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Ari Brynjolfsson’s Plasma Redshift

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[This essay has marginal relevance to the UPB (which has relevance to ID) but might be of interest to the anti-Big Bang, anti Einstein General Relativity crowd, and hence is of marginal interest to YEC’s.

I’m not totally against Einstein’s work, but Einstein’s work does have some negative bearing on YEC. Brynjolfsson’s work is also a mixed bag for creationists and IDists (good and bad). I cross posted it at TSZ ad received some very good criticism from Dr. T. Dr. T has corrected my numerous misunderstandings of physics, so his comments always carry great weight.

Notwithstanding possible serious errors in Brynjolfsson’s work, page 28, figure 4 of his paper showed discrepancies in gravitational redshift regarding measurements by LA Higgs and Adams. If true, this would require revision of General Relativity and may indeed indicate a mechanism of redshift not due to cosmological expansion as required by the Big Bang.

There are published works on the effect of plasma on photon frequency such as by respected researchers like Sunyaev (of Sunyaev-Zel’dovich fame), even though Sunyaev would appear to hold the some opposite conclusions of Brynjolfsson. Brynjolfsson tried to lay out that although there is Compton and inverse Comptom scattering in plasmas as asserted by Sunyaev-Zel’dovich, there is a secondary effect which may actually cause redshift when one photon interacts weakly (via quantum mechanics) with a set of N-electrons with a net zero momentum.

Nevertheless, Figure 4 page 28 in Brynjolfsson’s paper carries a lot of weight with me and I’m trying to find anyone who can give me more data points. I wish to thank Dr. Liddle for allowing me to post my essay at TSZ since I’m needing to get feedback on some of my speculations. Even if my speculations are wrong, investigating the them will be a good learning experience since there is lots of good physics to learn in understanding plasmas and electromagnetism, and there is always fun and benefit in studying science.]

This essay will outline some of the work of Ari Byrinjolfsson. He says some things I don’t agree with regarding eternal universes, but if Brynjolfsson is right then it has some negative impact on ID and creationism and the UPB, etc. So, let me be clear, Brynjolfsson’s paper is generally bad for ID, creation, and the Big Bang. That said, his papers most definitely got my attention, and there is much that I like about his work. Wikipedia has this entry on Ari Brynjolffson:

He lived in Krossanes, Eyjafjörður[3] and graduated from Menntaskólinn á Akureyri in 1948,[4] then studied nuclear physics at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, from 1948 to 1954, gaining his PhD,[5] with a thesis which dealt with a device he had constructed for accurately measuring magnetism in rocks.[3] Following this he became a special research fellow of the University of Iceland from 1954 to 1955, then an Alexander von Humboldt fellow of the University of Göttingen, Germany, from 1955 to 1957.[5] While at Göttingen he contributed important work in magnetic moments, using a self-devised instrument with which he and others provided the strongest evidence to that date for magnetic field reversals.[6]

He became Head of Radiation Facilities for the Danish government at Risø (1957–1965) and then Head of US Army Radiation Facilities, Natick, Massachusetts[2][7] (1965–1980). He also served as the Director of IFFIT (International Facility for Food Irradiation Technology) of the Joint FAO/IAEA, United Nations (1988–1992).[8] He gained his DSc in 1973 with a thesis entitled Some Aspects of the Interactions of Fast Charged Particles with Matter which led to his work on plasma redshift.[9]

There are an infinite number of solutions to Einstein’s field equations of General Relativity, and expanding space is only one of them. A valid mathematical solution to an equation of physics does not necessarily mean it is a physically real solution. For example we can put in negative mass into Newton’s second law and come up with strange solutions and supposedly negative mass into Einstein’s field equations and create wormholes.

So even supposing Einstein’s field equations (with or without the “Lambda” term) are valid, it does not mean the expanding space solution that defines the Big Bang is necessarily a valid solution. What has driven belief in the expanding space solution (the FLRW metric), is the redshift of fainter objects. There is some correlation (but not absolute) with redshift and faintness (and thus presumed distance). Opponents of the Big Bang have argued a mechanism other than expanding space is the cause of the red shift. Brynjolfsson was one of them.

But let us assume for the sake of argument that the Big Bang cosmology is correct, is it possible that plasmas under certain conditions can induce a redshift? Independent of the question of the Big Bang, it seems Brynjolfsson’s thesis may have some merit, and more importantly, unlike expanding space, dark matter, and dark energy, it may be directly testable.

Ari Brynjolffson argues that sparse plasmas can induce redshifts.
His theory is laid out in Arxiv:
Redshift of photons penetrating a hot plasma.

In Compton scattering, an incident photon with wavelength 500 nm transfers energy of about 1.6*10^-30 h*nu to the plasma per electron. The corresponding energy transferred to the plasma in the plasma redshift is about 200,000 times larger, or 3.3 * 10^-25 h*nu per electron

Brynjolfsson argues that as light traverses a sparse plasma and encounters more electrons, rather than being scattered, the light will become redshifted. He argues that quantum mechanics is needed to account for the effect of large numbers of electrons shaving off energy from the photons. As can be seen, the energy shaved off is very very tiny per electron and any detectable effect must involve large numbers of interactions with many electrons as the light traverses many kilometers of sparse plasma. As the energy is shaved off little by little, the light becomes more red shifted.

It seems to me, in principle it should be a testable theory. On page 28, Figure 4 he shows how his redshift theory agrees with observations of the slight redshift in sunlight made by Adams and LA Higgs, and even argues that the sunlight red shift is insufficiently accounted for by the gravitational redshift of General Relativity.

If his theory is true, it would seem to explain the this phenomenon pointed out by Arp:

Redshifts of high-luminosity stars – The K effect, the Trumpler effect and mass-loss corrections

The first spectroscopic measurements of large numbers of B stars showed that, unlike cooler stars, they appeared to be expanding away from the solar neighborhood. This positive redshift was expressed as a “K term” and is referred to in the literature as the K effect. No satisfactory explanation was ever advanced as to why the entire system of luminous young stars should be receding from the position of the Earth. When I was taking undergraduate course in galactic dynamics from Bart Bok in 1949 it was considered a mysterious and challenging puzzle…

Worse, it seems some quasars that are deeply redshifted are actually close. I have a summary of a paper published in 1980 by a now emeritus professor of astronomy, Varshni

Laser Stars

the quasar PHL 1033, LB 8956 and LB 8991 lie within a few hundred parsecs from the sun


The measurements of distances were by a respected astronomer by the name of Luyten which was later quoted by Varshni, and as far as I can tell no observation has overturned Luyten’s initial observation several decades ago regarding LB 8956. Even some amateur astronomy clubs are suggesting observation of LB 8956. Is the Hipparcos data on this? Will the future Gaia probing look at LB 8956?

LB 8956 has a redshift of 1.8 according to Table 2 in the original paper by Varshni. Using Ned Wrights calculator, and plugging in Z = 1.8, I got a distance of observation on the order of 10 GIGA Light years!!!

Ned Wright’s CosmoCalc

So why the heck can we even see a quasar at that distance? We could say it’s because it’s a buzillion times as luminous as a galaxy (and there is no known mechanism to create such power) or the object is hundreds of light years away not 10 billion of light years away. This would also be consistent with the parallax measurement. The plasma redshift would make more sense of this than arguing the quasar is necessarily very far away and much more luminous than entire galaxies.

As I pointed out at UD, my car headlights have more apparent brightness when I’m close to them than a galaxy because I’m near to the headlights, not because the car headlights are more luminous than galaxies. Maybe that is the case with some quasars.

One of the best evidences in favor of the Big Bang, imho, is the apparent time dilation of the distant supernova evolution. But the sword of time dilation cuts both ways. I pointed out at UD this fact:


Mike Hawkins from the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh searched for, and did not find evidence for, so-called time dilation in distant quasars. Time dilation is a counter-intuitive, yet actual, feature of Einstein’s special relativity in which time slows down for an object that is in motion relative to another.

Since the universe is expanding — and the distant quasars are racing away from us — a clock placed in one of these distant galaxies should be running more slowly than a clock we have on Earth. Therefore, the effects of time dilation for distant objects can be measured if we can observe the ticking clock in the distant galaxy.

Hawkins took advantage of the fact that quasars blink. This blinking, or variability, can be viewed as the “ticking clock.” He used data from quasar monitoring programs stored on photographic plates to measure the timescale of of the blinking. Looking at the timescales for two groups of quasars, one distant and the other even farther away, there was no measurable difference. That meant no time dilation: meaning that for both groups of quasars, the clocks were the same.

This could mean several things. It could be a sign that the universe is not expanding. Or, it could indicate that quasars are not really what we think they are. However, for either of these scenarios to be true, you’d have to explain away or disprove mountains of evidence in favor of these models.

So if redshift would imply time dilation for supernovas, why not time dilation for quasars? To quote Shakespeare, something is rotten in the state of Denmark’s cosmology…

Brynjolfsson offers an alternate explanation for this supposed dilation in supernova. In addition to this, Brynjofsson offers an amendment to GR involving photons and an alternate Pound-Rebka and Shapiro delay experiments, and an alternate explanation for the apparent phenomenon of Dark Energy (he mentions Riess and Perlmutter by name in his paper).

There maybe many things in Brynnolfsson’s paper to criticize (such as the notion of sparse plasmas being in thermal equilibrium), but my main focus is the claim a sparse plasma can in principle induce a loss of energy into light and thus cause a redshift in all frequencies such that an object will look like it is moving away from us. I thought he made a good point. The paper was a difficult read, and I can’t say I understood even 10% of it, but it seemed to have enough substance that I want to consider it more…

I do not know if there is anyway to test at least some aspects of his plasma theory with condensed matter equipment. Is there a way to have a light or radio waves just circulate in a mirrored but mostly empty chamber and thus simulate travel through millions of miles of sparse plasma? That would seem cheaper than sending up space probes that will fire lasers or masers through the corona to see if there is a redshift.


When Nobel Prize winner Adam Riess visited our campus in Laurel/Columbia Maryland, USA at the Applied Physics lab he gave a presentation and lecture on his work on the discovery of Dark Energy. He got a huge laugh out of the audience when he pointed how his measurements disagreed with certain theories:

As noted above, the measured cosmological constant [by Riess and Perlmutter] is smaller than this by a factor of 10^−120. This discrepancy has been called “the worst theoretical prediction in the history of physics!”.[15]


Riess mingled with us mere mortals at the reception after his talk, and when asked about some of the theoretical problems with dark energy, he said, “I’m an experimentalist, I leave that to the theoreticians…” And everyone laughed…

Perhaps Brynjolfsson has found an explanation for the apparent phenomenon of Dark Energy which he explains on page 42.

I heard the same regarding a solution, BUT the last I heard, the paper and/or math and/or data for that solution was not all released yet. Dr Humphries was waiting to get hold of it the last I read
If you are interested, read the following papers: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1204.2507v1.pdf (this is a 2012 paper) J. I. Katz, Phys. Rev. Lett. 83, 1892 (1999), arXiv:grqc/9809070. E. M. Murphy, Phys. Rev. Lett. 83, 1890 (1999), arXiv:gr-qc/9810015. L. K. Sche?er, Phys. Rev. D 67 (2003), arXiv:grqc/0107092 Not just the author, Planetary Society members too took enormous effort in converting tape data and punch card data for analysis. I think all those who took part it chasing data and analysis deserve a medal for perseverance. selvaRajan
Pioneer heat: http://creation.com/pioneer-anomaly-heat JGuy
Yeah, that one... I get Voyager and Pioneer names mixed up all the time. I heard the same regarding a solution, BUT the last I heard, the paper and/or math and/or data for that solution was not all released yet. Dr Humphries was waiting to get hold of it the last I read. JGuy
If you mean deceleration of Pioneer 10 and 11,it has been explained using thermal recoil (Radiation pressure). You may envision it as reverse photon sailing. The heat from RTG - the thermoelectric generators and the heat from the electronic box radiate towards the direction of travel of spacecraft, thus the photons pressure pushes the spacecraft backward decelerating it slightly. It took over a decade of converting punch card and tape data, and analyzing of those data to get the result. Both thermal and parametric modeling of the spacecraft was also done to validate the result. selvaRajan
Could there be a partial explanation for the Voyager anomaly in this? JGuy
Disney observed that cosmologists predicted Hubble wouldn’t be seeing objects at extreme redshifts, but we sure are seeing them. That means, if redshift is not quite the measure of extreme distance (as it clearly is with Quasars), then we have a whole new ballgame!
It's true if you consider only normal exposure of Hubble. However in long exposure shots - up to many weeks- Hubble can capture extreme red shifted objects up to z=10. These images form the Deep/ultra deep field images. The radial resolution can also be enhanced by a factor of up to 2 by image processing, if there is sufficient light. Though Hubble's sensors will fry if exposed to direct bright light, the dark area long exposure photos are ideal for enhancing radial resolution. selvaRajan
Katarai makes a good point and even cosmologist Michael Disney pointed out the Big Bang fails the Tolman test for brightness! Disney observed that cosmologists predicted Hubble wouldn't be seeing objects at extreme redshifts, but we sure are seeing them. That means, if redshift is not quite the measure of extreme distance (as it clearly is with Quasars), then we have a whole new ballgame! scordova
I should point out, it seems we do live in a privileged position in the universe: https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/physics/cocktails-the-fingers-of-god-are-pointing-at-you/ scordova
The Gaia space probe that is supposedly an improved parallax measuring system ought to return some interesting results! Katari however points out the best parallax measuring system would involve at least 2, preferably three observation posts simultaneously measuring parallax as a single proper motion survey is subject to some error that the simultaneous measuring devices are not. Sadly, I doubt this sort of basic experiment will never be done barring a miracle that will liberate the financial resources.... Sal scordova
Andre! Thanks for the link. Lincoln, thanks for highlighting Andre's link, it motivated me to look at Andre's link and think about the parallax issue a little more. I pointed out LB 8956 parallax measurement says it is only hundreds of light years out, but the redshift says it is 10 GIGA light years. So even assuming parallax is correct, this is a serious anomaly. It didn't occur to me there could even be some problems with parallax. FWIW, there seems to be proper motion of even things we presumed were stable. I haven't gotten an adequate explantion as to why.... Sal scordova
Selva, Brynjolfsson points out the problems with Vessot's measurements in other parts of the paper. He suggest an modification to the Vessot experiment. Thanks for your comment. Sal scordova
Nevertheless, Figure 4 page 28 in Brynjolfsson's paper carries a lot of weight with me
Later observations by Vessot et al in 1980, Anderson et al in 1993, LoPresto et al in 1991 , Krisher in 1993 etc are with in 1% error of Einstein's predictions. Generally there is always slight discrepancy between theoretical and observed value. Getting very good fit is always suspect! Ari's theory is a subset of Plasma cosmology which is based on EM forces rather than gravitational force. It has been disproved to a large extent. I think investing time in String theory is better than Plasma cosmology, though I have pretty low opinion of String theory. selvaRajan
Andre, you had no a priori beliefs. When you were born then you had no clue as to how old or big the universe was. You learnt that from science. The PDF you link to by Bahram Katirai is 170 pages and tries to discard over 100 years of science. Good luck to that. I can link you to many other esoteric Theory of Everything too. Trouble is that they seem to suffer from a high crackpot index scores, http://www.physics.smu.edu/scalise/www/misc/crackpot/crindex.html Lincoln Phipps
I do not know if there is anyway to test at least some aspects of his plasma theory with condensed matter equipment. Is there a way to have a light or radio waves just circulate in a mirrored but mostly empty chamber and thus simulate travel through millions of miles of sparse plasma? That would seem cheaper than sending up space probes that will fire lasers or masers through the corona to see if there is a redshift.
Isn't there some very sparse plasma between earth and the moon? There is a mirror on the moon used to measure it's distance. Perhaps, some data about the quality of the light transmitted and that reflected light received from the mirror will give clues. JGuy
This may or may not be of relevance, I believe the universe is 13 billion years old the earth 4.3 and live about 3.2 billion years purely because of how I interpret the evidence, but there are some things that put my a priori beliefs to the test and this is one of them... https://11dc5d5d-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/cosmologyquest/files/AstronomyDec28-2008.pdf?attachauth=ANoY7cqb52yWEbFowv1EP8JIAr7jxQhjZ-360Fu1-4ZJh7IFTwKBxgSH9PqQkjyf-OrOXIv2aJ9m-jUDJWwYkfxk30tCZkbuOMw6HyB_SsAt5NZngvPDdevJRSvr5ceV32xsXrZG4Bnqwj_2V_tynNdNUAe2HiTU_Cqruq7Kip97du7-fchK676yWZ5vphthBJEic_zjuwPEH1jOQAXtsk-cA-Zx6yxN2pIzBt3zpZq4xpLaCzoiB3w%3D&attredirects=0 Andre

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