Tuesday, January 1, 2013

An Electric Universe!?

It turns out that the Higgs Boson that was finally discovered over the summer isn't acting like a Higgs Boson should. A renegade school of plasma cosmologists are claiming that the universe isn't what mainstream physicists think it is. The Guardian reports:
The core thesis of Electric Universe cosmology is that the predominant force in the Universe is not [gravity], as the Standard Model would have us believe, but rather, a vastly more powerful force: electromagnetism. The consequences of this difference are enormous. For instance, we now have a Sun whose power does not come from within it, but from outside. Both the Sun and other generators of power in the universe – Black Holes, pulsars, quasars, etc. – are rather to be understood as nodes in a cosmic webwork of electrical filaments spanning the universe. A star like our Sun is best understood as a node where two or more such filaments meet in space.
Yikes! Does this mean that a transporter beam is just around the corner? That would be way cool.
The stakes are high, so the resistance is fierce. If the Electric Universe people are right, all physicists now working, are working on nothing; all physics students are learning nothing; enormous sums of money have been allocated for nothing. A scientific crisis quickly morphs into a vast professional crisis. And we who simply wish to learn about the universe will have to start over again from scratch.
I don't know enough physics to have even a laughable opinion on this fracas, but THAT characterization of physics matches a view I sometimes have of my home discipline, literary criticism. Getting serious about describing texts isn't quite starting over from scratch, but it's a gesture in that direction.

H/t Tim Morton.

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