The Electric Universe theory has been described as “a controversial but promising theory where plasma and electric charge are responsible for most things that we take for granted”(1). If true, what implications does it have for the way we view our world, and its past?
To start off with, a bit about gravity. Newton’s theory of gravitation originated in the 17th century, and today it is a central plank of physics and cosmology. As most of us were taught in school, gravity is the force that acts between any two objects. It is the weakest of the fundamental forces of physics, yet it is considered to be responsible for many of the large-scale structures in the universe (2).
Might gravity be somewhat overrated when it comes to our understanding of planetary sciences? To consider this further, we need to look at both plasma and electricity.
Plasma was first described in the 1920s, and we now know that most of the universe is in the form of plasma. It is thought of as the fourth state of matter, after solids, liquids and gases – and it most closely resembles a gas, except that it comprises electrically charged particles at high energy (3).
One of the most important properties of a plasma is that it can conduct electrical current, and its does so by forming current filaments that follow magnetic field lines (filamentary patterns are ubiquitous in the cosmos) (4).
The electric force is an attractive or repulsive force between two charged objects (electric forces are different but related to magnetic forces, which only arise when a charged object is in motion) (5). From a terrestrial perspective, we see electrical phenomena such as lightning and the aurora; it also appears in St Elmo’s fire, and upper atmosphere phenomena such as red sprites, blue jets, elves and tigers (6).
And as electricity is present wherever we find plasma (which makes up 99.999% of the visible universe), magnetic fields and electric currents are nearly everywhere (7).
Plasma Cosmology is described as a ‘non-standard cosmology’ (8). It draws from the work of scientists such as Kristian Birkeland (Norway), Hannes Alfén (Sweden) and – more recently – Anthony Peratt (USA).
Whereas mainstream science mainly looks on the universe as electrically neutral and purely mechanical (i.e. a place where the weak force of gravity holds fort), Plasma Cosmology acknowledges the electrodynamic nature of the universe (9). Because plasmas are highly scalable, the super-computing capabilities of modern scientists enable them to model plasma behaviours on galactic scales (10).
What’s more, work undertaken by Anthony Peratt has suggested that ancient stone-carved petroglyphs – such as the so-called ‘squatter man’ – may be prehistoric recordings of significant auroral events, caused by intense solar storms [i.e. electrically charged particles moving through magnetospheric plasma, as experienced by our ancient ancestors on Earth] (11).
Electric Universe theory
Unlike Plasma Cosmology, the Electric Universe theory does not get its own Wikipedia page; at the time of writing at least. It builds on the work of (amongst others) Charles Bruce and Immanuel Velikovsky – the latter being an independent Russian scholar with some unorthodox interpretations of ancient history.
The Electric Universe theory shares a lot of similarities with Plasma Cosmology, but there are differences also. Plasma Cosmology is said to have a “generally more conservative approach”, whereas the Electric Universe “looks at the bigger picture, and promotes more radical ideas about the role of electricity in the universe, from ancient cosmology to the mind-body connection” (12).
Thornhill himself asserts that the Electric Universe model is “more interdisciplinary and inclusive of information than any prior cosmology” (13).
So what does all this mean? If we give credence to Plasma Cosmology and/or the Electric Universe model, how does our view of the world change?
There’s not enough room in this article to go into any detail, but some of the implications are…
- for the theoretical assumptions of physics – the Big Bang theory, black holes and dark matter are all thrown into doubt. Wal Thornhill goes as far as to say “there was no Big Bang” (although we still don’t know the ultimate source of the electrical energy or matter that forms the universe) (15). And large electrical currents flowing through space plasma can ultimately explain observations that are attributed to black holes or dark matter (16).
- for the Sun and other stars – the surface of our Sun comprises plasma rather than hot gas, and it has an electrified heliosphere that extends far out – beyond the orbit of Pluto. The Electric Universe model goes further to promote the idea of an Electric Sun.
- for planets – the Electric Universe model has some more controversial ideas, including that earth-like planets and moons are “born” by electrical expulsion from dwarf stars and gas giants, and that planetary orbits are stabilised by exchange of electric charge through their plasma tails (Venus being the most notable example) (17).
- for planet Earth – again according to the Electric Universe model, our planet may have been subject to electrical cratering, or ‘thunderbolts of the gods’, in the past, caused by electric discharges between closely approaching bodies [e.g. planets] (18). And our weather systems, including lightning, are said to be driven primarily by external electrical influences (19).
- for our understanding of prehistoric Earth – as indicated earlier, our ancient ancestors may have carved shapes in rocks based on what they were seeing in the skies above them, which in turn may been caused by significant auroral events. Could such events, and phenomena such as St Elmo’s Fire, have been more prevalent in ancient times?
The above list probably misses a few significant implications, and includes implications that some may consider to be speculative. Indeed, in some quarters, including the ‘non-standard’ field of Plasma Cosmology itself, the more ‘radical’ Electric Universe model is viewed as “anti-science” (20).
Whatever the case, both Plasma Cosmology and the Electric Universe seem to help explain a lot that mainstream science still struggles with. And they may be able to help us understand and interpret evidence from our ancient past
Most of the resources below come from the more ‘radical’ and populist Electric Universe end of the spectrum, but that generally means they are more accessible to the non-physicists among us.
Thunderbolts Project YouTube channel, inc. feature length documentaries
Findlay, Tom, A Beginner’s View of our Electric Universe, Grosvenor House Publishing, 2013 – available as free ebook or paid-for paperback here.
Talbott, David & Thornhill, Wallace, Thunderbolts of the Gods – A radical interpretation of human history and the evolution of the solar system, Mikamar Publishing, 2005 – available at Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and elsewhere.
1. Quote from listing for Wallace Thornhill’s talk in Birmingham, UK, 14 July 2018