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PowerPedia:Eric J. Lerner
Eric J. Lerner (born 1947) is currently the executive director of the Focus Fusion Society and president of Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc. in West Orange, New Jersey, which describes itself as a technology research, consulting and communications firm. He is an independent plasma researcher and advocates plasma cosmology, a alternative cosmology. Connected to this, Lerner wrote a science book, The Big Bang Never Happened (1991), which criticized the research and theories regarding the Big Bang model as of 1991.
Lerner was born in 1947 in Brookline, Massachusetts. He received a BA in physics from Columbia University and did graduate work in physics at the University of Maryland, College Park without completing a degree. Lerner wrote a popularization of plasma cosmology, The Big Bang Never Happened (1991). He has studied cosmic plasma phenomena and laboratory fusion devices, especially the dense plasma focus. Lerner describes himself as a life-long political activist, having been a participant in the 1965 Selma March, one of the committee members that helped organize the 1968 Columbia Student Strike, a current member of the NJ Civil Rights Defense Committee, and the Workers Democracy Network.
Lerner is a critic of the Big Bang theory and advocates an infinitely old Universe. Lerner has proposed non-mainstream alternative mechanisms to explain quasars, structure formation, the microwave background, and the origin of light elements, all based on his plasma cosmology approach. He claims that the intergalactic medium is a strong absorber of the cosmic microwave background radiation with the absorption occurring in a fog of narrow filaments. He has suggested that data on the surface brightness of galaxies contradicts the predictions of expanding-universe models.
Lerner postulated that quasars are not related to black holes but are rather produced by a magnetic self-compression process similar to that occurring in the plasma focus. Lerner has done experimental work on the plasma focus funded by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in collaboration with the University of Illinois in 1994, and with Texas A&M University in 2001. n addition, he developed an original model of the role of the strong magnetic field effect on plasma functioning, which he believes could make the production of useful energy from aneutronic fusion more feasible.
He has presented this approach to fusion at several scientific conferences including (in the past five years) the IEEE International Conference on Plasma Science, 2002, the American Physical Society, 2003, and the XI Latin American Workshop on Plasma Physics, 2005. In 2006 he accepted an invitation, offered at the initiative of fellow Big Bang critic and MOND enthusiast Riccardo Scarpa, to be a Visiting Scientist at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Lerner is also a prolific general science writer, who estimates about 600 articles published, has received several journalism awards from the Aviation Space Writers Association from 1984 to 1993, and holds a 1993 US patent for a "Method for desalination and fresh water recovery".
Reception of Lerner's ideas
Lerner received some notoriety with the publishing of his popular-level book in 1991, which disputed Big Bang cosmology. James Van Allen, a space scientist who discovered the Earth's Van Allen belts, mailed a promotional statement to the publisher for inclusion on the back cover of the hardback edition of The Big Bang Never Happened that stated in its entirety:
- "Eric J. Lerner gives both a provocative critique of the Big Bang and a stimulating account of the insightful and creative, although controversial, cosmology of Nobel Laureate Hannes Alfven."
However, in general Lerner's ideas have not been acknowledged or adopted by cosmologists or astronomers. The general response of cosmologists to Lerner's dispute with standard cosmology is negative. For example, Paul Davies reviewed his book for the New York Times and panned it. The newspaper published a rebuttal by Lerner which was itself criticized by Arno A. Penzias, winner of the 1978 Nobel Prize for Physics:
- "The sizes of the vast ribbons of galaxies that Eric J. Lerner refers to come straight out of the Big Bang model itself.... Contrary to Mr. Lerner's claim, therefore, the 'simple mathematics' he cites rests upon, rather than contradicts the Big Bang model."
Subsequent to this, Paul Davies responded to Lerner's criticism of his review:
- '"It seems to me that the theory proposed by Mr. Lerner has serious problems in relation to thermodynamics. This is merely my professional opinion, for what it is worth. Others can judge for themselves.... I accept that Mr. Lerner's book reports work that is largely due to Hannes Alfven, but this does not render it immune from criticism."
- "The big bang may be wrong, but Lerner can't seriously expect to prove it in a popular book."
- "Lerner uses the kinds of arguments one often hears in public discourse on science, but rarely among professional scientists themselves. For example, he argues that plasma cosmology is in closer agreement with everyday observation than Big Bang cosmology, and hence is the more sensible. A look through a telescope reveals spirals and other structures similar to those observed in the plasma laboratory, and as cosmologist Rocky Kolb has remarked, in your bathroom toilet as well. Following Lerner's line of reasoning, we would conclude, as people once did, that the earth is flat, that the sun goes around the earth, and that species are immutable."
Partial list of papers and articles
- Publications in IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science'
- "Two World Systems Revisited: A Comparison of Plasma Cosmology and the Big Bang", IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Vol 31, Issue: 6, Part 1, (Dec. 2003)Full text
- "Galactic Model of Element Formation]," IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Vol. 17, No. 3, April 1989, pp. 259-263. Full text
- "Magnetic Vortex Filaments, Universal Invariants and the Fundamental Constants," IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Special Issue on Cosmic Plasma, Vol. PS-14, No. 6, Dec. 1986, pp. 690-702. Full text
- Industrial Physicist articles
- "Fraud Shows Peer-Review Flaws". Industrial Physicist, Vol 8, Issue 6.
- "Plasma Propulsion in Space". Industrial Physicist. October 2000, Volume 6, Number 5. (PDF)
- "What's Wrong with the Electric Grid?" Industrial Physicist, Vol. 9, no. 5, pp. 8,10-13. Oct.-Nov. 2003.
- Popular level articles and opinion pieces
- "Bucking the big bang". New Scientist. Vol. 182, no. 2448, pp. 20. 22 May 2004.
- "The Case Against the Big Bang" in Progress in New Cosmologies, Halton C. Arp et al, eds., Plenum Press (New York), 1993 Full text
- "The Cosmologists' New Clothes]". Sky and Telescope, V. 83, No., 2/Feb., pg 124, 1992.
External articles and references
- Personnel listed on the Web site for Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc.</ref>
- H. Ratcliffe, "The First Crisis in Cosmology Conference" (PDF), Progress in Physics (Oct 2005)
- Columbia Alumni Directory, 1988 edition, p.211.
- Biography at the Space Show
- Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement website, as confirmed by the subject<
- http://www.sc.eso.org/santiago/science/seminar2006.html Accessed November 10, 2006.
- Focus Fusion Society
- Eric Lerner, "The Big Bang Never Happened"
- Edward Wright, "Errors in the "The Big Bang Never Happened".
- Eric Lerner, "Dr. Wright is Wrong -- a reply to Ned Wright's "Errors in The Big Bang Never Happened"
- "An Open Letter to the Scientific Community"cosmologystatement.org. Published in New Scientist, May 22, 2004.
- Focus Fusion poses overwhelming competition to $10 billion Tokamak - Interview with Eric Lerner. (OSEN; Nov. 2, 2005) (also at PESN)
- Eric Lerner biography
- Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc.
- Wikipedia contributors, Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation.
- A Memorandum from the Strike Education Committee, archived by Columbia University, clearly listing Eric Lerner as one of their members.
- NJ Civil Rights Defense Committee
- See "Jails must stop using dogs near immigration detainees" SignOnSanDiego.com December 7, 2004.
- "Immigrant detainee breaks fast in Passaic" NorthJersey.com March 16, 2005
- "Lectures discuss international banking", The Daily Targum, March 28, 2000.
- "Magnetic Vortex Filaments, Universal Invariants and the Fundamental Constants," IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Special Issue on Cosmic Plasma, Vol. PS‑14, No. 6, Dec. 1986, pp. 690‑702.
- "Force-Free Magnetic Filaments and the Cosmic Background Radiation", IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Vol.20, no. 6, Dec. 1992, pp. 935-938.
- "Galactic Model of Element Formation," IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Vol. 17, No. 3, April 1989, pp. 259‑263.
- "Radio Absorption by the Intergalactic Medium," The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 361, Sept. 20, 1990, pp. 63‑68.
- "Confirmation of Radio Absorption by the Intergalactic Medium", Astrophysics and Space Science, Vol 207, 1993 p.17-26.
- "Intergalactic Radio Absorption and the COBE Data", Astrophysics and Space Science, Vol.227, May, 1995, p.61-81
- Evidence for a Non-Expanding Universe: Surface Brightness Data From HUDF Proceedings of the First Crisis in Cosmology Conference, AIP proceedings series 822, 2006, p.60-74.
- "Magnetic Self-Compression in Laboratory Plasma, Quasars and Radio Galaxies," Laser and Particle Beams, Vol. 4, Pt. 2, (1986), pp. 193-222.
- JPL Contract 959962
- JPL Contract 960283
- Prospects for P11B Fusion with the Dense Plasma Focus: New Results Invited presentation, 5th Symposium "Current Trends in International Fusion Research: A Review" March 24-28, 2003, Washington, D.C. Arxiv
- Magnetic effects and prospects for pB11 fusion</ref>
- >XI Latin American Workshop on Plasma Physics, Conference Programme, Mexico City, 5-9 December 2005.</ref> Lerner was a speaker at both the Fifth (2003) and Sixth (2005) Symposia on Current Trends in International Fusion Research. In the Sixth Symposium the paper was presented with Robert E. Terry, Naval Research Laboratory.
- 2005 Fusion Symposium, Program, Advances Towards pB11 Fusion with the Dense Plasma Focus
- Lerner estimates he has had about 600 articles published, in article such as Discover, and Industrial Physicist,.
- US Patent #5,207,928)
- New York Times (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: Sep 1, 1991. p. A.4</ref><ref>Letter to the Editor June 18, 1991
- Victor J. Stenger, "Is the Big Bang a Bust?", Skeptical Inquirer. 16, Summer 1992. pages _
- Universe: The Cosmology Quest, (2004) directed by Randall Meyers. On In ternet Movie Database). On Google Video (Part I | Part II)
- Co-written by, and including contributions by Eric Lerner. This film's first few lines claim that a "growing number" of astronomers doubt the Big Bang -- a charge that is unverified.