This is an interesting overview of the controversial "electric universe" theory by two of its leading proponents, scientist Wallace
"Walt" Thornhill and writer and mythologist David Talbott.
The standard model sees gravitation and the associated nuclear reactions as the sole forces responsible for the development and
structure of the universe. The electric universe, as the name implies, allows a much larger role for electrical forces. This is
important because electric fields, and their associated magnetic fields, are strong enough for a given mass and distance to account for
what astronomers are seeing. By contrast, the weakness of gravity over galactic distances requires the existence of "dark matter" and
other invisible entities to fit the observational data.
One strong point of this book is that many of the predictions made in accordance with the electric universe theory seem to predict and
explain stellar and galactic phenomena better than most competing theories. The section on comets is fairly impressive in this regard,
since many predictions made in accordance with the electric universe model were published in advance of confirming data from unmanned NASA
Another major strength of the electric universe theory is its abandonment of the belief in the expansion of the universe from a big bang,
which is incompatible with the observed quantization of galactic redshifts. The electric universe theorists pick on this weakness of the
standard model with justifiable glee, and offer possible alternative explanations which seem to fit the data better.
An especially interesting aspect of this book is the coverage of the work of various plasma physicists, who for years have created
discharges in their labs which look for all the world like miniature galaxies, star clusters and other cosmic structures. This represents
the strongest evidence for at least parts of the electric universe concept, and it seems far simpler and more robust than the complex
mathematical machinations required by the standard model.
While not covered in this book, an earlier work by Mr. Talbott, The Saturn Myth describes how past civilizations attributed
spiritual significance to the then visible signs in the heavens, in a manner similar to the works of Immanuel Velikovsky. Lacking a
scientific explanation at the time, Mr. Talbott gave a basic explanation for these signs, which was later elaborated on after he
discovered the work of Mr. Thornhill and others. Talbott states that these signs were lost due to changes to the celestial environment,
but are carried on in religious symbolism as legends of a lost "Golden Age". He quotes from many writers, such as Rene Guenon, who
claim to be part of an initiatic lineage, carrying teachings from the remote past. Talbott indicates that the knowledge they carry on
ultimately stems from the same heavenly spectacle in ancient times.
While not necessarily intrinsic to the electric universe theory itself, such speculation leads to an unfortunate "naturalistic" view of
ancient religious and spiritual beliefs, which seems to greatly underestimate the knowledge of ancient peoples. While the complex
technology made possible by our vast population and the attendant specialization of labor would not have been possible thousands of years
ago, there is no reason to judge past peoples as any less intelligent than those living today. Purely scientific knowledge requires no
industry or technology, but rather just the time and inclination to contemplate the nature of things, both of which ancient peoples had
in abundance. Given this, why would they, or Mr. Guenon and others, for that matter, believe in an afterlife just because they, or someone
in the distant past, saw something in the sky? This is similar to those who speculate that the belief in the Resurrection of Christ
stemmed from the observation of vegetation returning from winter dormancy around Easter. This is just silly. Ancient people were not
stupid, and whether their knowledge and beliefs were right or wrong, there simply must be some more profound reason for them than anything
the electric universe delves into.
Another weaknesses of the electric universe theory, at least as presented in this book, is that no model is given for the origin of the
forces on which the entire theory depends. The standard model has the exact same problem, of course, but the electric universe authors get
away with it because their theory is not physics, but rather cosmology, and assumes the existence of known fields and forces. They
describe the Sun and other stars as being powered by electric currents, but the ultimate source of the electric currents in unspecified.
They also try to explain gravity as an electric effect, and they may be broadly right, but this reviewer, having spent years studying
gravity, finds their explanation to be, at best, incomplete.
A further annoyance is that this book contains what amounts to sidebars which fill up a whole page, without using a different background
or font to distinguish them from the main text, and which therefore might confuse some readers. That and other minor issues aside, this
book is a useful introduction to the electric universe for the layman, and is certainly worth reading.