'Our Misunderstood Sun ... Mathematics should be the cart behind the horse...' - Wal Thornhill

Posted by ProjectC 
'Get the physics right first and the mathematics will follow ... Mathematics is not physics!'

<blockquote>'Theoretical astrophysicists have missed something important in their education. They are taught a theoretical form of plasma physics involving frozen-in magnetic fields that was warned against by Hannes Alfvén as not applying in space plasma. They do not attend plasma science conferences comparing real plasma lab experiments with observations of cosmic plasma. They seem oblivious that there is an electrical engineering (IEEE) discipline of plasma cosmology. Like the stars, plasma cosmology has a bright future.

Countless billions of dollars have been wasted based on the thermonuclear model of stars. For example, trying to generate electricity from thermonuclear fusion, “just like the Sun.” The thought that solar scientists have it completely backwards has not troubled anyone’s imagination. The little fusion power that has been generated has required phenomenal electric power input, “just like the Sun!” The Sun and all stars consume electrical energy to produce their heat and light and cause some thermonuclear fusion in their atmospheres. The heavy elements formed there are seen in stellar spectra. It explains why the expected solar neutrino count is low and anti-correlated with sunspot numbers. It explains why many stars are considered “chemically peculiar.” Get the physics right first and the mathematics will follow.

It is no surprise that ‘journeyman science’ and its spin-off technology advances more rapidly in the age of the Internet than in the past. But it comes as a shock that fundamental science is moribund. That doesn’t stop some scientists with more hubris than commonsense to declare a ‘theory of everything’ is within reach. Typical of this misguided age is the notion that such a theory will be found in a concise statement printable in arcane mathematical runes on a T-shirt. It reveals that perhaps the greatest problem for physics is the cult of celebrity attached to mathematicians and their consequent dominance of the field. Perhaps the worrying decline in interest in physics can be put down to the overemphasis on mathematical theory. The clash of philosophical concepts is far more intriguing and ultimately useful. Mathematics should be the cart behind the horse of physics, not the reverse. Mathematics describes actions, it cannot explain them. Mathematics is not physics!'

- Wal Thornhill, Our Misunderstood Sun, 01 March 2010</blockquote>