Voyager tells us we live in a "fluffy" interstellar cloud

December 23, 2009: The solar system is passing through an interstellar cloud that physics says should not exist. In the Dec. 24th issue of Nature, a team of scientists reveal how NASA’s Voyager spacecraft have solved the mystery.

see caption“Using data from Voyager, we have discovered a strong magnetic field just outside the solar system,” explains lead author Merav Opher, a NASA Heliophysics Guest Investigator from George Mason University. “This magnetic field holds the interstellar cloud together and solves the long-standing puzzle of how it can exist at all.”

Right: Voyager flies through the outer bounds of the heliosphere en route to interstellar space. A strong magnetic field reported by Opher et al in the Dec. 24, 2009, issue of Nature is delineated in yellow. Image copyright 2009, The American Museum of Natural History. [larger image]

The discovery has implications for the future when the solar system will eventually bump into other, similar clouds in our arm of the Milky Way galaxy.

Astronomers call the cloud we’re running into now the Local Interstellar Cloud or “Local Fluff” for short. It’s about 30 light years wide and contains a wispy mixture of hydrogen and helium atoms at a temperature of 6000 C. The existential mystery of the Fluff has to do with its surroundings. About 10 million years ago, a cluster of supernovas exploded nearby, creating a giant bubble of million-degree gas. The Fluff is completely surrounded by this high-pressure supernova exhaust and should be crushed or dispersed by it.

“The observed temperature and density of the local cloud do not provide enough pressure to resist the ‘crushing action’ of the hot gas around it,” says Opher.

So how does the Fluff survive? The Voyagers have found an answer.

“Voyager data show that the Fluff is much more strongly magnetized than anyone had previously suspected—between 4 and 5 microgauss*,” says Opher. “This magnetic field can provide the extra pressure required to resist destruction.”

see caption

Above: An artist’s concept of the Local Interstellar Cloud, also known as the “Local Fluff.” Credit: Linda Huff (American Scientist) and Priscilla Frisch (University of Chicago) [more]

NASA’s two Voyager probes have been racing out of the solar system for more than 30 years. They are now beyond the orbit of Pluto and on the verge of entering interstellar space—but they are not there yet.

“The Voyagers are not actually inside the Local Fluff,” says Opher. “But they are getting close and can sense what the cloud is like as they approach it.”

The Fluff is held at bay just beyond the edge of the solar system by the sun’s magnetic field, which is inflated by solar wind into a magnetic bubble more than 10 billion km wide. Called the “heliosphere,” this bubble acts as a shield that helps protect the inner solar system from galactic cosmic rays and interstellar clouds. The two Voyagers are located in the outermost layer of the heliosphere, or “heliosheath,” where the solar wind is slowed by the pressure of interstellar gas.

Voyager 1 entered the heliosheath in Dec. 2004; Voyager 2 followed almost 3 years later in Aug. 2007. These crossings were key to Opher et al‘s discovery.

see captionRight: The anatomy of the heliosphere. Since this illustration was made, Voyager 2 has joined Voyager 1 inside the heliosheath, a thick outer layer where the solar wind is slowed by the pressure of interstellar gas. Credit: NASA/Walt Feimer. [larger image]

The size of the heliosphere is determined by a balance of forces: Solar wind inflates the bubble from the inside while the Local Fluff compresses it from the outside. Voyager’s crossings into the heliosheath revealed the approximate size of the heliosphere and, thus, how much pressure the Local Fluff exerts. A portion of that pressure is magnetic and corresponds to the ~5 microgauss Opher’s team has reported in Nature.

The fact that the Fluff is strongly magnetized means that other clouds in the galactic neighborhood could be, too. Eventually, the solar system will run into some of them, and their strong magnetic fields could compress the heliosphere even more than it is compressed now. Additional compression could allow more cosmic rays to reach the inner solar system, possibly affecting terrestrial climate and the ability of astronauts to travel safely through space. On the other hand, astronauts wouldn’t have to travel so far because interstellar space would be closer than ever. These events would play out on time scales of tens to hundreds of thousands of years, which is how long it takes for the solar system to move from one cloud to the next.

“There could be interesting times ahead!” says Opher.

To read the original research, look in the Dec. 24, 2009, issue of Nature for Opher et al’s article, “A strong, highly-tilted interstellar magnetic field near the Solar System.”

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224 thoughts on “Voyager tells us we live in a "fluffy" interstellar cloud

  1. Interesting, but how does this have any bearing on our climate and ice age cycle?
    REPLY: Why does it have to? Science for its own sake is enough don’t you think? – A

  2. REPLY: Why does it have to? Science for its own sake is enough don’t you think? – A
    Couldn’t agree more!
    This is very interesting indeed – one wonders what will happen to the stalwart Voyagers when they enter this Fluff.
    It is in any case utterly amazing that after 3 decades these small objects of human ingenuity are still sending back data, leading to these astonishing discoveries.
    They’re a credit to their makers – and one also wonders if anything built today would stand the test of time as these two voyagers have don.

  3. John (10:09:06):
    Try reading that top thingy that no doubt your eyes pass over without seeing every time you come here:
    “Commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news by Anthony Watts”
    That WUWT is most famous for its Climate Change pieces does not mean that is all it is meant to report on.

  4. So we are just detecting the “REAL Climate drivers” with the study of these interactions, and the rest of the heliopauses around other stars in the neighborhood. We should get a better forecast of the long term changes, in our local climate as the Earth gets to absorb the buffeting action, of the sun’s heliopause pushing against the local galactic wind turbulence, and clouds.

  5. Since the heliosphere is compressable, it does not have to be the same size all the time. Therefore there is probably periods when it is bigger and smaller. Therefore cosmic ray intensity can get bigger or smaller.
    That can affect climate.

  6. Interesting. Leif has been explaining how the plasma carries the magnetic field, so it seems one more case of this.

  7. Eventually, the solar system will run into some of them, and their strong magnetic fields could compress the heliosphere even more than it is compressed now. Additional compression could allow more cosmic rays to reach the inner solar system, possibly affecting terrestrial climate
    I don’t think this is correct. Cosmic rays are scattered away from the inner solar system by compression regions in the solar wind including the big one at the edge of the heliosphere, so I think that a more compressed heliosphere would mean less cosmic rays. Also, think of the opposite scenario: slowly take away the solar wind until in the end there is no heliosphere. That would IMHO lead to an increase in cosmic rays.

  8. We sure got our moneys worth with those two Voyager satellites. They don’t make them any more like that!

  9. How long until we travel interstellar space, humans that is? I would love to travel on a huge ship as a tourist/photographer. It’s a dream, but reality says we way behind on the technology needed to conduct/survive such travel, we only live 80+ yrs if we’re healthy. Oh well maybe when my baby boy has grandkids.

  10. Thanx Anthony. Love this stuff, especially the “hundreds of thousands years…”
    details. Really helps to expand the mind!

  11. At 6000 degrees I certainly hope our sun’s magnetic field is able to push it aside or otherwise deflect it’s effects. Or perhaps it already is?

  12. smallz79 (10:31:09) :
    “How long until we travel interstellar space, humans that is?”
    We already are. Can you imagine a more efficient and effective interstellar “spacecraft” than our solar system? 🙂

  13. From a theoretical point of view where Electricity and plasma would be the dominant shaping forces in Space ( instead of Gravity), this observation is completely understandable.
    Some suggested reading on the a Plasma Universe by Donald Scott:
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Electric-Sky-ebook/dp/B002NGO5MI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260152677&sr=1-1
    http://members.cox.net/dascott3/index.htm
    http://www.mcssl.com/SecureCart/ViewCart.aspx?sctoken=cf4a408e6ccf4e99b83873ab8db7f3fd&mid=576CF27A-22F6-404A-A498-4FB6FC46C951&bhcp=1

  14. noaaprogrammer (10:22:14) :
    Would this magnetic field have anything to do with calming down our sun?
    No, the short answer. Reason: not enough energy in this “fluff”, and the magnetic field it carries . Everything boils down to energy.

  15. noaaprogrammer (10:22:14)
    I don’t know, but my first impression is that microGauss is a pretty small unit.
    Viv Evans (10:18:13) :
    “…one also wonders if anything built today would stand the test of time as these two voyagers have don.”
    It is a, literally, stellar achievement. If I could work on such a project and see it succeed so spectacularly, I would die fulfilled.
    The stuff built today is generally more capable, but that added capability can also be a liability. Older discrete components tend to hold up better in a high radiation environment. There is little doubt we have the ability to build more capable spacecraft which will last just as long or longer. It is just a question of the funds that would be allocated to do it right.

  16. “This magnetic field holds the interstellar cloud together and solves the long-standing puzzle of how it can exist at all.” — Merav Opher, a NASA Heliophysics Guest Investigator from George Mason University
    Fine.
    But more important is what causes the magnetic field in the first place and what determines its strength?
    There was no mention of plasma, charged particles, free electrons and ions or the results when plasma flows from one region to another.
    Without discussion of plasma and its properties and characteristics, the article is incomplete.
    Science knows what causes magnetic fields in plasma based on laboratory experiments.
    Why doesn’t the article touch on these known and established principles?

  17. L. Gardy LaRoche (10:42:11) : The next is the “astrophisics-gate”. Russian hackers are already working on it to reveal all secrets of western “Hollywood science”. Gotta buy some extra pop-corn!

  18. Pretty cool information. We don’t know a lot do we? Lots to learn and a lot of it will never affect us … like we could actually do something about it, eh? Just interesting stuff.
    I remember over fifty years ago, sleeping outside in the mountains and looking up at the stars and … well, just wondering like where the heck are we? You all now what I mean. And today when we are camping in remote places the stars are spectacular and I look up at the cosmos and … well .. I am still wondering. ☺
    Makes me misty thinking about this stuff.
    Thanks for the article.

  19. REPLY: Why does it have to? Science for its own sake is enough don’t you think? – A
    Hear, hear! The Voyager programme was one of the reasons I became fascinated by cosmology, space and science in general. This subsequently led me on to obtain a BSc in Astrophysics and, as an amateur astronomer, to keep a life-long interest in the subject.
    Cheers
    Mark

  20. “We sure got our moneys worth with those two Voyager satellites. They don’t make them any more like that!”
    The remnants of a free society which beleived investing in the future was better of use of resources than chasing an elusive utopia.

  21. I’d love to hear Svensmark comment on this. These revelations may add much to the climate changes predicted by his innovative cosmic ray theory…

  22. No one is sure exactly what this means. But it does mean we have a lot to learn. The political oligarchy that tells us that the science is settled on climate is laughable.
    This is but one example of the many forces that dwarf us and yet ultimately affect us in ways we do not understand. And quite obviously some of these forces impact climate.
    The sheer arrogance of the Gores and Hansens is breathtaking.

  23. “John
    Interesting, but how does this have any bearing on our climate and ice age cycle?
    REPLY: Why does it have to? Science for its own sake is enough don’t you think? – A

    I agree with you and appreciate such articles A.
    John, if you want to know the possible relation between Earth’s climate and extra solarsystem factors, you might get Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Calder’s book “The Chilling Stars” as there is a discussion there concerning the possibility of nearby supernovae being involved in specific cooling episodes that the Earth underwent.

  24. Leif Svalgaard (10:28:05) :
    Eventually, the solar system will run into some of them, and their strong magnetic fields could compress the heliosphere even more than it is compressed now. Additional compression could allow more cosmic rays to reach the inner solar system, possibly affecting terrestrial climate
    I don’t think this is correct. Cosmic rays are scattered away from the inner solar system by compression regions in the solar wind including the big one at the edge of the heliosphere, so I think that a more compressed heliosphere would mean less cosmic rays.

    Could the scattering effect be more a function of the amount or inhomogenaity across the solar system, rather than the average density? i.e. the variations caused by ‘buffeting’ might have more effect on the scattering of the incoming rays than slight changes in overall density.

  25. James F. Evans (10:54:59) The astrophysics new age church has forbidden to name what causes a magnetic field…because that apostate theory of an electric universe would mean an eternal universe and that they think it would undermine social order and tranquility.

  26. On the other hand, astronauts wouldn’t have to travel so far because interstellar space would be closer than ever.
    Maybe it has to do with the 2D presentation of the second picture, but it sure looks like we are getting further away from three stars while moving only somewhat closer to one. Locally speaking, how are we closer?
    Of course they appear to be talking about the heliosphere determining where “interstellar space” starts and are using that for their statement. Which may be of great interest to a few, but dang it, people want to get to other worlds! “Interstellar space” is what is between us and them. And not only do we seem no closer to crossing that gap, now it looks like the trip will be even harder. If we do end up using automated sleeper ships, what additional micro-damage can we expect from 6000 deg C particles? It’ll be a long trip, likely at a very high fraction of c (speed of light), these impacts will add up. And it sure seems likely humanity will not want to wait 50-100 years to find out how successful the first ship was before sending more.
    We need more info. Soon.

  27. If the Voyagers probes are the only monuments to humankind, they are a pretty good one. They are amazing and continue to delight and reward us.

  28. The solar system is passing through an interstellar cloud that physics says should not exist.

    So much for the “science is settled” school of thought. There’s much yet to be discovered and our knowledge is measured in grains of sand while our ignorance can be measured by the size of the universe.

  29. I’ve found the above artist’s concept of the Local Interstellar Cloud, also known as the “Local Fluff”, fasinating since reading the recent article by Linda Huff and Priscilla Frisch. For some reason I thought it might help explain the ups and downs of Earth’s climate variations as the Sun orbited around the Milky Way. (Simple minds look for simple answers:-) Nice to see it again and in this context.

  30. “The fact that the Fluff is strongly magnetized means that other clouds in the galactic neighborhood could be, too. Eventually, the solar system will run into some of them, and their strong magnetic fields could compress the heliosphere even more than it is compressed now. Additional compression could allow more cosmic rays to reach the inner solar system, possibly affecting terrestrial climate and the ability of astronauts to travel safely through space.”
    The NASA remark about possible terrestrial climate effects seems to acknowledge Henrik Svensmark’s theory of low cloud formation from ionizing radiation caused by cosmic rays entering Earth’s atmosphere.

  31. JonesII (11:10:51) :
    James F. Evans (10:54:59) The astrophysics new age church has forbidden to name what causes a magnetic field

    According to the unreliable wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_field
    “the electric and magnetic fields are not completely separate phenomena; what one observer perceives as an electric field, another observer in a different frame of reference perceives as a mixture of electric and magnetic fields. For this reason, one speaks of electromagnetism or electromagnetic fields.”

  32. “Above: An artist’s concept of the Local Interstellar Cloud, also known as the “Local Fluff.” Credit: Linda Huff (American Scientist) and Priscilla Frisch (University of Chicago)”
    The sketch shows our sun moving at significantly less than 90 degree angle with respect the direction toward the galactic center (?of mass?). So does this mean the sun’s orbit around the galactic center is highly eliptical? Or is this just an artifact of the artists concept drawing?
    John

  33. These guys got to keep this thing funded. Not because my wife works at MIT on the Voyager 2 data, but because this thing is still sending back information that will be hard to collect for many, many years. If GCR has something to do with climate, knowing what is out there is vital.

  34. Bart (10:50:50) :
    The stuff built today is generally more capable, but that added capability can also be a liability. Older discrete components tend to hold up better in a high radiation environment.

    The following info should be of interest. From here:
    A seminal microprocessor in the world of spaceflight was RCA’s RCA 1802 (aka CDP1802, RCA COSMAC) (introduced in 1976) which was used in NASA’s Voyager and Viking spaceprobes of the 1970s, and onboard the Galileo probe to Jupiter (launched 1989, arrived 1995). RCA COSMAC was the first to implement C-MOS technology. The CDP1802 was used because it could be run at very low power, and because its production process (Silicon on Sapphire) ensured much better protection against cosmic radiation and electrostatic discharges than that of any other processor of the era. Thus, the 1802 is said to be the first radiation-hardened microprocessor.
    The RCA 1802 had what is called a static design, meaning that the clock frequency could be made arbitrarily low, even to 0 Hz, a total stop condition. This let the Voyager/Viking/Galileo spacecraft use minimum electric power for long uneventful stretches of a voyage. Timers and/or sensors would awaken/improve the performance of the processor in time for important tasks, such as navigation updates, attitude control, data acquisition, and radio communication.

  35. James F. Evans (10:54:59) :
    But more important is what causes the magnetic field in the first place and what determines its strength?
    The magnetic fields in space are caused by dynamo processes where electrically neutral [but conducting] plasma moves across existing magnetic fields, creating currents that amplify the magnetic field and keeps them from dissipating. All this is amply demonstrated by laboratory experiments and from Maxwell’s equations combined with Newton’s laws.
    Clive (10:56:24) :
    Pretty cool information. We don’t know a lot do we?
    Scientific progress is learning what we didn’t know we didn’t know.
    tallbloke (11:08:52) :
    Could the scattering effect be more a function of the amount or inhomogenaity across the solar system, rather than the average density? i.e. the variations caused by ‘buffeting’ might have more effect on the scattering of the incoming rays than slight changes in overall density.
    As I have said many times, the scattering is due to the inhomogeneities in the solar wind and at the heliopause, and does not depend strongly on average density or magnetic field strength.
    Leon Brozyna (11:17:13) :
    The solar system is passing through an interstellar cloud that physics says should not exist.
    So much for the “science is settled” school of thought.

    The interstellar cloud was predicted 30 years ago…

  36. “JonesII (11:10:51) :
    James F. Evans (10:54:59) The astrophysics new age church has forbidden to name what causes a magnetic field…because that apostate theory of an electric universe would mean an eternal universe and that they think it would undermine social order and tranquility.”
    Are you referring to neutron repulsion here?

  37. Yes, certainly does seem to be a back handed confirmation of Svensmark’s theory.
    Mars has also recently been warming up at proportionately the same rate as Earth was doing up to recently.
    So much so that 20C is not unknown on this allegedly frozen world, but of course Mars has a 95% C02 atmosphere.
    But even then, NASA has to over egg the pudding by claiming that the excess warmth comes from an extra greenhouse effect caused by giant dust storms.
    Even on Mars, they cant bring themselves to admit that this warmth is primarly due to increased solar activity

  38. “James F. Evans (10:54:59) :
    Why doesn’t the article touch on these known and established principles?”
    That was probably a rhetorical question, but for the sake of folks who may not know I’ll answer: Astronomers gradually built their models before eectricity and plasmas were known. They now have suchge investment in gravity-only models that they are reluctant to admit that the “hot gas” they keep seeing is plasma, because plasma is conductive, which means current can flow, creating magnetic fields orders of magnitude greater in strength than gravity.
    I was pleased to see L. Gardy LaRoche mention Donald Scott’s _The Electric Sky_. It’s a great introduction to Electric Universe concepts. There’s a lot in EU theory that I’m dubious of, but several EU modellers have eliminated the need for “dark matter” and “dark energy” (30 years on still inconveniently unobserved) to account for observed movement by including electromagnetic effects.

  39. tallbloke (11:08:52) : “Could the scattering effect be more a function of the amount or inhomogenaity across the solar system, rather than the average density? i.e. the variations caused by ‘buffeting’ might have more effect on the scattering of the incoming rays than slight changes in overall density.”
    Could be the “scattering effect” is caused by interactions of plasma at their boundary contact with other bodies of plasma.
    And what has been observed & measured in the plasma laboratory by repeated experiments is that Electric Double Layers develope between plasma bodies with different physical properties such as density, temperature, magnetic field strength, relative motion and velocity.
    Electric Double Layers cause dynamic changes to the flow and organization of the plasma supporting the process.

  40. James F. Evans (11:58:59) :
    And what has been observed & measured in the plasma laboratory by repeated experiments is that Electric Double Layers develops between plasma bodies with different physical properties such as density, temperature, magnetic field strength, relative motion and velocity.
    And precisely those double layers carry no current. They are known as ‘current-free double layers’. Even wikipedia has this correct:
    “Current-free double layers occur at the boundary between plasma regions with different plasma properties”

  41. Sure we’ve learned alot from the Voyager probes, and the Pioneer probes before them, but, good God, think of their carbon footprint! Imagine how much carbon-dioxide was released in launching them. The Horror!
    Better if we had never launched them at all. Or any rockets, ever. And that we had ever emerged from our caves.

  42. Another interstellar “fluff” piece! I love it! More fluff please. Can’t get enough of this interstellar fluff. How much fluff is enough fluff? Some fine stuff this fluff…
    Seriously, interesting article.
    Cheers!

  43. James F. Evans (11:58:59) :
    Could be the “scattering effect” is caused by interactions of plasma at their boundary contact with other bodies of plasma.
    And what has been observed & measured in the plasma laboratory by repeated experiments is that Electric Double Layers develope between plasma bodies with different physical properties such as density, temperature, magnetic field strength, relative motion and velocity.
    Electric Double Layers cause dynamic changes to the flow and organization of the plasma supporting the process.

    Interesting stuff. On the face of it, it seems it might be pretty difficult to observe and quantify this stuff. Just like the difficulty we have in measuring the flow of energy inside the Earth’s oceans. Argo has made some progress with that. I look forward to probes being launched in their thousands into the solar system to monitor it all so we can get a better handle on the flow of the fluxes. 🙂

  44. This is great news – from Nature (can we really believe it?)
    @ 6000 deg C its great that its a distance away but we are still going to get some effect – a bit more than co2, I’d wager.
    Beautiful graphics.
    Great electronics – wish my computers had a chance of lasting so long.
    Goes to show we still have a lot to learn.
    Thanks Anthony for including this.

  45. Leif Svalgaard (12:08:01) :
    James F. Evans (11:58:59) :
    And what has been observed & measured in the plasma laboratory by repeated experiments is that Electric Double Layers develops between plasma bodies with different physical properties such as density, temperature, magnetic field strength, relative motion and velocity.
    And precisely those double layers carry no current. They are known as ‘current-free double layers’. Even wikipedia has this correct:
    “Current-free double layers occur at the boundary between plasma regions with different plasma properties”

    There’s no current flowing around a permanent magnet either. But that doesn’t mean it has no magnetic field, or no electric field. And that magnetic field would have effects on GCR’s trajectory, and their different electric charge would intereact with the plasma’s electric field too.

  46. tallbloke (12:47:08) :
    And that magnetic field would have effects on GCR’s trajectory, and their different electric charge would intereact with the plasma’s electric field too.
    I don’t know what you are trying to say, but the compression regions that scatter GCRs do that by virtue of the tangled turbulent magnetic fields. There are no electric fields in the plasma.

  47. Actually this post may be a possible climate link according to Nir Shaviv. He describes how our climate can be effected by our solar system’s movement through the spiral galactic clouds/fluff (arms)… interesting stuff. He briefs on it in Henrik Svensmark’s youtube video.

  48. I’m not a scientist but am fascinated by science. Can anyone discuss what has allowed these two tiny spacecrafts to exceed their life expectancy so spectacularly and when will they enter interstellar space.? Why has the extreme cold not affected their ability to transmit the data we still receive from them.
    They are to me as a lay person observer, a marvel of mans achievement. As someone stated, money well spent.

  49. Leif Svalgaard (11:39:36) :
    “The magnetic fields in space are caused by dynamo processes where electrically neutral [but conducting] plasma moves across existing magnetic fields, creating currents that amplify the magnetic field and keeps them from dissipating..”
    Yes but what causes the existing magnetic fields?
    It is likely as we move through patches of plasma, whatever differences create double layers where high potential energies build up. No reason to think these double layers are static in any sense. Due to inherent instabilities why wouldn’t we expect something like pulses of avalanche currents which in turn effect the solar magnetic field, solar wind and energies that reach the earth. I think it is highly possible these plasm patches ultimately effect our the earth’s energy inputs and thus climates.

  50. Doug in Seattle (10:41:27) :
    At 6000 degrees I certainly hope our sun’s magnetic field is able to push it aside or otherwise deflect it’s effects. Or perhaps it already is?
    Steve (12:36:47) :
    @ 6000 deg C its great that its a distance away but we are still going to get some effect – a bit more than co2, I’d wager.

    Temperature in a gas effectively represents the speed of the atoms / molecules. The higher the temperature, the faster they go. This gas is extremely tenuous – presumably previously undetectable from its thermal radiation else we would have known more about it!
    The gas at the surface of the sun is at a temperature of around 6000 C, and there’s a lot of it, so we feel the radiation from it; whereas gas in the corona, in the space around and fairly close to the sun, can reach a million degrees or so. It’s also pretty tenuous so we don’t really feel much thermal effect from that, though that’s also because as it’s so much hotter, the peak wavelength it emits at is a much shorter wavelength.

  51. Interesting. This means that the majority of the Kuiper belt is outside the heliopause and located in interstellar space. This also means that the orbits of the known dwarf planets Eris, Sedna, Orcus, Quaoar, 2007-OR, Haumea and Makemake are in interstellar space. I wonder if there any plans to visit any of these plutoids?

  52. Wow! Great discussion here. I’m learning a lot. I find it incredible that the Voyagers are still working after all of this time, and that they are “almost” into interstellar space. Hope they don’t malfunction once they get into all of the magnetic fields they encounter.

  53. Anthony points out to John that this may have nothing to do with climate.
    But let’s think for a moment. Tens to hundred of thousands of years for the solar system to move from one “fluff” cloud to the next? How sure are we that Milankovitch cycles are totally determinant of the current roughly 100,000 year — with smaller warmings occuring on intervals measured in tens of thousands of years — warm episode periodicity?
    And what if Leif Svalgaard is correct in the comments in this post that:
    ====
    Leif Svalgaard (10:28:05) :
    “”” Eventually, the solar system will run into some of them, and their strong magnetic fields could compress the heliosphere even more than it is compressed now. Additional compression could allow more cosmic rays to reach the inner solar system, possibly affecting terrestrial climate “””
    I don’t think this is correct. Cosmic rays are scattered away from the inner solar system by compression regions in the solar wind including the big one at the edge of the heliosphere, so I think that a more compressed heliosphere would mean less cosmic rays. Also, think of the opposite scenario: slowly take away the solar wind until in the end there is no heliosphere. That would IMHO lead to an increase in cosmic rays.
    ====
    That would correlate with this being a time period of low cosmic rays — which according to Henrik Svensmark’s theory of Cosmoclimatology would lead to fewer low clouds and more warming. That is, the current Holocene warm period may in fact be correlated with passing through the current “fluff” cloud!
    Over to you Henrik… (Merry Christmas and I hope you’ve recovered now and able to comment somewhere soon on the “fluff” discovery.)

  54. smallz79 (10:31:09) :
    How long until we travel interstellar space, humans that is? I would love to travel on a huge ship as a tourist/photographer. It’s a dream, but reality says we way behind on the technology needed to conduct/survive such travel, we only live 80+ yrs if we’re healthy. Oh well maybe when my baby boy has grandkids.

    There is a project that could give us fast interplanetary drives (days to weeks) and, with a bit of luck, interstellar travel drives. Woodward, Mach and Breakthrough Propulsion
    For the 80+years of life there are solutions near at hand (Rapamicin, Sirtuins for example). There are people like Aubrey deGrey working on this problem.
    I bet you know that science is not settled on these.

  55. John (10:09:06):
    Interesting, but how does this have any bearing on our climate and ice age cycle?
    REPLY: Why does it have to? Science for its own sake is enough don’t you think? – A
    ———————————-
    I can understand the confusion as I have read the first post from Anthony when linked to a month or so back. By the way Anthony did you feel you would end up focusing mainly on AGW when you first started your blog?
    ———————————-
    John, read the top 2 lines at the top of this page.
    Watts Up With That?
    Commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news by Anthony Watts”

  56. Leif Svalgaard (12:52:08) :
    the compression regions that scatter GCRs do that by virtue of the tangled turbulent magnetic fields. There are no electric fields in the plasma.

    So this wikipedia entry is incorrect?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_field
    “the electric and magnetic fields are not completely separate phenomena; what one observer perceives as an electric field, another observer in a different frame of reference perceives as a mixture of electric and magnetic fields. For this reason, one speaks of electromagnetism or electromagnetic fields.

  57. John (10:09:06):
    Interesting, but how does this have any bearing on our climate and ice age cycle?
    __________________
    It seems your question sparked some good comments. Thanks for asking.

  58. “Voyager data show that the Fluff is much more strongly magnetized than anyone had previously suspected—between 4 and 5 microgauss*,”
    To Leif Svalgaard: Would “anyone” include Hannes Alfven and Christian Birkeland?

  59. Leif Svalgaard (10:28:05) :
    Now we have 2 variables. At a time of increasing pressure on the heliosphere and decreasing output of Solar Wind, there should be less distance for the GCR’s to travel to reach the Inner Solar System.
    Conversely, at a time of decreased pressure on the heliosphere and increased output of Solar WInd, we have a much larger distance for the GCR’s to travel to reach the Inner Solar System.
    If both the pressure from the outside and the pressure from the inside wax and wan at the same time, there would be no change, from the Terrestrial viewpoint.
    I’m being crude here, but the test would be for a given output of Solar Wind in times of more and less external pressure on the heliosphere as measured in neutron counts. We already know that chaging the Solar Wind output changes the GCR count.
    If there is no difference attributable to the variance of external pressure, poof goes the hypothesis.

  60. Very interesting stuff. I’d love to launch a few more probes to examine the Fluff and the Heliosheath. But the problem is that NASA has had their budget reduced and redirected to poor-utility programs. We should build a few probes with solar sails and fire them in different directions.
    When I’m President, you can count on it!

  61. The origin of the magnetic cloud is of supreme interest, remnant of the big bang or perhaps the waste product of a black hole?.
    I would like to know how does it maintain a 6000C temperature with no apparent heat source?

  62. tallbloke (14:44:45) :
    So this wikipedia entry is incorrect?
    “the electric and magnetic fields are not completely separate phenomena; what one observer perceives as an electric field, another observer in a different frame of reference perceives as a mixture of electric and magnetic fields. For this reason, one speaks of electromagnetism or electromagnetic fields.”

    No, but must be interpreted correctly. The solar wind has a magnetic field B and speed V relative to the Earth, so the Earth sees an electric field E = B x V. An observer moving with the solar wind has V = 0 and thus sees E = 0. The correct statement is that ‘there is no electric field in the rest frame of the solar wind plasma’. So there is no electric current flowing in the solar wind as a result of this zero electric field. This is intuitively trivial to understand: the conductivity is almost infinite [the wind is so thin that a charge has to traverse many millions of km to meet another one]. So, if you had a collection of positive charges at point A and a collection of negative charges at point B, there will be a very strong [10^40 times the strength of gravity] electric field between them and they would attract each other with tremendous force and accelerate towards each other at enormous speed and short out the field.
    lowercasefred (14:55:31) :
    To Leif Svalgaard: Would “anyone” include Hannes Alfven and Christian Birkeland?
    Alfven would not be surprised. Birkeland would have no idea what we are talking about.
    rbateman (15:07:50) :
    We already know that chaging the Solar Wind output changes the GCR count.
    We do not know that, or rather: it is not that simple. The cosmic ray count is not determined by the solar wind speed or density or magnetic field [all of these have small second order effects only because a cosmic ray never collides with any of the solar wind particles]. What scatters cosmic rays are tangled magnetic fields: The particles spiral along field lines so their direction of movement changes all the time. If the field line also wiggles in space [turbulence] the direction changes even more and if the field strength changes, the spiral radius also changes. All of these changes mean that there is a fair chance the the final direction would be directed out of the solar system, hence decreasing the GCR flux.
    So, the question now is: ‘how do we get tangled magnetic fields. The somewhat surprising answer is that solar rotation is large responsible. Imagine that one side of the sun emits solar wind at high speed and the other side emits a wind of low speed [e.g. a big equatorial coronal hole on one side]. Now, imagine a stationary observer [e.g. on Jupiter – that moves very slowly (12 years to go around compared to 25 days for solar rotation]. She would see fast solar wind coming towards her for two weeks and slow solar wind coming towards her for the next two weeks, followed by two weeks of fast, then two more weeks of slow wind, etc. So, the solar wind in a given fixed direction has different speeds over time, alternating between fast and slow. The fast wind would then catch up and run into the slower wind. The magnetic field is frozen onto the plasma so even though the particles never collide the magnetic field gives the plasma a fluid-like property, so that the fats solar wind compresses the slower wind ahead and produces a region of compression [followed by a region of rarefaction, of course]. Because the wind speed is not constant but varies a bit from place to place and from time to time, those compression regions get tangled and turbulent, thus creating a magnetic mirror that deflects the GCRs. As the Sun keeps rotating there will be several such mirrors between the Sun and the heliosphere, like 20-50 of them. Collectively they screen out GCRs. It doesn’t really matter [within reason] how strong the magnetic field is, it is enough that it is tangled a lot. Another process that also serves to produce such mirrors is the propagation of CMEs away from the Sun.
    So where does the solar cycle variation come in? The coronal holes and the CMEs have a change in latitudes over the cycle. That means that at solar maximum there are mirrors all over the place [at all latitudes], while at solar minimum the mirrors [and there is also fewer of them] tend to occur at low latitudes, so the only affect GCRs coming in near the equatorial plane. The polar holes at solar minimum do not produce mirrors because there is no slow solar wind up there to slam into.
    Once you grasp the grand picture it all makes sense and a lot of things fall into place. Kinda like plate tectonics making sense of geology.

  63. Geoff Sharp (15:45:45) :
    I would like to know how does it maintain a 6000C temperature with no apparent heat source?
    Ask another question: ‘how could it cool?’
    Hints: things cool by conduction, expansion, and radiation.

  64. Really interesting, thanks for posting this! The Voyagers have fascinated me since I was a teenager. My interest started with some issue of National Geographic I read as a kid, which showed the first images of Jupiter from Pioneer 10 & 11. I think the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft are still the most impressing pieces of technology ever made (although those long-lived rovers on Mars are pretty impressing too).

  65. Leif Svalgaard (16:04:03) :
    Ask another question: ‘how could it cool?’
    Hints: things cool by conduction, expansion, and radiation.

    Thus the insulation on space suits is more comparable to a light winter coat than what is needed for the dark times in Antarctica. There are high grade metal alloys being processed in vacuum environments in a molten state. It is hard to overstate the insulating properties of a vacuum.

  66. “They [magnetic fields] have always been there.”
    Hmmm?
    The magnetic fields exist independently from the flow and organization of the plasma?
    In the course of Electric Double Layers, aka, “magnetic reconnection”, electric fields participate with magnetic fields to constrain the flow and direction of free electrons and ions, plus accelerate and energize the electrons and ions resulting in generation of electric currents.

  67. James F. Evans (16:24:59) :
    The magnetic fields exist independently from the flow and organization of the plasma?
    They can easily do that. There is no plasma near the magnets on my refrigerator.
    In the course of Electric Double Layers, aka, “magnetic reconnection”, etc.
    As usual you have this backwards. The process is as follows: when magnetic fields with opposite polarity are frozen into a plasma and by movements of parcels of the plasma are pressed together, an electric field is created and the frozen-in condition can break down in a very thin interface layers, allowing reconnection to take place, and accelerating particles away from the reconnection region. Electric currents are the cause of all interesting phenomena involving plasmas and are created locally by movement of said plasma across an existing magnetic field.

  68. As Saint Gore (“Al Baby”) would say: You must believe! Science is settled!. Our Holy Inquisition will take care of you non believers!

  69. There is no plasma near the magnets on my refrigerator
    There is a potential difference in it between FeO and Fe2O3, and these magnets are “started” at fatory by an electric field (Oersted).

  70. Leif Svalgaard (16:04:03) :
    Ask another question: ‘how could it cool?’
    Hints: things cool by conduction, expansion, and radiation.

    Hadnt thought of it that way…amazing. So we can expect some sort of heat transfer when the collision occurs.

  71. Who’d have thunk, when launching the Voyager deep-space probes, that they could tell us something about what makes the weather on Earth?

  72. And a magnet generates its magnetic field by — take your pick — electron spin, magnetic moment, electron flow within the magnet’s lattice, all rely on electron “something”, principly movement of some kind.
    Yes, “Electric currents are the cause of all interesting phenomena involving plasmas and are created locally by movement of said plasma across an existing magnetic field.”
    “They [magnetic fields] have always been there.”
    Science has more to learn & understand.

  73. James F. Evans (17:21:30) :
    Science has more to learn & understand.
    From your postings it is clear that you have a lot yet to learn and understand. I fear, however, that this will not happen, seeing how learning-resistant you have been in the past.

  74. The same happens with:
    Iron 26.000000 55.847000 2 3
    cobalt 27.000000 58.933000 2 3
    nickel 28.000000 58.710000 2 3
    Having valence 2/3 (jumping electrons to satisfy both), notably with Iron in OUR PLASMA (in hemoglobin). This is why these are magnetizable materials.

  75. Carl Bussjaeger (11:45:00) :
    “…creating magnetic fields orders of magnitude greater in strength than gravity.”
    These are two different things, and the statement is meaningless. Perhaps you mean “creating magnetic fields which induce forces orders of magnitude greater in strength than those due to gravity”? If so, that is not generally correct either.
    Magnetic fields only exert force on moving charges according to the Lorentz force equation. Furthermore, both fields create singularities (event horizons) where they become theoretically infinite, but the field from a dipole falls off as R cubed, whereas that from a monopole falls off only as R squared, and there are no magnetic monopoles. So, gravity has more influence over long distances. Moreover, gravity affects both charge biased and neutrally charged particles alike.
    Gravity has been measured to many significant digits between neutrally charged masses via torsion balance. It is not an electromagnetic phenomenon. And, the equivalence of gravitational and inertial mass has been demonstrated to many, many significant digits as well, which puts gravity in a special class all its own among the forces of nature.
    There is a disturbing tinge of pseudoscience emerging on this thread. That is what I have feared most would happen when the magnitude of the politicization of climate science became starkly obvious to all. Let me state plainly to those who are searching for answers: Special Relativity is beyond question. That science really is settled. Time dilation in particular has been confirmed beyond a shadow of any doubt in decay rates of particles traveling at relativistic speeds.
    General Relativity has been demonstrated to accurately describe many phenomena with potent predictive power. It is not settled completely, but we can say it is settled to the extent that any more advanced theory will have to include it as a special case in a specific domain.
    The defeat of the pseudoscience behind CAGW would be pyrrhic indeed if it opens the floodgates to even less sophisticated pseudoscience.

  76. The Voyagers. The most successfull little space crafts and program in space exploration ever…….. and still goin’ strong!
    I find it amazing that they are still working and giving us insight into the cosmos.

  77. JonesII (16:56:38) :
    There is no plasma near the magnets on my refrigerator
    There is a potential difference in it between FeO and Fe2O3, and these magnets are “started” at fatory by an electric field (Oersted).

    There were likely primordial magnetic fields in the Universe [and we can discuss how they arose], but may I ask where the electric field you mentioned came from? Perhaps generated by a power station by rotating copper coils in a magnetic field?
    Geoff Sharp (17:06:55) :
    Hadnt thought of it that way…amazing. So we can expect some sort of heat transfer when the collision occurs.
    No, as there is no collision between particles.
    The cloud cannot cool by conduction because of no collisions, cannot cool be expansion because it is held in place by its magnetic field, and cannot cool by radiation because it is fully ionized [so the electrons cannot jump from from bound state to a lower one, emitting a photon in the process]. Now, some clouds are dusty [ours doesn’t have much since it is hot]. If there is a lot of dust, then particles can collide with the dust [dust particles have a much larger cross section than protons] and transfer heat to it, which the dust then can radiate away because it is not ionized. In that way the dust can slowly cool the cloud, in fact the interior of thick dusty clouds are the coldest places in the universe [except from some places made by intelligent beings to measure weak radio waves].

  78. Unbelievable such a belief system! So redox reactions now are impossible and we do not breath!
    Well, well, anyway life is nature´s way of overcoming entropy…..

  79. John (10:09:06) :
    “Interesting, but how does this have any bearing on our climate and ice age cycle?
    REPLY: Why does it have to? Science for its own sake is enough don’t you think? – A”
    According to the scientists that published the first report about this Interstellar Cloud in 1978, this cloud could trigger an ice age.
    You can download the entire report and read their conclusions here:
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1978ApJ…223..589V
    Svensmark and Nir Shaviv (http://www.sciencebits.com/CosmicRaysClimate) think clouds like this will influence our terrestrial climate and so does NASA.
    So, I have absolutely no doubt that this report belongs at WUWT.

  80. I believe the article’s citation of a 6000C temperature relates only to the helium atoms themselves and is not indicative of an “ambient” temperature of that magnitude. A thermometer out there will measure near absolute zero as the actual density of hot atoms is extremely low compared to the frame of reference of earth’s atmosphere. The same phenomena occurs in our upper atmosphere. The low density gas atoms in the remnants of our atmosphere at 30,000m are whizzing around pretty fast and are quite hot. Nevertheless, the total kinetic energy per unit volume is minuscule compared to sea level.

  81. Curiousgeorge (10:42:01) :
    smallz79 (10:31:09) :
    “How long until we travel interstellar space, humans that is?”
    We already are. Can you imagine a more efficient and effective interstellar “spacecraft” than our solar system? 🙂

    I think I would prefer to stick to Earth, and I’m pretty sure the stray cat we’ve been tending feels the same way these recent December nights. We’re close enough to space in the Mile High City. Still, I do enjoy looking up on a summer’s evening.

  82. So the science is settled after all, just like Enstien he could never reconcile the so-called unified field theory. While differintial equations get us closer and closer there is always the very small possibility that things will go awry as time extends out. My fascination has always been, how does magnatism work and why is it always there. My toolbox at the place where I toil at has a very strong magnet attached to one of my drawers, it sits there day after day defying gravity. I would assume after a few thouand years my humble toolbox and its contents will return to the earth, Somebody email me please in a thousand years and tell me what happened to my magnet.

  83. Mirco (14:20:54) :
    There is a project that could give us fast interplanetary drives (days to weeks) and, with a bit of luck, interstellar travel drives. Woodward, Mach and Breakthrough Propulsion

    I tend to be suspicious of things that try to cheat around doing work. It takes a lot of effort to get off this rock and I don’t see how a Mach-Lorentz thruster would be up to the task. I followed your link, read some stuff on Woodward’s home page, googled some more info.
    In this idea of “thrust without ejecting mass,” Woodward’s test device as described, and based on his descriptions of how it functions, it is like a box with a mechanism that slams a weight against one side of the box’s interior, slowly moves the weight back (perhaps with a spring return), then repeats the motions. On a flat tabletop slamming upwards it might dance but go nowhere. On a frictionless slope it would have net no movement upwards, just slide to the bottom of the slope no matter how fast the mechanism cycled.
    But Woodward then goes into how all particles are somehow linked together. Which is technically true, a particle on Earth has a gravitational attraction to a particle 35 light years away. Roughly speaking, this makes the device’s operation like the box was dropped into a container of frictionless sand, with all the grains attracted to each other as well as the box. When the weight slams the box moves forward, but it does not move backwards while the weight is reset as the sand has moved, the space where the box was is now filled with the grains which resist the backwards motion.
    There are numerous problems though with the concept, provided my “thought experiment” model is really following the described effect. For one, imagining all the particles connected together with little springs, I would expect the particles to take the shock and then “spring back” into position, leaving the box where it was. Moreover, this has too much of a “cosmic aether” feel to it, more like you were describing how something could move through water by getting the water molecules to move relative to the object.
    And, the forces involved sound incredibly weak. I do not see how they could possibly get an object away from Earth orbit, let alone off the ground. There is the pull of millions of eligible women trying to draw a man away from the house, but the firm hand of his wife on his arm keeps him inside.
    Moreover, I read that the device creates a great deal of heat. That sets off alarm bells for me, as numerous issues such as expansion of materials and changes in conductivity of the wiring can affect test readings. Plus there has not been replication of results by different experimenters, some see no effect, some see far more, some see it when the capacitor alone is energized (see Woodward’s Mach’s Principle” presentation) but not the piezoelectric force transducer.
    It sounds iffy, too sci-fi and working with forces that seem too weak to move through space, let alone get off the planet. For the foreseeable future we will still be using chemical rockets to get off this rock, the “space elevator” looking like the next most-likely improvement. And once we are in space, there are already several promising engine designs to move us around, even between stars, with several highly-efficient ones proposed and in development. All of which look far closer to reality than Woodward’s concept might ever be.

  84. “Voyager data show that the Fluff is much more strongly magnetized than anyone had previously suspected—between 4 and 5 microgauss*,”
    Actually Van Allen conjectured and Frith 2003 gave us a pretty accurate prediction of this figure.
    Projected disappearance of the 11-year cyclic minimum of galactic cosmic ray intensity in the antapex direction within the outer heliosphere
    James A. Van Allen Bruce A. Randall GRL 2005
    This paper reports observed galactic cosmic ray (GCR) intensity (kinetic energy T > 80 MeV/nucleon) by the University of Iowa instrument on the interplanetary spacecraft Pioneer 10 (P10) for the thirty-year period, 1972–2002, during which it moved outward from 1 to 80 AU heliocentric radial distance (r). The trajectory of P10 since 1976 was in the approximate direction of the solar antapex. Comparable data for nearly the same time period from the Applied Physics Laboratory/Johns Hopkins University instrument on the Earth-orbiting satellite Interplanetary Monitoring Platform – 8 (IMP-8), as corrected (Van Allen and Randall, 1997), have been adopted as the 1 AU reference. An important new finding is that the solar modulation of GCR intensity had dwindled markedly at P10 during the most recent (2001) cyclic intensity minimum at r ∼ 78 AU relative to that at the two previous 11-year cyclic minima in 1981 and 1991. A plausible projection of the trend established by the 1991 and 2001 values of a modulation index predicts the disappearance of direct solar modulation at r = 106 (±10) AU in the antapex direction. A similar finding from Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 data (Webber and Lockwood, 2004a and b) in the approximate apex direction confirms the previously noted absence of a apex/antapex asymmetry (Van Allen and Webber, 2002). Several heuristic comments of a general nature are included.

    in the comments…
    We wish to revive an earlier conjecture [Van Allen
    and Webber, 2002] that unmodulated interstellar GCR may
    have at least partial access to the outer heliosphere along
    lines of force that interconnect the interplanetary magnetic
    field with the magnetic field in the nearby interstellar
    medium. Frisch [2003] adopts B = 5 microgauss as the
    magnetic field strength in the nearby interstellar medium, a
    value that is about an order of magnitude greater than that
    measured by V1 at 75 AU – a remarkable fact, if true, and
    one that may contribute some plausibility to our intercon-
    nection conjecture.

    Very good theoretical prediction by Priscilla

  85. Carl Bussjaeger (11:45:00) :
    “James F. Evans (10:54:59) :
    Why doesn’t the article touch on these known and established principles?”
    That was probably a rhetorical question, but for the sake of folks who may not know I’ll answer: Astronomers gradually built their models before eectricity and plasmas were known. They now have suchge investment in gravity-only models that they are reluctant to admit that the “hot gas” they keep seeing is plasma, because plasma is conductive, which means current can flow, creating magnetic fields orders of magnitude greater in strength than gravity.

    Maybe it is the time for my swallow story again. Half knowledge is an undesirable stage.
    People think that saying: “orders of magnitude larger than gravity” we should be amazed and bow low. Do you know that there are magnetic fields within all solids that are huge, order of magnitude larger than gravity or anything? I know, because I studied a bit on the idea ( of Tom Ypsilantis) of using these fields for a different type of particle accelerator.
    So what if the fields are huge? can one use a crystal to power a car? It is all in the energy and the boundary conditions that have to enter the problem to solve for what is happening in large bodies. It is not enough to have orders of magnitude larger than this or that. It is energy and momentum and angular momentum that determines what the real solutions for given boundary conditions will be.
    That these interstellar plasmas with their magnetic field have tiny energies with respect to the gravitational potential energies, is all one needs to know . The only orthodoxy is energy momentum and angular momentum conservation laws.

  86. No wonder so many people eat up like lemmings the Hansen Gore mishmash, it must be the fluff cloud effect. One thing that may help is to put a small salt nugget in each ear when listening to anyone pushing climate change, aka global warming, and to discredit the lies even more repeatedly say it’s a climate cycle and it’s the sun stupid. That may help others wake up to the lies and if we keep getting hammered with cold and snow we should thank old man winter for a wake up call before the politicos drive us int an economic carbon tax and trade depression.

  87. Bruce Cunningham (19:41:29) :
    “My toolbox at the place where I toil at has a very strong magnet attached to one of my drawers, it sits there day after day defying gravity… Somebody email me please in a thousand years and tell me what happened to my magnet.”
    Forget the magnet, how does your drawer sit there, day after day, defying gravity? If the desk weren’t there, it would fall to the floor. What holds the desk up? Or, the structure upon which it sits? Or, the ground upon which it sits? And, so on. If you work it all through, you will realize your humble magnet’s resistance to gravity is really not particularly remarkable.

  88. If we’re within a cloud of gas, would that not act as a “lens” through which all our observations are made — like looking through a plate of glass? And if so could that distort measurements of red-shifts and the like?

  89. “REPLY: Why does it have to? Science for its own sake is enough don’t you think? – A”
    I would like to see more of this, and other new exciting stuff, than the endless climate wars.

  90. Leif Svalgaard (15:59:44) :
    tallbloke (14:44:45) :
    So this wikipedia entry is incorrect?
    “the electric and magnetic fields are not completely separate phenomena; what one observer perceives as an electric field, another observer in a different frame of reference perceives as a mixture of electric and magnetic fields. For this reason, one speaks of electromagnetism or electromagnetic fields.”
    No, but must be interpreted correctly. The solar wind has a magnetic field B and speed V relative to the Earth, so the Earth sees an electric field E = B x V. An observer moving with the solar wind has V = 0 and thus sees E = 0. The correct statement is that ‘there is no electric field in the rest frame of the solar wind plasma’. So there is no electric current flowing in the solar wind as a result of this zero electric field. This is intuitively trivial to understand: the conductivity is almost infinite [the wind is so thin that a charge has to traverse many millions of km to meet another one]. So, if you had a collection of positive charges at point A and a collection of negative charges at point B, there will be a very strong [10^40 times the strength of gravity] electric field between them and they would attract each other with tremendous force and accelerate towards each other at enormous speed and short out the field.

    Hi Leif, thanks for the informative reply.
    Since some parts of the solar wind are moving faster then other parts due to the solar rotation effect you mentioned, currents will be generated due to the differing relative velocities of the plasmas won’t they?.
    Also, incoming GCR’s are moving in the opposite direction to the solar wind, so won’t they will experience a strong electric field due to the high relative velocity?

  91. Regarding magnetic fields puzzle:
    http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/SSN-GMF.gif
    – Earth magnetic field is contained within magnetosphere; hence can not influence the Sun’s output.
    – Solar wind field is continuously variable in strength and polarity (at the Earth’s orbit, as is direct field of the solar dynamo) to affect strength of the Earth’s dynamo at the North Pole.
    And yet appears that there is some loose ‘correlation’ between two, looks as that the Sun is lagging by about 3-4 cycles, although year 1800 is a big miss.
    If there is some kind of Galactic effect (?!) than the Earth’s mass being smaller would react faster.
    Any ideas? Just coincidence?

  92. Vinny (13:01:52) :
    I’m not a scientist but am fascinated by science. Can anyone discuss what has allowed these two tiny spacecrafts to exceed their life expectancy so spectacularly and when will they enter interstellar space.? Why has the extreme cold not affected their ability to transmit the data we still receive from them.

    They use RTG for power. RTG = Radioisotope Thermal Generator. That’s a politically corrected retronym for what they were originally called – SNAP. That’s System for Nuclear Auxiliary Power.
    How they work is a chunk of some radioactive metal is surrounded by layers of stacked Peltier elements. They’re like the elements used in 12 volt coolers, but operated “backwards” to generate electricity from the temperature differential across them instead of using electricity to create a temperature differential.
    As long as there’s enough radioactive decay going on to keep the core metal above ambient temperature, an RTG will generate some electricity. Once the core temp drops to the same as the space outside, the Voyager probes will be completely dead.
    The Viking landers on Mars used RTGs, which is why one of them so dramatically exceeded its design life. Had the first Mars rover used an RTG it might still be going. (It used a battery pack and didn’t have any way to recharge it. Most expensive RC car ever and a very long trip to Radio Shack for new batteries!)
    RTG’s have been used in terrestrial applications, most notably in some Soviet era lighthouses and remote navigation beacons. Some idiot campers and hunters have died or been severely injured by stripping the shielding from those RTGs and using them instead of a campfire to keep warm.
    American built RTGs are constructed extremely tough. One went into the Atlantic ocean from a failed satellite launch, was recovered, refitted and launched again in the replacement satellite.

  93. Anon (23:40:33) :
    If we’re within a cloud of gas, would that not act as a “lens” through which all our observations are made — like looking through a plate of glass? And if so could that distort measurements of red-shifts and the like?

    “Cloud” may be a good term for astronomers, but it’s still pretty empty out there. This is like you were doing a satellite survey of the surface of an empty parking lot at a mega-mall. Then you find out approximately five pennies have been scattered throughout the area. How much is that going to affect your measurements? And five to a parking lot is actually far denser than this “cloud” really is, plus the instruments being used don’t have the resolution to notice them anyway.
    These particles are out there, but they are pretty much not interacting with anything so we don’t notice them. If we were looking at something at high resolution through a lot of this “cloud space” it might fuzz up the image a bit, but we likely won’t notice it for just about everything.

  94. “No, but must be interpreted correctly. The solar wind has a magnetic field B and speed V relative to the Earth, so the Earth sees an electric field E = B x V.”
    [But] “An observer moving with the solar wind has V = 0 and thus sees E = 0.”
    This sounds a bit like Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment, often described as a paradox: The cat can not be both dead and alive at the same time.
    A physical force is either present or not.
    An electric field is either physically present or not — it can’t be both.
    Positing a physical analysis where a force is either present or not depending on relative motion is a first slippery step into pseudo-science.

  95. James F. Evans (02:56:55) :
    It is evident you have not had much education in physics.
    Special relativity is not quantum mechanics and does not display the ambiguities .
    Actually special relativity transformations are inherent in the theory of Maxwell’s formulation of electromagnetism (Lorenz transforations). The out of the box thinking of Einstein was in extending them to massive objects.
    The electromagnetic field itself, for example the light that you use to read this, has varying electric and magnetic fields as it propagates into space and reaches your eye: the change in the electric field generates a magnetic field ahead which changes and generates an electric field ahead and the light ray travels like a centipede at the speed of light :).
    It is OK not to know physics. One can live one’s whole life without knowing the definitions of force and energy and coordinate systems. What is not OK is to think that one’s ignorance should be imposed on the thinking of others. Like the fox whose tail was cut and wanted to set the fashion of cut tails.
    I

  96. Martin B (12:10:05) :
    “Sure we’ve learned alot from the Voyager probes, and the Pioneer probes before them, but, good God, think of their carbon footprint! Imagine how much carbon-dioxide was released in launching them. The Horror!
    Better if we had never launched them at all. Or any rockets, ever. And that we had ever emerged from our caves”.
    What’s holding you from living in a cave? I’m not stopping you!

  97. Ya, anna, just like the Man-made global warming scientists who tried to impose their pseudo-science on all the rest of us.
    Leaving the science up to the scientists failed humanity.
    Those days are over.
    Better, yet, explain to the readers how Schrödinger’s cat can be both dead and alive at the same time?

  98. >>Kaboom (13:18:30) :
    >>Don’t forget the obscene, war-like message in 55 languages
    >>attached to the Voyager craft, on a 33 1/3 r.pm. phonograph
    >>record (whatever that might be!)
    Que???
    The message says something like “greetings from the people of Earth”. What is your bitch with that?
    My only criticism is that, to make things easier for an alien interpreter, all the messages should have been the same. But they are not. Some languages get two sentences, some just say “shalom”. I’m not sure how Hittite got in there either – not many of those around nowadays.
    http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/languages/background.html

  99. tallbloke (01:02:58) :
    Since some parts of the solar wind are moving faster then other parts due to the solar rotation effect you mentioned, currents will be generated due to the differing relative velocities of the plasmas won’t they?.
    No, because the plasma is not moving across the magnetic field, the latter being frozen into the plasma and moving with it.
    Also, incoming GCR’s are moving in the opposite direction to the solar wind, so won’t they experience a strong electric field due to the high relative velocity?
    The electric field does not arise from particles moving relative to each other, but from charges moving across magnetic field lines. The force on a cosmic ray proton is F = q(E + v x B). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorentz_force . Since E is zero in space plasmas, the magnetic field B will deflect the cosmic ray [part of the modulation process].
    vukcevic (01:13:11) :
    And yet appears that there is some loose ‘correlation’ between two, looks as that the Sun is lagging by about 3-4 cycles
    The solar dynamo does not have any influence on the Earth’s dynamo [the ‘North Pole’ bit is just nonsense] so no ideas are needed.
    James F. Evans (02:56:55) :
    An electric field is either physically present or not — it can’t be both.
    The field depends on the frame of reference so can be both present and not depending on the frame. For more:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moving_magnet_and_conductor_problem
    Positing a physical analysis where a force is either present or not depending on relative motion is a first slippery step into pseudo-science.
    pseudo-science depends on the [often willful] ignorance of its believers.

  100. par5 (00:18:35) :
    “REPLY: Why does it have to? Science for its own sake is enough don’t you think? – A”
    I would like to see more of this, and other new exciting stuff, than the endless climate wars.

    Read these articles:
    http://www.biocab.org/Cosmic_Rays_Graph.html
    http://www.biocab.org/Coplanarity_Solar_System_and_Galaxy.html
    The next graph shows the correlation between ICR and variability of temperature:
    http://www.biocab.org/Anomaly_ICR_and_Change_T.jpg
    |

  101. Leif Svalgaard (08:28:19) :
    vukcevic (01:13:11) :
    “….The solar dynamo does not have any influence on the Earth’s dynamo [the ‘North Pole’ bit is just nonsense] so no ideas are needed”.
    I think I knew that (did not experience an Earth’s MF reversal, but did few solar ones), there is always a remote possibility of a common cause.
    If man declared many of natural riddles ‘nonsense’, the humanity would not be what it is; individuals’ curiosity and enterprise are forces moving us forward!
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LOD-GMF.gif
    http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/SSN-GMF.gif
    I hope you had good Christmas, the season of good will to all.

  102. vukcevic (09:27:44) :
    there is always a remote possibility of a common cause.
    There is some loose ‘correlation’ between the emotional agitation of inmates of lunatic asylums and crossing of the heliospheric current sheet two days later. There is always a remote possibility of a common cause, but this subject is generally not seen as worthy of pursuit. The notion that progress is brought about by treating all wild ideas on an equal footing is not part of the scientific method and cannot be taken as a priori justification for pursuing such ideas. There are well-established ways of separating the wheat from the chaff. Of course, if one is peddling chaff, those methods are discarded out of hand. I can understand that, and that is quite OK as amusement as long as you know it is chaff.

  103. James F. Evans (07:41:35) :
    Ya, anna, just like the Man-made global warming scientists who tried to impose their pseudo-science on all the rest of us.
    Leaving the science up to the scientists failed humanity.
    Those days are over.
    Better, yet, explain to the readers how Schrödinger’s cat can be both dead and alive at the same time?

    If you want those days to be over, then everybody has to study science to the level of Maxwell’s and Schrodinger’s equations and get at least a C+.
    Paradoxes arise when there is confusion between different systems of describing the world.
    Quantum mechanics mainly describes well the microcosm which is dominated by the size of hbar, i.e. small numbers . The exception is coherent states, like crystals, superconductivity etc, where macroscopic quantum mechanical effects can manifest.
    A cat is neather crystal not coherent in any mathematical way and cannot be described by a pure quantum mechanical state function. i.e. you cannot write a quantum mechanical formula for the probability of seeing a cat or not.
    The paradox of Schrodinger’s cat comes about because of the mixing of philosophical concepts ( a different system of describing the world) and quantum mechanical concepts.
    It is an analogy which is vaguely connected to what happens in the microcosm, where truly experiments have proven that an electron, for example, is both a wave and a particle, and before you do the two slit experiment you cannot know from which slit it will pass or whether it will pass through both ( which is what the experiment shows).
    By your logic, society, instead of adopting the heliocentric system, when it was proven that the geocentric one was wrong, should have rejected all astronomy and science of the time.

  104. Leif Svalgaard (09:42:57) :
    “There is some loose ‘correlation’ between the emotional agitation of inmates of lunatic asylums and crossing of the heliospheric current sheet two days later.”
    Your idea of lunatics’ agitation by solar events could be of some interest to psychiatrists (classic opinion relates it to the Moon cycle– russian ‘Luna’).
    The prettier half of humanity is also thought to suffer from Luna related cyclomania; perhaps this also could be related to the 27 days and 43 min “heartbeat” of the Sun, which Dr. Jane Feynman announced at her pres conference on February 1, 2000.
    She however, omitted to tacknowledge hat two brilliant solar scientist from the Institute for Plasma Research, some quarter of century earlier, discovered and graphically recorded the same “heartbeat” of the Sun:
    latest:
    2009 11 21 2406 XXX……..*..*XXXX*XX.XXXX
    2009 12 18 2407 *XX…….

  105. Gregg E;
    Thank you from taking the time to explain voyagers electrical system in an understandable way. I don’t profess to understand what the heck everyone is saying but you can pick up pieces to understand some of it any way.
    Thanks again for your help.

  106. Leif Svalgaard (08:28:19) :
    tallbloke (01:02:58) :
    Since some parts of the solar wind are moving faster then other parts due to the solar rotation effect you mentioned, currents will be generated due to the differing relative velocities of the plasmas won’t they?.
    No, because the plasma is not moving across the magnetic field, the latter being frozen into the plasma and moving with it.

    Thanks for your patience. What I’m trying to understand is how this fits with your earlier comments about fast solar wind from coronal holes catching up with slow moving solar wind, slamming into it from behind, and causing a pile up wherein the magnetic field lines get all tangled up and form a ‘mirror’ which deflects incoming GCR’s.
    If the magnetic fields of these different velocity plasmas get tangled up and force each other around, that’s going to generate quite big perturbance in the electric field isn’t it?

  107. tallbloke (11:15:20) :
    If the magnetic fields of these different velocity plasmas get tangled up and force each other around, that’s going to generate quite big perturbance in the electric field isn’t it?
    Your fundamental problem is not to understand [in spite of my hundreds of posts] that there can be no electric fields in a plasma except in situations where [for very brief periods] the magnetic field is changing rapidly due to movements of the plasma. In such situations, the electric fields are almost instantly shorted out in an explosion [solar flare, aurora, magnetic storms, etc]. Such reconnection events do not happen often in deep space and when they do there are not enough particles around to create much of an explosion.

  108. vukcevic (10:45:43) :
    Leif Svalgaard (09:42:57) :
    “There is some loose ‘correlation’ between the emotional agitation of inmates of lunatic asylums and crossing of the heliospheric current sheet two days later.”
    Your idea of lunatics’ agitation by solar events could be of …

    You got it backwards. Because of the delay, it must be the lunatics causing the HCS crossing. I actually once [in 1976] visited such a place [in the USSR] and was shown some charts purported to prove this. Same story: “If man declared many of natural riddles ‘nonsense’, the humanity would not be what it is; individuals’ curiosity and enterprise are forces moving us forward!”

  109. @kadaka
    I know it is a longshot, but it could work.
    Obviously they need more experiments and tests. Given they are working on a shoe-string budget and on spare time I don’t expect they will come up with something in a short time. Anyway, the theory was published in peer review journals a decade ago and the mathematics is pretty solid.
    Professor March is very prudent on the claims and have stated that, albeit sure to be right he understand that the great majority will be only convinced by a self-contained drive able to float in the air.
    If the Mach Principle is real and an EM drive can be built it will need new materials for the capacitor to work consistently and don’t break after minutes or hours.
    http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/09/mach-effect-interview-with-paul-march.html
    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=13020.660
    http://www.talk-polywell.org/bb/viewtopic.php?t=1488
    I suppose you know the of Clarke first Law:
    When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
    Arthur C. Clarke, Clarke’s first law
    I hope with the demise of the AGW a few millions will be redirected to funding this and other similar research projects.

  110. James F. Evans (02:56:55) :
    “Positing a physical analysis where a force is either present or not depending on relative motion is a first slippery step into pseudo-science.”
    It can when the force is explicitly dependent on the relative motion. And, saying “where a force is either present or not” suggests some sort of discontinuous change, which would indeed be bizarre. But, the force is proportional to relative velocity, so it is a smooth and continuous function of it.
    The Lorentz force equation is F = q*(E + V X B). To an observer moving with the charge q, there is no relative motion, and the V X B term, where V is the relative velocity of B, is effectively an electric field. It’s all a matter of semantics.
    “Leaving the science up to the scientists failed humanity.”
    I understand your frustration, but as in most things in this world, it is not either/or. There is an ideal of Science, and then there is science as practiced by humans. But, just because the latter is imperfect, one cannot deny the great strides made by scientists in general. ‘Trust but verify’ is always a prudent policy in any dealings with humankind.

  111. anna v (10:27:07) :
    “…an electron, for example, is both a wave and a particle…”
    No, it is a particle which moves with apparent wavelike properties in common experience, just like photons. See here.

    I want to emphasize that light comes in this form – particles. It is very important to know that light behaves like particles, especially for those of you who have gone to school, where you were probably told something about light behaving like waves. I’m telling you the way it does behave – like particles.

  112. Leif Svalgaard (11:31:17) :
    Such reconnection events do not happen often in deep space and when they do there are not enough particles around to create much of an explosion.

    Coronal holes are quite long lived, so there will be a continuous stream of faster particles heading out in a spiral from the sun to the heliopause. This radiating spiral will be continuously moving through the field of slower moving particles.
    Suppose the fast wind is at 600kmh. In 27.4 days, the next wave of fast wind sets off from the sun. The previous wind of the spiral will be ~400,000Km ahead of it, which is around the distance from the Earth to it’s moon, or 30 Earth diameters.
    Co-incidentally, someone on this blog posed a link to raw UAH data a while back which showed curious 0.2-0.4C fluctuations in global air temperature on timescales which varied from around 20 days to a month or so.
    Hmmmm.

  113. Nasif Nahle (10:52:05) :
    larger changes, i.e. the Maunder Minimum, have without doubt measurable fluctuations in the geomagnetic field.
    Your language is so imprecise that it almost does not carry information, and what it says is incorrect. The geomagnetic field as measured at the surface has an internal part [99% or larger] and a tiny external part. The latter derives its variability from the Sun [and a very small part from the Moon – tidal action]. This part varies less when solar activity is low.

  114. Leif Svalgaard (11:40:39) :
    “…….I actually once [in 1976] visited such a place [in the USSR] and was shown some charts purported to prove this.”
    I was to go in the summer of 68 (to CCCP, I meant), but Czechoslovakia happen.
    Did you miss this link:
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LOD-GMF.gif
    (tallbloke might comment) or just another coincidence?
    In the literature man following his imagination is a poet or novelist; in the science he is a lunatic.
    I like quote from
    Mirco (11:56:24) :
    “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”
    Arthur C. Clarke, Clarke’s first law. “

  115. tallbloke (13:14:04) :
    Coronal holes are quite long lived, so there will be a continuous stream of faster particles heading out in a spiral from the sun to the heliopause.
    No, the solar wind moves out radially. The spiral is an illusion, just like the seeming spiral of water drops from a rotating lawn sprinkler.
    This radiating spiral will be continuously moving through the field of slower moving particles.
    No, the faster particles does not move ‘through’ the slower ones, but scoops them up into a compression region. Imagine you had a throng of people complete covering a street [like during a demonstration]. Now, imagine the riot police charging the folks and with their shields pressing the crowd back. At the interface between the demonstrators and the police, the density of people will be high: this is the compression region. The magnetic field acts as the shields preventing the two regions from interpenetrate.
    Suppose the fast wind is at 600kmh. In 27.4 days, the next wave of fast wind sets off from the sun. The previous wind of the spiral will be ~400,000Km ahead of it, which is around the distance from the Earth to it’s moon, or 30 Earth diameters.
    No, the distance between the ‘waves’ will be 600 km*24(hours)*3600[secs)*25(days) = 1.3 billion km = 9 AU. Since there often are 4 high speed streams per solar rotation, the distance between compression regions will be 9/4 = 2 AU. If the the heliopause is 80 AU distant, there will be 80/2 = 40 such ‘mirrors’ between the Sun and an incoming cosmic ray.

  116. tallbloke (13:14:04) :
    This radiating spiral will be continuously moving through the field of slower moving particles.
    Think about it [for a change 🙂 ]. If the streams were moving in a spiral, each stream on its own spiral, they wouldn’t collide and there would be no compression regions. The compression comes about because the wind moves out radially so that in the same direction you have wind with different speeds.

  117. Nasif Nahle (10:52:05) :
    “http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LOD-GMF.gif
    http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/SSN-GMF.gif
    From your graphs one can deduce that small changes in sunspots number have imperceptible effects in the geomagnetic field, present over there, however; larger changes, i.e. the Maunder Minimum, have without doubt measurable fluctuations in the geomagnetic field.”
    The changes in the GMF cannot be possibly caused directly by the solar activity, they far to great, measured in 1000s of nanoTesla, while solar storms at E’s up to 100 or less, and last a day or two. Solar MF changes polarity far too frequently so cumulative effect would be zero, and as I mentioned, the GMF changes precede the solar ones. Good doc S. say it is ‘nonsense’ (I am half convinced it is coincidence), but again LOD appears to follow similar pattern.
    May be it is ‘fluffy cloud’ after all

  118. WOW!
    Thanx Anthony. We get to see world class scientists discussing science, all because of one post. Simply mind boggling this thing we call the internet.
    A big thanx to all you scientists who have taken the time to come here and fill my life, once again, with childlike wonder!
    WOW!

  119. vukcevic (13:33:46) :
    Did you miss this link:
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LOD-GMF.gif

    I normally don’t look at your links [ 🙂 ], but apart from the cherry picking of the location and the fact that lately the two curves diverge, it is quite possible that the LOD is influenced by the same movements inside the Earth that are driving the geomagnetic dynamo.
    Mirco (11:56:24)
    There is a difference between being wrong [impossible] and spewing nonsense [‘not even wrong’].

  120. @Mirco (11:56:24) :
    You have to watch the interpretation of that law. Sure, as technology moves onward practically anything is possible. Science, from a practical standpoint, is about learning what we don’t know, and there is certainly enough of that to keep humanity occupied for centuries to come.
    But while it may be possible to have interstellar drives that move us around relatively quickly, nothing says this “Woodward effect” will be used in any of them. Even if it is proven to exist, it might also be shown to be something that comes from something larger, from grander theories that incorporate these observations. And there is still the energy cost to figure in. If it takes much more energy to run a Mach-Lorentz thruster than it does to simply chuck mass out the back, we will be chucking mass.
    Stating something is absolutely impossible is always questionable, seems likely it will be figured out how to do it someday. You better have some hard research to back that up. Stating something is possible is stating a natural given, whether you are a distinguished but elderly scientist or not. But while you can state an object or action may be possible, there are no guarantees it has to work by a specific principle, or be a specific sort of a more general classification. Interstellar drives? Already have them. Ones as discussed using the discussed principles, let alone practical ones that can be efficiently deployed? Absolutely impossible, currently not, but very much looking very very unlikely.

  121. Leif Svalgaard (13:43:54) :
    “The spiral is an illusion, just like the seeming spiral of water drops from a rotating lawn sprinkler.”
    I’m not taking sides here, just want to point out that the water drops from a rotating lawn sprinkler do have tangential, as well as radial, momentum. It’s not the same for photons, except for some small frame dragging effect, since their radial momentum is so much greater than that which could be imparted tangentially.

  122. “ralph (07:43:15) :
    >>Kaboom (13:18:30) :
    >>Don’t forget the obscene, war-like message in 55 languages
    >>attached to the Voyager craft, on a 33 1/3 r.pm. phonograph
    >>record (whatever that might be!)
    Que???
    The message says something like “greetings from the people of Earth”. What is your bitch with that?”

    Well, Ralph, the problem is firstly the pictorial of the man and woman holding up their right hand in greeting. This has been interpreted by the Qxxku people as the most obscene gesture possible, a sort of visual “Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!”, together with some physically unlikely sexual connotations.
    Secondly, many inter-stellar races (such as the K’K’Kulla) have interpreted the word “Greetings!” as meaning “We are declaring war upon your puny planet. Prepare to die!”
    As you can see, a diplomatic nightmare. That’s my “bitch”.

  123. Richard: “We sure got our moneys worth with those two Voyager satellites. They don’t make them any more like that!”
    Yeah! And they get about 20 million miles per gallon!

  124. Leif Svalgaard (13:43:54) :
    tallbloke (13:14:04) :
    Suppose the fast wind is at 600kmh. In 27.4 days, the next wave of fast wind sets off from the sun. The previous wind of the spiral will be ~400,000Km ahead of it, which is around the distance from the Earth to it’s moon, or 30 Earth diameters.
    ~
    No, the distance between the ‘waves’ will be 600 km*24(hours)*3600[secs)*25(days) = 1.3 billion km = 9 AU. Since there often are 4 high speed streams per solar rotation, the distance between compression regions will be 9/4 = 2 AU. If the the heliopause is 80 AU distant, there will be 80/2 = 40 such ‘mirrors’ between the Sun and an incoming cosmic ray.
    Thank you for the reply Leif.
    Tallbloke, a couple of links you may be interested in of the IMF in the ecliptic plane.
    http://gse.gi.alaska.edu/recent/javascript_movie.html
    http://gse.gi.alaska.edu/recent/ecimf.html
    vukcevic (13:51:45) :
    The changes in the GMF cannot be possibly caused directly by the solar activity, they far to great, measured in 1000s of nanoTesla, while solar storms at E’s up to 100 or less, and last a day or two. Solar MF changes polarity far too frequently so cumulative effect would be zero, and as I mentioned, the GMF changes precede the solar ones. Good doc S. say it is ‘nonsense’ (I am half convinced it is coincidence), but again LOD appears to follow similar pattern.
    May be it is ‘fluffy cloud’ after all
    ~
    Could be some other indictators (2) big ones that I am thinking of, that are implicating “fluffy” as well. I’m going to try to keep my foot out of mouth now, so don’t ask.

  125. Tallbloke, one more link for you.
    Links to the movie of IMF in the ecliptic for Oct. 2003 when multiple solar events were occurring. Pretty cool to compare the then and now. You can see, I think the compression Leif was talking about.
    http://gse.gi.alaska.edu/index.html
    Forecasts during the Halloween Events period:
    Real-time forecast of ecliptic plane IMF during the October, 2003 swarm of solar events:
    AVI zipped movie: 10 AU (6-hr time step, includes locations of Ulysses and Cassini spacecraft)

  126. LOL: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
    Arthur C. Clarke, Clarke’s first law

    The fact is the majority here are elderly…

  127. The only way to arrive at a new port is to leave the port where our boat is anchored. It is a method. BTW: The electrical theory has to its favor that it can be tested in the lab.

  128. vukcevic (13:51:45) :
    Nasif Nahle (10:52:05) :
    “http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LOD-GMF.gif
    http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/SSN-GMF.gif
    From your graphs one can deduce that small changes in sunspots number have imperceptible effects in the geomagnetic field, present over there, however; larger changes, i.e. the Maunder Minimum, have without doubt measurable fluctuations in the geomagnetic field.”
    The changes in the GMF cannot be possibly caused directly by the solar activity, they far to great, measured in 1000s of nanoTesla, while solar storms at E’s up to 100 or less, and last a day or two. Solar MF changes polarity far too frequently so cumulative effect would be zero, and as I mentioned, the GMF changes precede the solar ones. Good doc S. say it is ‘nonsense’ (I am half convinced it is coincidence), but again LOD appears to follow similar pattern. May be it is ‘fluffy cloud’ after all

    I’m thinking in another possibility; I don’t know what you would opine if I derive a common origin for both fluctuations, SMF and GMF. I supposse the GMF is more affected than SMF. Perhaps that “fluffy cloud” is behind both oscillations? Could it be possible?

  129. Nasif Nahle (08:34:06) :
    Interesting graph about the relation between ICR and variability of temperature, it proves temperature it is a result of the interaction, and just one of the many interactions between cosmos and earth. CO2 is part of life, and life the way nature has to overcome entropy.

  130. Bart (14:37:34) :
    just want to point out that the water drops from a rotating lawn sprinkler do have tangential, as well as radial, momentum.
    But once they have left the sprinkler, they don’t continue to curve in a spiral. The spiral effect comes from the sprinkler head rotating.
    It’s not the same for photons
    The solar wind is not photons, but protons [and they also have a small tangential component] so obey the same rule as the water droplets.

  131. Quote:”It’s about 30 light years wide and contains a wispy mixture of hydrogen and helium atoms at a temperature of 6000 C.”
    Having worked with a Inert Gas Plasma Generator in a laboratory setting, and having experience with the noble gases Argon (Ar) and Helium (He), I can tell you that in addition to generating its own light, that Helium in plasma form DOES partially occlude visible light. In the Plasma Generator, the inert gas is electromagnetically excited inside a clear quartz glass chamber at high vacuum, typically less than 100 millitorr. I have no experience with hydrogen in that respect. It’s interesting that nobody seems to be talking about the possible effect that this interstellar cloud may have on the level of solar irradiance that will reach the earth and other planets, once the cloud moves between us and the sun, if not already.
    And I was always taught in school that outer space is a vacuum!

  132. 30 years and still operating. I wish I could get that sort of life out of my batteries, but you get what you pay for I suppose. Alternatively, alien life forms have destroyed the Voyagers and replaced the signals with their own, which are sending misinformation to distract us from CO2. Al Gore would be fully supportive of this theory.

  133. Bart (13:01:02) :
    anna v (10:27:07) :
    “…an electron, for example, is both a wave and a particle…”
    No, it is a particle which moves with apparent wavelike properties in common experience, just like photons.

    We knew about particles from the days of Demokritos and the atom.
    We studied light after the enlightenment as first, rays, and then waves with the brilliant theories of Maxwell.
    It is quantum mechanics that tied up the two formulations for photons/electromagnetic-waves and posited that depending on the experiment electromagnetism manifested as particles or waves, and the same with quantum mechanics which dictated experiments that showed that particles could manifest as waves, depending on the experiment.
    Actually the cat in the box analogue was generated to demonstrate that unless one did an experiment ( observed) one did not know if it would manifest as a particle or a wave: all matter, photons and electrons and….
    Even the word “photon” to describe an electromagnetic transfer of energy was invented when the photoelectric effect was observed in the beginning of the twentieth century.

  134. Leif Svalgaard (13:43:54) :
    The spiral is an illusion, just like the seeming spiral of water drops from a rotating lawn sprinkler.

    True, but the next water drop leaves the sprinkler head just after the previous one, so the effect is like a wavefront of faster moving particles which will form a spiral leaving the sun. Not that it matters much fo Earth, since it is in a ‘line of sight’ to the sun and will collect a cross section of this succession of ‘peaks and troughs’.
    The faster particles does not move ‘through’ the slower ones, but scoops them up into a compression region. The magnetic field acts as the shields preventing the two regions from interpenetrate.
    Hence the tangling and mirror forming as the magnetic fields jumble at the interface. Thanks, I have a better visualisation of this process now.
    The distance between the ‘waves’ will be 600 km*24(hours)*3600[secs)*25(days) = 1.3 billion km = 9 AU. Since there often are 4 high speed streams per solar rotation, the distance between compression regions will be 9/4 = 2 AU. If the the heliopause is 80 AU distant, there will be 80/2 = 40 such ‘mirrors’ between the Sun and an incoming cosmic ray.
    Ah yes, I was thinking Km/h instead of Km/s. So we would have these successive waves of compression/rarefaction washing past us on a frequency of around 68 hours if I got my sums right this time :o)

  135. Carla (17:48:51) :
    Tallbloke, one more link for you.
    Links to the movie of IMF in the ecliptic for Oct. 2003 when multiple solar events were occurring. Pretty cool to compare the then and now. You can see, I think the compression Leif was talking about.
    http://gse.gi.alaska.edu/index.html
    Forecasts during the Halloween Events period:
    Real-time forecast of ecliptic plane IMF during the October, 2003 swarm of solar events:
    AVI zipped movie: 10 AU (6-hr time step, includes locations of Ulysses and Cassini spacecraft)

    Fascinating animations, thanks for the links.
    I enjoyed the U2 as well. Cheers.

  136. Leif Svalgaard (14:12:46) :
    “I normally don’t look at your links [ 🙂 ], but apart from the cherry picking of the location and the fact that lately the two curves diverge, it is quite possible that the LOD is influenced by the same movements inside the Earth that are driving the geomagnetic dynamo.”
    That is probably why you may have declared the obvious as ‘nonsense’.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/SSN-GMF.gif
    You already (as some other prominent scientists of the past) have used the ‘East component’ of the GMF as a reliable pointer of the solar activity in past, so the link may not be that tenuous or even less a ‘nonsense’, it would be fine if you declare it ‘coincidence’ for time being.
    Temporary divergence for LOD has happened before (1990) possibly due to ‘inertia’ within the different layers within the terrestrial ‘spin dryer’.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LOD-GMF.gif
    but trend was re-established.
    The Earth’s magnetic field still has many secrets. ‘Cherry picking’ is not, geographically there are only two main references, N and S poles.
    Two poles are behaving in somewhat different manner. Amplitude oscillations in the South have been largely negligible, with a steady decline in the total intensity. I put this down to huge and constant Circumpolar Current, maintaining stability, via negative feedback, result: far less likely to be shaken by the external input. North has numbers of small gyres but they not particularly effective. Rise in the central Siberian pole during the last 200 years and corresponding weakness in the Hudson Bay’s pole adds to complexity of the North’s GMF behaviour.
    To stray away from matters terrestrial, here is what doc Hathaway had to say before he got tangled into SC24 forecasting:
    “When we apply the theory and scaling parameters for the reversal period of the magnetic field of the Sun to Jupiter and Saturn, we derive an estimate for the time interval between magnetic reversals to be on the order of centuries. This time scale is consistent with observed changes in Jupiter’s magnetic field over the last 2 decades.”
    Man is obviously talking ‘nonsense’, how possibly could solar activity have 105-7 year cycle, unless there is some kind of electro-magnetic (not to be confused with electromagnetic) feedback loop as proposed by elements of the lunatic fringe.

  137. Nasif Nahle (18:17:09) :
    Galaxy is something I used to marvel about in my childhood, now even nearer home is a big enigma, at least for me, currently I am down to earth, mystified by Nastapoka, an obscure area of the North East Canada.
    Carla (17:31:55) :
    “Could be some other indictators (2) big ones that I am thinking of, that are implicating “fluffy” as well. I’m going to try to keep my foot out of mouth now, so don’t ask.”
    I have already done it by quoting dr. Hathaway [ vukcevic (02:00:26): ], still look regularly at your posts elsewhere, e.g. ‘fluffy clouds’.
    tallbloke (23:18:27) :
    Thanks for the invite, I will look in.

  138. vukcevic (02:00:26) :
    You already (as some other prominent scientists of the past) have used the ‘East component’ of the GMF as a reliable pointer of the solar activity in past, so the link may not be that tenuous or even less a ‘nonsense’, it would be fine if you declare it ‘coincidence’ for time being.
    What makes it nonsense is that the GMF as observed consists of two parts, an internal part [which you have plotted] that is 99% to 99.9% of the whole, and a tiny external part which is controlled by the Sun. We don’t use the East Component as a measure of solar activity, but the tiny solar-caused variation that sits on top of the internal part.
    The scaling law makes sense because the same process [dynamo] is generating the fields, but this does not mean that one internal field is controlled by another. Your arguments remind me of Voltaire’s proof that you are a stone: “a stone cannot fly, you cannot fly, ergo you are a stone”. It is a pity for the scientific integrity of this blog that it be marred by your nonsense.

  139. Leif Svalgaard (05:50:03) :
    “…..The scaling law makes sense because…..”
    Thanks for the guidance, which I do appreciate.
    It may be time for me to take a very long New Year break from the matters solar.
    To Anthony, the moderators, the other contributors and readers and especially to you to be a VERY HAPPY YEAR.

  140. Pascvaks (07:28:37) :
    When all that is knowable is known there will still be one question, “Why?”
    When lightning hits a tree in the forest, there is no “Why?”, so ‘whys’ are not needed.

  141. Leif Svalgaard (19:14:57) :
    “But once they have left the sprinkler, they don’t continue to curve in a spiral. The spiral effect comes from the sprinkler head rotating.”
    True enough. I was just pointing out that the momentum is not radially directed. Why I was pointing this out, I’m not sure. It was late and I was getting a little punchy.
    anna v (21:55:58) :
    The old “wave-particle” duality is a relic of pre-QED quantum physics. I highly recommend Feynman’s book to which I linked.

  142. Bart (08:04:51) :
    I was just pointing out that the momentum is not radially directed. Why I was pointing this out, I’m not sure. It was late and I was getting a little punchy.
    The solar wind has a very small transverse component [due to solar rotation], but is essentially radial because once it has left the inner corona, the wind is continually accelerated outwards. All analogies eventually fail when we come to the fine print 🙂

  143. “…the [solar] wind is continually accelerated outwards.”
    What causes the continual acceleration of the charged particles in the solar wind?
    Hmmm?
    Well, Science does know an electric field causes charged particle acceleration.

  144. James F. Evans (09:22:59) :
    What causes the continual acceleration of the charged particles in the solar wind?
    The solar wind accelerates because it is being heated and [somewhat counter-intuitively] because its outflow is being restricted by gravity [see deLaval nozzle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Laval_nozzle ].
    Well, Science does know an electric field causes charged particle acceleration.
    solar wind expansion has nothing to do with electric fields [which BTW can’t exist in a space plasma, as you have been told numerous times].

  145. Leif Svalgaard (07:44:47) :
    Pascvaks (07:28:37) :
    When all that is knowable is known there will still be one question, “Why?”
    When lightning hits a tree in the forest, there is no “Why?”, so ‘whys’ are not needed.

    Why?
    A one word question gets a one word answer:
    Because.

  146. Bruce Cunningham (19:41:29) :
    So the science is settled after all, just like Enstien he could never reconcile the so-called unified field theory. While differintial equations get us closer and closer there is always the very small possibility that things will go awry as time extends out. My fascination has always been, how does magnatism work and why is it always there. My toolbox at the place where I toil at has a very strong magnet attached to one of my drawers, it sits there day after day defying gravity. I would assume after a few thouand years my humble toolbox and its contents will return to the earth, Somebody email me please in a thousand years and tell me what happened to my magnet.
    This Bruce Cunningham has no magnets on a toolbox drawer where I work. The toolbox I use at work has only computer programs such as Mathcad, Nastran, etc. And I know how to spell differential equations and magnetism, among other things.

  147. Leif Svalgaard (09:30:34) :
    solar wind expansion has nothing to do with electric fields [which BTW can’t exist in a space plasma, as you have been told numerous times].
    Electric fields in space plasma are currently being studied.
    http://ham.space.umn.edu/efasc.html

    The primary role of the EFI (from the EFASC instrument suite), which involves a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and a number of other institutions, will be to measure the electric fields from various space plasma phenomena.

    Electric fields DO exist in space plasmas, as you have been told numerous times, and they are being studied right now.
    Catch up, man. You sit there and belittle anyone who mentions electric fields in space plasmas, while there is a specific area of research devoted to those very same electric fields you say don’t exist in space. WUWT?
    Even with “current free” double layers between two different (density and/or temp) plasma regions, an electric field will develop at the boundary.

    In the end, the electric field builds up until the fluxes of electrons in either direction are equal, and further charge build up in the two plasmas is prevented. The potential drop is in fact exactly equal to the difference in thermal energy between the two plasma regions in this case, so such a double layer is a marginally strong double layer.

    Don’t so called anomalous cosmic rays originate in the heliosheath? Might the causation be an electric field in what is actually a plasma double layer that we call the heliosheath?

  148. …Astronomers call the cloud we’re running into now the Local Interstellar Cloud or “Local Fluff” for short. It’s about 30 light years wide and contains a wispy mixture of hydrogen and helium atoms at a temperature of 6000 C. The existential mystery of the Fluff has to do with its surroundings. About 10 million years ago, a cluster of supernovas exploded nearby, creating a giant bubble of million-degree gas. The Fluff is completely surrounded by this high-pressure supernova exhaust and should be crushed or dispersed by it.
    “The observed temperature and density of the local cloud do not provide enough pressure to resist the ‘crushing action’ of the hot gas around it,” says Opher.
    So how does the Fluff survive? The Voyagers have found an answer.
    “Voyager data show that the Fluff is much more strongly magnetized than anyone had previously suspected—between 4 and 5 microgauss*,” says Opher. “This magnetic field can provide the extra pressure required to resist destruction.”
    ~
    Opher’s statement, “This magnetic field can provide the extra pressure required to resist destruction.”
    Well seems now I have a little confusion about that statement. (what’s life without some confusion heh, life goes on and time goes by)

  149. solrey (12:05:55) :
    Electric fields in space plasma are currently being studied.
    Even with “current free” double layers between two different (density and/or temp) plasma regions, an electric field will develop at the boundary.

    As I have said many times, electric fields can build up as the result of conductors moving across magnetic fields and are results of plasma movements, not causes of them. The energy is in the magnetic field and in the bulk movements of the plasma, not in the electric fields. Characteristic for pseudo-science is that there is a grain of truth in it, being misappropriated.
    The issue is what causes what. Almost all interesting phenomena in plasmas are caused by electric currents, as I have said so many times. The electric fields driving these currents are generated locally and are not large-scale, long-lived properties of the plasma.

  150. Leif (05:50:03): “Your arguments remind me of Voltaire’s proof that you are a stone: “a stone cannot fly, you cannot fly, ergo you are a stone”.
    Is that Voltaire? I thought it was my countryman – and your excountryman – Ludvig Holberg. He lets his main character Erasmus Montanus, alias Rasmus Berg, use this line of argument to mock or impress the simple people of his village as he returns from studies in Copenhagen. Erasmus Montanus is a brilliant comedy from 1731:
    http://www2.kb.dk/elib/lit//dan/holberg/komedier/erasmus.dkl/a2.htm

  151. Leif Svalgaard (10:22:48) :
    tallbloke (10:14:46) :
    Why?
    A one word question gets a one word answer:
    Because.
    Which are both meaningless in this context.

    I for one share your optimism for human knowledge Leif. If we stay sharp and keep learning, we’ll find out more than we already have.

  152. Niels A Nielsen (12:49:23) :
    Is that Voltaire? I thought it was my countryman – and your excountryman – Ludvig Holberg.
    It was Holberg, you are right. Wasn’t Holberg called the ‘Danish Voltaire’? incorporating many of the same ‘tricks’ and style in his plays as Voltaire. In any event, let’s give credit where credit is due.

  153. Its very obvious that the level of solar understanding is weak and that no particular stream can claim the “science is settled”.
    There is a long way to go before we discover the actual driver/s of the Sun and our climate, it is indeed a most interesting time to be alive.

  154. Dr. Svalgaard: “The solar wind accelerates because it is being heated and [somewhat counter-intuitively] because its outflow is being restricted by gravity [see deLaval nozzle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Laval_nozzle ].”
    The solar wind is being “heated” continually beyond the corona?
    The “heating” hypothesis has been generally discredited by falsifying observations & measurements. So, no, that argument doesn’t work.
    But if there is a recent scientific paper (within the last decade) that makes such a claim, I’m open to reading it.
    Now, the Sun’s gravity does drop off the farther away from the Sun, which might allow for acceleration of solar wind, but likely that doesn’t account for the amount of acceleration observed & measured. But if there is a scientific paper that makes such a claim, I’m open to read it.
    As for the de Laval nozzle hypothesis, where is the equivalent location distant from the surface of the Sun where this analogous de Laval nozzle structure is present?
    If the equivalent of the de Laval nozzle is located somewhere in the vicinity of the corona (even at the outward edge of the corona) there is acceleration at the point of the nozzle, but the velocity quickly falls off after the gas leaves the nozzle (this is not analogous to the behavior of the solar wind).
    See diagram in the link below from de Laval nozzle Wikipedia entry cited above:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nozzle_de_Laval_diagram.svg
    What physical conditions or structure in the solar wind has an analogous structure to a de Laval nozzle? Have there been any specific observations & measurements that support this hypothesis?
    Again, I’m open to reading a scientific paper that makes such a claim, but without a scientific paper supporting the contention, it comes across as a mere hypothesis or worse, simple speculation.
    Dr. Svalgaard: “…electric fields [which BTW can’t exist in a space plasma, as you have been told numerous times].”
    Actually, Dr. Svalgaard has previously acknowledged the presence of electric fields in space plasma.
    Dr. Svalgaard: “Electric currents are the cause of all interesting phenomena involving plasmas and are created locally by movement of said plasma across an existing magnetic field.”
    Dr. Svalgaard: “…there can be no electric fields in a plasma except in situations where [for very brief periods] the magnetic field is changing rapidly due to movements of the plasma…In such situations, the electric fields are almost instantly shorted out in an explosion [solar flare, aurora, magnetic storms, etc].”
    Dr. Svalgaard contradicts himself and I suggest there are Electric Double Layers, aka “magnetic reconnection” (a source of electric currents in space plasma that Dr. Svalgaard previously specifically acknowledged), that while unstable, therefore, not long lasting (electrical phenomena are subject to instabilities), I suggest in certain circumstances and physical conditions are more long lasting than Dr. Svalgaard is willing to admit.
    There have been electric fields observed & measured in the solar wind, the current sheet within the solar wind has been observed & measured to have an electric field and Electric Double layers have been observed & measured in the solar wind.
    “Field line merging at the heliospheric current sheet (HCS) and the resulting disconnection of heliospheric magnetic field (HMF) lines from the Sun, has been controversial. The SWEPAM and MAG experiments on ACE have now obtained the first direct evidence for such merging and disconnection from the Sun. As illustrated by the figure on the left above, reconnection at the HCS should create closed field lines sunward and disconnected (from the Sun) field lines anti-sunward of the reconnection site.”
    http://www.srl.caltech.edu/ACE/ACENews/ACENews88.html
    See the diagram at the top left of the link for a schematic of a Electric Double Layer, aka “magnetic reconnection”, within the solar wind between the Sun and the Earth.
    See, also, “Prolonged Reconnection at an Extended and Continuous X-line in the Solar Wind”:
    “Magnetic reconnection [aka Electric Double Layers] is commonly invoked to explain a variety of space, solar, astrophysical and laboratory plasma phenomena. It has long been debated whether reconnection is fundamentally patchy in space and time or if, instead, it can occur in a quasi-stationary manner over an extended region in space. Direct evidence that reconnection commonly occurs in the solar wind is found in ACE observations of jetting Alfvnic plasma flows confined to magnetic field reversal regions. Multi-spacecraft measurements of such jetting plasma flows, known as reconnection exhausts, have suggested that they originate from quasi-stationary reconnection at extended reconnection sites (X-lines) in the solar wind.”
    http://www.srl.caltech.edu/ACE/ACENews/ACENews105.html
    (By the way, the ACE news release archive has many interesting reports.)
    So, it would seem that not only does Dr. Svalgaard contradict himself regarding the presence of electric currents in space plasma, but, also, that the ACE satellite probe’s in situ observations & measurements contradict Dr. Svalgaard’s assertion about Electric Double Layers, aka, “magnetic reconnection”, being only a transient space phenomenon.
    So, isn’t it possible that Electric Double Layers are present in deep-space structures, too, including the interface where the magnetized plasma cloud comes into contact with the solar heliosphere, which this “Watts Up With That?” post discusses?
    Only continued space exploration and in situ satellite probes launched farther into the vast distances of space can determine for sure — interesting times we are living in, indeed.

  155. Niels A Nielsen (12:49:23
    Leif (05:50:03): “Your arguments remind me of Voltaire’s proof that you are a stone: “a stone cannot fly, you cannot fly, ergo you are a stone”.
    Is that Voltaire? I thought it was my countryman – and your excountryman – Ludvig Holberg.
    I was expecting the ‘poster’ to whom this rather inappropriate comment was directed, may have replied by quoting Descartes with “Je pense donc je suis” or the more familiar “Cogito, ergo sum”, but it appears as a wise man always does, he responded by terminating the exchange with a polite expression of thanks and appreciation.

  156. James F. Evans (13:37:18) :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nozzle_de_Laval_diagram.svg
    What physical conditions or structure in the solar wind has an analogous structure to a de Laval nozzle?

    The heating of the solar wind causes it to expand. Gravity tried to hold it back, that is the constriction you see in the diagram, but as gravity gets weaker with distance, the constriction is gradually removed, that is the widening of the nozzle. The result, as the diagram shows [look at the blue curve] is an acceleration to supersonic speed that continues with increasing distance [look at the blue curve]. This is textbook stuff that was figured out in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
    So, it would seem that not only does Dr. Svalgaard contradict himself regarding the presence of electric currents in space plasma, but, also, that the ACE satellite probe’s in situ observations & measurements contradict Dr. Svalgaard’s assertion about Electric Double Layers, aka, “magnetic reconnection”, being only a transient space phenomenon.
    I thought we have gone over this ad nauseam. I have stated many times that electric currents exists in space, created locally by plasma moving across magnetic fields or when opposite magnetic fields are forced together by plasma movements. This is old hat.
    Double Layers are very thin and the electric field in them very localized. The discharge of the double layer field creates the current. Unless the double layer is being continually replenished by plasma moving in magnetic fields, they dissipate.
    So, isn’t it possible that Electric Double Layers are present in deep-space structures, too, including the interface where the magnetized plasma cloud comes into contact with the solar heliosphere, which this “Watts Up With That?” post discusses?
    Certainly, as they are generated by moving neural plasma pressing opposite field lines together resulting in reconnection. This is also old hat.
    Your problem is that you fail to grasp that all electric fields and currents are generated by plasma moving in magnetic fields. A ‘genuine’ electric field caused by large-scale charge separation [and how do you get that without a magnetic field?] will short itself out immediately.
    I’m getting tired of beating this old horse. You ought to have learned it by now.
    REPLY: “…continually replenished by plasma moving in magnetic fields”… Ditto that, it is a simple generator. Our earthly mechanical electrical generators are conductors moving through a magnetic field. Plasma is the moving conductor in this case.- Anthony

  157. Scientific discussion is a process of give and take and some statements are more precise and/or more accurate than others (no one has all the answers) — discussion allows for a shake out of statements and arguments, many times improving the understanding for both the maker of statements and, also, those pointing out the errors and vice versa.
    That is why collaboration and cooperation are important in science — multiple perspectives add to the scientific process.
    This is a good thing.
    Evans (02:56:55) : “This sounds a bit like Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment, often described as a paradox: The cat can not be both dead and alive at the same time. A physical force is either present or not.”
    “Thought experiments” are glorified hypothesis.
    (I’m somewhat chagrined that I referred to a “thought experiment, myself.)
    Empirical science depends on actual observations & measurements, preferably in controlled, repeatable experiments, but often the observations & measurements are in situ (hopefully repeatable), yet still these in situ observations are superior to mere “thought experiments”.
    Dr. Svalgaard: “The [electric] field depends on the frame of reference so can be both present and not depending on the frame.
    Demonstratably false.
    “Frame of reference” is code for human perspective or perception: “thought experiment” if you will.
    But human perception, even more so imagninary perception, is notriously unreliable in describing and explaining physical reality.
    That’s why empirical science uses “thought experiments”, aka hypothesis, as a starting point, not as a basis for drawing solid scientific conclusions.
    To demonstrate:
    “The [electric] field depends on the frame of reference so can be both present and not depending on the frame.”
    Electric fields in space are only observable or verifiable by satellite in situ probes that pass through the electric field.
    Those probes are independent of frame of reference, they either detect the presence of an electric field or not. At any given time and location there is only one physical reality with a set of attendant specific physical conditions.
    Imaginary human frames of reference have no relevance to a satellite probe’s in situ detection of an electric field.
    If this was not so, then there would be “multiple realities”.
    Empirical science abhors the idea of “multiple realities” at an identical time and location. Indeed, the veracity and reliability of empirical science depends on the concept of only one physical reality.
    So, the claim that an electric field can be both present and detectable in situ and also not present and, therfore, undetectable at the same identical time and location depending on human frame of reference is pseudo-science.
    The claim only serves to muddy the waters and is an affront to empirical science.

  158. James F. Evans (13:37:18) :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nozzle_de_Laval_diagram.svg
    “What physical conditions or structure in the solar wind has an analogous structure to a de Laval nozzle?”
    With all due respect, it sure would be nice if a scientific paper(s) was provided which supports the explanation provided, as I previously indicated I would be open to reading any scientific papers cited as authority.
    After all, if this is “textbook stuff that was figured out in the late 1950s and early 1960s.”, then surely there would be scientific papers specifically citing this de Laval nozzle hypothesis (even recent papers citing previous authority for the proposition).
    Understanding of solar wind dynamics has come a long way from the 50’s and early 60’s.
    Dr. Svalgaard: “I thought we have gone over this ad nauseam. I have stated many times that electric currents exists in space, created locally by plasma moving across magnetic fields or when opposite magnetic fields are forced together by plasma movements. This is old hat.”
    Yes, indeed, you have, that’s why I was surprised when you responded: “…electric fields [which BTW can’t exist in a space plasma, as you have been told numerous times].”
    And I was surprised when you stated previously in this comment thread:
    Leif Svalgaard (12:52:08) :”There are no electric fields in the plasma.”
    I trust I won’t see the above quoted statement, again.
    Dr. Svalgaard: “Unless the double layer is being continually replenished by plasma moving in magnetic fields, they dissipate.”
    See, again, “Prolonged Reconnection at an Extended and Continuous X-line in the Solar Wind”:
    “Magnetic reconnection [aka Electric Double Layers] is commonly invoked to explain a variety of space, solar, astrophysical and laboratory plasma phenomena. It has long been debated whether reconnection is fundamentally patchy in space and time or if, instead, it can occur in a quasi-stationary manner over an extended region in space. Direct evidence that reconnection commonly occurs in the solar wind is found in ACE observations of jetting Alfvnic plasma flows confined to magnetic field reversal regions. Multi-spacecraft measurements of such jetting plasma flows, known as reconnection exhausts, have suggested that they originate from quasi-stationary reconnection at extended reconnection sites (X-lines) in the solar wind.”
    http://www.srl.caltech.edu/ACE/ACENews/ACENews105.html
    It would seem that, indeed, there are instances where “…the double layer is being continually replenished by plasma moving in magnetic fields…”.
    Dr. Svalgaard: “Double Layers are very thin and the electric field in them very localized.”
    But electric phenomenon are scale independent and, so, the size of the Double Layer can vary greatly. So, while the Double Layer is proportionately thin and the electric field is proportionately localized, if the overall scale of the Double Layer is large, a proportional increase in the thickness of the Double Layer and a proportional increase in the area of the electric field should be observed.
    Dr. Svalgaard: “Certainly, as they [Electric Double Layers] are generated by moving neural plasma pressing opposite field lines together resulting in reconnection. This is also old hat.”
    Yes, I agree, it is “old hat”, but I was stating that for the benefit of other readers, who may not be familiar with discussions on earlier posts.
    Dr. Svalgaard: “Your problem is that you fail to grasp that all electric fields and currents are generated by plasma moving in magnetic fields.”
    No, I have no problem with that.
    What I have difficulty with is your answer to this question:
    “Yes but what causes the existing magnetic fields?”
    Leif Svalgaard (14:27:28) : “They have always been there.”
    That’s an unsatifying answer. It doesn’t describe or explain in any meaningful fashion.
    Science operates on the causation principle, namely: The job of Science is to describe & explain the “cause” of physical pehonenon.
    “They [magnetic fields] have always been there.”, doesn’t answer that question.

  159. James F. Evans (13:37:18) :
    “Field line merging at the heliospheric current sheet (HCS) and the resulting disconnection of heliospheric magnetic field (HMF) lines from the Sun, has been controversial. The SWEPAM and MAG experiments on ACE have now obtained the first direct evidence for such merging and disconnection from the Sun. As illustrated by the figure on the left above, reconnection at the HCS should create closed field lines sunward and disconnected (from the Sun) field lines anti-sunward of the reconnection site.”
    http://www.srl.caltech.edu/ACE/ACENews/ACENews88.
    ~
    Thank you for the links. Very good info..
    Leif Svalgaard (14:30:25) :
    James F. Evans (13:37:18) :
    The heating of the solar wind causes it to expand. Gravity tried to hold it back, that is the constriction you see in the diagram, but as gravity gets weaker with distance, the constriction is gradually removed, that is the widening of the nozzle. The result, as the diagram shows [look at the blue curve] is an acceleration to supersonic speed that continues with increasing distance [look at the blue curve]. This is textbook stuff that was figured out in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
    Double Layers are very thin and the electric field in them very localized. The discharge of the double layer field creates the current. Unless the double layer is being continually replenished by plasma moving in magnetic fields, they dissipate.
    ~
    James F. Evans (13:37:18) :
    So, isn’t it possible that Electric Double Layers are present in deep-space structures, too, including the interface where the magnetized plasma cloud comes into contact with the solar heliosphere, which this “Watts Up With That?” post discusses?
    ~
    Certainly, as they are generated by moving neural plasma pressing opposite field lines together resulting in reconnection. This is also old hat.
    .. all electric fields and currents are generated by plasma moving in magnetic fields.
    A ‘genuine’ electric field caused by large-scale charge separation [and how do you get that without a magnetic field?] will short itself out immediately.
    I’m getting tired of beating this old horse. You ought to have learned it by now.
    REPLY: “…continually replenished by plasma moving in magnetic fields”… Ditto that, it is a simple generator. Our earthly mechanical electrical generators are conductors moving through a magnetic field. Plasma is the moving conductor in this case.- Anthony
    As always Dr S. thanks for your insights.
    Speaking of generators and dead horses…can we freeze the generator? Or..slow it down just like our solar cycle?
    Whilst the older brother and nephew were here, we started discussing just that. But I was sent off by a dryer buzzer and a google search for the temp of liquid hydrogen. Man you get back and the scenery all changes.
    Tallbloke, no wonder why you think you are a rock, been listening to Zappa. Except for “Joes Garage,” not too familiar with Zappa. Oh yeah, watch out where the huskies go and don’t you eat know yellow snow. Oh know.

  160. James F. Evans (16:23:08) :
    “Empirical science abhors the idea of “multiple realities” at an identical time and location.”
    Think of this thought experiment. You are on a boat moving with the water on a swift river. You pass by another man who is standing in the water. You both dip your hands in the water at the same place at the same instant. Your hand just goes right down without a splash, yet the other man’s hand creates a wake. Why? You are both in the same position at the same time. Is this a paradox?
    Of course not. You just need to account for another variable, that being your instantaneous velocity relative to the water.
    Leif Svalgaard (14:30:25) :
    REPLY: “…Plasma is the moving conductor in this case.- Anthony
    And, electric fields do not exist in a lossless conductor. I am assuming you are positing that the plasma is a very efficient conductor?

  161. Bart (17:51:52) :
    in reply to James F. Evans (16:23:08) :
    electric fields do not exist in a lossless conductor. I am assuming you are positing that the plasma is a very efficient conductor?

    Perhaps I should just let Bart’s word be the last on this. Evans is too far gone to argue with. [And we have already been over all that many times]. And the origin of primordial magnetic fields is indeed an unsolved problem.
    Even Wiki has picked up the de Laval nozzle explanation:
    “Parker showed that even though the sun’s corona is strongly attracted by solar gravity, it is such a good conductor of heat that it is still very hot at large distances. Since gravity weakens as distance from the sun increases, the outer coronal atmosphere escapes supersonically into interstellar space. Furthermore, Parker was the first person to notice that the weakening effect of the gravity has the same effect on hydrodynamic flow as a de Laval nozzle: it incites a transition from subsonic to supersonic flow.
    Eugene Parker (1958). “Dynamics of the Interplanetary Gas and Magnetic Fields”. The Astrophysical Journal 128: 664.”

  162. I’ll primarily let my comments speak for themselves, however, it is notable that Dr. Svalgaard has a propensity (at this website anyway) to make personal put downs against anybody who disagrees with him particularly if unable or unwilling to answer on the merits.
    And regarding Wikipedia’s supposed endorsement of the de Laval nozzle hypothesis, the same Wikipedia article on solar wind referenced by Dr. Svalgaard goes on to write regarding Parker’s hypothesis:
    “However, the acceleration of the fast wind is still not understood and cannot be fully explained by Parker’s theory.”
    The Wikipedia article goes further:
    “In the late 1990s the Ultraviolet Coronal Spectrometer (UVCS) instrument on board the SOHO spacecraft observed the acceleration region of the fast solar wind emanating from the poles of the sun, and found that the wind accelerates much faster than can be accounted for by thermodynamic expansion alone. Parker’s model predicted that the wind should make the transition to supersonic flow at an altitude of about 4 solar radii from the photosphere; but the transition (or “sonic point”) now appears to be much lower, perhaps only 1 solar radius above the photosphere, suggesting that some additional mechanism accelerates the solar wind away from the sun.”
    To highlight: “…suggesting that some additional mechanism accelerates the solar wind away from the sun.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_wind
    (Linked, so readers can check it out themselves — notice mention of Kristian Birkeland near the head of the article.)
    As Paul Harvey said: “And that’s the rest of the story.”
    Just thought readers would like to know.

  163. James F. Evans (22:11:15) :
    And regarding Wikipedia’s supposed endorsement of the de Laval nozzle hypothesis, the same Wikipedia article on solar wind referenced by Dr. Svalgaard goes on to write regarding Parker’s hypothesis:
    “However, the acceleration of the fast wind is still not understood and cannot be fully explained by Parker’s theory.”

    All that means is that the heating in the polar regions where the fast wind comes from is stronger than elsewhere [not too surprising since we have open magnetic field lines that can reconnect with underlying closed loops] and that the sonic point is not at a constant height. Parker assumed spherical symmetry for simplicity well knowing that that was only an approximation. The de Laval mechanism still stands as the means to achieve supersonic flow.

  164. James F. Evans (16:23:08) :
    “Yes but what causes the existing magnetic fields?”
    Leif Svalgaard (14:27:28) : “They have always been there.”
    That’s an unsatifying answer. It doesn’t describe or explain in any meaningful fashion.”
    Quote from an earlier WUWT post:
    Fabron (09:41:31) :
    This is an extract from another discussion forum, where subject was considered ( lsvalgaard vs. vukcevic):
    Einstein in his theoretical analysis of Brownian motion on the atomic and molecular level has shown, the kinetic theory implies that particle of different size will move differently; differentiation in velocity between heavy positive particles (protons and He ions) and super-light negative charged electron. If these differences exist even on micro scale, than the Maxwell’s equations (conservation of electric charge) imply that gradient of charge density at any point in space is directly related to the current density and vice versa. Electric current is nothing more than a spatial and temporal displacement of charge. So if there is temporal change in charge balance within a volume, than the current flowing into or out of a specified volume has to be equal the time-derivative of charge inside this volume ( div I = dq/dt ).
    Conclusion: No initial magnetic field required, however appearance of the electric current will generate magnetic field.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/09/01/new-mission-to-study-crossed-magnetic-streams-and-magnetic-portals/

  165. What? Super*sonic* speed in space? Isn’t supersonic defined as a velocity faster than the speed of sound in a given medium?
    Sound can’t travel in the vacuum of space, therefore there’s no such thing as a supersonic velocity in space.
    Or is the solar corona supposed to be thick enough to transmit sound?

  166. Gregg E. (00:39:55) : …Sound can’t travel in the vacuum of space…
    Can it travel in the vacuum of a forest, Gregg?

  167. Leif Svalgaard (22:56:03) :
    “……….not too surprising since we have open magnetic field lines that can reconnect with underlying closed loops………”
    If this is an illustration of what Dr. Leif Svalgaard has in mind
    http://sprg.ssl.berkeley.edu/~tohban/nuggets/images/14_flare_model.gif
    then I suggest that George E. Smith had an excellent line on so called ‘field lines’:
    “Well the problem is that magnetic field lines (or electric field lines) have no real existence; they are simply a product of a mathematical representation of the Vector forces that act on magnetically susceptible materials. The action of the iron filings in the high school experiment, is as was suggested, that each filing acts as a miniature bar that can physically align itself to the lowest local energy state in the force field that surrounds the “magnet” or charged body, in the case of electric fields. It is important to remember that the field lines are a purely fictional creation of our imagination; just as isobars, and isotherms, are fictional representations of weather data.
    But what is important to remember about magnetic and electric fields, is that these are vector quantities, which have, a point of action, magnitude, direction, and sense of direction; like all vector quantities. The second important point is that electric and magnetic fields are single valued functions. Since fields from multiple sources simply add vectorially, all four attributes of the resultant vector are single valued; they cannot have two different values at any point in the field, at the same time.
    It’s an elementary deduction from that simple fact, that field lines cannot cross; since that must imply two different directions for the vector at a single point. And we know that is physically impossible, since points themselves exist nowhere in the real universe (nor do ANY of the other trappings of mathematics) it is all fictional stuff that we made up out of whole cloth to describe (often exactly) the behavior of our models of reality, which also are a complete fiction.
    The real universe is far to complex and chaotic for us to ever explain; and the best we can do is concoct fictitious models that appear (with our current state of knowledge) to emulate what we observe the real universe to be doing. In that sense, our models, and the theories that describe the rules for manipulation of those models (mathematics); are merely tools that help us visualize why our real observations are what they seem to be.
    That is why we can have valid multiple models of the same phenomenon; such as the dual wave/particle descriptions of electromagnetism. In Maxwell’s representation of “electromagnetic fields”, the magnetic “lines of force”, and the electric “lines of force” are always everywhere perpendicular to each other, and also perpendicular to the direction of energy flow; which would be the ray direction in classical ray optics, or the photon direction in the particle model. Something tells me that direction is the “Poynting Vector”; but I’m 50 years rusty on this stuff so I would have to defer to Phil or Leif on that.
    So that cartoon above is truly a cartoon; since those apparently intersecting field lines cannot exist. the crossing point is a singularity where the vector has two different directions; which is silly.
    And none of that says anything about whether “reconnection” is real or not; I have to plead complete ignorance on that one.”
    For explaining science as it is, without the ‘fluff’, George E. Smith’s posts are among the best.

  168. Wow you guys.
    What is “fluffy?” Why refer to all the neighboring clouds as “fluffy?”
    For the last 11,000 years approx. our solar system has been located in an interstellar cloud called the Local Cloud. This has been a warm cloud with moderate density.
    The Local cloud is butt up against a cloud, (that they think) is caused by the interaction of our “Local cloud,” with the neighboring G cloud. This transition zone is called MIC (micro interstellar cloud).
    G cloud is a cooler and faster and more dense cloud than has been our “local” cloud.
    THEY KNOW about the transition zone called MIC (that exists between “Local” and G cloud) and that it was hot and turbulent and that shock waves were occurring. THEY KNOW the solar system is in the transition zone NOW! And very soon we will be entering the cooler, faster, denser G cloud.
    Why the heck we call this “fluffy” is …..ick.
    I think the thought discussions here should be more along the “lines” of coooling and dampening effects of G cloud now making its prescence known within the heliosphere.
    But have at er guys, we all learn some things when you do.
    There, woke up late on the wrong side of the bed and had my rant.

  169. Bart (13:01:02) :
    anna v (10:27:07) :
    “…an electron, for example, is both a wave and a particle…”
    Bart: No, it is a particle which moves with apparent wavelike properties in common experience, just like photons. See here.:
    And I guess, Feynman: I want to emphasize that light comes in this form – particles. It is very important to know that light behaves like particles, especially for those of you who have gone to school, where you were probably told something about light behaving like waves. I’m telling you the way it does behave – like particles.

    Feynman was a great physicist and a great teacher. This does not mean that he can be quoted as the Pope on physics.
    QED does treat photons as particles Experiments show that both particles and light quanta have wavelike properties and particle like properties, depending on the experiment. Experiment trumps theory, though I do not believe there is a contradiction here. The statement served Feynman to describe QED, which is after all a symbolic way of integrating crossections, theory that is.
    And Feynman could be wrong, as he was when he resisted with papal strength the emergent at the time QCD theory.

  170. Gregg E. (00:39:55) :
    Sound can’t travel in the vacuum of space, therefore there’s no such thing as a supersonic velocity in space.
    In space plasmas [Alfven] waves can still propagate. Supersonic here simply means faster than the speed of these waves. The solar wind is 11 times supersonic, ‘Alfvenic Mach Number’ is thus 11.

  171. Meet “fluffy?”
    Local interstellar cloud 7500K+-1500K (LIC)
    Micro interstellar cloud 9900K (MIC)
    G cloud 5500K +-400K (G)
    What kind of terrestrial effects would we have seen while the heliosphere was moving through a 9900K slim and slender MIC cloud. (don’t answer that.)
    What kind of terrestrial effects would we begin to realize when the heliosphere enters 5500K cloud? (don’t answer that)
    rant over

  172. Carla (05:51:44) :
    THEY KNOW about the transition zone called MIC (that exists between “Local” and G cloud) and that it was hot and turbulent and that shock waves were occurring. THEY KNOW the solar system is in the transition zone NOW! And very soon we will be entering the cooler, faster, denser G cloud.

    Hey Carla. Who are ‘THEY’ and what is your source of information about what ‘THEY’ know?

  173. Anna – it is not a contradiction to say that particles can move as waves. Have you ever driven the freeways in a large city at rush hour? Your car can undoubtedly be described at some scale as a “particle”. How does it move?

  174. Radun (03:17:19) :
    “But what is important to remember about magnetic and electric fields, is that these are vector quantities…”
    Actually, the electric and magnetic fields are manifestations of a rank 2 tensor.
    “In Maxwell’s representation of “electromagnetic fields”, the magnetic “lines of force”, and the electric “lines of force” are always everywhere perpendicular to each other…”
    Only in a radiating field in lossless media.
    “So that cartoon above is truly a cartoon; since those apparently intersecting field lines cannot exist. the crossing point is a singularity where the vector has two different directions; which is silly.”
    There is no singularity, there is superposition. They add vectorially.

  175. tallbloke (09:02:35) :
    Hey Carla. Who are ‘THEY’ and what is your source of information about what ‘THEY’ know?
    Well, bad choice of a word, (they) on my part. LOTS does that help?
    THE STRUCTURE OF THE LOCAL INTERSTELLAR MEDIUM IV: DYNAMICS, MORPHOLOGY, PHYSICAL PROPERTIES, AND IMPLICATIONS OF CLOUD-CLOUD INTERACTIONS1 Redfield & Linsky
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0709/0709.4480v1.pdf
    The above names two. Rosine Lallement (3) part of IBEX team. One IBEXer knows well you can guess the rest. Rosine thought the ribbon discovered by IBEX was well part of a “Shock,” due to the cloud, cloud interactions at first when she saw the IBEX data because she is fully aware of where the solar system is located and going to.
    I feel like a the kid in the back seat that keeps asking, “Are we there yet?” Meaning are we in G cloud yet.
    Started the day a half hour late, finish fifteen minutes late. (1:15pm) don’t ask. Can I turn my cell phone off so the dispatcher can’t locate me? hee hee

  176. Tallbloke, was last years sudden stratospheric warming due to a shock wave through the solar system? Was that the last of the shocks, if it was a shock?
    Are we there yet?

  177. Carla (12:08:17) :
    THE STRUCTURE OF THE LOCAL INTERSTELLAR MEDIUM IV: DYNAMICS, MORPHOLOGY, PHYSICAL PROPERTIES, AND IMPLICATIONS OF CLOUD-CLOUD INTERACTIONS1 Redfield & Linsky
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0709/0709.4480v1.pdf

    Thanks. Read through that, but I’m none the wiser with regard to timescales and projected effects. The latter I can appreciate nobody knows yet, but I would have thought someone might have a go at the timescale for transition between the Local Interstellar Cloud and the G cloud.

  178. tallbloke (13:14:00) :
    but I would have thought someone might have a go at the timescale for transition between the Local Interstellar Cloud and the G cloud.
    “Contrary to previous claims the sun appears to be located between LIC and G.”
    Which means we have been in MIC and any day now or next year, sooner rather than much much later we will enter G cloud proper. Signatures of both have been found in the heliosphere. AS we get closer, we would expect an increase of the G cloud signature within and without. IMHO
    She hasn’t found me yet, almost off the hook. ssshhh

  179. Carla (07:02:46) :
    Meet “fluffy?”
    Local interstellar cloud 7500K+-1500K (LIC)
    Micro interstellar cloud 9900K (MIC)
    G cloud 5500K +-400K (G)
    What kind of terrestrial effects would we have seen while the heliosphere was moving through a 9900K slim and slender MIC cloud. (don’t answer that.)
    What kind of terrestrial effects would we begin to realize when the heliosphere enters 5500K cloud? (don’t answer that)

    Hi Carla….do you think the temperature of these clouds can have any terrestrial effects? Someone pointed out here a couple of days ago that the cloud as a whole cant be measured but instead the temperature reading was at the particle level, a little like what we see in our outer atmosphere where there is no measurable difference in the outer atmosphere, but the particles can have very high temps.
    The density of the cosmic rays in each cloud and the magnetic strength could be a different matter.

  180. Hmm, well, maybe it took a decade to get as far as we have through the MIC, starting with a warm shock (’98 el nino) and maybe ending with a cool shock (2009 SSW), so who knows. Speculation on a postcard, from somewhere warm…
    But maybe it won’t be so bad in the G cloud. If going from the LIC to MIC raised temp 0.2C, maybe plunging into the G cloud will drop it by 0.5C. This will make UK winter sports climbing a renewed option.

  181. @Carla…
    Indeed, we are already into the interstellar cosmic cloud. We have tasted it a bit since 2003, or perhaps before 2003; worst is for coming through the next ~10000 years. NASA scientists and Vidal Madjar refer to climate changes due to the interactions between particles and atmospheric molecules.

  182. Geoff Sharp (13:50:21) :
    Hi Carla….do you think the temperature of these clouds can have any terrestrial effects?
    ~
    Yes IMHO, but hey I drive a van for living. Multiple shocks going out (solar) multiple shocks coming in MIC. Did you start to feel toasty for a while?
    Then what, we hit G proper and no more incoming shocks.
    tallbloke (13:59:44)
    But maybe it won’t be so bad in the G cloud. If going from the LIC to MIC raised temp 0.2C, maybe plunging into the G cloud will drop it by 0.5C. This will make UK winter sports climbing a renewed option.
    ~
    Maybe it won’t be so bad tallbloke, but at my age I will need some padding to get the ice skates going again. Do you think Al G. will start telling us about the little froggy slowly freezing to death?
    Nasif Nahle (15:01:16) :
    NASA scientists and Vidal Madjar refer to climate changes due to the interactions between particles and atmospheric molecules.
    ~
    Particles from…..?

  183. Carla (16:39:40):
    Nasif Nahle (15:01:16) :
    NASA scientists and Vidal Madjar refer to climate changes due to the interactions between particles and atmospheric molecules.
    ~
    Particles from…..?

    From the interstellar cosmic cloud, i.e. He and H nucleons and electrons.

  184. Geoff Sharp (13:50:21) :
    >i>like what we see in our outer atmosphere where there is no measurable difference in the outer atmosphere, but the particles can have very high temps.
    The density of the cosmic rays in each cloud and the magnetic strength could be a different matter.
    I don’t think there will be any measurable effects of any kind.

  185. Nasif Nahle (17:03:22) :
    Carla (16:39:40):
    Nasif Nahle (15:01:16) :
    NASA scientists and Vidal Madjar refer to climate changes due to the interactions between particles and atmospheric molecules.
    ~
    Particles from…..?
    From the interstellar cosmic cloud, i.e. He and H nucleons and electrons.
    ~
    Oh…yeah, like from the interstellar inflow into the heliosphere up to 1AU, that well established stream of H, He particles, along with dust and GCR, that varies over the solar cycle, that Earth is continually orbiting inside this density field, sometimes even the flows themselves.
    Sorry, you said “cosmic” and I got all weird.

  186. Nasif Nahle (15:01:16) :
    NASA scientists and Vidal Madjar refer to climate changes due to the interactions between particles and atmospheric molecules.
    ~
    But, just one thing, the solar cycle of late hasn’t varied much, so what does that do to the density field Earth is continually orbiting?

  187. Carla (18:36:26) :
    Nasif Nahle (15:01:16) :
    NASA scientists and Vidal Madjar refer to climate changes due to the interactions between particles and atmospheric molecules.
    ~
    But, just one thing, the solar cycle of late hasn’t varied much, so what does that do to the density field Earth is continually orbiting?

    We are not sure on any effect on the intensity of the density field in the Solar periphery. The only thing I can say for sure is that if the GCR waves bump over a high energy density front, massive particles would accelerate, that is, would be more energetic so they would be able to overcome upstream the planetary density field being cooled again. It’s the mechanism by which they reach the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere. The end (?) of this process is explained in the article you provided some posts above.

  188. Gregg E. (00:39:55) :
    What? Super*sonic* speed in space? Isn’t supersonic defined as a velocity faster than the speed of sound in a given medium?
    Sound can’t travel in the vacuum of space, therefore there’s no such thing as a supersonic velocity in space.
    Or is the solar corona supposed to be thick enough to transmit sound?

    The interplanetary space is not a perfect vacuum. There are particles there, including simple organic molecules. Then sound can travel in the interplanetary space.
    On the other hand, the unfortunate expression “supersonic velocities” is applied just to describe the velocity of particles in the interplanetary space, which surpasses the magnitude of the velocity of sound over the dense Earth’s atmospheric space; the velocity of sound is used only like a point of reference.
    Cosmic particles can reach speeds up to 400 km/s. The speed of sound in the atmosphere averages 340 m/s. Conversely, the velocity of sound in the outer space is irrelevant and often described like “minuscule vibrations”.

  189. @Greg…
    Sorry for not providing a link in support of the arguments exposed above. I had problems to find the link. I found it finally:
    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2003/09sep_blackholesounds.htm?list143936
    Those weak vibrations in the outer space are not given into consistent oscillations due to the existing gaps between the outer space particles, so we cannot say that any steady sound can be detected in the outer space, but only isolated weak vibrations that NASA scientists understood by real sound.

  190. Nasif Nahle (19:27:30) :
    We are not sure on any effect on the intensity of the density field in the Solar periphery. The only thing I can say for sure is that if the GCR waves bump over a high energy density front, massive particles would accelerate, that is, would be more energetic so they would be able to overcome upstream the planetary density field being cooled again. It’s the mechanism by which they reach the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere.
    ~
    Mr Wizard??

  191. Carla (20:45:52) :
    Nasif Nahle (19:27:30) :
    We are not sure on any effect on the intensity of the density field in the Solar periphery. The only thing I can say for sure is that if the GCR waves bump over a high energy density front, massive particles would accelerate, that is, would be more energetic so they would be able to overcome upstream the planetary density field being cooled again. It’s the mechanism by which they reach the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere.
    ~
    Mr Wizard??

    Yes… Elementary astrophysics for kids. 🙂

  192. Nasif Nahle (17:03:22) :
    Carla (16:39:40):
    Nasif Nahle (15:01:16) :
    NASA scientists and Vidal Madjar refer to climate changes due to the interactions between particles and atmospheric molecules.
    ~
    Particles from…..?
    From the interstellar cosmic cloud, i.e. He and H nucleons and electrons.

    Astrophysicists seems to concentrate on the H atom because it is detectable. What about H2 molecules, which are invisible to our telescopes? Hydrogen atoms readily combine to form the H2 molecule, and there are probably a lot more H2 molecules in the clouds than singleton H atoms. This will increase the density of the clouds by an order of magnitude or more. Could it be that the neglect of a discussion of H2 has skewed the estimates of the strength of the magnetic field in the fluffy cloud?

  193. tallbloke (00:52:26) :
    Nasif Nahle (17:03:22) :
    Carla (16:39:40):
    Nasif Nahle (15:01:16) :
    NASA scientists and Vidal Madjar refer to climate changes due to the interactions between particles and atmospheric molecules.
    ~
    Particles from…..?
    From the interstellar cosmic cloud, i.e. He and H nucleons and electrons.
    Astrophysicists seems to concentrate on the H atom because it is detectable. What about H2 molecules, which are invisible to our telescopes? Hydrogen atoms readily combine to form the H2 molecule, and there are probably a lot more H2 molecules in the clouds than singleton H atoms. This will increase the density of the clouds by an order of magnitude or more. Could it be that the neglect of a discussion of H2 has skewed the estimates of the strength of the magnetic field in the fluffy cloud?

    Indeed, some authors, like Maoz for example, consign heavier than H+ nuclei and molecules of all the elements in GCC. (Maoz. 2007. Page 148, Line 8th).
    Anyway, the current immersion of the solar system into this “fluffy” interstellar cloud is not something to be afraid on because it has occurred about 20 times in the life of our solar system. Besides, the current GC cloud is trapped by the magnetic field of the MW’s disk.
    By the way, I think this cloud is of galactic origin, i.e. it was produced by supernova explosions. It’s not probable it is of extragalactic origin. We could expect to find a neutron star giving support to the strong magnetic field of the cloud, so perhaps we should include it as an explanation on the cohesion of the components of the cloud. It could be. 🙂

  194. Nasif Nahle (08:05:59) :
    Anyway, the current immersion of the solar system into this “fluffy” interstellar cloud is not something to be afraid on because it has occurred about 20 times in the life of our solar system. Besides, the current GC cloud is trapped by the magnetic field of the MW’s disk.

    Hmmm, and did it get warmer or colder? 🙂

  195. tallbloke (09:51:02) :
    Nasif Nahle (08:05:59) :
    Anyway, the current immersion of the solar system into this “fluffy” interstellar cloud is not something to be afraid on because it has occurred about 20 times in the life of our solar system. Besides, the current GC cloud is trapped by the magnetic field of the MW’s disk.
    Hmmm, and did it get warmer or colder? 🙂

    Interesting question… If muons production overwhelms statistical projections, it would be colder. If muons production remains constant or increases slightly (above 1000 muons/s), but slow particles with high energy density form a continuous flow towards our atmosphere, it would be warmer. I would like it gets colder, but it is dangerous for every living form. 🙂

  196. Leif Svalgaard (11:45:15) :
    Nasif Nahle (11:08:43) :
    tallbloke (09:51:02) :
    I hate to spoil your fun, but this is totally nuts.
    ~
    Pick self up off floor, dust off, re-gain composure. (mostly)
    Just wondering about those muons. Are these muons being produced by GCR striking particles or some other muons.
    Out the door for a lab spec. run.

  197. Carla (13:03:07) :
    Nasif Nahle (11:08:43) :
    tallbloke (09:51:02) :
    Pick self up off floor, dust off, re-gain composure. (mostly)
    Just wondering about those muons. Are these muons being produced by GCR striking particles or some other muons.
    Out the door for a lab spec. run.

    Protons of cosmic rays in general (around 90% of CR particles); local CR, GCR and IGCR. However, we are now in a special situation after ~200 million years, I guess. Perhaps the solar system has gone through other cosmic clouds in the interim.
    Hurry up! Have a good job at the lab! 🙂

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