By Houssein Turner
Towards a natural plasma explanation of certain UFO phenomena
The subject of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO’s) may initially create knee-jerk reactions in people as soon as the subject is brought up. And such a reaction may well be understandable. Much of the discourse on the subject that can be found on the internet seems to be associated with theories about extra-terrestials, or secret and nefarious governmental technologies. When people observe strange mobile phenomena in the skies, strange lights and unusual morphologies – they often start to reach conclusions about aliens or conspiracy theories. Skeptics, however, do approach these phenomena with a more careful and scientific mind. Indeed, a large majority of UFO reports have turned out to be fully explainable via mundane natural or manmade phenomena. Some of course, are blatant hoaxes. Other sightings, however, remain mysterious and unresolved. These more credible sightings are considerably harder to find and research.
In this article, I will attempt to offer an explanation for at least some of the unexplained UFO observations in our skies. The often aetheric and dynamic and variable morphologies of the observed phenomena do challenge the notion that they are neccessarily manmade or extra-terrestial vehicles. The behaviour of electrodynamic ionized particles (plasma) in certain double-layer regions of our lower atmosphere deserves serious consideration as a possible driver of these sightings.
Current studies remain inconclusive
In 1967, a conference took place in Boulder, Colorado on the subject of UFO’s and plasma phenomena. Several experts attended – hailing from various university departments around the US, as well as military and governmental research laboratories. UFO research website “Project 1947” has a summary of the proceedings:-
Two choice quotes from the summary are of particular note:-
“Participants with a background in theoretical or experimental plasma physics felt that containment of plasma by magnetic fields is not likely under atmospheric conditions for more than a second or so”
“All participants agreed that the UFO cases presented contained insufficient data for a definitive scientific conclusion.”
Thus, plasma phenomena was obviously given serious consideration for the conference to be organised and go ahead. Unfortunately, it seems that assumptions about plasma behaviour led to the conclusion that our lower atmosphere could not support such plasma phenomena for anywhere near the amount of time that matches the actual observed UFO phenomena.
In the 1990’s the UK government was involved in a series of scientific studies regarding possible natural causes for UFO phenomena. Summaries from these studies became part of a series of declassified documents that the Ministry Of Defence released to the public in 2006. The main conclusion reached from a review of scientific studies was that UFO phenomena are most likely (albeit not certainly) some form of electrical “plasma” phenomena in the atmosphere:-
“Considerable evidence exists to support the thesis that the events are almost certainly attributable to physical, electrical and magnetic phenomena in the atmosphere, mesosphere and ionosphere. They appear to originate due to more than one set of weather and electrically-charged conditions and are observed so infrequently as to make them unique to the majority of observers. There seems to be a strong possibility that at least some of the events may be triggered by meteor re-entry, the meteors neither burning up completely nor impacting as meteorites, but forming buoyant plasmas. The conditions and method of formation of the electrically-charged plasmas and the scientific rationale for sustaining them for significant periods is incomplete or not fully understood”
It is worth noting that the MOD report does not go into detail about the specific types of plasmas and the environmental conditions required for their manifestation. Albeit various triggers for the plasma phenomena are explored.
One theory, mentioned in the declassified documents – suggests that UFO phenomena could be explained by buoyant plasmas that are formed from particular types of entry of meteors into our atmosphere. The report states:-
“It also seems reasonable to assume that any material which, having sped through the atmosphere at enormous velocity and attained a very high ionisation temperature, must exist in gaseous form before dispersing. It is postulated that it may, instead of (or as well as) forming a gaseous plasma viewed as a visible luminous stream, form (due to variations in atmospheric density and other factors) a single or several plasma bodies.”
“Many meteors are of no consequence being microscopic in size. They would not produce a plasma with sufficient energy. However, some of the meteors which have reached the surface as meteorites are known to contain magnetic and other elements. On entering the atmosphere they may already have properties (e.g. electrical or magnetic currents) of unknown magnitude, of which we are unaware and which may influence their final form as they come towards the earth.”
“They will either completely burn up, impact as meteorites or, from the rationale above, it is therefore suggested that under certain conditions the residual material from a meteor could form a buoyant plasma or ‘fireball’ in the lower atmosphere”
The results of a study:-
“It is noted that the co-incidence of peak meteor dates and UAP reports is statistically very high and cannot be due to chance”
It seems meteors were the strongest natural correlation with UAP (UFO) reports – as sunspots and solar flux variations were ruled out as having a correlation.
It is interesting how little attempt is made to explain why so many meteors simply flare up and discharge in our atmosphere as very transient fireballs – without producing dynamic plasma formations. Indeed, many UFO formations that are reported – show horizontal movements across the lower atmosphere as well as a variety of dynamic behaviour. The 1967 Plasma UFO conference found that such plasmas cannot be sustained in the lower atmosphere for more than “a second or so”. What is causing these plasmas to last so long within the lower atmosphere? After all, the MOD states that the UFO phenomena is not confined to our upper ionized atmospheric layers.
The declassified material leaves the mechanisms for formation, an open question:-
“The precise electrical and atmospheric conditions for UAP formation cannot be determined from the evidence available.”
In this article, I will offer an introduction to the nature of plasma in space and in the laboratory. I will then present evidence to suggest that plasma phenomena and electric currents in the universe present the same morphologies as can be observed in UFO phenomena. I will show that the same electric field and double-layer conditions for cosmic and laboratory plasma phenomena can potentially be applied to our lower atmosphere. The implications of this are that our lower atmosphere can, at least, temporally – behave like a quasi-neutral plasma with specific boundary regions (between alternating “double layers” of opposing charge) that can sustain powerful electric fields and highly complex and dynamic buoyant plasmas. These plasmas may account for a good deal of UFO sightings. Specific case-studies are presented here for comparison purposes with plasma instabilities and states – such as Birkeland Currents, Bennett Pinches, and Perratt instabilities.
A basic overview of plasma
Plasma is a highly electrically conductive state of matter. It is a configuration or medium of matter which has a certain constant percentage of freely moving particles with electrical charge. Plasmas are very good conductors. Cosmic plasmas are typically mixtures of free electrons, positive ions and neutral atoms that are considerably diffuse. Importantly, space plasmas are not perfect conductors and there are weak longitudinal electric fields within them. Indeed, most plasma is in a “quasi-neutral” state with extremely low voltage differences within a typical small distance cross-section. But over large distances, plasma can produce very powerful electric fields and steep voltage gradients concentrated in boundary zones known as “double layers”. These layers separate areas of plasma with different characteristics – such as density, temperature and elemental composition.
Electric currents and magnetic fields are the dominant force within such a plasma medium. And electromagnetism is 10(42) more powerful than gravity.
“Due to its interaction with electromagnetism, plasmas display a complexity in structure far exceeding that of matter in gaseous, liquid, or solid states. It has a tendency to form into cellular and filamentary structures.”
As plasma physicist Wal Thornhill says – plasma can “self-organize into cells of differing electrical characteristics. Electric currents in plasma form ﬁlaments that attract each other at long distances and repel each other at short distances. These ﬁlaments tend to braid themselves into “ropes” that act as power transmission lines, with virtually no limit to the distances over which they can operate.”
“In the rareﬁed plasma of space, the subtle ﬂow of electricity is not easily measured, but these currents leave a deﬁnitive signature. A network of magnetic ﬁelds throughout the observed universe. Astronomers detect these ﬁelds but give no attention to the electric cause: magnetic ﬁelds are produced only by electricity.”
“Exceedingly subtle charge imbalances, across the immense volume of space, are quite sufﬁcient to conﬁgure and animate cosmic structures at all scales of observation”
– “Thunderbolts Of The Gods” – D. Talbott & W. Thornhill, 2005.
In his paper at the American Institute of Physics’ “First Crisis in Cosmology” conference in 2005, electrical engineering professor Dr Donald E. Scott stated that “fundamental disagreements about the properties and behaviour of electro-magnetic fields in [space] plasmas exist between the science of modern astronomy and the experimentally verified laws of electrical engineering and physics”.
Mainstream theorists claim that magnetic fields begin and end on molecular clouds of space plasma (they are apparently “frozen-in”), whereas electrical engineers state that laboratory evidence proves that magnetic fields have no beginning and end.
Birkeland Currents are a prominent feature in plasma that makes up the Earth’s ionosphere.
They are named after the Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland.
In 1908, Birkeland wrote that “currents there [in the aurora] are imagined as having come into existence mainly as a secondary effect of the electric corpuscles from the sun drawn in out of space”.
“Birkeland proposed in 1908 in his book The Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition 1902-1903 that polar electric currents, today referred to as auroral electrojets, were connected to a system of currents that flowed along geomagnetic field lines into and away from the polar region. Such field-aligned currents are known today as Birkeland currents in his honour.” – Wikipedia
After being generally dismissed, his theory was finally verified when U.S. Navy satellite 1963-38C was sent into space in 1963. It was equipped with a magnetometer which measured the strength and direction of magnetic fields in the ionosphere.
The ionosphere is part of the upper atmosphere of the Earth. The ionosphere typically consists of plasma in the “dark-mode” state – in other words, it is not of sufficient Birkeland-current density to be glowing. When the sun produces a particularly powerful storm of electrically charged particles – the ionosphere can start to enter “glow-mode” as the current density increases.
Birkeland Currents are amazingly efficient mechanisms of transmitting electricity through space. The behaviour of these current filaments are often highly dynamic.
In the filament – the electric current becomes insulated from the surrounding space plasma due to the existence of a spinning vortex of charged particles around the central axial current. The rotating vortex consists of layers of positive and negative charge that are adjacent to each other. They form “double layer” sheaths that prevent the central current from discharging into the bulk plasma surrounding it.
“Double layers” are an area of plasma which separate two different regions of plasma with different characteristics. The voltages and particle velocities in such regions can be very high indeed. Double-layers come in different manifestations (which are explored in more detail here) and produce complex electric-field fluctuations and particle interactions within the boundary zone separating two different types of plasma, or separating different electric potentials. Hence, there is no simple discharge of electricity as one would expect from most regions of high voltage break-down (e.g.. static electricity and lightning).
In a Birkeland Current, each particle follows the magnetic field which is present at its particular location. The movement of charged particles in these magnetic fields, also results in the particle creating its own magnetic field.
The further away a particle is from the central axis – the more circular its path.
The helical rotation outward from the axial current creates further electromagnetic forces that contribute to the stability of the Birkeland Current.
Birkeland Currents almost always occur in pairs. Currents that often spiral and twist around each other.
Their interaction is governed by Ampère’s force law. Two axial currents that are moving in the same direction will attract each other if they are parallel. This attractive force is inversely proportional to their distance apart.
Birkeland Currents create a long-range attractive force from the axial currents, but a short-range repulsive one from the radial spiralling currents between filaments.
“Analysis shows that there is an offset in the centers of the attractive forces that results in a couple, or force of rotation, acting on each current. The twin currents will therefore tend to spiral around a common axis in a helical motion.”
The complex interactions between these currents result in a highly complex and dynamic observable universe. Regions of differing plasma density, temperature, atomic composition interact and help create regional “cells” of plasma.
These cellular regions are manifested in nebulae, inter-stellar clouds, galaxies and other phenomena.
Plasma dynamics are often so complex that they are impossible to perfectly model collectively. Our understanding of bulk interactions is still at an infancy.
The mainstream astrophysics community claims that such plasmoids form as a result of “magnetic re-connection”.
“Cigar-shaped UFO (Rod?) over north UK recorded in early February 2010. This was on tv news on 9th February 2010.”
http://www.latest-ufo-sightings.net/2010/02/cigar-shaped-ufo-over-n…Note – The twist morphology of the filament is reminiscent of that of a Birkeland Current. The lights present may be areas where the current is “pinched” by powerful magnetic fields into plasmoids.
Exhibits B1, B2 and B3 (Bi-polar pinches)
“Cigar shaped UFO over Yuba City, California”
Source: – http://lightsinthetexassky.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/cigar-shaped-ufo-…
Note – The bi-polar glowing aetheric structures are reminiscent of the “Bennett Pinch” nebula shown above, as well as other bipolar plasma “pinches” (via compressive magnetic fields) in space double-layers:-
“I never in my life see any UFO until November 20, 2000 it was close to 7 AM near my work place exactly at the corner of I-45 S and Wayside.
I saw (And at least one coworker told me he saw it too) this silver tube flying very slowly, it seems to be close by but I’m not sure. it seems like it was traveling towards Houston’s downtown. I stop at the gas station at this intersection took a couple of pictures and show it to my coworkers, we check with a couple of agencies and no one could explain what this thing could be.”
Source: – http://lightsinthetexassky.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/cylindercigar-sha…
Note – More twisting morphology of a Birkeland (field-aligned) current.
“UFO Sceptics Film Strange Objects In The Powys Night Sky”
“BEDFORD – Bill Stephenson a MUFON investigator met with me and provided as series of photos taken by his grandson. .Four witnesses spotted a huge triangle at 9 PM, on Sunday, August 9, 2009, above I-70 with white bright lights on each corner. You could make out the triangle form very clearly. Its altitude was about 2000 feet above the mountains. Photos were taken, but the screen was blank. Thanks to Bill Stephenson.”
Source: – http://ufoweek.com/2010/10/27/ufo-light-show-chicago-illinois/
Source: – http://uforna.net/recent-global-sightings.php
Source: – http://uforna.net/recent-global-sightings.php
Source: – http://uforna.net/recent-global-sightings.php
The above photos show examples of the twisting filamentary morphology present in Birkeland Currents in space. The image of the bi-polar shaped UFO (of which there are other examples available online) resembles the Bennett Pinch present in the nebula example above. Of course, none of the eye-witness accounts and photographs represent actual proof that this is plasma phenomena – however, the plasma hypothesis is arguably the most suitable given the lack of credible alternatives.There are other accounts of UFO’s which have different morphologies, such as ring UFO’s with various lights within the ring. Two examples being here:-
http://www.holoscience.com/wp/the-dragon-storm/?article=xewq47rtSome UFO’s seem to have a more detailed concentric ring-structure. Example from Germany:-
Another example of a UFO shows a life-like and almost “spinal” morphology:-
This morphology is, most likely – a Peratt instability in the form of a stack of plasma toroids. They (and other related phenomena) are discussed in Anthony’s paper which can be found here:- http://www.scribd.com/doc/14145750/Anthony-Peratt-Characteristics-f…
Further, with regard to V-shaped or triangular UFO’s seen in the sky, here is a video recording from Turkey:-
Crucially, the plasma hypothesis requires an acceptance of the possibility that our lower atmosphere can behave, at least partially or temporarily – like the plasma in space.
Source: – http://www.thunderbolts.info/wp/2012/06/06/plasma-behavior-in-the-f…With this behaviour in mind, is it pertinent to consider the possibility that Birkeland Currents can form in our lower atmosphere? The powerful electromagnetic radiation given off by terrestial thunderstorms suggests that powerful electric fields must be present to generate the lightning. But no such fields have been recorded. In a paper I wrote for the NPA I consider a hypothesis that field-aligned (Birkeland) currents are shielding the true electric fields present via the possible presence of double-layers:-
Note, that lightning does have a twist-morphology demonstrating magnetic forces acting on the current filament:-
Thus our atmosphere can obviously become ionized at least temporally. If Birkeland Currents are present in thunder-storms then so must the existence of plasma “double-layers”. – powerful electric fields concentrated and confined within thin boundary layers between rotating zones of opposing charge. Hence these electric fields are not detectable outside these thin layers.
The question to ask, regarding some UFO phenomena – is whether they are manifestations of a plasma discharge occurring within a double-layer in our lower atmosphere. Plasmas typically cannot store high-value electric fields and large voltages between any small distance or area, and the state of the electrical field tends to be quasi-neutral. But at specific and thin boundary zones, the voltage and electric field can be much greater and be confined within that zone. If our sun is periodically emitting charged particles at a greater than average density – can we really say that all of them will simply enter the magnetosphere and become confined to the poles or become confined to our ionosphere?
We have found already that powerful electric currents flow in an intermittent fashion and we already know that powerful solar storms can even induce electric currents in power grids via the action of magnetic fields that disrupt the infrastructure. The question is – do electric fields from variable and periodic bursts of charged particles entering the upper atmosphere create localised sharp voltage gradients in our lower atmosphere? This possibility deserves serious consideration by the scientific community.
The plasma-like and aetheric behaviour of these UFO sightings might be generated primarily via an upper layer with high electric potential and electric fields localised within a double-layer cross-section of the atmosphere. Depending on the composition of the atmosphere or the charged particles present – a complex series of double-layer circuits could possibly form within a cross-section of the Earth’s atmosphere. The powerful electric field within these double-layers can cause particle acceleration in various directions. Plasma present in glow-mode or bright arc-mode may maintain its discharge for as long as there is a sufficient electric field present above the area of atmosphere that it is passing through.
Important developments in plasma physics may finally reveal that our universe is not only more electric than we have imagined – but also our planet may be a key component in that circuit. Plasma is a unique state of matter and it has been known to take almost life-like forms and highly complex and unpredictable morphologies and behaviours. These behaviours may explain certain UFO sightings often assumed to be that of top-secret technology or even alien craft.
Presentation at “Double Layers in Astrophysics” Symposium, Huntsvil…