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).

“Since the time of Langmuir, we know that a double layer is a plasma formation by which a plasma — in the physical meaning of this word — protects itself from the environment. It is analogous to a cell wall by which a plasma — in the biological meaning of this word — protects itself from the environment. If an electric discharge is produced between a cathode and an anode there is a double layer, called a cathode sheath, produced near the cathode that accelerates electrons which carry a current through the plasma. A positive space charge separates the cathode sheath from the plasma. Similarly, a double layer is set up near the anode, protecting the plasma from this electrode. Again, a space charge constitutes the border between the double layer and the plasma. All these double layers carry electric currents.” –  Hannes Alfven– Keynote Address “Double Layers Symposium” (1987) Double Layers in Astrophysics, Proceedings, NASA Huntsville, Alabama March 17-19, 1986.

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.

“.. when, by an immense number of vectors and tensors and integral equations, theoreticians have prescribed what a plasma must do, the plasma — like a naughty child — refuses to obey”  Hannes Alfven– Keynote Address “Double Layers Symposium” (1987) Double Layers in Astrophysics, Proceedings, NASA Huntsville, Alabama March 17-19, 1986.
A key feature of cosmic plasma is known as the “pinch” effect.


The “Bennett Pinch” is named after Willard Harrison Bennett who first investigated them in terrestrial plasmas in the 1930s.


Pyrex tube used by the AEI team at Aldermaston, UK, circa 1951/52 —public domain
The radial magnetic field around pairs of Birkeland Currents can often become strong enough to compress the currents and cause various instabilities.
Source: Wiki
Bennett Pinch in space plasma:-
The pinch-effect can also compress electric currents into cylinders and spheres of plasma – otherwise known as “plasmoids”.
The word plasmoid was coined in 1956 by Winston H. Bostick (1916-1991) to mean a “plasma-magnetic entity” – Wikipedia.
“Plasmoids appear to be plasma cylinders elongated in the direction of the magnetic field. Plasmoids possess a measurable magnetic moment, a measurable translational speed, a transverse electric field, and a measurable size.”
“Plasmoids can interact with each other, seemingly by reflecting off one another. Their orbits can also be made to curve toward one another. Plasmoids can be made to spiral to a stop if projected into a gas at about 10−3 mm Hg pressure.”
“Plasmoids can also be made to smash each other into fragments. There is some scant evidence to support the hypothesis that they undergo fission and possess spin.” – Bostick, Winston H., “Experimental Study of Ionized Matter Projected across a Magnetic Field“, (1956) Physical Review, vol. 104, Issue 2, pp. 292-299
“The global view on vertical current sheet in a solar flare” – plasmoids are present.
Plasmoids have been created in the laboratory.


Artists impression of a plasmoid created via the dense-plasma focus device – as the filament pinches and compresses.
Plasmoids appear to be made in bead-lightning. Electric currents are compressed by powerful magnetic fields along the lightning filament.
These plasma balls are extremely short-lived.
“A plasmoid has an internal pressure stemming from both the gas pressure of the plasma and the magnetic pressure of the field. To maintain an approximately static plasmoid radius, this pressure must be balanced by an external confining pressure. In a field-free vacuum, for example, a plasmoid will rapidly expand and dissipate.” – Wikipedia.
Plasmoids may be formed in cosmic Birkeland Current filaments:-
According to the European Space Agency (ESA)  “Young stars are currently forming in chains along these filaments.”
“The filaments are huge, stretching for tens of light years through space and Herschel has shown that newly-born stars are often found in the densest parts of them.” –
“a growing body of evidence indicates that the formation of filaments in interstellar clouds is a key component of the star formation process” – Astronomy & Astrophysics journal, April 30th 2012 –
This discovery was apparently a “very big surprise”. But it is no surprise to plasma cosmologists.
The mainstream scientists claim, via the use of computer models, that interstellar “sonic booms” from exploding stars are responsible for the star-forming filamentary regions. As they enter the interstellar clouds they dissipate their energy and leave compressed filaments.
Plasma cosmologists have another explanation.
“An electric star is formed by the equivalent of a lightning bolt in a molecular (plasma) cloud. Just like earthly lightning, cosmic lightning scavenges, squeezes and heats matter along the discharge channel.Where the squeeze is most intense, the current may ‘pinch off’ to give the effect of ‘bead lightning.’ In high-energy plasma lab discharges researchers have found that hot plasma ‘beads’ (known as plasmoids) form along the discharge axis before “scattering like buckshot” when the discharge quenches. “ – Wallace Thornhill

The mainstream astrophysics community claims that such plasmoids form as a result of “magnetic re-connection”.

But this notion violates established electrical engineering principles.
“When challenged that open-ended magnetic fields are a violation of Maxwell’s equation (that states the net inward and outward magnetic fluxes are equal for any closed surface) they quibble that Maxwell is not actually violated because a magnetic field line, being an imaginary construct, does not have any magnetic flux associated with it….
“But if there is no flux, there can be no energy transfer. They want things both ways – they claim lines are either real or they are imaginary, depending on the need of the moment to ‘save the theory'” (Scott D. “The Electric Sky”, p.119).
Plasma formations in our “neutral” lower atmosphere
It is true that our senses can deceive us and that just because an object looks like something – it doesn’t mean that it is actually that object. But there’s also another saying….if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck….etc.
What I have attempted to do here is to give a brief overview of some of the more credible looking examples of UFO reports. This has not been an easy task, as most researchers would agree.

Exhibit A

“Cigar-shaped UFO (Rod?) over north UK recorded in early February 2010. This was on tv news on 9th February 2010.”

Source:-…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”

“As I scanned the blue sky I noticed a bright white object coming from North and heading south. I immediately thought “how strange this object looked”. It was a bright white yet transparent looking object. The front and back were rounded just like a long tube. There was a slight discoloration (slightly darker than the bright white/transparent color of the rest of the object) in the middle which gave it the appearance of a band around it.”
Source: –…
Daytime cigar-shaped UFO over Goliyanovo – Moscow, Russia recorded on 13th February 2010

A New Hampshire parent on a tip from the kids watched and photographed a cigar-shaped object as it crossed the sky over their home, according to May 3, 2011, testimony from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) witness reporting database.
“When I got out there it was just flying over the house, “the witness stated. “It seemed to have a black band around the middle. I am certain that it didn’t have any wings.”…

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:-

A powerful magnetic field can also “pinch” aluminium cans into a bipolar shape.
Exhibit C


“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: –…

Note – More twisting morphology of a Birkeland (field-aligned) current.

Exhibit D


“UFO Sceptics Film Strange Objects In The Powys Night Sky”
Source: – 


Exhibit E


“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.”



Exhibit F

Missouri Moving Lights



Described as a  “a slow moving V wing” and “a flying tether” moving at slow speed.


Exhibit G



“Video of strange object flying above farm caught with night shot video camera by George Ritter on August 13, 2009.The object was captured in only one frame of the video indicating it was moving at very high speed. It seems to have a biological or plasma aspect to it. Thanks to George Ritter”
Exhibit H
“CHICAGO –Looking over the western sky in April, I noticed a very small bright flashing light of colors. I grabbed my 8 MP camera with a 200 MM Telephoto lens and took a few shots. I did my best to keep still, but the colors are clear and the shapes are unusual. This didn’t seem right to me when I checked these out on the computer. In the photo there are two samples of the same image. The top left is the original and the close up is about 400% zoom. Both are clear and beautiful. Thanks to MUFON CMS”
Source: –
Exhibit I
“Tennessee Disk”
“TULLAHOMA –My son was on break and shot these photographs with his camera phone just south of Arnold Air Force Base on May 24, 2010, between 1:30 to 1:35 AM. Evidently, there were several people who got photos”
Source: –
Exhibit J
“Florida Flying Oval”“I was in the driveway filming random nonsense not far from Cedar Key on the Gulf Coast around 5:30 AM, and saw the light moving very fast and in different directions. I assumed it was just my eyes but it was not. After almost two minutes, it stopped in mid air. I got a picture of it with my camera phone, but it is not very good. It stayed still in the same location for 13 seconds before fading out.”
Source: –

Exhibit K
“ROCKAWAY – On November 26, 2009, at 3:15 PM, we saw what looked like a star moving very slowly west and then stop. It kept moving slowly for about five minutes when it speeded up and we lost sight of it behind a tree. It looked very high up in the sky because some planes passed by and you could see it was beyond them. The location is 25 miles northwest of New York City.”
Source: –

Exhibit L
“AKRON — This object flew into view behind my house on September 9, 2009, while I was sitting out back about 8:30 to 9 PM. At first I thought it was airplane lights, but they stopped and stood still in one spot for at least a half hour. After about ten minutes I grabbed my Fuji digital camera and took a series of photos a few seconds apart. I could not make out any shapes, only flickering lights, with the naked eye and the screen on the camera. It wasn’t until I zoomed in on the object in Photoshop that I could see the shapes of the object. The UFO was changing shapes as I took the photos.”
Exhibit M



“LONG BEACH — Witness states, From 6:59 to 7:25 pm on March 17, 2009, my sons and I saw another UFO in the skies over Long Beach.  We were in the backyard of my home taking pictures of whatever might look interesting. There was an object that was going from West to East and there was no red or green lights visible [required by FAA regulations].  The object then started to hover and immediately changed direction. We took sixty pictures of the strange lights.”
Source: –
Electric Space Plasma In Our Skies

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:-

A possible plasma explanation can be found by explaining the object as essentially a diocotron instability” in a plasma.
This phenomena may also be found in the upper atmosphere of gas giant planets such as Saturn:- UFO’s seem to have a more detailed concentric ring-structure. Example from Germany:-

Source:-…The morphology is quite similar to the famous “ring nebula” plasma in space:-

And what about the UFO’s reported with V-shaped or triangle morphologies (exhibit G and H) – running along a filament?Plasma physicist Anthony L. Peratt did some experiments with high-voltage plasma several years ago:-

The above is taken from his paper titled “Characteristics for the Occurrence of a High-Current Z-Pinch Aurora as Recorded in Antiquity”, published in IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Vol. 31, No. 6, December 2003.Notice that these plasma formations match the petroglyphs carved into rocks by various peoples’ around the world. Could it possibly be that intense auroras in our past produced these huge plasma instabilities in our skies? And could it be that UFO sightings with similar morphologies – are just greatly scaled-down forms of the same instability?

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:-…

Further, with regard to V-shaped or triangular UFO’s seen in the sky, here is a video recording from Turkey:-

Notice that the lights within the V-shape seem to be connected via a glowing filament?Here is some more laboratory work demonstrating such formations in plasma instabilities:-

“Striations in an electrical discharge tube filled with hydrogen. The left portion is 45.7 centimetres long, the right one 44.4 centimetres. The small tube terminates in a point, the large one in a ring. In the image on top, the point is positively charged, producing 62 disc-shaped strata in the small tube and 12 saucer-shaped ones in the large one. Below, the point is negatively charged, producing 54 disc-shaped strata in the small tube and 13 saucer-shaped ones in the large one. The strata in the small tube were blue, but at times, with a large current, carmine. Copied from photographs, obtained in respectively 15 and 10 seconds. © Warren de la Rue and Hugo W. Müller, 1878″Source: –
“Fast flying UFO from Chamberlain. Pulses in ionised air are clearly visible.”
From  NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope
“The stars are plowing through regions of dense interstellar gas, creating brilliant arrowhead structures and trailing tails of glowing gas.”
Note that the arrow-structure in plasma can exist on its own, and does not necessarily have to appear as a chain of glowing plasma arrows.



Hubble’s Variable Nebula, NGC 2261, Caldwell 46

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.

How could it possibly do this? The electric field of the atmosphere is very weak indeed and particles are generally in a neutral state of charge. Can Birkeland Currents possibly form in an atmosphere of air and moisture and dust?
First of all, consider the fact that de-ionized water can produce a very similar feature to that of a Birkeland Current when there is a voltage applied between two separate water containers at a certain distance:-
“The British proponent of the Electric Universe, Robert Johnson, expands on Gerald Pollack’s work, to show the remarkable similarities between the “floating water bridge” and a Birkeland Current, all the way down to a stable annulus and core-like structure, a bi-directional flow of charged particles, and a rotating outer layer that can be understood in electrodynamic terms.”
Source: –…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.

“M. Azar has studied how a number of the most used textbooks in astrophysics treat important concepts like double layers, critical velocity, pinch effects and circuits. He has found that students using these textbooks remain essentially ignorant of even the existence of these, in spite of the fact that some of them have been well known for half a century [e.g., double layers (Langmuir, 1929) and pinch effect (Bennett, 1934)]. The conclusion is that astrophysics is too important to be left in the hands of the astrophysicists. The billion-dollar telescope data must be treated by scientists who are familiar with laboratory and magnetospheric physics and circuit theory, and of course with modem plasma theory. At least by volume the universe consists of more than 99 percent of plasma, and electromagnetic forces are 10 39 times stronger than gravitation.”