Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Paul McCartney came up with the idea for the Sgt. Pepper's concept in November of 1966, while on a return flight to London from Kenya, where he had been on holiday with Beatles' tour manager Mal Evans. The idea came from an Edwardian-era military band that Evans invented a name for, similar to San Francisco-based groups of the time, such as Big Brother and the Holding Company and Quicksilver Messenger Service. The following February, McCartney suggested that the Beatles should record an entire album that would represent a performance by Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was an alter ego group that would give them the freedom to experiment musically. As producer George Martin remembered:

"Sergeant Pepper [the song] itself didn't appear until halfway through making the album. It was Paul's song, just an ordinary rock number ... but when we had finished it, Paul said, "Why don't we make the album as though the Pepper band really existed, as though Sergeant Pepper was making the record? We'll dub in effects and things." I loved the idea, and from that moment on it was as though Pepper had a life of its own."

George Martin
Earlier in 1966, Brian Wilson (and the Beach Boys) released the Pet Sounds LP, which demonstrated Wilson's production expertise and his mastery of composition and arrangement. Pet Sounds consequently influenced many musicians of the time. McCartney, in particular, loved Pet Sounds and said "It's very cleverly done... so we were inspired by it and nicked a few ideas." Martin stated: "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper never would have happened ... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds."

The Sgt. Pepper album was a masterpiece and incorporated diverse stylistic influences of rock and roll, vaudeville, big band, piano jazz, blues, chamber, circus, music hall, avant-garde, and Western and Indian classical music.

When George Martin did a TV program on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band... he asked McCartney, "Do you know what caused Pepper?" McCartney replied, "In one word, George, drugs. Pot." And George said, "No, no. But you weren't on it all the time." "Yes, we were."

Concerns that some of the lyrics in Sgt. Pepper refer to recreational drug use led to the BBC banning several songs from British radio, such as "A Day in the Life" because of the phrase "I'd love to turn you on," with the BBC claiming that it could "encourage a permissive attitude towards drug-taking." Although Lennon and McCartney denied any drug-related interpretation of the song at the time, McCartney later suggested that the line was deliberately written to ambiguously refer to either illicit drugs or sexual activity. The meaning of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" became the subject of speculation, as many believed that the song's title was code for the hallucinogenic drug LSD. The BBC banned the track on those grounds. They also banned "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" because of the lyric, which mentions "Henry the Horse", a phrase that contains two common slang terms for heroin. Fans speculated that Henry the Horse was a drug dealer and "Fixing a Hole" was a reference to heroin use. Others noted lyrics such as "I get high" from "With a Little Help from My Friends", "take some tea" – slang for cannabis use – from "Lovely Rita" and "digging the weeds" from "When I'm Sixty-Four".

The author Sheila Whiteley attributes Sgt. Pepper '​s underlying philosophy not only to the drug culture, but also to metaphysics and the non-violent approach of the flower power movement. Musicologist Oliver Julien views the album as an embodiment of "the social, the musical, and more generally, the cultural changes of the 1960s". The American psychologist and counterculture figure Timothy Leary contends that the LP "gave a voice to the feeling that the old ways were over and stressed the need for cultural change based on a peaceful agenda. The album's primary value – according to the professor Alan F. Moore – is its ability to "capture, more vividly than almost anything contemporaneous, its own time and place". Whiteley agrees, crediting the album with "provid[ing] a historical snapshot of England during the run-up to the Summer of Love".

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is probably the most important rock & roll album ever made. It is an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time. From the title song's regal blasts of brass and fuzz guitar to the orchestral seizure and long, dying piano chord at the end of "A Day in the Life," the thirteen tracks on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band are the pinnacle of the Beatles' eight years as recording artists. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were never more fearless and unified in their pursuit of magic and transcendence.

Issued in Britain on June 1st, 1967, and a day later in America,Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is also rock's ultimate declaration of change. For the Beatles, it was a decisive goodbye to matching suits, world tours and assembly-line record-making. "We were fed up with being Beatles," McCartney said decades later, in Many Years From Now, Barry Miles' McCartney biography. "We were not boys, we were men... artists rather than performers."

At the same time, Sgt. Pepper formally ushered in an unforgettable season of hope, upheaval and achievement: the late 1960s and, in particular, 1967's Summer of Love. In its iridescent instrumentation, lyric fantasias and eye-popping packaging, Sgt. Pepper defined the revolutionary optimism of psychedelia and instantly spread the gospel of love, acid, Eastern spirituality and electric guitars around the globe. No other pop record of that era, or since, has had such an immediate, titanic impact.

Abbey Road recording studio.
The truth is, only two songs on the final LP, both McCartney's, had anything to do with the Pepper character: the title track and Starr's jaunty vocal showcase "With a Little Help From My Friends," introduced as a number by Sgt. Pepper's star crooner, Billy Shears. "Every other song could have been on any other album," Lennon insisted later. Yet it is hard to imagine a more perfect setting for the Victorian jollity of Lennon's "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" (inspired by an 1843 circus poster) or the sumptuous melancholy of McCartney's "Fixing a Hole," with its blend of antique shadows (a harpsichord played by the Beatles' producer George Martin) and modern sunshine (double-tracked lead guitar executed with ringing precision by Harrison). The Pepper premise was a license to thrill.

The album also underscored the real-life cohesion of the music and the group that made it. Of the 700 hours the Beatles spent making Sgt. Pepper (engineer Geoff Emerick actually tallied them) from the end of 1966 until April 1967, the group needed only three days' worth to complete Lennon's lavish daydream "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." "A Day in the Life," the most complex song on the album, was done in just five days. (The oceanic piano chord was three pianos hit simultaneously by ten hands belonging to Lennon, McCartney, Starr, Martin and Beatles roadie Mal Evans.) No other Beatles appear with Harrison on his sitar-perfumed sermon on materialism and fidelity, "Within You Without You," but the band wisely placed the track at the halfway point of the original vinyl LP, at the beginning of Side Two: a vital meditation break in the middle of the jubilant indulgence.

The Beatles' exploitation of multitracking on Sgt. Pepper transformed the very act of studio recording (the orchestral overdubs on "A Day in the Life" marked the debut of eight-track recording in Britain: two four-track machines used in sync). And Sgt. Pepper's visual extravagance officially elevated the rock album cover to a Work of Art. Michael Cooper's photo of the Beatles in satin marching-band outfits, in front of a cardboard-cutout audience of historical figures, created by artist Peter Blake, is the most enduring image of the psychedelic era. Sgt. Pepper was also the first rock album to incorporate complete lyrics to the songs in its design.

In the correct order, here are the songs on the album:

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
With A Little Help From My Friends
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Getting Better
Fixing A Hole
She's Leaving Home
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Within You Without You
When I'm Sixty Four
Lovely Rita
Good Morning Good Morning
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
A Day In The Life

The album cover was created by Jann Haworth and Peter Blake. They won the Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts in 1967 for the cover. If you've ever wondered who is represented on the iconic album cover, here is a guide:

People on the cover
Top row:

Sri Yukteswar Giri (Hindu guru)
Aleister Crowley (occultist)
Mae West (actress)
Lenny Bruce (comedian)
Karlheinz Stockhausen (composer)
W. C. Fields (comedian/actor)
Carl Gustav Jung (psychiatrist)
Edgar Allan Poe (writer)
Fred Astaire (actor/dancer)
Richard Merkin (artist)
The Vargas Girl (by artist Alberto Vargas)
Huntz Hall (actor)
Simon Rodia (designer and builder of the Watts Towers)
Bob Dylan (singer/songwriter)

Second row:

Aubrey Beardsley (illustrator
Sir Robert Peel (19th century British Prime Minister
Aldous Huxley (writer)
Dylan Thomas (poet)
Terry Southern (writer)
Dion Dimucci (singer/songwriter)
Tony Curtis (actor)
Wallace Berman (artist)
Tommy Handley (comedian)
Marilyn Monroe (actress)
William S. Burroughs (writer)
Sri Mahavatar Babaji (Hindu guru)
Stan Laurel (actor/comedian)
Richard Lindner (artist)
Oliver Hardy (actor/comedian)
Karl Marx (political philosopher)
H. G. Wells (writer)
Sri Paramahansa Yogananda (Hindu guru)
James Joyce (Irish poet and novelist) - barely visible below Bob Dylan
Anonymous (hairdresser's wax dummy)

Third row:

Stuart Sutcliffe (artist/former Beatle)
Anonymous (hairdresser's wax dummy)
Max Miller (comedian)
A "Petty Girl" (by artist George Petty)
Marlon Brando (actor)
Tom Mix (actor)
Oscar Wilde (writer)
Tyrone Power (actor)
Larry Bell (artist)
Dr. David Livingstone (missionary/explorer)
Johnny Weissmuller (Olympic swimmer/Tarzan actor)
Stephen Crane (writer) - barely visible between Issy Bonn's head and raised arm
Issy Bonn (comedian)
George Bernard Shaw (playwright)
H. C. Westermann (sculptor)
Albert Stubbins (English footballer)
Sri Lahiri Mahasaya (guru)
Lewis Carroll (writer)
T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia")

Front row:

Wax model of Sonny Liston (boxer)
A "Petty Girl" (by George Petty)
Wax model of George Harrison
Wax model of John Lennon
Shirley Temple (child actress) - barely visible behind the wax models of John and Ringo, first of three appearances on the cover
Wax model of Ringo Starr
Wax model of Paul McCartney
Albert Einstein (physicist) - largely obscured
John Lennon holding a Wagner tuba
Ringo Starr holding a trumpet
Paul McCartney holding a cor anglais
George Harrison holding a piccolo
Bobby Breen (singer)
Marlene Dietrich (actress/singer)
An American legionnaire
Wax model of Diana Dors (actress)
Shirley Temple (child actress) - second appearance on the cover

Props on the cover:

Cloth grandmother-figure by Jann Haworth
Cloth doll by Haworth of Shirley Temple wearing a sweater that reads "Welcome The Rolling Stones Good Guys"- third and last appearance on the cover
A ceramic Mexican craft known as a Tree of Life from Metepec
A 9-inch Sony television set, apparently owned by Paul McCartney - the receipt, bearing McCartney's signature, is owned by a curator of a museum dedicated to The Beatles in Japan.
A stone figure of a girl
Another stone figure
A statue brought over from John Lennon's house
A trophy
A doll of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi
A drum skin, designed by fairground artist Joe Ephgrave
A hookah (water pipe)
A velvet snake
A Fukusuke, Japanese china figure
A stone figure of Snow White
A garden gnome
A euphonium
A three-stringed flower guitar

People excluded from the cover

Leo Gorcey - was modeled and originally included to the left of Huntz Hall, but was subsequently removed when a fee of $400 was requested for the use of the actor's likeness.

Mohandas Gandhi - was modeled and originally included to the right of Lewis Carroll, but was subsequently removed. According to McCartney, "Gandhi also had to go because the head of EMI, Sir Joe Lockwood, said that in India they wouldn't allow the record to be printed".

Jesus Christ - was requested by Lennon, but not modeled because the LP would be released only a few months after Lennon's Jesus statement.

Adolf Hitler - was modeled and was visible in early photographs of the montage, positioned to the right of Larry Bell, but was eventually removed. Germán Valdés "Tin Tan", Mexican comedian, was originally intended to appear on the cover, but at the last moment he declined and instead he gave the Metepec tree of life seen in the picture after Ringo Starr accepted the offer.

Thomas C. Stone - Paul said he had not heard about me yet.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

"There are some who only employ words
for the purpose of disguising their thoughts."

- Voltaire

Little Martha

The Low Frequency Bandwidth

Low frequency waves are waves with long wavelengths, by definition, since their cycle is slowly repeated. One example is AM radio waves compared to visible light waves. AM radio waves have a frequency of around 1 MegaHertz (1,000,000 s-1) and are around 500 meters long. In contrast, visible light waves have a frequency of around 500 TeraHertz (300,000,000,000,000 s-1) and are around 500 nanometers long (.000000500 meters).

Low frequency or low freq or LF is the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) designation for radio frequencies (RF) in the range of 30 kHz–300 kHz. Also known as the kilometer band or kilometer wave as the wavelengths range from one to ten kilometers, the low signal attenuation in this band allows long distance communication. In Europe, and parts of Northern Africa and of Asia, part of the LF spectrum is used for AM broadcasting as the longwave band (In North America, 535 kHz to 1705 kHz). In the western hemisphere, its main use is for aircraft beacon, navigation (LORAN), information, and weather systems. A number of time signal broadcasts are found in this band.

Because of their long wavelength, low frequency radio waves can diffract over obstacles like mountain ranges and follow the curvature of the Earth. This mode of propagation, called ground wave, is the main mode in the LF band. The attenuation of signal strength with distance by absorption in the ground is lower than at higher frequencies. Low frequency ground waves can be received up to 2000 km from the transmitting antenna.

Low frequency waves can also travel long distances by reflecting from the ionosphere (the actual mechanism is one of refraction), although this method, called skywave or "skip" propagation, is not as common as at higher frequencies. Reflection occurs at the ionospheric E layer or F layers. Skywave signals can be detected at distances exceeding 300 km from the transmitting antenna.

Radio signals below 50 kHz are capable of penetrating ocean depths to approximately 200 meters, the longer the wavelength, the deeper. The British, German, Indian, Russian, Swedish, United States and possibly other navies communicate with submarines on these frequencies.

In addition, Royal Navy nuclear submarines carrying ballistic missiles are allegedly under standing orders to monitor the BBC Radio 4 transmission on 198 kHz in waters near the UK. It is rumored that they are to construe a sudden halt in transmission, particularly of the morning news program. Today, as an indicator that the UK is under attack, whereafter their sealed orders take effect.

In the US, the Ground Wave Emergency Network or GWEN operated between 150 and 175 kHz, until replaced by satellite communications systems in 1999. GWEN was a land based military radio communications system which could survive and continue to operate even in the case of a nuclear attack.

Extremely low frequency (ELF) is the ITU designation for electromagnetic radiation (radio waves) with frequencies from 3 to 30 Hz, and corresponding wavelengths from 100,000 to 10,000 kilometers. In atmospheric science, an alternative definition is usually given, from 3 Hz to 3 kHz. In the related magnetosphere science, the lower frequency electromagnetic oscillations (pulsations occurring below ~3 Hz) are considered to lie in the ULF range, which is thus also defined differently from the ITU Radio Bands.

ELF radio waves are generated by lightning and natural disturbances in Earth's magnetic field, so they are a subject of research by atmospheric scientists. Because of the difficulty of building antennas that can radiate such long waves, ELF frequencies have been used in only a very few man-made communication systems. ELF waves can penetrate seawater, which makes them useful in communication with submarines. The US, Russia, and India are the only nations known to have constructed ELF communication facilities. The U.S. facilities were used between 1985 and 2004 but are now decommissioned. ELF waves can also penetrate significant distances into earth or rock, and "through-the-earth" underground mine communication systems use frequencies of 300 to 3000 Hz. The frequency of alternating current flowing in electric power grids, 50 or 60 Hz, also falls within the ELF band, and power grids are an unintentional source of ELF radiation.

ELF is a subradio frequency. Some medical peer reviewed journal articles refer to ELF in the context of "extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields (MF)" with frequencies of 50 Hz and 50–80 Hz. United States Government agencies, such as NASA, describe ELF as non-ionizing radiation with frequencies between 0 and 300 Hz. The World Health Organization (WHO) have used ELF to refer to the concept of "extremely low frequency (ELF) electric and magnetic fields (EMF)" and have also referred to "ELF electric and magnetic fields in the frequency range >0 to 100,000 Hz (100 kHz)." The WHO also stated that at frequencies between 0 and 300 Hz, "the wavelengths in air are very long (6000 km at 50 Hz and 5000 km at 60 Hz), and, in practical situations, the electric and magnetic fields act independently of one another and are measured separately."

The United States Navy utilized extremely low frequencies (ELFs) as radio band and radio communications. The Submarine Integrated Antenna System (SIAS) was a research and development effort to communicate with submerged submarines. The Soviet/Russian Navy also utilized ELFs for submarine communications system, ZEVS. The Indian Navy has an operational ELF communication facility at the INS Kattabomman naval base to communicate with its Arihant class and Akula class submarines.

Because of its electrical conductivity, seawater shields submarines from most higher frequency radio waves, making radio communication with submerged submarines at ordinary frequencies impossible. Signals in the ELF frequency range, however, can penetrate much deeper. Two factors limit the usefulness of ELF communications channels: the low data transmission rate of a few characters per minute and, to a lesser extent, the one-way nature due to the impracticality of installing an antenna of the required size on a submarine (the antenna needs to be of an exceptional size in order to achieve successful communication). Generally, ELF signals were used to order a submarine to rise to a shallow depth where it could receive some other form of communication.

One of the difficulties posed when broadcasting in the ELF frequency range is antenna size, because the length of the antenna must be at least a substantial fraction of the length of the waves. Simply put, a 3 Hz (cycle per second) signal would have a wavelength equal to the distance EM waves travel through a given medium in one third of a second. Taking account of refractive index, ELF waves propagate slightly slower than the speed of light in a vacuum. As used in military applications, the wavelength is 299,792 km (186,282 mi) per second divided by 50–85 Hz, which equals around 3,500 to 6,000 km (2,200 to 3,700 mi) long. This is comparable to the Earth's diameter of around 12,742 km (7,918 mi). Because of this huge size requirement, to transmit internationally using ELF frequencies, the Earth itself forms a significant part of the antenna, and extremely long leads are necessary into the ground. Various means, such as electrical lengthening, are used to construct practical radio stations with smaller sizes.

The US maintained two sites, in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin and in the Escanaba River State Forest, Michigan (originally named Project Sanguine, then downsized and rechristened Project ELF prior to construction), until they were dismantled, beginning in late September 2004. Both sites used long power lines, so-called ground dipoles, as leads. These leads were in multiple strands ranging from 22.5 to 45 kilometres (14.0 to 28.0 mi) long. Because of the inefficiency of this method, considerable amounts of electrical power were required to operate the system.

There have been some concerns over the possible ecological impact of ELF signals. In 1984 a federal judge halted construction, requiring more environmental and health studies. This judgment was overruled by a federal appeals court on the basis that the US Navy claimed to have spent over 25 million dollars studying the effects of the electromagnetic fields, with results indicating that they were similar to the effect produced by standard power distribution lines. The judgment was not accepted by everyone and, during the time that ELF was in use, some Wisconsin politicians such as Senators Herb Kohl, Russ Feingold and Congressman Dave Obey called for its closure. Similar concerns have, in the past, been raised about electromagnetic radiation and health.

More on HAARP here.
Transmitters in the 20 Hz range are also found in pipeline inspection gauges, also known as "PIGs".

Some radio hams record ELF (or even lower) signals from very large homemade antennas, and play them back at higher speeds to catch natural fluctuations in the Earth's electromagnetic field. Increasing the playback speed increases the pitch, so that it can be brought into the audio frequency range.

Naturally occurring ELF waves are present on Earth, resonating in the region between ionosphere and surface. They are initiated by lightning strikes that make electrons in the atmosphere oscillate. Though VLF signals were predominantly generated from lightning discharges, it was found that an observable ELF component (slow tail) followed the VLF component in almost all cases. The fundamental mode of the Earth-ionosphere cavity has the wavelength equal to the circumference of the Earth, which gives a resonance frequency of 7.8 Hz. This frequency, and higher resonance modes of 14, 20, 26 and 32 Hz appear as peaks in the ELF spectrum and are called Schumann resonance.

Click to enlarge.
ELF waves have also been tentatively identified on Saturn's moon Titan. Titan's surface is thought to be a poor reflector of ELF waves, so the waves may instead be reflecting off the liquid-ice boundary of a subsurface ocean of water and ammonia, the existence of which is predicted by some theoretical models. Titan's ionosphere is also more complex than Earth's, with the main ionosphere at an altitude of 1,200 km (750 mi) but with an additional layer of charged particles at 63 km (39 mi). This splits Titan's atmosphere into two separate resonating chambers. The source of natural ELF waves on Titan is unclear as there does not appear to be extensive lightning activity.

Huge ELF radiation power outputs of 100,000 times the Sun's output in visible light may be radiated by magnetars. The pulsar in the Crab nebula radiates powers of this order at the frequency 30 hertz. Radiation of this frequency is below the plasma frequency of the interstellar medium, thus this medium is opaque to it, and it cannot be observed from Earth.

In electromagnetic therapy and electromagnetic radiation and health research, electromagnetic spectrum frequencies between 0 and 100 hertz are considered extremely low-frequency fields. Since the late 1970s, questions have been raised whether exposure to ELF electric and magnetic fields (EMF) within this range of frequencies produces adverse health consequences. In October 2005, WHO convened a Task Group of scientific experts to assess any risks to health that might exist from "exposure to ELF electric and magnetic fields in the frequency range >0 to 100,000 Hz (100 kHz) in regards to childhood leukaemia." There are established biological effects from acute exposure at high levels (well above 100 µT) that are explained by recognized biophysical mechanisms. External ELF magnetic fields induce electric fields and currents in the body which, at very high field strengths, cause nerve and muscle stimulation and changes in nerve cell excitability in the central nervous system. Health effects related to short-term, high-level exposure have been established and form the basis of two international exposure limit guidelines (ICNIRP, 1998; IEEE, 2002). At present, these bodies consider the scientific evidence related to possible health effects from long-term, low-level exposure to ELF fields insufficient to justify lowering these quantitative exposure limits. The long-term, low-level exposure is evaluated as average exposure to residential power-frequency magnetic field above 0.3 to 0.4 µT, and it is estimated that only between 1% and 4% of children live in such conditions.[18] A common source of ELF fields in the United States is 60 Hz electric and magnetic fields from high-voltage electric power transmission lines and secondary distribution lines, such as those found in residential neighborhoods. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has evaluated the scientific data and has classified ELF magnetic fields as being "possibly carcinogenic" to humans. IARC based this classification on the following:

Human health population studies showing weak evidence of an association with childhood leukemia; and a large database of laboratory study results showing inadequate evidence of an association with cancer in animals.

In summary, when all of the studies are evaluated together, the evidence suggesting that EMFs may contribute to an increased risk of cancer is very weak. Epidemiological studies suggest a possible association between long term occupational exposure to ELF and Alzheimer's disease.

A study by Reilly in 1999 showed that the threshold for direct perception of exposure to ELF RF by human volunteer subjects started at around 2 to 5 kV/m at 60 Hz, with 10% of volunteers detecting the ELF exposure at this level. The percentage of detection increased to 50% of volunteers when the ELF level was raised from 7 to 20 kV/m. 5% of all test subjects considered the perception of ELF at these thresholds annoying.

ELF at human perceivable kV/m levels was said to create an annoying tingling sensation in the areas of the body in contact with clothing, particularly the arms, due to the induction of a surface charge by the ELF. 7% of volunteers described the spark discharges as painful where the subject was well-insulated and touched a grounded object within a 5 kV/m field. 50% of volunteers described a similar spark discharge as painful in a 10 kV/m field.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Plato And Perfect Forms

You've heard of Plato. No, not the modeling clay. The Greek philosopher, student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle, who lived from 427 BC to 347 BC. One of these days, I'm going to write a biography of old Plato for The North Texas Drifter, but today all I really want to say is that he had some pretty interesting things to say about reality. For one, he argued that beyond our perceived reality there lies a world of “perfect” forms. Everything we see is just a shade, an imitation of how things truly are. He argued that by studying philosophy we have a chance of catching a glimpse of how things truly are, of discovering the perfect forms of everything we perceive. In addition to this stunning revelation, Plato, being a monist, said that everything is made of a single substance. Which means (according to him) that diamonds, dirt and you and me all consist of the same basic material, but in different forms, which, with science’s discovery of atoms and molecules, has been proven true to an extent.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Imagine My Surprise

The Harry Irons Trilogy

Shut Up, Let's Rock

Quasar Alignment

Here's some "quazy" news:

New observations from the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed alignments over the largest structures ever discovered in the Universe. A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over distances of billions of light-years. The team has also found that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to be aligned with the vast structures in the cosmic web in which they reside

If you're one of those who consider the universe to be random in its distribution of celestial bodies, the news might be disconcerting.

Quasars are some of the brightest objects known. At the center of these super luminous nuclei of galaxies are active supermassive black holes. The black hole is surrounded by a spinning disc of extremely hot material, which gets spewed out in long jets all along the quasar’s axis of rotation.

Using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile, a team led by Damien Hutsemékers from the University of Liège in Belgium studied 93 quasars known to form huge groupings. Remember that the light from these bodies has traveled a long time to get here; so, we’re seeing them in the past at a time when the universe was only about a third of its current age.

“The first odd thing we noticed," said Hutsemékers, "was that some of the quasars’ rotation axes were aligned with each other—despite the fact that these quasars are separated by billions of light-years.”

The research team wanted to find out if the rotation axes were linked at that time—and not just to each other, but also to the structure of the universe on large scales. When looking at the distribution of galaxies on scales of billions of light-years, astronomers have found that galaxies aren’t evenly distributed: They form a web of filaments and clump around huge galaxy-scarce voids. This arrangement of material is known as the large-scale structure.

They couldn't see the rotation axes or the jets of the quasars directly, so they measured the polarization of the light from each quasar and found a significantly polarized signal for 19 of them. The direction of the polarization helps to deduce the angle of the disc and the direction of the spin axis of the quasar.

Those findings indicated that the rotation axes of quasars tend to be parallel to the large-scale structures in which they inhabit. That means that if the quasars are in a long filament, then the spins of their central black holes will point along the filament. According to their estimates, there’s only a one percent probability that these alignments are simply the result of chance.

“A correlation between the orientation of quasars and the structure they belong to is an important prediction of numerical models of evolution of our universe,” says Dominique Sluse of the Argelander-Institut für Astronomie in Bonn, Germany. “The alignments in the new data, on scales even bigger than current predictions from simulations, may be a hint that there is a missing ingredient in our current models of the cosmos.”

The findings were published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. Below is a detailed simulation of the large-scale structure centered on a massive galaxy cluster. The distribution of dark matter is shown in blue, the gas distribution in orange. The region shown is about 300 million light-years across.

When I was a kid, I used to consider that maybe the universe and everything in it, was part of something else. You know, like atoms make up molecules and molecules clump together in various patterns and mixes to form matter. Indeed, I have heard that perhaps this universe is nothing more than the tip of a flea's whisker riding on the back of a camel in a even greater universe, and on and on it goes. If quasars are pointed in the same direction, it would certainly lend some credence to the belief that the entire universe has some sort of greater structure to it. Now, what that could be is anybody's guess.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review Of Predestination

Predestination is the name of the latest sci-fi offering from Michael and Peter Spierig. There are no car chases, no torrid sex scenes, no aliens, no cowboys and sadly, no Indians. Somehow, it is still quite an entertaining film.

The 97 minute story stars Ethan Hawke as a professional time traveler working for a mysterious agency whose task it is to "make things right" by preventing crimes and taking out bad guys. At the beginning of the movie, we find Ethan tending bar in 1975 New York. A guy walks into the bar, sits, begins drinking, and a conversation ensues between him and Mr. Hawke.

Sarah Snook
Now, it wouldn't be a story if there wasn't more to it, right? The guy at that bar (played by Sarah Snook), as it turns out, has some legitimate gender issues and, on a bet, tells Temporal Agent Hawke his life story. He/she had a complicated life that began in a Cleveland orphanage as a young baby girl. Later, she is accepted by a government entity to train for specialized work, ostensibly working in outer space. However, as her story reveals, she becomes pregnant and is released from training. During childbirth, it is discovered she has two full sets of internal sexual organs, one male, the other female. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, there is damage due to the pregnancy and birth. The doctors fix her up but leave her with the male equipment, opting to make her completely male. Jane, now John, is recruited by our Temporal Agent barkeeper to work at "The Bureau."

I'm sure all this sounds rather far out and unlikely but the Spierig brothers handle it all adeptly. The acting is superb, especially Ms. Snook, and the plot pacing doesn't leave time for confusion. If it does, remember that it's only a movie and you can watch it over again.

Predestination uses time travel to explore ideas of fate and individual choice as well as how much control we have over who we are.

The film story is adapted from a 1959 Robert A. Heinlein short story. Key lines in the movie have double meanings and every plot point is intricately connected.

Predestination is a puzzle, a mystery, but then, what successful story isn't? Not everyone is going to like this movie because they might have to think a little in order to keep up and, like I said before, there are no car chases. Despite that, Predestination is worth the time. Very entertaining. Two thumbs up.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How To Be Happy

Everybody wants to be happy. Right? Well, not necessarily. There are plenty of disturbed individuals out there who actually derive meaning from being unhappy. It helps them to form their reality, like those who believe they've suffered and have made it their life's purpose to correct the perceived reasons for their suffering. See? Such reasoning can give meaning to someone. At least, for a while.

Anyway, forget those mental cripples for a moment and remember that most of us want to be happy in some way or another. Our daily commitment is to find the means to make us happy so we work at it. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, many of us come up short.

The truth is, most people are sabotaging themselves. Grouches have certain traits in common. For one thing, they hate their jobs, so there is no satisfaction in where they spend most of their hours away from home. I mean, let's face it. Most people spend eight hours or more at work five days a week. If you hate your job, it's likely you'll hate your life because you’re spending 40 out of the 168 hours in a week doing something that makes you feel awful. You take that anger and frustration home with you where it festers and grows and spoils your home life. The solution is obvious. Make a change. I’m not saying go out and quit your job tomorrow. Instead, take an aerial view of your life. Why don’t you love your job? What’s missing? Is it the career itself? Is it your boss or your company? What’s your passion? What are you good at? Take time to answer these questions and then make a plan to move towards change, however long it takes.

Lots of people say that if they had more money, it would solve all their problems and they could find that elusive, happy place if only they had enough. This attitude couldn't be more wrong. If you're unhappy in a hut, chances are you'll be unhappy in a mansion. Now, you may be more comfortable, but you won't be any happier. Don't believe me? Research has shown that being rich won’t make us any happier. What one needs is to be able to comfortably pay bills without worrying about finances.

Unhappy people are constantly trying to replace their dissatisfaction with consumption, whether it be alcohol, food, or shopping. The problem is, happiness can’t be consumed, it’s cultivated from within. Fulfilling material desires only brings fleeting happiness.

On the other hand, financial uncertainty can make us unhappy so, like the job situation, this might be another chance for evaluation. Do you overspend? Can you downsize? Can you minimize your life so that you can afford it? Maybe you're just self-centered and selfish?

Not selfish? Are you sure? Well then, maybe your unhappiness is linked to your activity level. You have to move to feel good. Do you sit all day? Is your butt the size of a small mattress? Try getting up and moving around. Walking for a half hour every day works miracles. It's not just moving, either. It's also about engaging your mind, and that doesn't mean watching television. Find active hobbies that make you work your mind and your body and get to it.

Unhappy people are in the habit of being unhappy. They have restless minds. According to Science News, “[a] wandering mind often stumbles downhill emotionally. People spend nearly half their waking lives thinking about stuff other than what they’re actually doing, and these imaginary rambles frequently feel bad, according to a new study.” The more you can focus on what you’re doing when you’re doing it, the happier you will be. Meditation or concentrating on one thing allows you to learn to focus on the present moment so you can actually live the life you’ve been given.

Most unhappy people are lonely. Bear in mind that being alone does not necessarily mean being lonely. It could be, one is lonely because others avoid them -- because they're hard to be around. They say cultivating relationships is important for both our health and our happiness. That doesn’t just mean how good you are at social networking. It's not the amount of friends you have on Facebook. Unfortunately, more than a few of us view our laptop as our very best friend. Single or not, married or not, it’s good to strive to make friends and to keep them. This goes for family relationships as well.

Some people don't like where they live. Maybe they have allergies and actually need to live in a different climate to gain some sort of physical relief. But alas, we often feel stuck in our lives. We may live in a town we don't like and aren’t sure how to change the situation. Is it the town or is it you? Who says you have to live in the same place your entire life?

Unhappy people often find mental relief with pets. Not saying you need to own a pet to be happy, but those people who keep pets have a love and responsibility outside of themselves that gives them a purpose. Pets serve as support and provide unconditional love. So, maybe adopting a pet will part the clouds in your life.

I've saved the best and most honest for last. The number one cause for unhappiness in people is that they just don’t like themselves. You see, we make ourselves happy by the way we view life and by learning to enjoy the moment. We make ourselves happy by the way in which we view ourselves. By opening our hearts to opportunity we find peace. If you dislike something about yourself, change it. Otherwise, you can never be happy.

To put any of this to work, obviously you've got to get real. You've got to be honest in your self-evaluation. That's the first step. Second, form a plan. Third, stick to it. Doesn't hurt to develop a good sense of humor too.

Here's a little story about an unhappy man: A woman accompanied her husband to the doctor’s office. After his checkup, the doctor called the wife into his office alone. He said, “Your husband is suffering from a very severe stress disorder. If you don’t do the following, your husband will surely die.” The doctor continued, “Each morning, fix him a healthy breakfast. Be pleasant at all times. For lunch make him a nutritious meal. For dinner prepare an especially nice meal for him. Don’t burden him with chores. Don’t discuss your problems with him, it will only make his stress worse. No nagging. And most importantly, make love with your husband several times a week. If you can do this for the next 10 months to a year, I think your husband will regain his health completely.” On the way home, the husband asked his wife. “What did the doctor say?” To which his wife responded, “He said you’re going to die.”

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Day The World Changed

November 22, 1963 was the day President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dealey Plaza at downtown Dallas, Texas. Today marks the 51st anniversary. There was a time when most Americans knew what happened on the date, but it seems to be slipping into the past and not so many readily recall it anymore. When they do, it brings up scenarios of conspiracies and somehow, a collective guilt that encompassed not only the city of Dallas, but the state of Texas and conservatism in general. JFK was, after all, a democrat. But that was back in the day when democrats were, well, patriotic.

They nabbed a guy named Lee Harvey Oswald for killing the President as well as for killing a cop named J. D. Tippit in South Oak Cliff on the same day. Oswald was found hiding in a movie theater but someone had seen him enter and called the cops. Oswald said he didn't shoot anybody and claimed he was a patsy. We never got to find out for sure because two days later, while being transferred from police headquarters in downtown Dallas to the county jail, he was shot and mortally wounded by a shady character with mob connections by the name of Jack Ruby in full view of live television cameras.

I was just a kid at the time, but I remember thinking it was a crime committed in order to cover another crime. So Ruby shot and killed Oswald because he was upset about Kennedy being murdered. That's what the media said. Well, okay, sure, that makes sense. I guess.

Despite the Warren Commission's findings in 1964 that Oswald acted alone, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1974 that there had indeed been a conspiracy but nothing ever came of it. Don't believe me? Go read some books.

John Kennedy most likely stirred up the wrong people, powerful people in high places, likely connected to both the criminal world and national security agencies. It was hard to believe then and it's hard to believe now. All the same, Kennedy's brother, Robert, the Attorney General, was murdered five years later as he was campaigning for President.

Oh, what a tangled web. By now (2014), it doesn't take a professional conspiracy analyst to see that Kennedy was murdered by a group of powerful conspirators. The thing is, big things are still going on before our very eyes to the point where the media should be asking the public, "Who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes?"

In any case, rest easy, John and brother Robert. You boys apparently tangled with the wrong folks.

By the way, I've read mucho plenty books about the assassination and during the course of checking a few facts for this article, I used Wikipedia and discovered what appears to be a striking bias towards the lone gunman theory in all references. That's not only unfair, it is inaccurate, but it goes to show the direction Wikipedia is headed. The internet is slowly going the way of the mainstream media where truth is often distorted and sometimes buried altogether.

Edit: I watched a video series this week entitled "The Men Who Killed Kennedy." I highly recommend it to you truth seekers out there.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Vidkun and Adolf, hanging out.
Quisling is a noun, defined as a person who betrays his or her own country by aiding an invading enemy, often serving later in a puppet government; fifth columnist. The word comes from Vidkun Quisling (1887-1945), who was a pro-Nazi Norwegian leader. Quisling was tried and executed by firing squad after the war. By extension, quisling means "traitor."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Learning About Life Through The Movies

I wish I had seen the American Pie movies when I was growing up. They would have explained a lot. Shoot, they would have explained everything, all the sexual mysteries a blooming teen could imagine. I'm not saying those movies are any great works of art, but I am saying they portray the pursuit of youthful sexual encounters in an entertaining and even educational way. Who says all today's entertainment is meaningless?

Anyway, admittedly, I was in the dark about all that business. I remember being shocked in the ninth grade to learn that babies did not emerge from belly buttons at the end of term. Come to think of it, I wouldn't be terribly surprised now to learn some thirteen year olds back then still believed babies arrived by stork. Not so these days and it's my opinion we have the American Pie movies to thank for it.

I mean, my parents told me next to nothing. I got my fist glimpse at the nude female form from National Geographic and Encyclopedia Brittanica photos of classical artwork. I recall many a pleasant afternoon behind a locked bathroom door perusing articles on the tribes of New Guinea and glancing through biographies of the sculptors of ancient Greece. Some might say it made me a pervert. I say it gave me a lasting interest in classical art and philosophy.

The American Pie (AP) movies detail the separate paths of a handful of young men in their pursuit of love, friendship, and knowledge of their own mortality (which is what the deeper archetypes of sexual awareness is supposed to be about). In the biological narrative, they're all looking to mate. They want to do it because they've heard it's great, because it gives them status among their peer group, it marks new territory along the timeline of human experience. Among hippies, it's akin to dropping acid for the first time. "Oh man, you haven't dropped acid? You're really in for a mind-blowing trip!" Sex is like that for a first timer. And American Pie is full of first timers.

Additionally, it's not all about the guys. It's for the girls too. Our hero, a nice Jewish boy, finally hooks up with the love of his life and oddly, even strangely, it is she who already knows all the mysteries and is able to introduce him to this new consciousness. Most of the girls in the AP movies seem to already know, whether by intuition or the sheer luck of having a mother who was capable of communicating the old mysteries to the next generation without the accompanying paralysis that comes with the recognition that we've all got this equipment below the belt. Even mom and dad.

The American Pie series deals with both sides of the issue, that is, male and female, and never fails to show that people are as varied and confused and unsure of themselves as a Baptist bull-rider at Billy Bob's. The later American Pie flicks even threw in some gay characters and tried to instruct us to be tolerant of some forms of deviant behavior. There's lots of opportunity to explore what is usually considered to be material that is too dark or too edgy for public consumption. Like the youthful exploration of pornography.

Hey! Internet pornography is big! Like you didn't already know, right? I tried to look up some statistics to put in here, but there was too much variation -- like some sources had a moral ax to grind and others seemed slightly under-whelming in their analysis. In any case, the numbers were big! Billions of dollars spent and millions of people participating. American Pie deals with all that by casting a likeable, moral Jewish boy as the central character and showing us that even he uses pornography as a... what's a polite way to put this? a release?

So, AP goes beyond the mere search for a life mate, the AP movies also delve into associated areas most often deemed too impolite for public discussion. They get away with it because they wrap it all up in humorous situations. And they are humorous because they make me laugh.

The American Pie movies may be classified as sexploitation films; however, I wouldn't agree with that. I would agree that they are great instruction films -- oh, maybe not in a precisely technical way -- but in a manner that practically anybody can watch and relate. I'll bet you this: if you're an average person, like me, there will be at least one situation (probably more) that will present a moment of embarrassment for you. Somewhere in one of those AP movies, you'll think to yourself, wow, I've always thought that too.

I wouldn't necessarily suggest watching these movies with your kids but I would recommend watching them with your significant other (and I hope you two are comfortable enough with one another). Maybe when your kids are old enough and you're too shy to explain the birds and bees, you can give them the video collection for their birthday. I wish my parents had.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Click to enlarge.

Plasma Universe Theory

The Plasma Universe Theory, or Electric Universe Theory, argues that ionized plasma plays a more important role in the universe than is generally accepted. Indeed, as I researched into the ideas behind the theory, I ran across a number of articles claiming to debunk any notion of a cosmology based on the electrical properties of the universe. Upon reading these articles, I failed to see where anything had been debunked at all. The arguments against were mostly written in a condescending tone and failed to clearly address the theory in question. A great many tagged the Electric Universe Theory as pseudoscience but neglected to point out just where the pseudo failed to correlate with the science. I do not endorse the Plasma Cosmology. I don't know. As usual, I bring it up for my readers' interest and edification.

Strictly speaking, there are supposed to be differences between the Plasma Universe Theory and the Electric Universe Theory, but for the life of me, I couldn't see any difference, so I'll refer to them both as the same thing. Those of you who are better versed in the two, please feel free to leave a comment below the article.

The Electric Universe Theory offers explanations of various natural and astrophysical phenomena, some of which it claims are better understood without the need for various ad hoc explanations. As with any theory, the Electric Universe makes predictions that have been tested, and is published in both peer-reviewed papers, and popular books.

The key points in the theory claim that electricity plays a more significant role in the universe than is generally accepted and, furthermore, that the Sun and stars are electrically powered by drift currents (see Electric Sun theory). Because of axial rotation, both solar systems and nebulae can be viewed as giant generators.

In the 1960s, the theory behind plasma cosmology was introduced by Hannes Alfvén, Oskar Klein and Carl-Gunne Fälthammar, and Alfvén's 1966 book Worlds-Antiworlds. Klein in 1971 extended Alfvén's Worlds-Antiworlds proposals and developed the "Alfvén-Klein model" of the universe, or metagalaxy, an earlier term to distinguish between the universe and the Milky Way galaxy. In this Alfvén-Klein cosmology, sometimes called Klein-Alfvén cosmology, the universe is made up of equal amounts of matter and antimatter with the boundaries between the regions of matter and antimatter being delineated by cosmic electromagnetic fields formed by double layers, thin regions comprising two parallel layers with opposite electrical charge. Interaction between these boundary regions would generate radiation, and this would form the plasma. Alfvén introduced the term ambiplasma for a plasma made up of matter and antimatter and the double layers are thus formed of ambiplasma. According to Alfvén, such an ambiplasma would be relatively long-lived as the component particles and antiparticles would be too hot and too low-density to annihilate each other rapidly. The double layers will act to repel clouds of opposite type, but combine clouds of the same type, creating ever-larger regions of matter and antimatter. The idea of ambiplasma was developed further into the forms of heavy ambiplasma (protons-antiprotons) and light ambiplasma (electrons-positrons).

Electric Model.
Alfvén-Klein cosmology was proposed in part to explain the observed baryon asymmetry in the universe, starting from an initial condition of exact symmetry between matter and antimatter. According to Alfvén and Klein, ambiplasma would naturally form pockets of matter and pockets of antimatter that would expand outwards as annihilation between matter and antimatter occurred in the double layer at the boundaries. They concluded that we must just happen to live in one of the pockets that was mostly baryons rather than antibaryons, explaining the baryon asymmetry. The pockets, or bubbles, of matter or antimatter would expand because of annihilations at the boundaries, which Alfvén considered as a possible explanation for the observed expansion of the universe, which would be merely a local phase of a much larger history. Alfvén postulated that the universe has always existed due to causality arguments and the rejection of ex nihilo models, such as the Big Bang, as a stealth form of creationism. The exploding double layer was also suggested by Alfvén as a possible mechanism for the generation of cosmic rays, x-ray bursts and gamma-ray bursts.

In 1993, theoretical cosmologist Jim Peebles criticized Alfvén-Klein cosmology, writing that "there is no way that the results can be consistent with the isotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation and X-ray backgrounds". In his book he also showed that Alfvén's models do not predict Hubble's law, the abundance of light elements, or the existence of the cosmic microwave background. A further difficulty with the ambiplasma model is that matter–antimatter annihilation results in the production of high energy photons, which are not observed in the amounts predicted. While it is possible that the local "matter-dominated" cell is simply larger than the observable universe, this proposition does not lend itself to observational tests.

Alfvén argued that plasma played an important if not dominant role in the universe because electromagnetic forces are far more important than gravity when acting on interplanetary and interstellar charged particles. He further hypothesized that Birkeland currents (here meaning currents in space plasmas which are aligned with magnetic field lines) were responsible for many filamentary structures and that a galactic magnetic field and associated current sheet, with an estimated galactic current of 1017 to 1019 amperes, might promote the contraction of interstellar clouds and may even constitute the main mechanism for contraction, initiating star formation. The current standard view is that magnetic fields can hinder collapse, that large-scale Birkeland currents have not been observed, and that the length scale for charge neutrality is predicted to be far smaller than the relevant cosmological scales.

Fusion Model.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Alfvén and Anthony Peratt, a plasma physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, outlined a program they called the "plasma universe". In plasma universe proposals, various plasma physics phenomena were associated with astrophysical observations and were used to explain extant mysteries and problems outstanding in astrophysics in the 1980s and 1990s. In various venues, Peratt profiled what he characterized as an alternative viewpoint to the mainstream models applied in astrophysics and cosmology.

For example, Peratt proposed that the mainstream approach to galactic dynamics which relied on gravitational modeling of stars and gas in galaxies with the addition of dark matter was overlooking a possibly major contribution from plasma physics. He mentions laboratory experiments of Winston H. Bostick in the 1950s that created plasma discharges that looked like galaxies. Perrat conducted computer simulations of colliding plasma clouds that he reported also mimicked the shape of galaxies. Peratt proposed that galaxies formed due to plasma filaments joining in a z-pinch, the filaments starting 300,000 light years apart and carrying Birkeland currents of 1018 Amps. Peratt also reported simulations he did showing emerging jets of material from the central buffer region that he compared to quasars and active galactic nuclei occurring without super-massive black holes. Peratt proposed a sequence for galaxy evolution: "the transition of double radio galaxies to radioquasars to radioquiet QSO's to peculiar and Seyfert galaxies, finally ending in spiral galaxies". He also reported that flat galaxy rotation curves were simulated without dark matter. At the same time Eric Lerner, an independent plasma researcher and supporter of Peratt's ideas, proposed a plasma model for quasars based on a dense plasma focus.

As an IEEE fellow of the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society and guest editor of the journal Transactions on Plasma Science, Peratt supported the publication of a number of special issues dedicated to plasma cosmology, the last one appearing in 2007. Additionally, in 1991, Lerner wrote a popular-level book supporting plasma cosmology titled The Big Bang Never Happened.

Standard astronomical modeling and theories attempt to incorporate all known physics into descriptions and explanations of observed phenomena, with gravity playing a dominant role on the largest scales as well as in celestial mechanics and dynamics. To that end, both Keplerian orbits and Einstein's general theory of relativity are generally used as the underlying frameworks for modeling astrophysical systems and structure formation, while high-energy astronomy and particle physics in cosmology additionally appeal to electromagnetic processes including plasma physics and radiative transfer to explain relatively small scale energetic processes observed in the x-rays and gamma rays. In conventional cosmology, plasma physics is not considered to be the dominant force on most large-scale phenomena, although much of the matter in the universe is thought to be ionized or exist as plasma.

Proponents of plasma cosmology claim electrodynamics is as important as gravity in explaining the structure of the universe, and speculate that it provides an alternative explanation for the evolution of galaxies and the initial collapse of interstellar clouds. In particular plasma cosmology is claimed to provide an alternative explanation for the flat rotation curves of spiral galaxies and to do away with the need for dark matter in galaxies and with the need for super-massive black holes in galaxy centers to power quasars and active galactic nuclei. However, theoretical analysis shows that "many scenarios for the generation of seed magnetic fields, which rely on the survival and sustainability of currents at early times [of the universe are disfavored]", i.e. Birkeland currents of the magnitude needed (1018 amps over scales of megaparsecs) for galaxy formation do not exist. Additionally, many of the issues that were mysterious in the 1980s and 1990s, including discrepancies relating to the cosmic microwave background and the nature of quasars, have been solved with more evidence that, in detail, provides a distance and time scale for the universe. Plasma cosmology supporters therefore dispute the interpretations of evidence for the Big Bang, the time evolution of the cosmos, and even the expanding universe; their proposals are essentially outside anything considered even plausible in mainstream astrophysics and cosmology.

Some of the places where plasma cosmology supporters are most at odds with standard explanations include the need for their models to have light element production without Big Bang nucleosynthesis, which, in the context of Alfvén-Klein cosmology, has been shown to produce excessive x-rays and gamma rays beyond that observed. Plasma cosmology proponents have made further proposals to explain light element abundances, but the attendant issues have not been fully addressed. In 1995 Eric Lerner published his alternative explanation for the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB). He argued that his model explained the fidelity of the CMB spectrum to that of a black body and the low level of anisotropies found, even while the level of isotropy at 1:105 is not accounted for to that precision by any alternative models. Additionally, the sensitivity and resolution of the measurement of the CMB anisotropies was greatly advanced by WMAP and the Planck satellite and the statistics of the signal were so in line with the predictions of the Big Bang model, that the CMB has been heralded as a major confirmation of the Big Bang model to the detriment of alternatives. The acoustic peaks in the early universe are fit with high accuracy by the predictions of the Big Bang model, and, to date, there has never been an attempt to explain the detailed spectrum of the anisotropies within the framework of plasma cosmology or any other alternative cosmological model.