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James McCanney's Nonsense: the Solar Wind

Table of Contents
Comets are not "dirty snowballs" The solar wind is electrically charged Comets don't lose mass, they gain it
Comets are huge, not dinky Miscellaneous nonsense  
Links of Interest

McCanney Claim #2: The Sun's solar wind is not electrically neutral.

He makes this claim because it sets up a later claim about comets gaining mass. We'll get to that in just a moment, but since that part depends on the solar wind not being neutral, let's get this out of the way first.

All normal matter is made up of three types of particles: electrons, which have a negative charge, protons, which have a positive charge, and neutrons, which are neutral.

a wind from the Sun The Sun is a big ball of gas. It emits a wind of particles from its surface, called, of course, the solar wind. According to McCanney, this wind has a net positive charge because "it continually ejects large composite streamers of primarily protons in the solar wind" (from his book "Planet X Comets & Earth Changes", page 54).

This is simply wrong. There are many experiments in space which directly measure the solar wind, and have found it to be ionized, but electrically neutral. In other words, the same number of positive and negative particles are emitted (see, for example, here, or here). If the Sun's wind were primarily positive particles, then the Sun would build up a vast negative charge on its surface. This would affect everything about the Sun, from its magnetic field to the way the surface features behave. We see no indications at all that the Sun has a huge negative charge.

For McCanney to make this claim is just bizarre, and completely contradictory to all evidence. But he's stuck with it, because it's basic to his other silly claims.

Conclusion: The solar wind is electrically neutral, not positively charged. McCanney is wrong.

©2008 Phil Plait. All Rights Reserved.

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