Leif Svalgaard on exotic things: finally accepts planets may be affecting Sun after all!

Posted: July 28, 2011 by Rog Tallbloke in Astrophysics, Solar physics, solar system dynamics
Well, I’m almost speechless. :)
After another intemperate exchange of views on WUWT, Leif suddenly comes out with this after I gave him a lesson in Newtonian mechanics:
tallbloke says:

Leif Svalgaard says:
July 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm
What you should have learned by now from the various exchanges is that if the planets generate, control, or modulate solar activity it is by tidal mechanisms [which includes W&P]. That means that all the barycentric [and solar velocity, angular momentum, etc] stuff is out, and we should [as W&P] concentrate on finding how tidal forces can do this.

Wolff and Patrone say:
“Using a classical method, we have estimated the spatial distribution of regions within a
star that contain previously-unknown potential energy per unit mass (PE) that exists solely
because the star is orbiting the inertially fixed point (barycenter) of its planetary system.”

Are you seeing the word ‘tidal’ in there Leif?
I’m seeing the word ‘barycenter’.

They go on to say:
“the only externally-caused net-force sensed by the stellar fluid
is the tidal force. It raises a tide ∼ 1 mm high at the solar surface, which is ∼ 10−11 to ∼ 10−9
times the vertical displacements of convective flows that will be involved in our mechanism.
We ignore tidal effects in the rest of this paper.”

Anyway, I’m not going to argue it with you right now, because this is a most welcome and refreshing change in your approach.

There may be subtle things going on in the interior that we don’t know about: the sun might not be symmetric on the inside, for example, in which case tidal forces may cause a torque on the sun, perturbing the sunspot generation, or other more exotic things. The usual problem is one of magnitude, so that has to be overcome for tidal mechanisms to work.

A physical asymmetry in the Sun would introduce a quadrupole moment which should be detectable. Any likely places in existing data that might be found?

Over on my blog, we’ve been discussing the physical and activity asymmetry of the Sun for the last year and a half. When I presented my finding on the link between sunspot production asymmetry and the motion of the Sun relative to the barycentre in the Z axis to you on solarcycle24.com best part of two years ago, you summarily dismissed it and had the moderator close my thread. Remember?
Maybe this will refresh your memory:
“More exotic things” might cover the Wolff-Patrone mechanism too.

There are stars with large planets in very close orbits. Those planets will certainly have a measurable tidal effect. We could look for such systems and study them over time to see if their stellar activity is synchronized with the tidal forces. So, the field is ripe for investigations, but we have to get rid of all the pseudo-scientific nonsense that right now is obscuring the issues..

Pseudo-scientific nonsense like “The Sun is in perfect freefall and feels no forces” for example. ;)

As you say, the field is ripe for investigations, we are several years ahead of you there, but you have better knowledge of and access to data, so feel free to join in the exciting voyage of discovery with us, you and your knowledge are sincerely welcome. I will happily eschew ideas proved wrong as the new theory takes shape.

Hurrah!! At last!!!

  1. Ray Tomes says:

    I would say that the Sun is in free fall and feels no forces would be correct as far as COM argument goes. If you think COM means something, then why not include alpha Centauri also and make the COM a light year or two outside the Sun? And make it circle in a couple of hundred million years? I have never seen anyone explain how COM is supposed to cause any real physical effects.

    Unlike COM, tidal forces are real. The body of the Sun is deformed and as it rotates in the deformed state, it sets up processes similar to Earth’s tropical zones that cause variable rates of mixing. Furthermore, this leads to accurate determination of Sunspot cycle period being bimodal with peaks at 10.4 and 12.0 years (average 11.1) due to J-V-E interactions as has been shown by a number of people over many decades.

  2. tallbloke says:

    Hi Ray, I don’t rule out electromagnetic effects which might be creating a coupling moment between solar spin and orbit about the barycentre. I understand what you are saying, and it’s why i refer to motion about the barycentre, rather than about the ‘Centre of Mass’.

    There are plenty of people who specialise in ruling things out. I try to counterbalance that in my role as historian of science by keeping the gate open, documenting the various ideas which are put forward, and promoting discussion which assists in sorting wheat from chaff. I’m definitely a partisan for the planetary theory though, so I admit my bias and enjoy the scrap with Leif.

    On this occasion I have successfully persuaded him to take a longer and more careful look at Wolff and Patrone’s paper than he ususally gives to papers mentioning planets affecting the sun.

    He has shifted from saying it doesn’t require a rebuttal because the sun is in freefall to saying:

    “Kinetic energy of a body is defined as the work needed to accelerate a body of a given mass from rest to it velocity. As the Sun is in free fall it does not feel any acceleration going around the barycenter and thus gains no kinetic energy. That, I think, is the flaw in W&P’s equations 2 and 4.

    Let me think a bit more about this and formalize my thoughts.”

    This is progress!

    he is however trying to recast the Wolff and Patrone ‘potential energy’ as being due to tidal force, so we’ll see how it goes. I did point out that W &P say:
    “We ignore tidal effects in the rest of this paper”

  3. Stephen Wilde says:

    Yes I noticed Leif’s shift in position with some surprise. Someone as experienced as him in solar matters should have been acknowledging the potential for tidal forces distorting the sun long ago.

    If the sun can indeed be distorted on a regular cyclical basis then that opens the door for a corresponding tidal effect on the Earth’s oceans.

    The three possible gravitationally induced tidal forcings in relation to the oceans are lunar, solar and planetary and no doubt the three interact in a predictable and regular fashion but no one seems to have pinned it all down.

    What we need to find is a cause for the 60 year climate cycling which I contend is ocean driven. If external gravitational influences combine to do it then that is fine by me.

    As regards the climate cycling from MWP to LIA to date I’m sure that is primarily solar driven as witness the changes in solar activity from the LIA to date and support for earlier such solar driven cycling from historical climate records and isotope proxies.

    I’m satisfied that the raw solar cycling on the longer timescale is often out of phase with the mixed lunar/solar/planetary cycling on the shorter timescale hence the problems of correlation in the historical record.

    Anyway, progress is being made and we need to firm up on the net combined effect of solar/lunar and planetary gravitational effects on our oceans.

  4. Gerry says:

    Leif now appears to acknowledge that planet-induced solar tidal forces may possibly be able to cause observed changes in solar activity. The next step might be for him to be learn a little more about the orbital resonances that cause cyclical variations in the planet-induced tides. Specifically, there are well known cyclic relationships of the orbital resonances between the giant outer planet barycentric orbit periods and those betwen the inner planet orbit periods, which are more strongly influenced by the barycentric motion of the Sun. A good introduction to the subject is

    It even includes some notes on “counter-intuitive” relationships of planetary orbital angular momentum to solar angular momentum.

    -Gerry Pease

  5. vukcevic says:

    From SC24
    With the possible closure of McMath-Pierce a distinct possibility will L&P work be transferred to ATST ? Will Matt Penn continue the work when Bill retires ? Has Mark Giampapa stated anything about what he sees about the future of the study ?
    BTW congratulations on the grant for the historical study you proposed. It looks like quite a few people will be banging around libraries thumbing through tombs.

    L.S. We have submitted a paper to Science on this. If accepted it will go a long way to enable us to continue. Bill L is already retired.

  6. tallbloke says:

    Gerry, you are aware of the huge thread we had with Semi here a while back I hope?
    Timely reminder of the link anyway, thanks.

    Stephen, Nicola Scafetta and Craig Loehle seem to be the men of the moment with 60 year cycles. have you read the paper yet?

    Vuk, sounds like Dr S might be too busy to bother us soon. :(

  7. Stephen Wilde says:

    Yes rog, I’ve looked at the paper from Nicola and Craig and some of the comments on it.

    They don’t actually commit themselves at to whether the 60 year cycle is solar induced, barycentre induced or a product of internal system variability.

    To my mind it doesn’t matter how it arises. It exists and it contributes to a bottom up forcing of the climate system altering the surface air pressure distribution accordingly and it isn’t always in phase with the top down solar effect on the polar vortices hence the correlation problems.

    However for the purpose of prediction we do need to know how it arises and how it responds to the undoubted longer term solar variability which gives us the undulations in tropospheric temperatures back to the Minoan Warm Period at least and probably right back to the last glaciation.

  8. Roy Martin says:

    “Leif Svalgaard says:
    July 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm
    What you should have learned by now from the various exchanges is that if the planets generate, control, or modulate solar activity it is by tidal mechanisms [which includes W&P]. That means that all the barycentric [and solar velocity, angular momentum, etc] stuff is out, and we should [as W&P] concentrate on finding how tidal forces can do this.”

    That is music to my ears. I agree with every word Lief has said on COM, free fall and coupling issues, although I find his comments on W&P a bit ambiguous. On my reading, W&P got their mechanics wrong. They appear to assume that the barycentre is a gravitational source, which it definitely is not, as a couple of others above have already pointed out. But they at least were investigating how the planets might get into the act.

    It looks as if someone is catching up with the very real possibility that horizontal tidal forces caused by the planets can explain much of the cyclicity of solar phenomena.

  9. Gerry says:

    The thread on Semi’s work was memorably huge for sure. In fact, I just now revisited it and was immediately amused to reread the comments about Leif’s WUWT dismissals of planet-induced solar tides and of the role of the solar system barycenter in shaping solar activity. My guess is that at some point he will acknowledge that the barycenter plays a large role, but will claim that the rest of us didn’t have a scientific understanding of resonant orbit cycles, and that we just blindly equated apparent correlations with un-explainable causations. I don’t expect him to be generous enough to even concede that we had, and continue to have, a lot of good ideas, insights, and hypotheses. If he can now formulate a full-fledged and fully tested mathematical theory that will be accepted by his peers and withstand the test of time, more power to him. I think we all know that he is not likely to be the one who will do that, however.

  10. vukcevic says:

    Stephen Wilde says:
    July 29, 2011 at 11:30 pm
    They don’t actually commit themselves at to whether the 60 year cycle is solar induced, barycentre induced or a product of internal system variability.
    Hi Steven
    I made a casual remark on JC’s Climate etc, which was met with enthusiastic response from Craig Loehle and a lookewarm from Nicola Scafetta. You can see details here:
    Some of my ideas are here:

  11. Stephen Wilde says:

    Hello vuk, thanks for that.

    I think you propose that magnetic changes in the sun provide the 60 year cycle but that cycle seems to heavily involve the oceans. Can you say how magnetic effects from the sun could set up an oceanic oscillation?

    I tend to prefer the idea that gravitational effects are involved with the centre of gravity of the solar system being responsible by inducing additional tidal effects in the oceans behind the larger solar and lunar effects. Any ideas on that?

  12. adolfogiurfa says:

    Chandrasekhar’s relaxation time is applied to the electron gas in flow. By determining the relaxation time, tR, and the mean transit time, tT, two types of electron flow may be characterized: anisotropic flow if tT«tR, and isotropic flow if tR«tT. It is shown that the electron temperature along the flow decreases as the mean velocity of the electrons increases in a parallel plane diode. In the given examples, the boundary conditions are obtained for a particular model which has been recommended in the study of thermionic emission.
    Chandrasekhar’s relaxation time is the interaction Chandrasekhar saw among stars, similar to the interaction of particles in a gel: ” It is therefore of interest that stellar dynamics provides a case of Brownian motion in which all phases of the problem can be explcitly analyzed…”
    What is it all that?…….CHARGE!

  13. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Stephen Wilde: Water is diamagnetic, and salted water it is a good electricity conductor. BTW, how does the earth spin around?

    The old paradigm is dead!

  14. Doug Proctor says:

    This discussion, and the same one on WUWT right now, has me seriously confused. Leif S. seems to be saying that any 60-odd year cycles are artefacts of analytical methodology or the human bias towards seeing patterns even when they do not exist. When someone suggested that 60-year cyclicity is generally recognized – as I thought the global and subsets of the temperature data did – LS said that was untrue. That there were no such cycles except those artificially produced by math or eye. But is not the up-and-down nature of the temperature on a short term of maybe 60 or 120 years, on top of various other cycles of longer terms and shorter (-year sunspot?) what much of the climate debate is about – that cycles exist, and the non-CO2 causitive parameters that create them?

    I can’t tell if the Fourier/non-Fourier analyses and cycles seen/cycles imagined is a technical, geek issue or if LS is saying that the last couple of hundred years of temperature rises and falls is random, without internal, time-dependent patterns, and just happens at this moment to be rising ….

    Archibald et al are working with birds that don’t fly?

  15. You are completely misrepresentating my position. Shame on you.

  16. tallbloke says:

    Hi Leif, welcome to the talkshop.
    I’ve tried to be careful to quote your exact words in context, specifically to avoid misrepresenting you, since you haven’t dropped by here in the past to state your own case. Please feel free to clarify anything you feel needs clarifying.