meaning” even as it is utterly meaningless.

    Note well that I don’t care about the result one way or another — no dog in the race. However, this is not a paper — yet — that I’m impressed with, or convinced by. Maybe the movie (which I did not watch) is more convincing, but again, I’ve watched lots of dynamical simulations of certain kinds of interference noise produce what look like pattern but turns out to be — interference.

    Or, maybe I’m missing something. Always a possibility, being old, decrepit, and mildly alcoholic;-)

    rgb

  27. Many of these “mysteries” become …well, less mysterious once one acknowledges the role of the charge field. Search Miles Mathis …not that he has “nailed it” 100%, but I am confident his foundational work will be alive and well long after the Standard Model has been tossed. Mechanics of any “stripe” should contain actual mechanics. Virtual photon = real stupidity.

  28. The Earth itself is not a perfect sphere or even a perfect prolate ellipsoid. With the larger portion of its molton mass being subject to deformation more readily than its brittle shell, and with a slow wobble in its axis of rotation, how does the Earth’s shape deviate from perfectly symmetric 3d geometry over long periods of time?

  29. Naive question, but isn’t heat a side effect of any magneto-hyrdodynamic process? Aren’t there losses and resistances that generate kinetic energy in the materials? So, wouldn’t that mean there are abrupt annual and decadal variations in the internal heat of the planet? How big are the variations, do the models include them?

  30. Many of these “mysteries” become …well, less mysterious once one acknowledges the role of the charge field. Search Miles Mathis …not that he has “nailed it” 100%, but I am confident his foundational work will be alive and well long after the Standard Model has been tossed. Mechanics of any “stripe” should contain actual mechanics. Virtual photon = real stupidity.

    Dearest Richard B.,

    Ah, you’ve strayed into a field I know well, as I have taught classical electrodynamics many times and even written a textbook on it of sorts. So consider me rather familiar with the theory of electromagnetism. I’m also open minded towards iconoclastic ideas, so I naturally did the search you suggested, went to Mathis’ site, and read a couple or three random articles to see if there was anything to be learned there or any reasonable possibility that he was not a crank.

    A crank, in case the term is not familiar to you, is somebody that has absolutely no actual background in physics beyond taking an introductory course or two, could not solve a differential equation if their life depended on it, hasn’t the foggiest idea what quantum mechanics is or how it works or what the evidence for it is, but takes it upon themselves to e.g. create the correct unified field theory. One can usually identify their work by a few simple criteria:

    * No actual equations, no pathway even from the equations we already know and understand well to their “new” theory.

    * No explanation of how their theory will work not for some esoteric thing they’ve fixated on as “needing explanation” (often it does not) but rather for everyday phenomena, like quantitatively explaining the physics that makes the laptop I’m typing this on work, in such a way that enables it to be engineered, in addition to predicting/explaining new phenomena.

    * If they refer to any texts or papers at all, they refer to introductory textbooks, which typically oversimplify even incorrect classical physics to make it conceptually simple enough for undergraduates of often indifferent preparation and motivation to grasp, not advanced undergraduate textbooks, graduate level textbooks (with real math!) or — gasp — actual papers on the subject, containing experimental results or actual theories that their new “theory” supposedly confounds.

    I’m pleased to say that Mathis’ work passes the crank test with flying colors. There wasn’t a single substantive equation on the pages I visited. Even a page on Coulomb’s Law failed to write down Coulomb’s Law, let along Gauss’s Law for Electrostatics at even the kiddie physics level or Maxwell’s Equations in fully covariant form in terms of the field strength tensor. Strike one. Obviously, this page didn’t explain how his brilliant idea would preserve ordinary electrostatics and hence things like atomic structure. Strike two. The only reference I could see was to Giancoli’s introductory physics textbook. This is a most unfortunate choice as I am currently teaching introductory physics and absolutely despise Giancoli in particular because there are places where it states things that are not true without warning the student in any way that this is the case, and it is otherwise terrible in too many ways to count. Anybody who learned electromagnetism from Giancoli and uses it as a reference for their unified field theory is — well, strike three.

    Mathis is a crank. He will always be a crank. His work should not be taken seriously because there is no work to take seriously! He isn’t even a lonely crank. I seem to collect cranks (God knows why, evil I committed in a previous life no doubt) and I could introduce him to a few others who are just as cranky and they could fight out which of their crank theories are the best (lacking any sort of objective criterion, such as “actually agreeing with experiment and observation and consistently connecting with everything we know”, the battle might take a while) — sort of like the scene in The Ruling Class where Peter O’Toole as the God of Light battles the Electrical God and is transformed into a God of Darkness in the process, if there are any movie buffs reading.

    Be very careful. Crankiness is highly contagious. If you endorse an obvious crank, you become one. Either take the time to learn real physics yourself well enough to judge — a process that should only take four to six years, given that you are reasonably bright and motivated and mathematically competent through PDEs, linear algebra, and complex analysis (at least) — or view them with the greatest degree of skepticism as probably being cranks, cranks unless proven otherwise.

    Feel free to use the short crank test up above. In fact, here — compare the information content of this:

    http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/Class/Electrodynamics.php

    (grab the PDF, the html is out of date and not maintained) to any of Mathis’ “work” or “papers” online. And note well, my book isn’t even complete — I haven’t had time/motivation to write the simpler prequel on Electrostatics yet, and it omits a lot of stuff. And then there is quantum electrodynamics, given that everything in this (my) textbook is wrong, or at best, a classical approximation of the quantum reality.

    rgb

  31. Naive question, but isn’t heat a side effect of any magneto-hyrdodynamic process? Aren’t there losses and resistances that generate kinetic energy in the materials? So, wouldn’t that mean there are abrupt annual and decadal variations in the internal heat of the planet? How big are the variations, do the models include them?

    There is a fair bit of argument here, but I have a strong opinion and will offer it up. If you take a core out of the earth’s crust with a drill, wait for the hole to cool, and measure the temperature as a function of depth, you can, given any sort of reasonable estimate of the conductivity of the base rock, transform the measured temperature gradient into the outgoing energy flux. That is, one can measure — quite reliably — how much heat is flowing out from the Earth’s core through the remarkably well insulating crust. The total heat flow is completely inadequate to explain climate variation even if it varied by as much as 100% of its mean value, which it almost certainly does not. It is at least an order of magnitude too small.

    This means that it really doesn’t matter what’s going on in there. Radiation, tidal heating, magnetic coupling of flowing magma to the length of lady’s skirts and hence the stock market, you can theorize all you want about what heats the interior and how it moves around, but the measured heat flow so far simply cannot explain the climate and isn’t even a serious contributor, dwarfed by the Sun.

    This doesn’t stop climate science cranks from asserting that it is. Iron sun space dragons, for example, have web pages that assert that absurd radioactive processes are occurring and are what keeps the Earth warm. Don’t go there — they are not just wrong, they are stupidly wrong, and more or less direct measurements prove it.

    There is, however, one argument that leaves a small window for earth heating being somewhat larger than the current estimate. We can only sample a rather non-spanning set of crustal boreholes (there are some 20,000 of them in the current data used to make this estimate last I heard, but this is still small compared to the number of square meters of Earth surface). It is possible that there are sites — such as subduction zones or places where plates are spreading apart on the ocean’s floor — where the crust is much warmer over a few million square kilometers way down where we cannot properly measure it, where the rate of heating is much greater, possibly significant enough to at least influence the weather or couple to e.g. ENSO or other oscillations that nonlinearly amplify the otherwise small effect.

    I view this hypothesis with some degree of skepticism, on the basis of the usual evidenciary rule: while lack of evidence isn’t evidence of lack, it isn’t evidence of presence either. So far, we have no substantial evidence that I’m aware of that there are significant (enough) patches of ocean floor where the rate of heat flow is enough greater to make it a contender for inclusion in the Earth’s energy budget as a “playah” as opposed to a wimp. So maybe there are, but until I see some evidence for them besides the argument that there could be some I’ll doubt it. What I am quite certain of is that in most places — nearly everywhere we’ve looked — the rate of heat flow out of the Earth is tiny.

    Naturally, Wikipedia has a complete review article on this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_gradient

    It’s global average is just about 1/10 of a watt per square meter. To put that in context, it roughly the energy consumed by a 1 watt flashlight bulb spread out over a square with sides of length \pi meters (it turns out \pi^2 \approx 10:-). Solar insolation is (in comparision) almost 14000 times greater at the TOA, and around 7000 to 10000 times greater at the Earth’s surface.

    In contrast, the human body generates around 100 watts, so 7 \times 10^9 humans generate around 10^{11} watts, compared to the 10^{13} watts generated by the Earth. Human beings generate comparable amounts of heat with their bodies — within a couple of orders of magnitude — as does the entire planet. And that doesn’t include the tenfold multiplication we add by burning stuff to make energy. Humans as a species contribute as much energy to the Earth’s total energy budget within a factor of two compared to its geothermal production.

    rgb

  32. Looks like Africa might be sinking….

    The gravity potato has big lumps in Indonesia and Europe and a huge hole in the northern Indian Ocean that extends even north of the Himalayas. I would be more impressed with a study that related to these salient features.

    Another recent Hemholtz study uses Black Sea sediments to track the path of magnetic north during the most recent 41kya reversal. The pole first moved to Newfoundland, then back to Alaska, then all the way down to Cuba, then back to BC, juked a couple times before getting down to business and tracking straight down the middle of the Pacific to Antarctica and then back up the middle of the Indian Ocean to its rightful place.

    It gets jiggy over land, it does its serious movement over oceans, and it studiously avoids the gravity highs, even circumnavigating the Indonesian potato.

    http://www.gfz-potsdam.de/portal/gfz/Public+Relations/M40-Bildarchiv/Bildergalerie_Laschamp/121016_Leschamp_Polwanderung_EN

  33. gymnosperm, et al….

    Consider generally, the continents are lower density, and thus float higher over the mantle. If you think about it, you would expect graviation to be weaker over continents. Perhaps the high landmass around Tibet does counterbalance a corresponding low density in Asia. The odd thing is low density near southern South America and the Pacific ocean near NZ. Why are these low density? Perhaps the satellite doesn’t properly track over the poles, or the plot doesn’t render a low density under Antarctica. The other bit I find very interesting is the ring shape of higher density around these low density blobs. I wonder whether these are remants of some very large and very ancient impacts that drove lower density material into the mantle, pushing higher density away from the center (a crater rim), and nucleating the continents (cratons). Speculation is fun when you aren’t trying to get paid for it.

  34. Leif Svalgaard says:
    October 23, 2012 at 5:26 am
    “The sun does NOT effect climate or gravity on the earth.”

    No surprise from this comment by leif. Next the sun will have no effect on anything.

  35. ferd berple says:

    “The main field of the Earth’s magnetic field is generated by flows of liquid iron in the outer core”.

    Not possible. Iron heated above 770C, the Curie point, loses its magnetism. Liquid iron is much hotter than 770C.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curie_temperature

    Above 770C iron changes from a ferro-magnet to a para-magnet. The difference is that a para-magnet needs an external source to induce magnetism. The most likely source for this external excitation is the Sun’s magnetic and electrical fields.

    Well said. Funny how this fact gets overlooked and mainstream science prefers to sustain the inherent instability of the dynamo at all cost while ignoring new evidence for alternative mechanisms. To much at stake takes precedence over the search for truth I suppose.

  36. “So we must say that, at this moment, we have no satisfactory explanation of the observed correlation between delta g and secular acceleration.”

    The Gravity Theory of Mass Extinction (GTME), referenced in an earlier link does have an explanation. GTME asserts that inner core has the ability to move away from outer core centricity. And, it does this to maintain the Earth’s total angular momentum.

    In this case the inner core is moving away from the LAB (Africa) area, thereby lowering surface gravity in that region. The Earth’s dipole field correspondingly moves away from this same area decreasing the magnetic field strength, as noted in this research paper.

    My guess is that the inner core is moving in response to the melting of polar ice caps. Mass is effectively being moved from the polar regions and distributed around the globe…something that would alter the Earth’s total angular momentum if the inner core didn’t shift.

  37. More evidence for the electric universe theory.

    http://www.holoscience.com/wp/electric-gravity-in-an-electric-universe/

    … (quote from said article)…

    Gravity is due to radially oriented electrostatic dipoles inside the Earth’s protons, neutrons and electrons. [18] The force between any two aligned electrostatic dipoles varies inversely as the fourth power of the distance between them and the combined force of similarly aligned electrostatic dipoles over a given surface is squared. The result is that the dipole-dipole force, which varies inversely as the fourth power between co-linear dipoles, becomes the familiar inverse square force of gravity for extended bodies. The gravitational and inertial response of matter can be seen to be due to an identical cause. The puzzling extreme weakness of gravity (one thousand trillion trillion trillion trillion times less than the electrostatic force) is a measure of the minute distortion of subatomic particles in a gravitational field.

    Returning to the definition up above of “a crank”, I see. OK, consider the paragraph above. An electric dipole is a pair of charges in the following arrangement:

    (minus) —- (plus)

    with a short distance in between. An electric diipole is electrically neutral — it has no net (“monopolar”) electric charge. The field of an electric monopole as is well known varies radially like 1/r^2. The field of an electric dipole is simply the vector sum of the electric fields of its constituent monopoles, which happens (if anybody cares) to vary like 1/r^3 from the center of the dipole for r \gg d where d is the length of the dipole (which has dipole moment \vec{p} = Q\vec{d} aligned from the -Q charge to the +Q charge a vector distance \vec{d} away). I won’t bore you with the detailed shape of the dipole field — most people are at least a little bit aware of it from playing with iron filings and bar magnets, but interested people can grab a PDF of my online physics book and/or look up google images of same.

    Now, the really interesting thing about electrostatic fields is that they satisfy Gauss’s Law for Electrostatics, one of Maxwell’s Equations. This is:

    \vec{\nabla} \cdot \vec{E} = \frac{\rho}{\epsilon_0}

    or in kiddie-physics integral form (which may actually be more useful in this context:

    \oint_S \vec{E} \cdot \hat{n} dA = \frac{1}{\epsilon_0} \int_{V/S} \rho dV

    In words: The flux of the electric field through any closed surface S equals one over the permittivity of free space times the total charge inside the volume V bounded by the close surface S.

    This is a law of nature. If it is false, forget about even thinking of evaluating dipole dipole forces and so on, because those forces are a direct consequence of this law. There is an absolutely enormous amount of evidence that it is true, and continues to be true in quantum theory even in an entirely different formulation of the underlying mechanics. If it were not true, atomic structure would not be what it is, my laptop would not work, we would all not exist (because molecules and molecular forces would not exist either).

    The absolute, profound, overwhelming, mind-numbing ignorance of whoever wrote the piece of crap page linked above and paragraph quoted is thus clearly confirmed by the simple fact that the “explanation of gravity” offered in the paragraph clearly, unequivocally, irrevocably, and irremedially violates Gauss’s Law. Not only does it violate Gauss’s Law but it is literally a homework problem for first year undergraduates in my physics courses to prove that no, you cannot make a 1/r^2 force law by arranging dipoles no matter how hard you try. It is part of the way one can see that magnetic dipoles (which exist in abundance) cannot be simply geometrically rearranged to form a magnetic monopole, which would interact with a 1/r^2 force law with other monopoles. You can look the problem up in my textbook (or perhaps in the review guide for the textbook, can’t recall for sure) too.

    To put it bluntly, if you try to arrange dipoles inside any spherical volume so that they produce a 1/r^2 force law outside of it — like gravity — you will fail. You will fail because the net charge in the volume is zero, and hence the net electric flux out of the volume is zero. That means as much field must flow out as flows in, which in turn means that the field cannot possibly be outgoing in all directions and drop of like an inverse square.

    This is more than sufficient to identify the site above as crank science, in case the other stigmata of the site — a complete lack of substantive theory or equations, pointless quotes that were out of context when they were originally stated long ago, let alone now, complete non-sequitors such as condemning the standard model (invented only in the 1970s) as being in trouble from the 1930s (good trick that, time travel and all), the open statements that basically all physicists are stupid and the author of this brilliant stuff is smart — were not.

    What is it with this sort of thing? Do climate skeptics have a death wish? Are they trying to convince people that CAGW is correct because its opponents can’t argue against it without invoking electric suns, electric dipole gravitation, bizarre nuclear reactions responsible for heating the Earth, a differential temperature distribution in a gas in thermal equilibrium? Do you have any idea how dumb this makes you look, when you post links like this when you don’t know enough to personally judge whether or not they are credible and where mere common sense should tell you that they are incredible?

    Here is a short list of crap, crank science that should never, ever be invoked in a discussion of climate science:

    * Electric Suns made out of iron. To be honest, this is the best of them, borderline not crank. At least the person that proposes it puts up a real theory, albeit one that I think is so overwhelmingly falsified by existing evidence that it is difficult to take very seriously, but it is at least as good as transluminal neutrinos.

    * Any sort of theory claiming to rediscover or reinvent electromagnetism. Especially theories that were obviously written by the kind of person you would dread sitting next to on an airplane — slightly demented, enormously narcissistic, and completely convinced that they individually are smarter by far than the collective intelligence of all of the best brains in the world over the last few centuries. You get to think the latter only after you win your Nobel Prize in physics, not before, and having met a number of Nobel Physicists, the ones that do it afterwards are still assholes, just assholes with Nobel Prizes.

    * Any theory that claims that PV = NkT means that the atmosphere has to be warmer where the air pressure is higher in static equilibrium. Oh, my, God. No.

    * Any theory that claims that the Greenhouse effect violates the second law of thermodynamics. No, it doesn’t. Or that it can’t warm the Earth. Yes, it can. Or that it doesn’t exist, there’s no experimental evidence for it. Yes, it does and there is. Get over it. That doesn’t mean CAGW is correct, or even that AGW is correct, but you just make skeptics of both look bad by asserting nonsense as the reason to doubt either one.

    * Any theory that claims that the temperature of a planet is determined by the gas pressure on the surface and that the pressure/temperatures of planets fall on a universal curve with absurd dimensioned constants. No, they aren’t, no, they don’t.

    * Any theory that what really warms the planet isn’t CO_2, it is (fill in the blank with) tidal forces, geothermal heat, tidal forces due to JUPITER (holy shit! Jupiter?) a magical formula made up of completely periodic harmonic functions (no causal explanation needed), invisible fairies. Actually, of all of these invisible fairies are the best of the lot, if they stand for “something we do not yet know or understand” which is actually always a pretty good explanation where complex phenomena are concerned.

    * Any theory that claims with certainty any of the following: Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is a certainty. Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is definitely false. CO_2 is without doubt wholly beneficial. CO_2 is without doubt the devil itself. The ocean is certain to rise a meter in the next thirty years. The ocean is certain not to rise a meter in thirty years. The Earth is about to warm by (fill in the blank with any positive number between 4 and 10 C). The next ice age is upon us, and it is certain that temperatures will drop by (fill in the blank with any negative number between 2 and 10C). I mean, get real. We simply don’t know enough to conclude any of these things with a degree of confidence close to “certainty”. I can try to walk you through Bayes’ theorem and the theory of contingent probabilistic knowledge if you like, but what it comes down to is that all of these statements require a large set of assumptions that we do not know are certainly true and that all have to be true to make them plausible as certain knowledge, and collectively the product of the probability that they are all true is just not that big a number.

    * Any theory that invokes “holography” or “Mach’s Principle”, unless the person who invokes it has at least a Ph.D. in physics or mathematics, is an expert in differential geometry and relativistic field theory, and can produce an actual theory in algebra slightly too difficult for me to understand. Leonard Susskind can get away with it. Freeman Dyson can get away with it. Joe Blow who has a degree in EE from a community college and didn’t do terribly well in intro physics, ODEs, or linear algebra — leave it at home, please.

    * Any theory that is based on crank science. I don’t mean wild and crazy hypotheses that can be falsified — they are welcome in the mix as long as those that propose them accept that normal humans (including themselves, if they are wise) won’t give them much weight until there is some good evidence-based reason to do so). For example, I’m perfectly happy to entertain the possibility that the passage of the sun through dark matter “dust” bands inhomogeneously distributed in the galaxy are responsible for secular variations that are what has really caused the climate to vary over the last few hundred years. Hey, the matter is dark (doesn’t interact with electromagnetic charge directly)! It’s an invisible fairy, but it it has a name, a smidgeon of evidence supporting its existence in the first place, a big question mark on what it might do in the core of the Sun where it interacts with hot, compressed NUCLEAR matter. I’m thrilled with GCR modulation of clouds and hence albedo, although it is far from proven (because it COULD be proven or disproven, and the theory itself is perfectly reasonable and has at least some experimental support). I mean crank science. I put a perfectly reasonable crank science identification guide up above. Use it. Please.

    Sigh.

    rgb

  38. rgb,

    The electrostatic dipoles of atoms in this model are radially oriented, with the inner (towards the center of the celestial body) pole positive, and the outer pole negative. This makes planets effectively electrets.

    “Electret (formed of elektr- from “electricity” and -et from “magnet”) is a dielectric material that has a quasi-permanent electric charge or dipole polarisation. An electret generates internal and external electric fields, and is the electrostatic equivalent of a permanent magnet. Oliver Heaviside coined this term in 1885. Materials with electret properties were, however, already studied since the early 18th century.

    Similarity to Magnets

    Electrets, like magnets, are dipoles. Another similarity is the radiant fields: They produce an electrostatic field (as opposed to a magnetic field) around their perimeter.”

    Nothing impossible going on here.

  39. Steven Mosher says:

    October 23, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Leif, you missed the thread where the WUWT demolished the credibility of Grace. Sorry according to the folks here its data is total garbage.
    ================
    Did you just appeal to authority, I thought so.

    Yep, skeptics reside here, get used to it.
    It is our haven from the bombardment of the green religion, enter at your own risk.

  40. Also, from the article: “The simple fact is that we have no concept of why matter manifests with mass.”

    That is why the taxpayer has had to pony up for CERN, to find the God particle – which gives mass but does not interact in other ways.

    All that is being said here is that in a large body, atoms are very slightly electrically distorted, the inner pole positive and the outer pole negative. Mass then is the measure of the ease of electrically deforming a particle, with large particles being easier to deform, and so appear more massive.

    Nothing narcissistic going on here, just looking at mass without any newly invented particles to explain it. Diagrams: http://zekeunlimited.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/wt4gravity-by-w-thornhill.jpg

    http://zekeunlimited.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/mass-a-simple-model-requiring-no-newly-invented-particles/

  41. Electrets, like magnets, are dipoles. Another similarity is the radiant fields: They produce an electrostatic field (as opposed to a magnetic field) around their perimeter.”

    Nothing impossible going on here.

    Dear Zeke,

    Wrong. Geometrically wrong. Look, if you understand Gauss’s Law, you understand why this is impossible. If you understand Dirac’s construction of a “magnetic monopole” out of magnetic dipoles, you’d understand even more, why the best possible attempt involves introducing a topological defect. If you don’t understand these things, why try to correct me when I have taught both graduate and undergraduate electrodynamics for over thirty years and written two books on the subject?

    My Ph.D. dissertation was basically an application of multipolar methods in quantum mechanics. My graduate textbook has the world’s best description (one of the only full derivations and descriptions) of the use of consistently defined and derived vector multipoles for describing the electromagnetic field. I routinely teach even undergraduates the importance of both monopoles and dipoles in even an elementary description of electricity and magnetism.

    You’re not going to be able to correct me here, not because I’m a mean or stupid person, not because I’m participating in a great conspiracy to defend warmists, not because I’m hostile to iconoclastic but physically plausible ideas, but rather because the proposition is absurdly stupid and anybody who understands even introductory electromagnetism at all well can see why. It’s one of the first things one teaches students when introducing the multipolar series (monopole, dipole, quadrupole etc) as a means of describing electric or magnetic or electromagnetic fields in terms of integral moments over the charge distribution.

    So let me say it clearly and distinctly, so that there is no mistake. There… is… no… way… to… make… a… monopole… out… of… dipoles….

    None. Cannot be done. It violates Gauss’s Law. The best possible effort in this regard is Dirac’s construction of a magnetic “monopole” out of a vector potential that produces a monopolar field in all space except on a defect line. Ever heard of that? Able to write down the vector potential in question and prove that the field is monopolar except on the defect line? Understand how the resulting field does NOT violate Gauss’s Law? Of course not, but that is one of the homework problems I often assign in graduate E&M.

    This is also nothing at all like “arranging a bunch of dipoles on the surface of a sphere with their negative charges pointing in and their positive charges pointing out”, as described in the crank site linked above. If you understood even the SIMPLEST bits of E&M, you’d recognize that the electrostatic field satisfies the superposition principle, so that the field outside of the sphere is the vector sum of the fields of the equal and opposite electric charges in the dipoles and rigorously vanishes in the limit that you e.g. create a uniform dipolar surface layer of charge, and never ever varies like 1/r^2 for any r outside of the sphere.

    So once again. Wrong. Please don’t be a crank or endorse crankery. There are too damn many cranks out there; it makes the mere iconoclasts difficult to identify.

    rgb

  42. gymnosperm says: October 26, 2012 at 7:13 am
    …….
    Currently there is a bifurcation of geo-magnetic field in the Northern hemisphere in contrast to uniformity of the ‘south pole’s field’. Hence in the NH ‘dip needle’ identifies resultant vector, however the strongest field since mid 1990s is found in the central Siberia, to the north of lake Baikal. Prior to 1990s strongest field was in the vicinity of Hudson Bay.

    http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag/data/mag_maps/pdf/F_map_mf_2010.pdf

    During last 100 years the Hudson Bay has been on decline, while Siberia is getting stronger

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NFC.htm

  43. rgb – on a side note here if you please. What is your take on the magnetic portals that supposedly form every 8 minutes that provide a direct pathway between the earth and sun? Obvioulsy we know electric currents flow through them hence the magnetism. But what do you suppose the influence is from these portals and how they may affect things on the surface on the sun like sunspot intensity, or perhaps the earths magnetic field?

  44. rgb – on a side note here if you please. What is your take on the magnetic portals that supposedly form every 8 minutes that provide a direct pathway between the earth and sun? Obvioulsy we know electric currents flow through them hence the magnetism. But what do you suppose the influence is from these portals and how they may affect things on the surface on the sun like sunspot intensity, or perhaps the earths magnetic field?

    I don’t have a take on them because I’ve never heard of them until just now. The NASA site calls them FTEs — “flux transfer events”. I’m guessing — very much guessing as I only just looked at one not terribly technical article on them — that they are the results of magnetohydrodynamic instabilities that pinch off the solar magnetic field from the Earth’s magnetic field as everything rotates and revolves, but then reconnects the flux lines. There may be some sort of coupled capacitative effect involved too — charged particles build up when it is closed that are responsible for reopening/reconnecting the flux lines. But magnetic fields produced by things like plasmas are very, very complex and highly nonlinear, and I’m not an expert even on the solutions that we know (let alone the ones that we can’t solve for, only observe). I’ll leave that for somebody like Lief that no doubt lives and breathes plasma physics and magnetohydrodynamics. That’s all a few thousand degrees K above my areas of expertise…;-)

    rgb

  45. For grins, short problem 6 from my review guide for first year intro E&M:

    problems/short-build-a-monopole.tex
    Roger (who we can imagine owns a motorcycle repair shop in Morehead City)
    hears about magnetic monopoles and decides to build one and end all the confusion. He gets a few hundred bar magnets and glues them all hedgehog-fashion
    onto an iron sphere 10 cm in radius so that the north poles face out and the sphere is tightly packed and covered. He reasons that the field of the south poles will meet in the middle and cancel out, while the north pole fields will look just like a monopole.

    If the total summed pole strengths (“magnetic charge” of the north poles as determined by their magnetic dipole moments) of all the bar magnets is Q_m , approximately what magnetic field will Roger observe one meter away from his “monopole”? Why? (Draw a picture, invoke a law, something…).

    The answer is “zero”, not k_m Q_m / r^2 \hat{r}. It is zero because the magnetic field lines form closed loops that run through the actual magnetics. Hence the magnetic flux through a closed surface a meter away must vanish (a.k.a. Gauss’s Law for Magnetism, one of the homogeneous Maxwell Equations) — the outgoing field must equal the incoming field. The field won’t quite be zero as the bar magnets or refrigerator magnets are discrete and their fields won’t precisely line to cancel up so there will be a very weak “ripple” at that radius with zero total flux and very, very weak field strength, but zero is by far the best answer.

    The exact same thing is true for electric fields produced by physical electric dipoles (made with actual physically separated electric monopoles), only worse. In this case one can indeed make a nearly perfect “surface layer” of dipoles, such as a conducting sphere with negative charge inside and concentric with a conducting sphere of slightly larger radius with positive charge, which is the limiting case of Zeke’s “radially packed electrets” — only now it is a perfect textbook case, covered in every single book on introductory electromagnetism in the world — a spherical capacitor. Here is the proof that the field outside is zero:

    \oint \vec{E}\cdot \hat{n} dr = E_r 4\pi r^2 = \frac{Q_{tot}}{\epsilon_0} = \frac(Q - Q}{\epsilon_0} = 0

    therefore

    E_r = 0

    Wow, is that so difficult?

    rgb

  46. OK, sorry, nailed once again by the cosmic lack of an “edit” or “preview” button such as those found on Slashdot or Goodreads. So moderator, if you could remove the superfluous boldface markup. I’ll try a second time to fix the Gauss’s Law instance here:

    \oint_S \vec{E} \cdot \hat{n} dA = E_r 4\pi r^2 = \frac{Q_{tot}}{\epsilon_0} = 0

    rgb

  47. vukcevic says:
    October 26, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Hi Dr.Brown
    It is a bit of NASA hype about geomagnetic storms (magnetic portals, magnetic ropes, magnetic cloud)

    Perhaps – Still these portals with electric current flowing
    between sun and earth, and that earth’s ionosphere and surface –
    separated by an insulating atmosphere – behaves like a leaky
    capacitor that regularly charges up from the sun and breaks down –
    could make the connection to phenomena like sprites and elves,
    poorly understood plasma phenomena occurring high in the
    atmosphere.

  48. Thank you. The only reason I said anything is because you put a little too much mustard on your personal attacks on the physicists who have worked on the question of why matter has mass.

  49. Each atom’s nucleus is very weakly offset towards the center of the planet. No monopoles are discussed. The planet itself is an electret. Electrets were discovered in 1733 by Stephen Gray and rediscovered by Dr. Mototaro Eguchi in the 20’s, and some of his wax electrets still have thier charge, and possess a N & S pole. Mass and gravity are both happening at an atomic level in this model. I wanted to give a simpler and accurate representation of what was being said than what you gave, but let’s not bicker then as you say.

    If you can help me, Dr Brown, I would like to ask you what the final cost of CERN has been, including maintenance, power, and repairs, to date. I have tried to find this through searches, and would appreciate anything you can tell me.

    PS Regarding imparting mass with the God particle, W. Thornhill writes, “the Higgs particle is like no other in our experience, since all normal matter is composed of electric charges that respond to electromagnetic influences… However, we observe that the mass of a charged subatomic particle is altered by the application of electromagnetic forces. At its simplest (and Nature is economical in our experience) it indicates that mass is related to the storage of energy within a system of electric charges inside the particle. That’s what E = mc2 is telling us. So how can a massive particle be constructed without electric charge? It shows the problem inherent in leaving physics to mathematicians — there is a disconnect between mathematical concepts and reality.

    The notion that subatomic particles exhibit mass as a result of their interaction with imaginary Higgs particles occupying all of empty space like some form of treacle should have caused a sceptical uproar, if it weren’t for the appalling apathy of the public toward such nonsense. The ‘annihilation’ and ‘creation’ of matter is invoked when particles at particular points arise from ‘fields’ spread over space and time. Higgs found that parameters in the equations for the field associated with his hypothetical particle can be chosen in such a way that the lowest energy state of that field (empty space) is not zero. With the field energy non-zero in empty space, all particles that can interact with the Higgs particle gain mass from the interaction.

    This explanation for the phenomenon of mass should have been stillborn if common sense was used. To begin, the annihilation and creation of matter is forbidden by a principle of physics. It is tantamount to magic. Second, field theory is a purely imaginary construct, which may or may not have physical significance. And third, it is not explained how the Higgs particle can have intrinsic mass but no charge and yet interact with normal matter, which has charge but is said to have no intrinsic mass. Rather than explain the phenomenon of mass, the theory serves to complicate and confuse the issue. The most amazing feature of this $6 billion experiment is the confused and illogical thinking behind it.”

  50. Zeke, until you have a teensy weensy clue about Maxwell’s equations and the electrostatic field, I would strongly suggest that you abandon suggesting that the earth is an electret or any other utter nonsense of that general variety. Indeed once you have actually learned electrodynamics and a half dozen other things you might — might, I say — be qualified to talk about why particles have mass. Or charge. Or spin. Or almost any other intrinsic property.

    However, you clearly do not have such a clue. If you did, you would understand — or at least, take the time to learn — why charge-neutral matter cannot have a radial electrostatic field that drops off like 1/r^2. I repeat, the reason is called “Gauss’s Law”, which should make it really easy to look up in my or other online physics textbooks. In the meantime, your “theory” just makes you look silly, and when you offer it as a reason that the Higgs boson doesn’t exist — very probably offering it some months after it has been actually observed, to top if off — it makes you look very silly.

    Kind of like a crank.

    Please stop.

    rgb

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