I first wrote a critique of the electric star hypothesis in 1998, which I posted to my webpage some time later …
I wrote my serious criticism of the electric sun hypothesis back in 2001 (last updated in 2004) …
Don Scott wrote a rebuttal against my 2004 arguments in 2007. The original webpage no longer exists, but the document is still hanging around in PDF format …
It's now 2014 so of course both of these are somewhat out of date. I have not updated my webpages on the electric sun & electric universe hypotheses, but I am no longer "the only game in town". Space physics expert Tom Bridgman has taken up the cause far more prolifically than I have, and in much greater detail …
Nevertheless, I have had several requests to update myself, and in particular to respond to Scott's rebuttal. I do that here, starting with the first section of his rebuttal, dealing with solar neutrinos and neutrino oscillation. Let me start by saying that the standard model of solar physics is not some kind of guess, but is supported by a monumental amount of evidence based on the laws of physics and on laboratory experiments. There are literally hundreds of books and thousands of peer-reviewed research papers in which the scientific case for the standard physics of the sun & stars is laid out for all to see. Here is a list of books I have selected from my own library, which elucidate the real depth & breadth of solar & stellar astrophysics. The books review what we know in detail, but also point out the real questions that remain unanswered, a guide towards what we still have to learn. These books are effective antidotes to all aspects of the electric sun & electric star hypotheses. But they are real science & math & physics books, not designed for "popular" audiences. Here you will find the real science laid out in detail.
Let us start at the beginning. On page 1 of his rebuttal Scott says: "… a sufficient flux of these crucial electron neutrinos can only be inferred if it is shown that they (e-neutrinos) can 'oscillate' into different types of neutrinos (types which were not measured)." And on page 2 Scott asserts that the oscillation of one neutrino type into another has not actually been observed. This is the basis for his continued argument that the observed flux of solar neutrinos was, in 2007, still a serious problem for standard solar physics, despite the fact that the community of working solar physicists had long since decided there was no problem. What did Scott think he knew that evaded the entire solar physics community? I don't know. However, I do know that his assertion that the oscillation of neutrinos from one type to another had not been observed was itself factually false. To demonstrate how I know, I present the following short list of peer-reviewed, published scientific research papers, culled from a list of about 1400 relevant papers, which I spent a couple of hours searching through.
See the paper, "Maximum likelihood analysis of the first KamLAND results", Aldo Ianni, Journal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics, 29(9): 2107-2114, September 2003. The author performs a rigorous statistical analysis of the results reported by the Eguchi, et al., paper. He shows that the statistical significance of the neutrino oscillation hypothesis is "about 90%", and that the "hypothesis of no disappearance" is rejected with a confidence level of 99.9%.
See the paper, "indications of Neutrino Oscillation in a 250km Long-Baseline Experiment", Ahn, et al., Physical Review Letters 90(4): paper 041801, January 2003. This study samples neutrinos 250 kilometers from the source, and also finds a statistically significant deficit. The probability that the deficit observed can be explained by a statistical fluctuation, without the hypothesis of neutrino oscillation, is less than 1%
See the paper, "Evidence for an Oscillatory Signature in Atmospheric Neutrino Oscillations", Ashie, et al., Physical Review Letters 93(10): paper 101801, September 2004. This study observes the distribution of muon neutrino flight length as a function of energy and observes a dip in the distribution consistent with the sinusoidal oscillation probability. The results fit the neutrino oscillation hypothesis with a confidence level of 90%.
See the paper, "Measurement of Neutrino Oscillation with KamLAND: Evidence of Spectral Distortion", Araki, et al., Physical Review Letters 94(8): paper 081801, March 2005. This is a continuation of the KamLAND study published in 2003, with more data since the instruments have all continued to run. The disappearance of anti-neutrinos, as obviously required by the neutrino oscillation hypothesis, is confirmed again, at the stronger confidence level of 99.998%. But now there are enough data to see the distortion of the energy spectrum, also predicted by the neutrino oscillation hypothesis. That distortion is confirmed at the confidence level of 99.6%. The combination of both particle disappearance and energy spectrum distortion exclude the no-oscillation hypothesis at the confidence level of 99.999995% (also see Inoue, 2005).
See the paper, "Measurement of neutrino oscillation by the K2K experiment", Ahn et al., Physical Review D 74(7): paper 072003, October 2006. This is the KEK to Kamioka long baseline experiment, with neutrinos measured 300 meters and 250 kilometers from the generating reactor. The disappearance of muon neutrinos from the beam, and the distortion of the neutrino energy spectrum confirm the neutrino oscillation hypothesis with a certainty level of 4.3σ (the probability of reproducing these data in the absence of the oscillation hypothesis is 0.0015%).
Now, let me point out something else Scott says about neutrinos, which I think is really important (and he says it in large, boldface type): "There is no way that measurements made at only one end (here on Earth) of a transmission channel (that stretches from the Sun’s center to Earth) can reveal changes that occur farther up the channel (say, within the Sun itself, or near Mercury or Venus)." This is, strictly speaking, not true, and belies a hidden lack of respect for the most fundamental principles that make science the thing it is. Science, above all, is firmly based on the simple concept of reasonable inference from observation, where the word "reasonable" injects an obvious element of subjectivity into something that is otherwise alleged to be completely objective, but in reality is not. That concept plays an important part here.
The hypothesis that the sun is powered by internal nuclear fusion allows us to predict in advance how many neutrinos we should see. We know that most of the sun's energy comes from proton-proton fusion (PP), we know a small fraction comes from the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen catalytic cycle (CNO), and we know the number & energy of the neutrinos generated by these reactions. The first solar neutrino detection experiments in 1968 measured about half of the flux predicted by theory. That was a genuine problem. Those experiments could detect only electron neutrinos. There was already an hypothesis in place that allowed for neutrinos to "oscillate", meaning to transmute from one type to another. So it was natural to ask if we could test the hypothesis that solar electron neutrinos were oscillating into another type that evaded detection. So new experiments were designed that were sensitive to all types of neutrinos. Now if an electron neutrino oscillates into another type, it does not evade detection, now we can measure all of the solar neutrinos. That was done and the total measured flux of all types of neutrinos was found to be equal to the flux of electron neutrinos predicted to be emitted by the sun. It is more likely that these counts are the same because neutrinos oscillate, than that it's a random coincidence. This is in fact serious empirical evidence that neutrinos do oscillate, despite measurements being done at only one end of the transmission channel, because in physics we have both experimental & theoretical evidence. Scott is right to argue that there is an obvious weakness with measurements at only one end, but wrong to argue that such a result should be ignored. His use of extra large, bold face type is intended to prejudice the reader and hide the fact that his argument is much weaker than he presents it to be. My webpage on solar fusion & neutrinos might be worth a review on this topic, though I have not updated that page since about 2005, so not all the links may have survived the test of time:
Of course, scientists are all aware of that weakness, so it is no surprise that immediately they embarked on a plan of research illustrated by the papers I have listed above. If neutrinos really do oscillate, then we should be able to see it in Earth bound, extended laboratory experiments, and so we do. We can generate a directed beam of neutrinos, sample that beam at various points, and see that neutrinos of various types are disappearing, and that is exactly what has been documented above. We now have observations at both ends of the terrestrial transmission channels, and the results we measure here are consistent with the solar neutrino results.
So the bottom line is simply this: As of today, 28 January 2014, we know that neutrinos oscillate, and we know that the total flux of observed solar neutrinos of all types is equal to the predicted flux of electron neutrinos, it's all self consistent, and all consistent with physics as we know it. And that brings me back to something I said up at the top of the page: Let me start by saying that the standard model of solar physics is not some kind of guess, but is supported by a monumental amount of evidence based on the laws of physics and on laboratory experiments. The laws of physics do not exist as a list of independent statements. Rather, they are a tightly interconnected set of rules that must all be simultaneously true at all times. When I say we can predict the solar electron neutrino flux from the standard physics of the sun & stars, you may reasonably ask what that standard solar physics is and where it coms from. The easy answer is that it's in the books I listed above. We make models of what we think the sun should look like, deep inside where we cannot see, based on the simultaneous validity of the laws of the physics for gases, plasmas, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, hydrodynamics, and nuclear physics, just to name the prominent few. The hard requirement that they all be simultaneously true everywhere and everywhen turns out so seriously restrict our ability to pretend what the sun looks like inside. Keep this in mind while I momentarily change the subject, it's important.
Enter the science of helioseismology (see the book "Stellar Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics", listed above, for all the details). The observation of vibrational modes visible at the "surface" of the sun makes it possible to determine the real-time internal structure of the sun (most importantly, the temperature & density as a function of depth), which in turn makes it possible to determine the rate of nuclear fusion reactions as a function of depth inside the sun (the reactions are extremely sensitive to temperature). One of the great achievements of helioseismology is to confirm the previously developed solar models. This is extremely important: Armed with our observations of the physical conditions for the solar photosphere, and using them as boundary conditions in applying the extensive collection of the laws of physics, in ever more complicated models, we are able to make a physical model of what we think the sun should look like inside. You could reasonably argue that we don't know that's what it looks like, but only that we think that's what it looks like. The edifice of solar & stellar physics has built up over the decades using precisely this reasoning. Now, we finally have a tool that will verify those models by telling us what the sun really looks like, right now, all of the way down to the core. And verify it does, those models were surprisingly good, off perhaps in some details, but no fundamental flaws, and most importantly, no flaws large enough to significantly alter the prediction for solar neutrino fluxes.
Back to the part I told you to remember: "The hard requirement that they all be simultaneously true everywhere and everywhen turns out so seriously restrict our ability to pretend what the sun looks like inside." Those models stand independently verified, which validates the idea that we can use the laws of physics to make predictions where we cannot see, and depend on the reliability of those predictions. If we don't make mistakes, if we apply the laws of physics properly, then our predictions stand a very good chance of being very close to the mark of truth. In the case of the sun, our use of those laws to model the solar interior has been verified.
And that brings me to my last point for this page, item (3) on page 2 of Scott's rebuttal. Scott says: "Thompson states. ―In order to reject the fundamental theory of fusion in the stellar interior, it would be necessary, to all at once sweep away literally everything known about hydrodynamics & magnetohydrodynamics, thermodynamics, gravitation, nuclear physics, statistical physics, and electromagnetism. This is a repetition of (2) and is an illogical assertion as well. All of the disciplines listed remain untouched by the Electric Sun model." Scott's critique of this is dead wrong, and I was right then, and I am right to repeat it again. As I have shown above, the now verified models that show us what the sun looks like inside are based on the collective validity of the laws of physics. In order to falsify the models, we would have to falsify the laws of physics they are built upon. The electric sun hypothesis specifically denies the validity of internal nuclear fusion in the sun, replacing it by a power source at the "surface" of the sun. But the nuclear fusion is not simply something that solar modes allow, it is something that solar models require. If out models for the solar interior are correct, then there must necessarily be the predicted nuclear fusion reaction rate, and there must be the predicted solar neutrino flux. The neutrino data are now entirely consistent with the models, which I say again are independently verified by helioseismology. The electric sun hypothesis denies internal nuclear fusion, and therefore necessarily denies the validity of the entire suite of the laws of physics involved in creating the standard solar model. Helioseismology is likewise based on the collective laws of physics, so to deny the validity of helioseismology (so as to deny its ability to validate to standard solar model) once again requires the denial of the suite of the laws of physics involved in helioseismology.
I stand by my earlier claims. The observed flux of solar neutrinos, combined with ground based laboratory data, are all consistent with the predictions based on the standard solar model. Also, the electric sun hypothesis, by virtue of rejecting internal solar nuclear fusion, necessarily violates the entire suite of the laws of physics that go into the standard solar model, and must therefore be soundly rejected on those grounds.
The list of publications above is sufficient to the point that by the time Scott wrote his rebuttal in 2007, he was already several years behind the actual status of neutrino research, especially as regards solar neutrinos and neutrino oscillation. Indeed, he was so far behind that claims which appear to seem reasonable to him, had already been disproven years before. But of course, as one must expect in any active area of research, there have been consistent advances in our relevant knowledge since my list ends in 2006. So in this addendum I would like to reference only a few recent review papers. Anyone can use these to review the current status of the research outlined in the earlier publication list. One thing to point out is that reactor neutrino experiments in particular are no longer simply looking to determine whether or not oscillation happens, that is already a settled question. Now those experiments have moved on to the further issue of determining the empirical parameters that describe the phenomenology of neutrino oscillation.
See the paper, "Experimental status of neutrino physics"; Dufour & Wark; Journal of Physics: Conference Series 408(1), article 012001, February 2013. A short (8 page) review of the then current status of laboratory neutrino experiments, particularly oscillation parameters.
See the paper, "Solar Neutrinos: Status and Prospects"; Haxton, Robertson & Serenelli; Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 51(1): 21-61, August 2013. This is a 40 page review of the status of solar neutrino physics as of mid 2012 (the pre-print is 82 pages, since the format is rather less compact than the published version). The review includes nuclear reaction rates and predicted neutrino flux rates, solar neutrino observations, and the measurement of neutrino oscillation parameters, among other related topics.
See the paper, "A Review of Long-baseline Neutrino Oscillation Experiments"; Feldman, Hartnell & Kobayashi; Invited review for the special issue on neutrinos of Advances in High Energy Physics; Advances in High Energy Physics 2013
Here is a short list of experiments currently working on neutrino physics and especially neutrino oscillation measurements:
It must be clearly understood that the cavalier dismissal of neutrino physics by Scott, and other "electric star" and "electric universe" proponents, is a major weakness, sufficient by itself to falsify the hypothesis that stars are not powered primarily by nuclear fusion reactions deep within the star.