Warm Plasma, Cold Plasma, purr purr purr…

(Title reference to the song in Big Bang Theory Soft Kitty)

Well, from the “settle science being unsettled” department…

First it was the discovery of more ‘warm plasma’ around the earth in unexpected places:


“Warm Plasma Cloak” Discovered Enveloping Earth
Anne Minard
National Geographic News
January 7, 2009

The Earth is dressed in layers that protect it from the sun’s fierce winds, and scientists have identified a new one they call a “warm plasma cloak.”

Charles “Rick” Chappell, a physicist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, led a research team that assembled information dating back decades to describe the new magnetosphere layer.

Some of the first hints of the cloak first showed up in data from research satellites in the early 1970s. The cloak was finally confirmed by NASA’s Polar satellite, which ended a 12-year run in April 2008. The cloak’s discovery creates a theoretical home for particles that didn’t fit with any of the other understood parts of the Earth’s magnetosphere, Chappell said.

The warm plasma cloak begins thinly on the nightside—or darkside—of the planet and wraps around to the dayside, where it becomes thickest until noon. In the afternoon, convective winds push the cloak out toward the edge of the magnetosphere, where it’s peeled off by solar winds.

Depending on where it is relative to Earth, and the energy of the solar wind, the cloak can be found anywhere from 13,000 to 65,000 miles (20,000 to 105,000 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface. It is always thickest on the planet’s dayside.
Earth’s magnetosphere is more than a million miles in the tail, which trails off in the downwind direction from the sun. It’s so far-reaching that the moon orbits through it every month.

Magnetic Boon and Bane

The formerly mysterious warm plasma cloak is also implicated in one of the menacing effects of the magnetic field—damage to dozens of human-made satellites over the years.

“The warm plasma cloak is part of the environment that communications and weather satellites fly in,” Chappell said. “It will play a role in how much the spacecraft charge electrically.”

OK, so we have a magnetic connection to the moon and we have an answer to some mysteries of the satellites… (Wonder if it might impact any of our climate measuring satellites?…)

Now it’s “cold plasma”


Giant Veil of “Cold Plasma” Discovered High Above Earth
Clouds of charged particles stretch a quarter the way to the moon, experts say.
Dave Mosher

for National Geographic News

Published January 26, 2012

Clouds of “cold plasma” reach from the top of Earth’s atmosphere to at least a quarter the distance to the moon, according to new data from a cluster of European satellites.

Earth generates cold plasma—slow-moving charged particles—at the edge of space, where sunlight strips electrons from gas atoms, leaving only their positively charged cores, or nuclei.
Researchers had suspected these hard-to-detect particles might influence incoming space weather, such as this week’s solar flare and resulting geomagnetic storm. That’s because solar storms barrage Earth with similar but high-speed charged particles.

Still, no one could be certain what the effects of cold plasma might be without a handle on its true abundance around our planet.

“It’s like the weather forecast on TV. It’s very complicated to make a reasonable forecast without the basic variables,” said space scientist Mats André, of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics.

“Discovering this cold plasma is like saying, Oh gosh, there are oceans here that affect our weather,” he said.
André and his colleague Chris Cully suspected the plasma could be out there, but they knew the positive charge of spacecraft wasn’t helping any search efforts.

Similar to the way cold plasma is created, sunlight strips electrons from spacecraft materials, making their hulls positively charged. Like two matching magnetic poles, a spacecraft would simply repulse any cold plasma around it.

To find the stuff, André and Cully instead analyzed anomalies in data from the European Space Agency’s Cluster II spacecraft.

This group of four satellites swings around Earth in a highly elliptical orbit. At the orbit’s peak, the probes reach nearly halfway to the moon.

The enormous distance gives researchers a chance to sweep through and monitor Earth’s magnetic field and electrical activity, including the influence of “hot” charged particles emitted by the sun.

Anomalies in the Cluster II data turned out to be shockwaves from cold plasma particles moving around the satellites.

Cold Plasma a Space Weather “Elephant”

In the end, the pair found that cold plasma makes up between 50 and 70 percent of all charged particles within the farther reaches of Earth’s magnetic field.

André says it’s now time to start updating space-weather models to take the extra cold plasma into account—at this point, for instance, nothing is known about how the plasma might affect solar storms.

This influence is “not a minor thing in space weather,” André said. “It’s an elephant in the room.”

The cold-plasma study has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters.

So What’s Next?

Let’s see…

We’ve got hot plasma from the sun filling the solar system

We’ve now got both warm and cold plasma around the Earth and even reaching to the moon at least once a month.

We’ve got large current loops detected from the sun to the Earth via plasma filaments.

If this keeps up, folks might start to think that plasma was of fundamental importance to the structure and function of the solar system…


Plasma, Plasma, Everywhere

A new model of the plasmasphere surrounding our world

“99.9 percent of the Universe is made up of plasma,” says Dr. Dennis Gallagher, a plasma physicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. “Very little material in space is made of rock like the Earth.”

Nasa perspective on plasma and the Sun / Earth connection

Nasa perspective on plasma and the Sun / Earth connection

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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18 Responses to Warm Plasma, Cold Plasma, purr purr purr…

  1. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Hot and cold Plasma! Wow,
    Soon they will discover Aether and win a Nobel.

    EM, nice try at the Tallbloke’s. Not sure if anyone actually listened. We shall see. pg

  2. Dave says:

    Nice Audi commercial…

    Here is a great link about how the stats can be manipulated to ensure your grant money is not discontinued:


  3. Pascvaks says:

    Confusius say: “Whenever you discover a Ying, you can pretty much bet your Audi there’s a Yang out there somewhere.”

    The Solar System is built like an Onion.
    People love Onions.
    People love the Solar system.
    (People who don’t like Onions do like Audi’s
    and think the Solar System is neat too;-)

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    Ok, what’s the deal with the Audi comments?

    Clearly there is some commercial I’ve missed… (Must because “I Love Onions”… and never saw much reason for a VW with a fancy name plate…)

    Oh, on the stats curve fit thing:

    That’s why traders look at things like SMA stack crossovers and lines connecting the upper or lower excursions…. A linear fit to a partial set of data is just going to get you fried.

    Though it does make me think… I’d noticed that a lot of the GHCN.v2 thermometer data segments seemed to start with a bit of a ‘droop’ and was going to see if that was statistically demonstrable too. Their spicing would, IMHO, hide that bias while retaining it in the final product as a slope upward. I probably ought to do that analysis…

  5. tckev says:

    Sounds like it’s time to relook at the data that did come from NASA’s 1996 experiment with the tethered satellite. This experiment went horribly wrong when excessive current in the tether blew it apart.
    They did however to get 5 hours of data before disaster hit.

  6. adolfogiurfa says:

    We are surrounded by invisible plasma: charged/ionized particles which do not reach the(ours) visible range. As an example: Our senses of smell and taste, we smell and taste charges. Before rain (ionized water in clouds) could be attracted by the “saint Newton´s holy law of gravity”, water must lose its charge to ground, and it does it, specially through trees, if slowly then this discharge it is not violent but gradual and that plasma (current) it is invisible, and if sudden then it does it in a “lighting storm” where current becomes visible.
    When there is accumulation of charge (increased “momentum”) then phenomena proceeds against the law of falling (discharge) and go upwards, like in the case of the famous “Saint Newton´s Apple Tree” which, defying the also famous law of such a saint grew upwards.

  7. david says:

    E.M.Smith (05:58:57) :

    Glad you noticed…

    For anyone wondering, it’s this thread:

    A fantastic set of posts well surmizing your thoughts on heat flow in the atmosphere and where therin energy radiates to space. I commented there and elsewhere on a different aspect of heat flow for which I do not find any numbers.

    david says:
    January 28, 2012 at 11:48 am
    I still maintain that conduction is not properly accounted for in the process of removing heat. Conduction and convection work hand in hand. I accept that gases are a poor conductor, yet we are talking about the entire surface of the planet in contact with a convecting moving atmosphere, as well as the fact that the entire atmosphere is convecting and smashing air masses into each other and allowing conduction over a three dimensional medium.

    The existence of an atmosphere adds a second third and fourth method of cooling the surface; conduction convection, and evaporation. Now the surface has four methods of cooling. Now less of the specific heat is radiating from the surface, as some of the specific heat is now conducting, convecting, and evaporating, only to eventually radiate to space via GHG. (It is not easy to imagine that a planets earth, ocean and atmospheres sole means of cooling, radiation to space, can easily warm from greater ability to radiate to space)

    As the entire atmosphere is radiating conducting and convecting at the same time with energy from both the surface and TSI, it appears problematic to determine exactly what one is measuring when one measures radiation.

    Conduction of specific heat is net flow from higher to lower, so conducted heat can either warm the surface, or slow the cooling. It appears logical to me that any heat conducted from the surface must escape the earth quicker if it conducts to a GHG, which can then radiate that conducted specific heat , 50% of which escapes away from the earth at light speed, verses that same conducted specific heat conducting to nitrogen or oxygen, where it cannot escape, as those gases, to my understanding, do not radiate at common earth temperatures. In this manner non GHGs increase the residence time of conducted energy, (warming) and GHG reduce the residence time of conducted energy (cooling)

    Yet I have never seen estimates of…
    … how much heat is conducted from the surface.
    …how TSI energy is conducted convected and radiated throughout the atmosphere at longitude, latitude and elevation. (yes, I have seen solar spectrum charts and absorbtion of TSI bands by common earth gases, but nothing involving all of the above on INCOMING radiation placed in a format like E.M.s posts showing the mechanics of the OUTGOING flow of heat and energy)
    …the residence time of conducted heat vs radiated heat.
    …. different heat capacity of different gases
    …different residence time of specific heat within different gases.
    …at what elevations at what latitudes and longitudes quantized radiation escapes to space E.Ms posts give a mechanical concept but not quantities.
    …The respective depth penetration and residence time of various solar energy reaching the oceans surface, quantised by lat., long.
    …the spectrum change of different solar cycles incorporated into the above information on ocean penetration and residence time.

    I am guessing that there is a lot we have yet to learn.

  8. adolfogiurfa says:

    Negation of the role of moving charges in the universe and in our lives, from the functioning of our small cosmoses (our bodies) to the latest and dearest “gadget-toy” we own, is only explainable by the fear of a sudden awakening of conscience to knowledge we are not prepared for, that is the reason why agnosticism is more comfortable and gnosis was always rejected.
    We have chosen to sleep or even pass away instead of facing reality.

  9. david says:

    BTW at 2pm yesterday it was 72 F at my house. Between 4:30 and 5:00 pm the T increased to 80 F as a strong eastern flow of warm air came in with increased winds. This must create a certain amount of “back conduction” to the surface ?

  10. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: “Very little material in space is made of rock like the Earth.”
    BTW those “solids” are usually considered by chemists as “solid solutions”, not being absolutely neutral: absolute neutrality equals non-existence, so everything could be considered as it is really: energy waves, and solids just the fleeting existence of a wave crest on which we walk and on which we “surf”our also fleeting existence.
    Remember the 1960´s when everything was considered “vibrations”?
    To become old should not necessarily mean to become fool or being inexorably condemned to suffer from Alzheimer´s disease, which BTW did not happen to our elders back then, curious isn´t it?

  11. adolfogiurfa says:

    OT: The “aluminum pots generation”?. Aluminum is highly electronegative and we are not supposed to have it in our body and only magnesium, calcium or lithium would displace it from our neurons.

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    I made a posting about conduction / convection / residence times that finds it takes a few hours to get from surface to altitude.

    Look at the “Ignore the day” and “Does convection dominate” links here:


    In particular, at this paper:

    Click to access angeo-19-1001-2001.pdf

    which actually measures convective heat flow from surface to sky and finds the lag time for motion to be a few hours…

    But yes, we need to redo the whole paradigm from IR centric back to what it was, with convection and conduction dominating. BTW, on the topic of ‘conduction’, we know that an evaporating working fluid filled heat pipe can move heat more effectively than solid metal (which has some of the best heat conduction rates known..). Do we use radiation to cool our cars? Nope. Despite it’s name, the “radiator” does more mass flow / conduction than radiation (which is why it is inside the engine compartment and not on the roof…). We use fluid filled evaporator to make our air conditioners. We live inside a giant ‘air conditioner’ system with evaporator at the surface and condenser in the sky. The radiator is above (“after”) the condenser in any such system.


    Per warming winds:

    Yes, compression warmed down slope winds can cause surface warming. Then that wind changes and off it goes again… There is a huge mass difference between the air and the rocks / soil / water; so the actual warming of surfaces is small. And transitory.


    Well, Alzheimer’s was only defined recently. Prior to that time we just called old demented folks idiots, fools, or demented. Also, in prior times, we didn’t keep such folks endlessly alive. Once you got a bit daft ( or had too much of a ‘second childhood’ as it was also called) you tended to die. Either from starvation, diseases, or just not running away when the younger raiders came to town killing everyone.

    So to say they did not have Alzheimer’s is kind of missing the point. The disease did exist. Just most folks died before they could get it, or died shortly after they did, and it was called by other names. (For much of human history, being 50 years old made you a very old person…)

    Per Aluminum: It is one of THE most common elements in the earth crust. All over the place and pretty much every water supply in the world flows over aluminum containing minerals. Folks with heartburn can drink aluminum hydroxide by the quart for decades with no demonstrable impact on dementia rates. So if you are hinting at the supposed connection of Aluminum cookware to Alzheimer’s; well, it just isn’t there. (Just dealt with an 80 something relative with ‘Mixed Dementia’, so I’ve been through reams of ‘literature’ on it).

    I’d be more inclined to think it related to the move from high omega-3 diets to those chock full of omega-6 fatty acids that increase the inflammatory processes (though that, too, is speculative).


    The treatment involves injecting a drug called Enbrel – which is normally used to treat arthritis – into the spine at the neck.

    Patients are then tilted to encourage blood flow into the brain where the drug is designed to block a chemical responsible for inflammation. At least one Alzheimer’s patient had his symptoms reversed “in minutes” while others have shown some continuing improvement in problems such as forgetfulness and confusion after weekly injections.

    They needed less help from carers during treatment, which appears to reach a plateau at three months.

    Around 50 people are being treated by the Institute of Neurological Research, a private clinic in California, with some having had injections for three years.

    As omega-6 enhances inflammatory processes and omega-3 reduces them; and given that we used to eat diets high in omega-3 and now eat diets largely dominated by omega-6 (and widely pushed by the ‘polyunsaturated’ Nazis) it looks to me like a pretty simple thing to test.

    Eat more flax. Eat less soybean and corn oil. Eat more fish.

    And yes, be quite willing to eat the forbidden saturated fats like butter, lard and beef tallow too. Tri-stearate was tested and found to be neutral in impact on cholesterol. Yet the avoidance of saturated fats has resulted in the omega-6 polyunsaturates dominating the modern diet. Just Say No.

    FWIW, I’ve swapped over to Palm Oil and Coconut Oil (both short chain saturated plant oils) for most of my vegetarian cooking and found that flavor and mouth feel is great. Palm Oil shortening is perfect for pastries and breads, too. (Coconut oil has a fragrance to it that enhances some foods but distracts in others. It also foams too much for deep frying potatoes easily, even if they do end up with a heavenly flavor ;-)

    In general, we’ve been living a ‘low polyunsaturates’ diet for about 5 or 6 years now and it’s been helpful. (A couple of family members have some inflammation related disorders, primarily in the arthritis group). Pass the blood chemistry tests just fine too ;-) Then again, we have a near religious avoidance of anything with the word ‘hydrogenated’ on the label and zero tolerance for transfats (other than that low level of a very special one found in dairy products…)

    I remember you said something about a Chilean researcher who had some kind of treatment or something, but I’ve forgotten the details… it was kind of hard to remember… what were we talking about? It was something to do with charged particles, or maybe gold or… I think a nap sounds good,. Why hello, you seem like a nice fellow. Have we met before?


  13. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M. About that chilean research: They found “Saint John´s Wort” cures Alzheimer.

  14. Jerry says:

    big kitty, little kitty, more hiss and growl than purr purr purr I expect.

    http://photos.denverpost.com/mediacenter/2011/10/mountain-lion-checks-out-cat/22656/#name here

    not even remotely on any topic but neat photos.

  15. david says:

    E.M.Smith (21:27:30) :
    Thanks as always, I will work my way through the links.

    Yes, I think back convection to the ground is, as you indicate, small. It appears that (if one accepts that non GHG do not radiate at common earth T) non GHGs are a perfect insulator to conducted energy and in a non GHG world would have to rise to meet the actual surface T; the average of which is hard to know. How could it be otherwise as the only way for such an atmosphere to lose energy would be to conduct it to a radiating ground surface. And then, in a convecting world, the radiatively balanced atmosphere would be back conducting as much as recieving. Does this appear logical?

    Currently I understand that the oceans are on average about 2 C warmer then the air just above them. I have no idea of the mean land T.

  16. Jim Bennett says:

    Not mainstream, but electrical universe theorists raise a lot of fascinating questions about conventional astrophysics based on gravitational models. They dont seem to have the math fully worked out, but aren’t cranks either. Check out MECO’s as an alternative to black holes.

  17. E.M.Smith says:


    Must make “Go play in the backyard” a rare statement ;-)


    IMHO, it’s all about convection (after conductive heating) and evaporation. Everything else is either side show or happens at great altitude above the troposphere (so tropospheric CO2 does not matter).

    @Jim Bennett:

    OK, I’ll check out a MECO (whatever it is ;-)

    OH Dear, this is gonna take a while…


    The classical black hole is only one possible solution to what happens to massive bodies as they collapse.

    Observational evidence does not support the assertion that the classical hairless BH exists. Quasar specialists have found Quasar structures and quasar morphological differences (what change is required to create a radio loud and a radio quiet quasar that require the massive object to have an intrinsic magnetic field that rotations with the massive object. A classical BH cannot have an intrinsic magnetic field.

    The MECO’s massive magnetic field exists with or with an accretion disks which explains why 10% of quasars are naked quasars. Naked quasars have no lines of absorption from a accretion disk or gas cloud. There are also naked quasars that emit that have no accompanying galaxy or dust cloud. The point is a classical BH requires a accretion disk to radiate. A rotating MECO does not. The massive magnetic field emits via synchronous radiation by electrons and protons that travel along the field lines.

    This is a sample of the series of paper that have been published on this subject. I notice that is now a graduate course that now includes MECO’s in their section on quasars.

    The MECO object appears based on astronomical observations to not be static. Quasar magnitude pulsate with an asymptotically increasing pulse. As an object cannot increase in emission asymptotically forever it appears the increase leads some event which is then repeated.

    The massive MECO object collapse is arrested by the magnetic field that is sufficiently strong to cause space to separate into electrons and positrons.

    “The Magnetospheric Eternally Collapsing Object (MECO) Model of Galactic Black Hole Candidates and Active Galactic Nuclei”

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