December 12, 2019 | David F. Coppedge

Energized Dust Bunnies Make Planets?

Get a charge out of this new theory: planets were built by statically-charged dust bunnies. Is that all it takes?

In secular theory, going way back to Laplace’s nebular hypothesis and its offspring, planets came into being out of orbiting dust around stars. It sounds natural until you look at the details. Planetary scientists have long known about the “bouncing barrier” to planet growth. Previous experiments have shown that at about one millimeter size, dust grains stop accreting and bounce off each other – even at low collision speeds of a few millimeters per second. They’ll never get planets at that rate, until they overcome the bouncing barrier.

Now, scientists at Rutgers University feel they have a solution: static electricity. “We may have overcome a fundamental obstacle in understanding how planets form,” says the lead author, Troy Shinbrot, an engineer (not an astronomer).

The study, published in the journal Nature Physics, found that particles under microgravity – similar to conditions believed to be in interplanetary space – develop strong electrical charges spontaneously and stick together, forming large aggregates. Remarkably, although like charges repel, like-charged aggregates form nevertheless, apparently because the charges are so strong that they polarize one another and therefore act like magnets.

If you’ve seen the small magnetic balls that stick into strings of beads, that’s the basic idea. Each magnetic ball develops a north and south pole. Similarly, charged dust grains appear to become polar, with positive charges on one side and negative charges on the other.

Using a device called a Bremen drop tower, the engineers charged glass microspheres and watched how they behaved with an electron microscope. Clumps of spheres several centimeters in size formed spontaneously, but discharged and disintegrated when they struck the walls of the device. They repeated the experiment with basalt microspheres and found that they charged an order of magnitude more strongly than the glass spheres. Charged dust clumps appear to orbit each other until they collide; some break up, and some stick to each other. The photo in the press release shows long strings of glass beads that formed in the apparatus.

The method required vibrating the particles first to get them charged up. Would that have happened in a dust disk? They believe that collisions would have charged some dust particles—but that also could cause them to erode. Other charging mechanisms, they speculate, could include short-term radionuclides in the dust, or cosmic rays. Interstellar radiation, however, they calculate would be two orders of magnitude weaker at charging the dust.

Drawbacks and Limitations

  • Their theory only applies to inner planets within 1 AU (astronomical unit, the earth-sun distance).
  • They did not get any clumps to grow to the needed size of centimeters to decimeters. They extrapolated what they think might happen.
  • Planetesimals require accretion up to kilometer size.
  • Centimeter-sized clumps will only accrete further if a “streaming instability” occurs.
  • Collision speeds above a few meters per second tend to destroy the clumps.
  • The time particles remain charged must exceed the time of discharge.
  • Charges can attract, but also repel.
  • Colliding strings of polar dust particles could discharge each other and subject them to disintegrating forces.
  • No planets were formed.

In order to believe that this experimental setup has anything to do with planetary origins, they realize that they have to invest in futureware.

Thus, it is apparently possible for collisional charging to transform bouncing millimetre-sized grains into growing centimetre-sized aggregates. Whether this occurs depends on the relative rates of material charging versus discharging, and particle collisions versus dispersal. It is evident that unravelling the details of relations between charging and aggregation in protoplanetary disks will require considerable additional study.

A huge gap remains, therefore, between this experiment and a credible theory of planetary origins. Without sufficient gravitational force to draw the ‘building blocks of planets’ together, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, most certainly, will predominate.

Earth is a shining jewel in the blackness of space, ideally suited for life. Photo: Earthrise from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, December 2015

An interesting admission in their paper reveals their worldview. “To account for the simple fact that asteroids and planets do exist, several possible mechanisms have been investigated for growth beyond the millimetre scale.” They put blinders on their eyes, just like the Darwinian biologists do. “It exists, therefore it evolved.” Non-materialist positions need not even be considered! If Earth were created by design, secular scientists, with their blind-men-and-the-elephant philosophy, would never be able to find that out, even if you handed them Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Planetary Science: the myth that dust bunnies turn into real bunnies, given billions of years.

It’s one thing to critique a secular theory, which we do at CEH, taking it at face value and evaluating its merits for empirical support and logical plausibility. But complete evaluation must include the worldview behind the theory. These scientists undoubtedly feel they are doing “science” which is opposite “faith.” But really, everybody has faith. Theists have faith in intelligent design. Materialists have faith in the Stuff Happens Law, where charged dust bunnies are “certainly possible” and might lead to real bunnies. They need to believe that everything from the universe, stars, planets, life, and minds all happened by accident. Which worldview requires more faith?

So materialists chug along in their labs, using created brains and minds, standing on a planet perfectly designed for human life, thinking “stuff happens.” No eyes are so blind as the ones that will not see.

Time to watch The Privileged Planet again.

Previous articles on the “bouncing barrier” and other problems with planet accretion include:

2018 June 28: Planet Origin Theories Contradict Physics

2017 14 Sept: Miracles in Solar System Origin Theories

2016 25 Oct: Solar System Theories Challenged

2015 24 Aug: Planet Recipe Cooked Up

2015 Aug 15: Planets Defy Bottom-Up Assembly

2014 July 5: Start Over: The Evolution of Planets Is All Wrong

2014 May 4: Every Planet Surprises Secular Astronomers, III: Formation Theories

2007 Dec 5: Is Making Planets Child’s Play?

2004 Feb 3: Accretion: The Missing Link in Planetary Evolution








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