Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:33 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
wow, michael, lots of food for thought there, especially http://www.nofc.forestry.ca/fire/faq_lightning_e.php
which i perused quite thoroughly and learned many things i didn't know.
first let me summarize what the standard model is saying as i understand it.
the AMS Glossary and CFS Lightning FAQ (ignoring the first two articles, which are pay-per-view) seem to be saying the same thing: the earth is an electrically closed system, the solid earth is overall a negatively charged body, and earth+atmosphere is overall neutral. there is no connection to space. electrical processes are driven by mechanical processes, specifically wind and gravity.
If they're saying the Earth is an electrically "closed" system, I beg to differ, unless my understanding of "closed" is mistaken.
(NASA Spacecraft Make New Discoveries About Northern Lights)
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/themi ... ights.html
(30 kV battery in space; sun pumps 650,000 amp current into the arctic!)
If the sun is acting as the central electrode in something equivalent to a plasma globe (supplying current to Earth; like filaments connecting to fingers on the glass):
Then it seems to me that the Earth CANNOT be a closed system. We're constantly on the receiving end of solar current. Perhaps constantly discharging as well.
(Birkeland's terella w/ input shown in glow / arc mode. Decent enough stand-in for the sun -> earth current.)
The sun is likely also on the receiving end of galactic-scale currents.
While I don't know if I have an answer per se, isn't an electric field generally set up by (for lack a better term) clouds of oppositely charged particles? With potential between them?
absolutely true, the question is what drives the charge separation. in the standard model, the earth is like an electric dynamo, in EU it's like an electric motor..... someone correct me if i'm wrong.
and according to the leaky-capacitor-connected-to-space model, there must be a net flow of electrons out of earth and positive ions into earth. right?
i guess i assumed that they would "go quietly": electrons go up, ions go down. but maybe the paths are not straight up and down. maybe they wind and twist and turn and stop for lunch. maybe at any given point in the atmosphere there could be electricity going in any direction, just like this river doesn't just go in a straight line from its source to the ocean:
... Good on ya', led into another spot where EU and mainstream disagree. I think that in many ways, the EU disagrees that charge must be "forcibly separated
." If plasma makes up 99+ % of the visible matter in he universe, is it possible that charges could already be separated (we know that plasma forms double layers that serve to [some say "protectively"; in similar fashion to blood palsma] insulate regions of differing temperature, composition, charge, etc. etc.), and the processes we're seeing are simply from charges attempting to (though various process) come to a more neutral state of "least interaction?"
IE, as I noted above, the mainstream model implies that space is neutral or a nearly complete vacuum (not so much as it once did, since we've found plasma everywhere we've looked). They consider Earth to be a "closed" system or a "closed" circuit. They are therefore bounded by that assumption. If Earth is "closed," they cannot consider current flow from without.
Therein lies the rub (heh; couldn't help thinking "static electricity" for a a moment there...), insofar as they must come up with ways to explain currents and such without an external source. They must also consider any "separated charges" to have been forcibly separated through some process.
Hence why they often refer to dust devils as being "charged" triboelectrically, despite having found dust devils that remain contiguous over much of their lifespan despite being free of dust
! See the first post in the [Electric?] Watespouts, Landspouts and Dust Devils, oh my! thread.
Whereas, the EU model sees the Earth as a leaky capacity in electrical interaction with other bodies in space, as demonstrated above by the recent announcement of "flux ropes" (Birkeland currents). Earth is not a closed system. It receives external input, roughly following magnetic field lines. As such, we MUST at least consider the possibility
that "separate charges" were emplaced in their pre-separated (ionized) state from an external source (flux tubes, Birkeland currents, ion beams/strahl in the solar wind, the solar wind itself [being only quasi-neutral
, NOT completely
neutral]). As such it is a distinct possibility that the "leaky capacitor" goes both ways. IE, the Earth may receive charge FROM SPACE, but it may also discharge [url=http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2006/ ... sprite.htm
At the least, this seems to violate the "closed system" model of the Earth, and is suggestive of a need to consider multiple-body interactions, and Earth->space / space->Earth interactions in some of the models. IE, perhaps clouds' charge is not due to some "mysterious charge-separation-of-neutral-matter" scenario, but is simply indicative that the atmosphere has received a specific charge from space, and that charge has migrated to a region of the atmosphere conducive to temporarily storing the charge, until such time as it is DIS-charged (either to "ground" or to space).
Last edited by mgmirkin on Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:27 pm; edited 4 times in total