Sparse Particle Redshift and Scattering

Due to time constraints and my desire to do things thoroughly or not at all, as of 13 April 2005 I am putting this project on the backburner for a while - to simmer for a while and be properly cooked in due course.

To see what is simmering on 2 November 2005, please look at ../simmering/  There you will find two recent messages to sci.astro.research which sumarise my current thinking on a redshift mechanism.  I think I have found a mechanism, but there is a lot more work to explain it better and to characterise how it would behave in principle and quantitatively.

Please read on for my current thinking, links to discussion forums I have been or am active on, and for updates at the bottom of this page.

To the main page of this site: ../

Robin Whittle

Why I am not actively working on this project for the time being

Firstly, I have to earn a living and be a good husband.  Tackling the Big Bang Theory and trying to do better than the currently favoured "Photon" paradigm of Quantum Mechanics is very time consuming.

Secondly, I want to concentrate on a research project of more immediate benefit to people - a common neurological problem called Restless Legs Syndrome.  I will make a link to this material when I have finished it.

Thirdly, there is a huge amount of material to read and learn, and discussions to respond to.  I can't do it justice and so I will leave it for a while and hopefully tackle it in the months or years to come.

It would be fabulous to discover one or more new things about the interaction of electromagnetic radiation and sparse plasma and neutral gas clouds!  I am convinced that something like this will be required to explain the heating and acceleration of the solar corona and wind - probably scattering and quite likely redshift.  If that turns out to be valid, then it would be fabulous to contribute to the understanding of these phenomena - which likewise must change our understanding of all other stars, and therefore galaxies and their surrounding winds and plasma.  This leads to the IGM (Intergalactic Medium).  All I (or "we" - I hope some other people help or take this ball and run with it) need to do is show redshift in the IGM and we probably will make one of the most dramatic advances in science, claiming the biggest, fattest, scalp I can think of: the Big Bang Theory.  Its theory with many problems and I am astounded that its proponents are so confident of it - conceptually and quantitatively down to a few percent - when they don't understand crucial things about stars, galaxies, quasars or the IGM.

Please read and contribute to these Usenet discussions

There are a plethora of web-based forums for physics and astrophysics, such as and the Against the Mainstream forum at .  They use proportional fonts, have extraneous graphics, are post-moderated or not moderated at all.  They have a generally low signal-to-noise ratio, they are owned by particular companies and they could disappear at any time.  This is not true of well-moderated Usenet  newsgroups.  These are global, archived forever, well moderated and can be viewed in fixed width fonts (Google has a "Fixed font - Proportional font" option at the top right of each page.)

I have contributed to a number of discussions on these two moderated Usenet newsgroups.  Please check them out and contribute.  Scientific discussions, involving novel ideas, good challenges - with theory and especially observations - are excellent.  Unfortunately, there can also be short-tempers and closed minds.

To search for my messages in sci newsgroups, with the most recent listed first, use this link:*

Galaxy cluster at z=1.4 challenges BBT
This is a most fruitful discussion.  Some of it is what I regard as low-key stuff from another anti-BBT person Max Keon, and grumpy (it seems to me) dismissive stuff from Bjoern Feuerbacher.  Martin Hardcastle and others make more detailed contributions.  Please check out the detailed response from Craig Markwardt (message 49, 2005 April 12).  I will respond to this, but he gives lots of excellent-looking references and I don't have time to read and respond properly.

If, as Craig says, there really are high-redshift objects with the exact same redshift for emission and absorption lines in the visible band and for long wavelength, relatively coherent long coherence length maser emissions, then I can't currently contemplate how a sparse particle redshift mechanism could explain this.  The only way to do so would be to invoke some such mechanism and show that very high temperatures in the IGM (which conventional thinking says are only localised) somehow alter the basic redshift mechanism so it also affects long coherence length signals.  I can't imagine how, but if the IGM is hot enough, the electrons there may be moving at speeds where relativity and/or quantum uncertainties about their location become significant and somehow make all emr, including coherent light, appear to be not so coherent and so be subject to whatever sparse particle redshift mechanism may ultimately be shown to exist.
Critique of the "photon" theory of electromagnetic radiation
Please see this for my initial critique and the following discussion.

My current thinking on redshift, the Big Bang etc.

For a while I was confident I had a promising sparse particle or plasma redshift mechanism hypothesis, but now I think that the slight "dimples" I am working with simply result in a low-pass filter for the electromagnetic signal.   I think my ideas need further work, but based on a gut-feel, and the fact that most people don't think about light and the IGM this way, I still think there are important processes at work in sparse plasmas etc.   Maybe this whole pursuit has been hopeless - but at least I have tried to document it for those who follow a similar path.  But maybe it is the early steps in a journey which is crucial to our understanding of the Universe

Most people think of "photons" but these do not exist in Nature.  This means that most people may not think or, or may dismiss, some theories and perhaps observations which are true to Nature.

Please see the links above for my critique of the photon theory of electromagnetic radiation.  I want to read up more on SED - Stochastic Electrodynamics.   A site with some interesting material on this and other related aspects of physics is by A. F. Kracklauer : (This is A. F. Kracklauer's new site in July 2011.  Previously, his site was at 
The ads there go away after a while.  There are also some unique translations there, including of Louis-Victor de Broglie and Hugo Tetrode.

I think there is almost certainly one or more processes involving sparse particles (electrons, protons, ions etc.) and short coherence length light operating in the solar corona and the solar wind. 

I can easily imagine scattering of light from each particle contributing in some way to the heating - since the momentum from this couples to small particles, especially electrons.  (However, heavier particles probably scatter more, and this could explain selective heating and acceleration of heavier ions in the wind.)  Near the Sun, the light comes from a nearly 180 degree range of directions, and might reasonably be expected to generate both general outward lift and also heating, due to the way light is coming from opposing directions and so probably randomly jostling the particles.  Further away, the light is basically coming from one direction, and we see more acceleration away from the Sun, rather than so much heating.

It seems solar physicists ddon't generally consider sunlight as a factor in the heating and acceleration of the corona  and wind.  This would be based on "photon" theories of light, which I argue are invalid.  However, its common sense that sunlight is the most likely source of energy for these phenomena  - even if it is not by conventional black-body absorption.  Despite many efforts, no-one has figured out how 1/10,000 of the Sun's total output could be coupled to the very thin corona (as is necessary to explain its heating and acceleration) via the currently favoured process of the photosphere gyrating and creating long wavelength magnetic field changes which somehow dissipate energy in the corona.  Meanwhile, there's 64 Megawatts per square metre coming out of the Sun, and the corona is really, really thin, and doesn't need much energy to heat it.

The basic argument is this:
A cloud of atoms or molecules with a sharply defined edge reflects some light from its front and rear edges.  A raindrop is a good example.  Reduce the cloud to a single particle, and it still has a sharp edge (shorter than the wavelength of light) and it still slows light to some degree, so it must have a front and a back "surface" to its small zone of lower light speed.  Since these are not exactly in the same place, the reflection from the front surface will not be exactly cancelled by the opposite phase reflection from the back surface - and the particle will to some extent, scatter light, but only when it is removed enough from other particles that the inter-particle distance is greater than the coherence length of the light.  (If it was closer to other particles then the light would already be travelling at the slower speed, so there would be no edge - no change in refractive index near the particle.) In these conditions, we need to think of a short length impulse traversing a vacuum and encountering a lone particle which slightly slows the impulse in the immediate vicinity (say a wavelength or so) of the particle.
We need about 1/10,000 of the Sun's energy output to heat the corona.  I reckon we can probably find this in scattering - but we need to revise current thinking about this scattering, since I think most people do not consider it happens in a way which involves isolated electrons, protons or ions, or in a way which would heat them.  I can't say exactly how the heating works, but if we consider individual wavefronts, each carrying momentum, running into these isolated particles, then I think there will probably be a way of finding a heating mechanism.

To what extent redshift is operating in the solar corona I am not so sure.  We wouldn't be able to detect a slight redshift in the black-body curve.  I have a pile of papers on anomalous redshifts in solar absorption lines, going back to the early 20th century, so maybe there is a way of showing more such redshift for certain lines when they travel to Earth tangentially and so pass through more of the low corona.

I think the Big Bang theory has many, many problems.  

I can imagine a sparse particle redshift and scattering mechanism explaining a lot of the redshift we see in distant objects - but I am not exactly sure how and there are lots of challenging observations to consider.  See the Craig Markwardt discussion above.

Here is how I tired to explain my current thinking.  However, as far as I can see the mechanism I propose is just a low-pass filter. Maybe if applied sufficiently often (as it would be over billions of years travel through the IGM) this would in fact redshift a signal like black-body or an emission or absorption line to a wholly lower frequency, rather than just attenuate the higher frequency parts of it.  I will have to look at it more closely - but I think there probably needs to be something like this plus some other mechanisms.  Since the wavefront couples to the particle for a moment, as the particle slows part of it and as it scatters part of it, some acceleration in the particle could be expected.  Maybe there is a way of showing that this somehow leads to redshift in the total wavefront which continues.
The principle of this "sparse particle redshift and scattering" theory
is pretty simple. But first we have to abandon the idea of a "photon"
sailing through space. The model is:

1 - Something, including atoms losing quanta, generates a bunch of
electromagnetic radiation. (This theory only affects short
coherence length light, such as black-body radiation or
- to a lesser degree - atomic absorption and emission lines. It
does not apply to genuinely coherent continuous signals such as
from a radio transmitter or precisely tuned laser.)

2 - Passage of this electromagnetic radiation through an area of space
which is primarily empty, but has particles (electrons, protons,
ions, neutral atoms, molecules and even perhaps small particles of
dust) which are on average separated by more than the "coherence
length" of the affected light. The redshift process operates here,
changing the nature of the electromagnetic radiation.

3 - When this changed radiation deposits its quanta, the distribution
of energies of the quanta is found to be lower (redshifted) due to
the above process.

I am still working on this theory, but if it turns out to be valid, then
all this should have been recognised 80 to 100 years ago. But instead,
it seems that most people (including Einstein and Feynman) became
focused on the fictitious notion of a "photon" and could not imagine how
such a thing could have its energy or frequency changed in transit,
other than by Doppler shift.

A broad account of this field, and the various reasons why I think that
such a mechanism exists, is at:

with a pointer to a plasma redshift theory by Ari Brynjolfsson.

I am working to generalise my theory to avoid the notion of "photons"
and make it a redshift and scattering process for any sparse particle
situation, not just a plasma - although in astrophysics it is generally
plasmas which do the redshifting. I am not convinced the redshifting
process itself deposits energy in the sparse particle cloud. (This
would be the case if we were redshifting "photons".) Maybe a scattering
process (and perhaps the redshift process) contributes momentum to the
particles, heating them up. This would explain the heating of the solar
corona and the IGM - estimated by some to be at 440 Mega Kelvin).

Below is a brief account of my theory at present.

For the purposes of this discussion, I will use an impulse as a
functional model of the light produced by the Sun. The black-body
spectrum, if we put it through a Fourier transform, will give as an
impulse wave, probably only a few microns long (for most of its energy).

Another way of doing this is to sum a bunch of sinusoids of different
frequency, with each sinusoid having its phase set to 0 in the middle of
the time period, so that the energy of the component sinusoids follows
that of the black-body curve.

Either way, the result will be an impulse such as the one below, if we
consider say 95% or so of the energy of the whole spectrum, a frequency
range of about a decade, with wavelengths of about 0.2 to 2 microns.

Time (or space) is in the vertical dimension in the diagram below, and
electrical or magnetic force is left-right.


This is my manual, gut-feeling drawing, not a proper calculation. The
impulse would be about 2 microns long, and the most energetic part of it
in the middle spans only about 0.5 microns - the wavelength of the peak
emission. If we can show that such an impulse would be redshifted
and/or scattered by a sparse plasma, then we should be able to show the
same for a white-light random-looking noisy continual EM wave which
constitutes sunlight. Such a continual random-looking EM wave could be
made by summing vast numbers of such impulses with random amplitude and

So we are considering a 2um thick wavefront travelling like a plane away
from the Sun - or for the void intergalactic medium, as one component of
the starlight which criss-crosses the void. Similarly, in the vicinity
of a quasar, we are considering an impulse representing the very broad
emission of IR, light, UV, X-rays etc. from the core being redshifted
and scattered by the plasma in the first few light hours, days or years
from the core.

In a sparse gas or plasma, most of the wavefront travels at light speed,
but a small part of it is slowed in the close vicinity of the atom,
molecule, ion or electron. (We know this, because if we collected
enough such particles into a cloud with average inter-particle spacings
less than the coherence length, they would collectively slow the light
in a perfectly measurable way, forming an homogeneous medium with a
refractive index > 1.0. Also, we know a sharp-edged cloud of refractive
index greater than 1.0 - such as a raindrop - has a diffraction effect
at the sharp boundary with the ~1.0 refractive index space around it.
If we reduce the size of the cloud down to one particle, it still has a
sharp edge and we expect some slowing of light, just as we see at the
edge of the raindrop, which arguably accounts for the diffraction of
light around the back of it.)

This very small part of the wavefront is delayed a very short time - a
tiny fraction of a wavelength. We can think of the particle making a
slight dimple in the otherwise planar wavefront.

At a distance, the very slightly delayed component near the particle is
mixed at a very low level with a the rest of the main wavefront (not
counting for the moment attenuation caused by scattering), and I think
that the result, which is a convolution of the original wavefront with a
very narrow pulse, leads to an overall time-stretching of the wavefront,
together with a softening of the sharpest slope in the middle of the
impulse. (I need to do some computer programming to be sure of this -
though someone with a more mathematical mind may be able to establish
this analytically.)

As this process is repeated time and again, I think the EM impulse
undergoes a cumulative softening of the sharp slope in its middle and
becomes generally elongated. So it is time-stretched, to an overall
longer set of wavelengths and so delivers its energy with lower energy
quanta to the recipient electrons. However, I am not sure the redshift
process itself loses much energy - maybe more of the lower energy quanta
are delivered than there would have been if the EM impulse had not been

My theory doesn't work with coherent light - just impulses, which are
one way of thinking about black-body light. It certainly doesn't work
with the usual concept of a "photon".

Solar emission and absorption lines are not redshifted very much at all
- no more than a few parts per million, and there is controversy about
the various known contributors to this. When we think of the sun's
light as an impulse, the emission and absorption lines are very long
(time and space) sinusoidal wiggles which (I guess) are in phase
(emission) or out of phase (absorption) with the main black-body
impulse. In the corona (with inter-particle spacings of tens of
microns), the coherence length of these emission line "wiggles" is too
long for them to be affected much, so we don't see much redshift.
However, something like 1/10,000 of the solar output is needed to heat
the solar corona, so perhaps there is a scattering (currently not
recognised by science) or energy depositing redshift mechanism at work
here, on the black-body part of the impulse, but not much on the
absorption and emission lines.

In the IGM, it appears that the lines are shifted pretty much at the
same rate as the black-body part of the spectrum. In my theory, this is
either because the average inter-particle spacing in the IGM (say 1
metre?) is larger than the coherence length of the lines - or because
the extreme motion of these particles (eg 440 Mega Kelvin) is somewhat
relativistic and somehow these particles "see" the long coherence length
emission or absorption part of the light as being of a shorter coherence

Another, very terse, description is as follows:

We know that a cloud of particles slows EMR. If the cloud has a sharp
boundary then we get reflection from the front and back surfaces.

Now reduce the cloud down to a single particle.

The particle is still a cloud - and it has sharp (smaller than a
wavelength) edges caused by a zone of light slowing in its immediate

Overall, light is slowed by the presence of even one such (single
particle) cloud - yet most of the wavefront in the path from source to
destination (such as the space comprising the first Fresnel zone) is
pure vacuum. So the destination gets a mixture of the un-delayed EMR
(at a slightly lower amplitude) and a very small amount of EMR slightly
delayed. With pure, coherent, sinusoidal EMR this is just a phase
shift. My mechanism doesn't affect this, because it has infinite
coherence length, or at least a longer coherence length and therefore
wavefront thickness than the average inter-particle spacing.

But for an impulse as I describe above, (or any complex white-light-like
random-looking EMR which could be synthesised by adding together such
impulses with random amplitudes and timings), then I think (and maybe I
am wrong) that the delay flattens the steepest slope in the impulse and
generally makes the impulse longer. This is redshift.

Also, I argue that the single particle cloud does scatter some EMR,
since the zone of slower light near the particle is of finite size -
meaning the reflection from the front of this area (itself a diffuse
thing) is not exactly cancelled by the reflection from the back.

Consider a raindrop. This scatters light. Now reduce it to a single
molecule. This will scatter light as well, to some extent.

We don't need much of an effect to explain the heating of the solar
corona, since it is very thin. My guess is that there is random
side-to-side impulses of momentum from the scattered
component of the EMR - since the Sun's surface fills about 180 degrees
of the sky and light is coming from all those directions. At greater
distances, the light is more parallel and so we have the generally
unidirectional nature of the scattering momentum accelerating the solar
wind away from the Sun. Since I figure large particles scatter more
than small, this may explain the preferential acceleration of heavy ions
- which is not explained by conventional magnetic wave theories of
coronal heating and wind acceleration.

However, solar physicists assume that sunlight has no effect on the
coronal and wind plasmas. At last one of them (Steven Cranmer - see )
admits that conventional theories cannot explain coronal heating or wind


2005 April 13  Initial "Backburner" page established.
2005 November 2  Added "simmering" page.