In this essay, Matthew Ehret explores the work of Max Planck and other pre-eminent physicists such as Hannes Alfvén and Kristian Birkeland, whose revolutionary breakthroughs in plasma physics suggest that solar systems do not form in empty space. Instead, an ocean of plasma constitutes the medium in which they arise and evolve. In other words, suns and planets are electrical phenomena wired to their galaxies. Moreover, the plasma fields in question are characterized by pulses, frequencies and wavelengths, making them more analogous to symphonies than to clockwork. How apt, then, to learn that Planck and Einstein often turned to music in order to bypass the narrow limits of mathematics and take leaps into the intuitive–the source of their greatest discoveries.
Pictured above: Harmony of the World (1806), an illustration by Ebenezer Sibly that he based in part on Harmonices Mundi, the book of Johannes Kepler in which he describes his concept of musical harmonies delineating the spacing of planets in our heliocentric galaxy.
Near the end of 2019, signals arrived to Earth from the Voyager-2 spacecraft which have shaken the foundations of modern physics, and brought into question the forces and principles shaping the space-time of stars within galaxies (and implicitly galaxies within clusters of galaxies). The data which NASA scientists received from Voyager-2 have catapulted mankind’s ability to finally answer the old question, “What constitutes the ‘space’ between stars or even between galaxies within our universe?” As Voyager Project scientist Edward Stone stated:
The Voyager probes are showing us how our sun interacts with the stuff that fills most of the space between stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.Dr. Edward Stone
What Did Voyager-2 Encounter?
Launched in 1977 alongside Voyager-1 to measure magnetic field intensity, cosmic radiation flux and plasma density, Voyager-2 exited the Heliosphere (the spherical boundary shaped by the sun’s electromagnetic field) and moved into the interstellar medium on November 5, 2019, when the five sensors still functioning on the craft returned surprising results. The magnetic field intensity from the sun was no longer felt, and the spacecraft encountered a region of extremely dense cosmic radiation and plasma. Voyager-2’s results corroborate the measurements taken by the faster moving Voyager-1 when it traversed the Heliosphere in 2012, suggesting that this was not a “localized phenomenon.”
“Cosmic rays” is the loose term for all forms of highly energized protons and atomic nuclei which are produced in suns, supernovae and other galaxies. Cosmic radiation pervades the solar system and is infused with terrestrial activity by the earth’s magnetic field. Some examples of cosmic rays on earth include the aurora borealis and cloud formation (which mediates the warming and cooling of the earth: discovery by Svensmark and co.). Cosmic rays appear to also coincide with earthquake activity, activation/de-activation of viruses and may even play a significant role in the evolution of species. If you are a layman just encountering this idea, a wonderful introduction to the topic can be found in the 1957 film The Strange Case of Cosmic Rays, produced by Frank Capra and still as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.
Plasmas are sometimes known as the fourth fundamental state of matter (the first three being solid, liquid and gas). When the atoms and molecules making up a gas are induced to lose their electrons (becoming ions), these ions and free electrons produce an electrically conducive plasma.
Rather than supposing the interplanetary and interstellar media are composed of “empty” space or a “vacuum,” international networks of physicists have accumulated bountiful evidence over decades that a realm of highly saturated plasma and cosmic radiation is the true medium in which our planets revolve around the sun, which moves through the galactic centre of the Milky Way every 230 million years.
Some of the most important pioneers in the plasma universe model of solar and galactic space-time include pre-eminent physicists Kristian Birkeland, Winston Bostwick, Anthony Peratt and Hannes Alfvén. After winning the 1970 Nobel Prize for his discovery of magneto hydrodynamics, Swedish scientist Hannes Alfvén wrote:
In order to understand the phenomena in a certain plasma region, it is necessary to map not only the magnetic but also the electric field and the electric currents. Space is filled with a network of currents which transfer energy and momentum over large or very large distances. The currents often pinch to filamentary or surface currents. The latter are likely to give space, as also interstellar and intergalactic space, a cellular structure.1Hannes Alfvén. “Cosmology in the Plasma Universe: An Introductory Explanation.” IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science. No. 18, February 1990. p. 5-10.Hannes Alfvén
The “pinch” effect to which Alfvén refers describes the natural compression of an electrical conducting filament by magnetic forces. It occurs in lightning and the aurora borealis; its use by scientists has enabled the formation of magnetically confined plasmas used in fusion energy research. Many breakthroughs in fusion research, however, have been held back for decades due to the pervasiveness of certain false concepts of “forces,” “vacuums,” “black holes” and “dark matter” prevalent in standard theory cosmology. One of the greatest paradoxes encountered in fusion research has involved naïve attempts to overcome the Coulomb barrier.
Anyone who has ever attempted to press the identical polarities of two strong magnets together will have a visceral idea of the Coulomb barrier. This difficulty increases as the proximity of the magnets is reduced and is amplified by many orders of magnitude in the atomic world where the “fusing” of two helium atoms or hydrogen isotopes requires that positively charged nuclei from two atoms occupy one and the same space in order to transmute and release a great deal of energy in the process.
Without a concept of the organized harmonics that pervade plasmas—which researchers like Bostwick, Alfvén, Peratt et al. have proven—the only path to attaining fusion is through the brute force of pounding nuclei together and super-heating them to speed up their motion in giant Tokamak reactors. However when working with plasmas and the electromagnetic dynamics of Birkeland currents, we are now dealing with frequencies, pulses and wavelengths that can amplify or de-amplify and create consonances or dissonances with measurable observable effects. In this sense, space actually has more in common with a symphony than with kinetic objects emitting “forces” in a vacuum.
Anthony Peratt’s Galactic Insight
One of the leading figures of the plasma universe school is Anthony Peratt, a physicist at the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics and close collaborator with Hannes Alfvén. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, Peratt generated an incredible model of spiral galaxy structures forming within a charged plasma. It has long been observed that plasmas have a tendency to create minuscule steady-state superstructures like vortices and spheres (called “solitons” for their likeness to the sun). These observed structures form in plasmas for reasons that have not yet been fully ascertained and endure for very short intervals of time. In spite of their mysteriously short duration, they do exist and cannot be accounted for under any mathematical analysis that features Newtonian concepts of empty space and self-evident masses or forces.
Peratt took these observations to a new level of cosmology when he began to apply the results of two spherical plasmas “pinched” by two magnetic Birkeland filaments of 1018 amperes. In his 1986 paper “Evolution of the Plasma Universe: II. The Formation of Systems of Galaxies,” Peratt published several simulations featured under the M81 spiral galaxy image below:
Whereas the evolution of actual galaxies takes billions of years, the evolution of two adjacent plasma spheres into a fully formed microscopic spiral galaxy endures for mere picoseconds under Peratt’s models. The fact that the plasma universe model generates such analogues to the macro-verse is incredible. Though it is merely the matter of SCALE of physical space-time which differs in both cases, the qualitative effects are the same.
Equally extraordinary is the fact that this model doesn’t rely on any recourse to the imposition of imaginary entities like black holes or dark matter to account for the galaxy’s structure as mainstream mathematical physicists have been forced to do.
In another fascinating experiment, Peratt used information from three radio telescopes to form models of double radio galaxies and found similar analogies of the evolution of these galactic structures within laboratory plasmas as documented in his paper “3-Dimensional Particle-in-Cell Simulations of Spiral Galaxies.” Peratt’s simulations generated macro-structures in his laboratory identical to those same double radio galaxies observed in the universe.
Peratt has been very clear that mainstream aversion to accepting this experimental pathway in physics stems from Newtonian doctrine regarding matter and the emptiness of space. He stated as much recently:
Space, being the most voluminous of the cosmos, when treated as pure vacuum, gives a false sense that most of the universe is in a known state, the only unknowns being the point-like masses occupying Newton’s universe. The discovery of the complexity of the planetary plasma magnetospheres proved that space is plasma with an electrodynamic complexity that exceeds that of the first three states of matter.2Cited in “Plasma Physics: Proceedings of the 1997 Latin American Workshop.” Pablo Martin, Julio Puerta ed. p. 54.Dr. Anthony Peratt
As Above, So Below: Max Planck & Johannes Kepler
Peratt’s identification of Newtonian assumptions as the core mental crutch holding back researchers in the fields of cosmology and atomic physics alike is incredibly important. A few words would be appropriate here to clarify how and why these Newtonian principles crept into modern science when brilliant physicists like Max Planck and Albert Einstein, both of whom revolutionized these domains over a century ago, were not only unencumbered by Newtonian doctrine but in fact shattered it brilliantly. Throughout their lives, both men applied not the method of Newton in their creative work, but rather the method of Johannes Kepler. In his New Astronomy (1609), On the Six-Cornered Snowflake (1609) and Harmonices Mundi (1619), Kepler not only created the basis for a modern astrophysics establishing his Three Laws, but set that new physics upon the foundations of musical harmony.
It is not uncommon for a mathematician to freak out when confronting the argument that the laws of macro-physics are in harmony with the laws of micro-physics, or even that the inner subjective world of mankind is in harmony with the outer objective universe. One could imagine a statistical probability theorist exclaim: Everyone knows that 20th century quantum mechanics has proven that the random, chaotic laws of the microcosm are entirely incompatible with the pre-deterministic laws of gravitation and electricity dominant in the macrocosm!
Well, if Neils Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli and the Copenhagen School interpretation of the quantum which took over the narrative of quantum mechanics at the turn of the 20th century is correct, then this addled mathematician’s claim is certainly true and there is no point in searching for discoverable principles that could furnish mankind with a unifying conception of the universe. Although adherents to the Copenhagen interpretation assert this schism to be an absolute truth beyond which no mind can pass, the irony is that this very school is celebrated for having disproven the notion of causality or truthfulness altogether! If anything, the micro- and macro-worlds may only be united under the presumed “irrationalism and statistical probability” which governed the inner universe of Bohr’s own mind.3See Billington, Michael. “Taoist Perversion of 20th Century Science.” Fidelio. Fall, 1994.
However the question should be asked: what if those founding fathers of today’s quantum physics such as Einstein and Planck were right in their assertion that the new breed of statistical probability theorists of the Copenhagen school were wrong to deny causality and truth? What if Einstein was right in stating that “God doesn’t play dice with the universe”? Perhaps the lack of progress in fusion research or fundamental discoveries in general over the 20th century had something to do with the abandonment of a fruitful method of thinking which Einstein, Planck and other great souls understood.
Speaking against the abandonment of causality, Planck argued in his 1935 book The Philosophy of Physics that “the reason why the measurements of atomic physics are inexact need not be looked for necessarily in any failure of causality. It may equally well consist in the formulation of faulty concepts and hence inappropriate questions.”
In the same work, Planck argued that the corruption of science (which has deepened 80 years later) was tied to two fundamental errors: (1) the imposition of mathematics into the dominant position above experimental physics which induced scientists to try to “fit” physical reality into the limited (and often wrong) cage of their mathematical language; and (2) the tendency to withdraw the subjective mind of the scientist from the equation of the objective universe he was investigating. On this point, Planck said:
In dealing with the structure of any science, a reciprocal inter-connection between epistemological judgements and judgements of value was found to arise, and that no science can be wholly disentangled from the personality of the scientists.Max Planck, The Philosophy of Physics
Max Planck: Music as a Fundamental Principle of the Plasma Universe
Towards the end of his life, Max Planck strove passionately to re-infuse scientific practice with the sense of honesty and love which animated the greatest discoveries of human history including his own discoveries of the quantum and Planck’s constant. In both his incredible works The Philosophy of Physics and Where Is Science Going? (1932), Planck makes the point that the wave-particle duality paradox can only be resolved by infusing the mind of the inquirer into the equation and removing the conceptual wall dividing observer from observed.
To clarify the wave-particle paradox and Planck’s resolution, it should be noted that unlike a planet or other projectile, a light photon’s velocity and position cannot be simultaneously measured, for the moment one attempts to “see” a photon, those photons “hitting” the observed “object” change their position before returning to the eye of the observer. Planck states that the resolution to this must be found not in lazily assuming that light must simply have two opposing identities of wave and particle, nor that the truth of its essence cannot be known, but rather that the very definitions of wave and particle—as well as mind itself—must be refined by treating the matter of free will scientifically, for this is the only known case in which the act of observing changes that which is being observed. Planck states:
We may perhaps deal with free will. Looked at subjectively, the will, in so far as it looks to the future, is not causally determined, because any cognition of the subject’s will itself acts causally upon the will, so that any definitive cognition of a fixed causal nexus is out of the question. In other words, we might say that looked at from outside (objectively), the will is causally determined, and that looked at from inside (subjectively) it is free.Max Planck, The Philosophy of Physics
Planck described the role of creative thought in this process most beautifully when he said:
A good working hypothesis is essential for any investigation. This being so, we are faced with the difficult question how we are to set about to find the most suitable hypothesis. For this there can be no general rule. Logical thought by itself does not suffice—not even where it has an exceptionally large and manifold body of experience to aid it. The only possible method consists in immediately gripping the problem or in seizing upon some happy idea. Such an intellectual leap can be executed only by a lively and independent imagination and by a strong creative power, guided by an exact knowledge of the given facts so that it follows the right path.Max Planck, The Philosophy of Physics
While Planck was an accomplished pianist, Einstein spoke relentlessly on the importance of his soul’s adherence to classical music and his love of playing Mozart on his violin. Both men played music together frequently, and both testified to the vital role of performing classical music in allowing them to leap beyond the constraints of logical deductive/inductive reasoning (aka: formal mathematics) which had prevented them from formulating fruitful hypotheses.
On the role of music in scientific discovery, Einstein said:
The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception.4Recorded in a 1969 interview by Shinichi Suzuki, entitled “Nurtured by Love: A New Approach to Education.”Albert Einstein
In another essay, Einstein went even further to describe the role of causality in a Bach fugue as a master key to unlock the mathematically unsolvable problems of the quantum and causality more generally:
I believe that events in nature are controlled by a much stricter and closely binding law than we suspect today, when we speak of one event being the cause of another. Our concept here is confined to one happening within one time section. It is dissected from the whole process. Our present rough way of applying the causal principle is quite superficial… We are like a child who judges a poem by its rhyme, and not by its rhythm. Or, we are like a juvenile learner at the piano just relating one note to that which immediately precedes or follows. To an extent, this may be all very well, when one is dealing with simple compositions; but it will not do for the interpretation of a Bach fugue. Quantum physics has presented us with very complex processes, and to meet them, we must further enlarge and refine our concept of causality.5From Einstein’s appendix to Planck, Max. Where Is Science Going?. Woodbridge CT: Ox Bow Press. 1931.Albert Einstein
To my knowledge, nowhere was this idea better expressed in our modern age than in the short 17-minute video, “Is the Past Fixed? Part II – The Ontology of Mind.”
Max Planck On Putting Our Mind Back in the Driver’s Seat
It may seem that we have deviated from our original theme of a plasma universe. However, that is not so. The only reason why the natural creative evolution of science was artificially derailed during the 20th century was the failure of leading scientists, artists and philosophers to follow the superior method of creative discovery utilised lovingly by the likes of Planck and Einstein, such that fusion power was not achieved on schedule and revolutionary discoveries on par with those of the late 19th-early 20th century failed to occur.
Instead of a new age of breakthroughs in space travel, atomic discoveries and the dawn of world peace as envisioned by the followers of John F. Kennedy, the 20th century saw the formation of a new scientific priesthood and the transformation of society into a consumer cult attempting to forever live in the elusive now—ignorant of the past, fearful of the future and disdainful of human nature.
So as mankind’s understanding begins to penetrate beyond the limits of the heliosphere and into interstellar space, and as new discoveries are made into the secret world of the atom, let us be reminded of the wise words of Planck:
Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature, and that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature, and therefore, part of the mystery that we are trying to solve. Music and art are, to an extent, also attempts to solve, or at least express that mystery. But to my mind, the more we progress with either, the more we are brought into harmony with all nature itself. And that is one of the great services of science to the individual.Max Planck, The Philosophy of Physics
Matthew Ehret is a journalist and co-founder of the Rising Tide Foundation. He has published scientific articles with 21st Century Science and Technology, and is a regular contributor to several political/cultural websites including the Los Angeles Review of Books: China Channel, Strategic Culture, and Oriental Review. He has also authored three books in the Untold History of Canada series.