Sunday, May 19, 2013



Birkeland currents created in a laboratory. Public domain.
Now, to resume the discussion of whether the petroglyphs in question are insects (more specifically the arthropod known as an earwig), or whether they are representations of the plasma phenomenon known as a Birkeland current. Last week I ended with this quote from“Birkeland currents are also one of a class of plasma phenomena called a z-pinch, so named because the azimuthal magnetic fields produced by the current pinches the current into a filamentary cable. This can also twist, producing a helical pinch that spirals like a twisted or braided rope, and this most closely corresponds to a Birkeland current. Pairs of parallel Birkeland currents can also interact; parallel Birkeland currents moving in the same direction will attract with an electromagnetic force inversely proportional to their distance apart (Note that the electromagnetic force between the individual particles is inversely proportional to the square of the distance, just like the gravitational force); parallel Birkeland currents moving in opposite directions will repel with an electromagnetic force inversely proportional to their distance apart. There is also a short-range circular component to the force between two Birkeland currents that is opposite to the longer-range parallel forces.
Electrons moving along a Birkeland current may be accelerated by a plasma double layer. If the resulting electrons approach relativistic velocities (ie. the speed of light) they may subsequently produce a Bennett pinch, which in a magnetic field will spiral and emit synchrotron radiation that includes radio, optical (ie. light), x-rays, and gamma rays.” (
The penumbra of a dense plasma focus, from a discharge current
 of 174,000 amperes.The rotational structure of the penumbra has
 a periodicity of 56, as shown by the 56-dot overlay pattern. In this
 photo the Birkeland current is manifested in  a multiple of 56.
Credit A. Peratt, Los Alamos National Laboratory
These effects were originally “predicted in 1908 by  Kristian Birkeland, who undertook expeditions beyond the Arctic Circle to study the aurora.” ( Subsequent scientific debate and laboratory and field experimentation provided explanation of the theory and began to accumulate data.

Birkeland current diagram. Public domain.
In 1966 Alfred Zmuda, J.H. Martin, and F.T. Heuring reported their findings of magnetic disturbance in the aurora, using a satellite magnetometer, but did not mention . . . .field-aligned currents, even after it was brought to their attention by editor of the space physics section of the journal, Alex Dressler.
In 1967 Alex Dessler and one of his graduates students, David Cummings, wrote an article arguing that Zmuda et. al. had indeed detected field align-currents. Even Alfvén subsequently credited (1986) that Dessler "discovered the currents that Birkeland had predicted" and should be called Birkeland-Dessler currents.
In 1969 Milo Schield, Alex Dessler and John Freeman, used the name "Birkeland currents" for the first time. In 1970, Zmuda, Armstrong and Heuring wrote another paper agreeing that their observations were compatible with field-aligned currents as suggested by Cummings and Dessler, and by Bostrom, but again made no mention of Alfvén and Birkeland.
In 1970, a group from Rice University also suggested that the results of an earlier rocket experiment was consistent with field-aligned currents, and credited the idea to Boström, and Dessler and his colleagues, rather than Alfvén and Birkeland. In the same year, Zmudu and Amstrong did credit Alfvén and Birkeland, but felt that they "...cannot definitely identify the particles constituting the field-aligned currents." (
Finally, in 1973, satellite evidence was collected that seems to have proven the existence of the effects originally predicted by Birkeland.
“It wasn't until 1973 that the navy satellite Triad, carrying equipment from Zmuda and James Armstrong, detected the magnetic signatures of two large sheets of electric current. Their papers (1973, 1974) reported "more conclusive evidence" of field-aligned currents, citing Cummings and Dessler . . .” (
Now we are in familiar territory; this seems to be the old “Lost Knowledge of the Ancients argument.” If it took modern science from 1908 to 1973, and the use of a satellite in earth orbit to prove the possibility of Birkeland currents, which satellite did the prehistoric Native Americans of the American southwest use to discover this phenomenon?
Village of the Great Kivas, Zuni, photo Teresa Weedin.
And while we are at it, let us just look at the images. Which do the petroglyphs look more like, the earwig, or the Birkeland current diagrams? On second thought we don’t need Occam’s razor to evaluate this – the Birkeland current argument is obviously a fallacy - sorry Anonymous.

Oh, and by the way, if you search the internet you can find out that Birkeland currents are also involved in the human aura, as well as in UFO sightings which makes them even more exciting - but not any more correct as an explanation.


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