The Electric Universe

The Electric Universe  (

"And Tebow steps back to throw... the crowd is electric, I tell ya..."

So many of these “alternative theory” sites are devoted to taking down Einstein that it’s refreshing to come across one that merely attacks all of Astronomy.  And it’s a quirky theory too, with verve and spirit you don’t often find in the typical “Relativity Is Wrong” crowd.  The Electric Universe crowd believes electricity, of all things, is responsible for just about everything going on out in space.  Stars?  Electric, not thermonuclear fusion.  Star formation?  Electric, not … uh… well, whatever the accepted standard theory of star formation is.  Craters and other geological features seen on other planets?  Electrical, not asteroid impacts and geology.  Weather on earth?  Generated by electricity out in space, not by the collective action of thousands of butterfly wings on all continents1.  For some reason, they believe electricity is the main driving force behind just about everything out in space, contrary to what standard astrophysicists believe.

The whole thing seems to hinge on the similarity between phenomena in outer space to electrical phenomena in the lab — apparently, big spiral galaxies look a whole lot like plasma balls.  While most conventional astronomers maintain that gravity is the most important force in shaping the universe, in creating stars, galaxies, and other phenomena.  The Electric Universe crowd argues that electromagnetism is much more important than gravity.  Why?  They seem to have some serious grudges against gravity, and a major love affair with electricity.  Why electricity?  It doesn’t seem to make sense, unless they are being paid under the table by the electricity lobby.  Tired of the good press gravity always gets, the Electricity Lobby has labored for years to improve the worldly status of electricity.  Well, now they’re tired of playing nice — kissing babies, attending grand openings of malls, and running nearly every appliance and device on earth are apparently not enough.  It’s time to take the fight to gravity’s home turf — everywhere else in the universe.  Or at least that’s what I think.

Our scores are:

1.  Terrible English:   No, for the most part the grammar and spelling are fine.  Not quite up to the objective, dispassionate language of conventional science, but still fairly decent.  Two out of ten.

2.  All Science Is WRONG:  Apparently all of astronomy is wrong.  They don’t seem to leave a single hot astronomy topic alone — black holes, neutron stars, gamma ray bursts, dark matter, dark energy, all of it is apparently caused by electricity.  Even Einstein gets a parting shot — they criticize his use of “thought experiments”, i.e. imagining a scenario that would be hard to produce in the lab, such as traveling near the speed of light.  I had thought they would spare Einstein, the favorite punching bag of most pseudo-physicists, but apparently you need to attack him to keep up your credibility in this crowd.  Nine out of ten.

3.  Irritated, emotional language:  Here’s an excerpt, on the supposed non-existence of neutron stars:

…[M]ainstream astrophysicists continue to postulate the existence of stars made up of solid material consisting only of neutrons, “Neutronium”. This is yet one more example of Fairie Dust entities fantasized by astrophysicists to explain otherwise inexplicable observations. The “neutron star” is simply yet another fantasy conjured up, this time, in order to avoid confronting the idea that pulsar discharges are electrical phenomena. A proton-free nucleus or “charge free” atom made up of only neutrons has never been synthesized in any laboratory nor can it ever be. In fact, a web search on the word “neutronium” will produce only references to a computer game not to any real, scientific discussion or description.

As a web-page publisher, it warms my heart to see that web-page searching is the final arbiter of the validity of scientific theories.  If your theory isn’t discussed on the web, it’s clearly baseless — even worse, if it happens to share a name with a computer game.  The only flaw I can see in this judgment scheme is that it could be abused, as the proponents of a theory could simply create their own webpages to make their theories seem more accepted.  Thank heavens the Electric Universe people haven’t succumbed to the temptation of abuse…   Eight out of ten.

I’ve got to go find that neutronium video game…

4.  One extremely long and ugly webpage:   Oh God, tell me why these people insist on small-font webpages with the white-text-on-black-background motif?  The folks at are the worst offenders.  If they’re not being secretly funded by the electric company, then the real financiers of this pseudoscience cabal is Excedrin, Inc.  Six out of ten, as a collective judgment on the handful of main webpages devoted to this theory.

5.  Completely new definitions:   Eh, not really.  More of an application of definitions and ideas from one scientific topic (electromagnetism) to another (astronomy).  One out of ten.

The crowd is positively “electric”, waiting for the results — 26 out of ten.  A mediocre score, regrettable since this particular pseudoscience theory is pretty original and interesting.



1.           I’m of course just kidding  — the beating of butterfly wings do not cause the weather.  That’s just a common misconception.  Butterflies do cause pure evil, however.


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