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Episode 120 - James McCanney's Views on Comets, Part 1

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Recap: I've listened to Coast to Coast AM for many years, and one of the repeating "science" guests I have not yet talked about on this show is James McCanney. His ideas can broadly be classified as falling into the Electric Universe model, and he is best known for his ideas about comets. It is these cometary ideas that are the focus of this Part 1 episode.

Q&A: This episode's question comes from Carol M. who, when I posted a news story to Facebook that showed a picture of Phobos taken from the surface of Mars that showed mars-shine (which is light from the sun, reflected off Mars, onto the night side of the moon, and reflected back off the night side of the moon to Mars so the rover can photograph it), asked if we could ever see Mars’ inner moon Phobos occult its outer moon, Deimos.

The answer is a very neat “yes,” and I’ve posted a movie of it. But, because of parallax, meaning the angle of viewing, not all of Mars can see an event. Just like when bright planets pass behind our moon, it’s only visible from certain locations on Earth.

For Mars, it would happen every time Mars, Phobos, and Deimos lined up, which would happen very roughly twice a day. But, the complication is that Phobos and Deimos do not orbit directly above Mars’ equator. Phobos is tilted with an orbital inclination of about 1.08°, while Deimos is tilted with an inclination of about 1.79°. Compared with Earth’s moon which is tilted about 5.2° relative to our equator, that’s fairly small, but it’s still meaningful.

But, there’s the size of the objects as seen from Mars. Phobos appears about 1/2 to 2/3 as large as our moon does from Earth, at about 0.14° to 0.20° across. That’s nearly 1/6 of its inclination. Deimos is much smaller, and you would not be able to resolve it as anything larger than a point if you were on the surface of Mars.

Because of their proximity to Mars’ surface, if you’re poleward of about 70.4° latitude, you will never see Phobos. Deimos is a bit more generous, but you’ll never see it if you are poleward of about 82.7° latitude.

Put all this together, and yes, you can see Phobos occult Deimos from Mars’ surface, but it doesn’t happen every orbit, and even when it does happen, you need to be in a specific area of the planet to see it.

Additional Materials:


Overview: James makes a lot of claims, and he has been making them for over thirty years. He places his own origin story as back in the days of the Voyager spacecraft encounters with Jupiter, when he saw the data coming back and even though real scientists had very good ideas about what they were seeing James claims that they actually had no idea what they were looking at. But, it could all be explained by electrical discharges, but when he tried to talk about his ideas, he quickly met with derision. After all, it was very soon after Carl Sagan had just “buried” Immanuel Velikovsky’s ideas. Being a neo-Velikovskian, where McCanney believes in much of Velikovsky’s ideas but wraps them into an Electric Universe model, McCanney was immediately relegated to the fringe, where he’s been ever since.

Also, for what it’s worth, he is *Professor* McCanney, he does not have a doctorate. He has an MS in nuclear and solid-state physics. Practically every time he is introduced on the Coast to Coast AM radio show, he is introduced as a professor of physics and/or mathematics at Cornell University, in Ithaca, NY. However, from his own bio, he was simply an introductory instructor of physics for a year or two before he was fired for his craziness, he was then picked up by the mathematics department as an instructor before he was fired again after a year and a half. He therefore hasn’t been affiliated in any way with Cornell for over three decades; for the entire time I’ve been alive, he has not worked at Cornell. Now, maybe it’s just me, but I consider still including it as part of your short bio and making it sound as though it’s a current job is pretty misleading.

McCanney has ideas about pretty much everything astronomy, but they can mostly be boiled down to the idea that everything NASA says is wrong, everything conventional is wrong, and it’s a conspiracy that’s keeping it the dominant view.

McCanney has ideas that span a very large area of astronomy, but really it can mostly be wrapped into the Electric Universe model. As we discussed in Episodes 115 and 116, there really is no such thing as “THE” Electric Universe - or “EU” - model, but rather there are many different ideas that adherents hold. The only unifying philosophy is that most phenomena in the universe are not due to gravity and chemistry, but electricity. Different adherents to EU extend this to everything from the vast Valles Marineris canyon system on Mars to the structures of superclusters of galaxies.

In James McCanney’s case, this is mostly applied to comets, and secondarily to space weather — as in the sun’s solar wind and what it does to objects in the solar system. For about the last decade, he’s mostly been on Coast to Coast AM as a first hour brief news guest, less often as a first full hour guest to talk about the latest solar flares, and then least often as a three-hour guest for the last three hours of the show to talk about whatever.

This episode is going to use a lot of clips of him stating his claims. Most of this episode is going to talk about his ideas related to comets, but I may mention a few other things, as well. In the next episode, I’ll talk about his non-comet ideas.

Comets: Hot, Dry, Rocky

You wouldn’t know it by looking at his book titles, which I’ll get to later, but James McCanney is best known for his EU ideas regarding comets. He has many different ideas about comets that are simply wrong, as I’ll explain in a bit, but here is his primary one [Coast to Coast AM, April 4, 2006, Hour 1, starting 8:30]:

GN: “Jim, what’s your theory on comets and how they form?”

JM: “Well, this is a discharge of the solar capacitor. Any object within the solar capacitor is discharging it. Comets do create this discharge more-so because they’re in elliptical orbits, but basically the discharge then– Part of the discharge is an electron stream coming off the sun which charges up the nucleus to a negative potential. That holds in the positively charge material which forms the tail. And so you have hydrogen and oxygen atoms coming in for example, they combine to form water. That’s why there’s water in the tail area. You have carbon and hydrogen atoms that come in and that’s what forms the organics etc. And the nitrogen, uh, nitrogen is out there and it’s combining with the hydrogen to form uh, uh, organic molecules etc. And so these molecules are forming in the tail as the comet material’s being drawn in, it’s also drawing in dust. The small comets are not massive enough to hold this material, so some of it is blown out in the solar wind, and that’s what fools comet scientists into believing that-that it’s coming from the nucleus, but direct observation of the nucleus shows that there was nothing coming off the nucleus going out to form a tail.”

McCanney’s thesis is that practically everything we see in the solar system is due to a discharging of the solar capacitor. As in, the sun is a capacitor (meaning it stores electricity) and other stuff is a manifestation of that electricity being discharged, light static electricity or lightning.

As such, comets are manifestations of that electricity. And for some reason, that means to James that they canNOT be “dirty snowballs,” as in primarily ices with rock and other material thrown in. Why exactly mainstream science won’t ever acknowledge this deals with conspiracy I’ll get to later, but the primary manifestation of his core belief system is that comets are rocky bodies with no water.

To quote Phil Plait (to whom McCanney refers to as a disinformation agent, among many other less nice things), “Well, McCanney is wrong. You’d better get used to [hearing] that sentence.”

So then, the obvious question is, how could you possibly tell? Why do scientists claim that comets are cold and icy while McCanney claims they are hot and rocky?

The answer has to do with spectroscopy. I’ve discussed spectroscopy somewhat before, so the short version is that you take the light from an object and you split it into a lot of colors. If I were to take just the visible light from a piece of blue construction paper and split that light with a prism, there would be a lot of blue and very little of anything else.

Scientists use much more precise instruments, but the idea is really that simple: Separate out the light and see what colors are strongest or weakest. Let’s take the sun as an example. If you separate out its light, you’re going to get a lot of brightness, but at certain colors, or more precisely, certain wavelengths of light, you’re going to see significant drops in the amount of light at that wavelength. Those drops come from atoms and molecules that absorb that very specific wavelength or color of light.

Then, we can take pure elements and molecules in the laboratory and look at what specific colors they give off when heated. Instead of an absorption spectrum, which is what we’d have with the Sun, this laboratory experiment would create an emission spectrum: The light when spread out by a spectrometer would be dark everywhere except a few specific wavelengths or colors, hence that element or molecule is emitting that spectrum.

This has been done with every element and a huge number of molecules on Earth, and as such, we have a very large library of what all these atoms’and molecules’ spectra look like.

With the library in hand, we can go back to the spectrum of the sun and match it up. If we see a very strong absorption feature in the sun at 589.0 and 589.6 nm (which is yellow), then that is exactly what we get from sodium in the lab, and so we know that there is sodium in the sun. It gets a lot more complex as you add more atoms, and then especially molecules because molecules have a lot more spectral lines.

Similarly, minerals are also pretty complicated, which is why when you hear about the latest rock the Mars rovers have found and it likely contains X mineral, that’s what’s going on: They’ve looked at the spectra and compared it to libraries this time of minerals and looked for which minerals match best.

We do the same thing with comets. This is where I have to fall back on what I commonly say with really outlandish claims: Scientists aren’t stupid. They have been looking at the spectra of objects in the solar system for literally centuries, including comets. Comets best match the spectrum of ices with some rock thrown in. It is not some vast, giant conspiracy where this is subjective and we have to hide data so no one can know the truth. This is something that we did when I taught introductory astronomy for NON-majors.

But, that only gives us what it’s made of: Ice. Which already is a crucial blow to his models because the idea of comets NOT being made of water is a key part of his ideas.

Along with that comes temperature: McCanney requires that comets not only be rocky and not icy, but that they be hot and not cold. He’s wrong. This is again something that comes out of spectra. The light emitted by objects - and I’m talking about EVERY object in the universe here, because EVERY object emits light, and that light can be used to determine the temperature.

This was something determined again, over a century ago, and explaining WHY it could be used to determine temperature was what led Max Planck to be one of the founders of quantum mechanics: Blackbody radiation.

As I said, every object emits light. That light will follow a characteristic curve called a blackbody radiation curve, which is the amount of light on the vertical axis versus wavelength of light on the horizontal axis. Hotter objects emit more light, and the maximum wavelength of light that they emit is ONLY determined by temperature. With hotter objects, that wavelength is shorter because shorter wavelengths of light are higher energy.

Conversely, a relatively cold object will emit most of its light at longer, redder wavelengths, and it will emit less light overall.

And, we can measure this. And we do measure this. I’ve never done this in introductory physics, but this is a rather trivial measurement that physicists have been making for over a century. As have astronomers of astronomical objects. Including comets. While there will be a reflectance spectrum from sunlight bouncing off the comet, there will be another signal, at much longer, lower energy wavelengths, that peak at wavelengths of light corresponding to a temperature of under 200 Kelvins, well below the freezing point of water.

Therefore, comets are cold. And icy. But he still denies it: [Coast to Coast AM, August 30, 2007, Hour 1, starting 23:35]

“Bottom line is, you look at all the pictures of comets we have now, there’s no ice there, there’s no snow, there’re hot dry rocks, and uh– we simply, uh– Soon I think the wall is going to break down and I’m not sure what’s going to cause that, but uh, I’m certainly going to keep pounding on it.”

Comets: Measuring in situ

That was from 2007, which is misleading to be generous, because by that point we hadn’t just made these measurements remotely. By then, we had sent several space probes to comets, and since then we’ve sent even more. These include the European Giotto to Comet Halley, NASA’s Deep Impact to comet Tempel 1, and just in the last few weeks, the European Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. That’s from memory, and when I looked up the list of successful flyby and other missions, it’s actually much larger: In total, Earth has had 12 successful spacecraft visit 12 different comets.

All of these have had instruments to measure at least some of the composition of the comets as well as temperature and other things. And, they have all measured water. For example, Giotto’s results showed that 80% of the material being emitted by comet 1P/Halley was water.

The same thing happened with Deep Impact into Comet 9P/Tempel, which found literally thousands of tons of water ejected when the companion struck the comet to make a crater and the flyby craft measured the composition of the material that was kicked up. When asked about this, he said: [Coast to Coast AM from November 4, 2010, Hour 1, starting 13:00]

“There is no water there.”

Unfortunately, there’s nothing else to go on in this case or accuse him of misunderstanding. It’s just pure denialism.

We also observed the Deep Impact event in telescopes on Earth and in Earth orbit. However, he also refused to accept that: [Coast to Coast AM from April 4, 2006, Hour 1, starting 06:37]

“In the news release, they are taking uh, what you call second-level data, and they are interpreting it and saying there was 250,000 tons of water. Uh, using X-ray data from a remote telescope that was near Earth actually So, the bottom-line is, did they see this water? No. Did they see it come off the nucleus? No. And the other point is, uh, they saw this between 5 and 15 days after the impact. So what they did is detected x-rays, and interpreted it as saying, ‘Hm, that must mean there’s more water there, that must mean it came out of the hole we created with the impactor,’ and all of this supposition is a big, big stretch of somebody’s imagination.”

This one is more complicated, and it’s not as directly a case of just denialsism, rather it’s a case of not understanding the research.

The point of the research was that scientists had used an x-ray telescope that detected x-rays at exactly the energy expected for the solar wind to be interacting with water (H2O) or carbon dioxide (CO2) in the neutral coma (head of the comet) which would be material liberated from the impact event and melting. As in, they used spectral libraries of those kinds of interaction and found matches that BEST matched water and carbon dioxide, both of which would have had to have been frozen as ices on the comet first.

The astronomers also measured the light curve of the x-rays - as in, the brightness with time - and they found that it continued to increase after impact and then decrease after the heating dissipated. To quote from Universe Today: “Tempel 1 is usually a rather dim, weak comet with a water production rate of 16,000 tonnes per day. However, after the Deep Impact probe hit the comet this rate increased to 40,000 tonnes per day over the period 5-10 days after impact. Over the duration of the outburst, the total mass of water released by the impact was 250,000 tonnes.”

If we go back to McCanney’s statement, it’s either completely misreading the research and press releases, or it is again simply being a denier.

The conclusion I draw from this and the dozens of other interviews I listened to and material I read is that James McCanney will use pretty much any excuse he can come up with - including either lying about the results or choosing to woefully misinterpret them - to maintain that comets aren’t made of a lot of ice.

Comets: Tails

Besides his claims about the makeup of comets, he has a couple different claims about comets’ tails.

One of them is that Noah’s flood - where it rained for 40 days and nights according to the Judeo-Christian Bible and he whole-heartedly believes, was because of a comet’s tail. That’s right, we were passing through the tail of a comet for 40 days and nights.

Some quick math shows that Earth’s orbit takes it approximately 103 million km in 40 days. That’s very VERY roughly the distance between the sun and Venus. It’s not unheard of for a comet tail to be that long, but unless, somehow, the comet was in pretty much exactly the same orbit as Earth and therefore we were traveling straight down that tail, it’s practically impossible for a comet’s tail to be that wide. They’re usually only on the order of about 100 kilometers wide. That’s why meteor showers last an evening and not over a month.

I’m not saying that it’s impossible, just incredibly unlikely. And if you’re going to go the God route anyway, why does it have to make scientific sense, why do you have to find a scientific explanation?

Another of his ideas dealing with cometary tails is that their direction is all wrong for the conventional dirty snowball explanation: [Coast to Coast AM, December 22, 2011, Hour 1, starting 10:17]

“The, uh, comet tail, for example, is the wrong direction for uh, something coming off the comet. The tail is the wrong direction, it’s like if you looked at a smokestack and there was smoke coming out in a light breeze, and-and the tail– the smoke was going in the wrong direction you’d say, ‘Something’s wrong here, something else is going on.’”

Before I explain why James McCanney is wrong, I’ll say another phrase that I expect I’ll be repeating throughout this episode: Scientists aren’t stupid. This seems like an incredibly obvious thing to notice and if the conventional explanation can’t explain it, then it should be immediately obvious to any astronomer that it’s wrong and we need a different model.

With that said, comets usually have two primary tails: A dust tail and a gas tail. Remember, comets are dirty snowballs, as we’ve established with spectroscopy and direct measurements from landing on them. Therefore, when they get close enough to the sun for the surface ices to start to melt, they’ll be released as a gas. Just like dirty melting snow on Earth, as the snow melts, it frees up the dirt. That’s also why comets tend to be dark on their surfaces, because it concentrates the dirt. But, some of that dirt is released, just as the ice-turned-gas is released, and that dirt forms the dust tail.

Both of these are released from the comet nucleus and form an incredibly tenuous atmosphere called the coma, or “head.” This is one of the things that’s bright and actually visible when you tend to think of a comet.

These are very small particles. These particles will then get pushed by the sun. But, each particle of dust is much heavier than each molecule of gas. As particles stream out of the sun, they hit the dust and gas in the coma. The dust will get pushed from the coma and nucleus in the direction of the streaming particles from the sun: In other words, away from the sun. Because they are heavy, it takes a lot of solar wind particles to hit the dust particles to get them into a tail. Because of this, the dust tail points away from the sun, but not directly away from the sun: It tends to curve back in the direction from where the comet came.

The gas tail is very different. These are much lighter molecules and atoms that are in the coma, and after interacting with the solar wind, they become ionized. This means that they lose electrons. This means that they are NOW subject to the sun’s magnetic field. As a result, the gas tail will point directly away from the sun.

To summarize, the conventional view is that comets are dirty snowballs, and as they get close to the sun, the ices turn into a gas and take some of the dirt with them, forming the coma or head. The solar wind pushes the dust particles into a tail that aims generally away from the sun but curves back in the direction the comet came from because dust is heavy. The gas becomes ionized and follows the sun’s magnetic field lines, so the gas tail is always straight away from the sun. This means that as comets return to the outer solar system, they chase their tails, with the tail first and the head following.

That’s what we see, and that’s the explanation. There is no mismatch between the conventional explanation and the conventional model, despite what McCanney says, therefore McCanney is wrong on this point.

A third claim about comet tails - the last one I’m going to address in this episode - is that comet tails create a drag force which slows them down and circularizes their orbits. This is a very important part of his overall model because of its relation to comet sizes and Planet X: James McCanney believes that there are lots of Planet Xs out there and that they are comets and that comets grow and become huge and eventually circularize their orbits to become regular planets.

While I’ll get into parts of this more, later, the part of this claim at this point is the mythical force of “tail drag.” I say it’s mythical because it is: There is zero evidence for it and he pretty much made it up. His claimed evidence - other than arguing from final consequences, in that it HAS to exist so that his ideas about comets turning into planets can be real - has to do with what happened to Comet Hale-Bopp.

In 1996, Comet Hale-Bopp changed its orbit. To quote from McCanney’s book entitled, “Planet-X, Comets and Earth Changes,” page 52:

The huge comet Hale-Bopp had its orbit reduced from 4200 years to 2650 years in one passage of the Sun. The dirty snowball ‘jetting concept’ could not account for this amazing change in orbit.

This is an example of misleading the audience. The only thing that’s correct is the OBSERVATION that the orbital period changed from 4200 to 2650 years. It’s then misleading to say that “the dirty snowball ‘jetting concept’” can’t be used to explain it. That’s like me saying I opened my house door to the outside and it got colder in the house, but the concept of fans moving air can’t explain that temperature change, therefore fans don’t exist.

Yes, my example may sound contrived, but that’s the setup: a false dichotomy. A conventional model that has nothing to do with this particular phenomenon - gasp! - didn’t have anything to do with this phenomenon, therefore my crazy idea must be right.

When in fact, what went on is simple gravity. In April 1996, comet Hale-Bopp passed close enough to Jupiter for Jupiter to significantly modify its orbit. That’s what happened. That’s all that happened. Simple gravity from a massive planet acting on a comet changed that comet’s orbit a bit. It has nothing to do with the comet’s tail, it has no requirement to invent some new force or phenomenon to explain it. Simple gravity did it.

But besides that, we can look to, well, EVERY SINGLE COMET and watch their orbits. If when they have large tails their orbits change the most, then McCanney would be right. But that’s not what we see, and McCanney doesn’t even make that claim. So, McCanny is wrong. Again. Oh, and there are lots of cases where a comet’s orbital period is INCREASED as opposed to decreased. Which couldn’t happen with tail drag.

As a completely gratuitous side-note, James McCanney also thought that Comet Hale-Bopp was the “big one” and as big as the moon, but then realized the “big one” was following Hale-Bopp and should come by about 10 years after. That would have put the event at happening about 7 years ago as I record this episode. Funny, I don’t really remember that happening. And as for stuff following Hale-Bopp, early next year I will be doing probably a two-part episode on how guests on Coast to Coast AM may have contributed to the suicide of the Heaven’s Gate Cult who believed in the non-existent object following Hale-Bopp that guests on Coast to Coast claimed existed.

Comets Grow from the Solar Capacitor

Moving on, another core part of James McCanney’s overall model is that comets grow. This is a consequence of the solar capacitor model. Since it wasn’t abundantly clear from the particular example I found where he was explaining his model, let me summarize it again: Comets are electric vacuum cleaners. That’s about as concise as I can make it. If you think I’m being flippant, that’s directly from his bio, which states: “His theoretical work additionally stated that comets were not dirty snowballs, but were large electrical “vacuum cleaners” in outer space.” That’s the bio that he wrote for his book that’s on his website.

The slightly more elaborate version is:

1) The sun is a capacitor, which is where a positive and negative charge are separated by an insulator such that there is a potential between the two, meaning it can do work. It’s like holding a boulder up, it now has the potential to do something because it can fall. In this case, he says the sun is a capacitor where the sun itself is negative and the solar wind is positive.

2) The positively charged solar wind interacts with negatively charged comets, which decreases the electric potential between the sun and the solar wind, hence his whole “discharging the solar capacitor” claim.

3) By attracting positively charged particles to them, comets grow. A lot.

The problem with this is none of it’s correct. The sun itself is a big ball of gas. We have observed the sun’s electric and magnetic field. There is no evidence whatsoever that there is a gigantic overall negative charge to it.

But we can also directly measure the solar wind. I talked earlier about comets’ tails, where the gas tail is ionized and beholden to the sun’s magnetic field because of the solar wind particles. We have had a lot of satellites and craft in space. Many of them have directly measured the solar wind. Several of them are specifically TO MEASURE the solar wind. Including its overall charge.

What those spacecraft have found is that, yes, INDIVIDUAL PARTICLES of the solar wind do have positive charges, because they’ve been ionized, again meaning that their electrons have been stripped off leaving the positively charged nucleus. But those electrons are ALSO still there in the solar wind. Therefore, while individual particles of the solar wind are negatively and positively charged, the overall electric charge of the solar wind is neutral.

Think of it this way: You start off with an atom of hydrogen, since that’s the most common element in the sun and therefore the solar system. Hydrogen is neutral, it has one proton in the center that’s positively charged and one electron orbiting it that’s negatively charged. They have the same magnitude of charge, but opposite polarities.

Strip them apart, and you have positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons. The same number of each. A net change of nothing except you’ve separated the two. Both are in the solar wind. The net charge is still zero.

To give yet another one of my infamous contrived analogies, it’s as though I have a bunch of peanuts, and I break them out of their shells, and put everything in a bowl. That’s the solar wind. It’s as though McCanney is completely ignoring the shells and saying I only have the seed of the peanut in my bowl, therefore there are no shells. As opposed to actually looking and saying oh, there are shells and seeds, therefore if I put everything in the bowl together, as a whole, I have all the parts of a whole nut. As I said, it’s a contrived analogy, but hopefully it helped explain this a bit better.

What’s important about this is that I’ve talked about McCanney’s ideas a bit backwards from other places that discuss them, such as Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy website or the 2012 Hoax wiki site. They both generally START with showing that this claim is wrong because it is a central, pivotal part of his overall ideas. Therefore, if it fails at the outset, you don’t have to go any further. I’ve addressed it here towards the end of this episode because it’s a little harder to understand, and I’m more of a geology guy than an electricity and magnetism guy. And, I like to approach things in my own way, anyway.

With that in mind - that the solar wind is neutral and not negatively charged - I shouldn’t even have to get to the idea that comets grow. But I will. We know they don’t. They shrink. There are several observable lines of evidence for this: Meteor showers, trails of debris seen in space, material observed COMING OFF OF the comets as opposed to going onto the comets, and the close-up pictures we have of the surface of comets.

If James McCanney were correct, we would not see material coming off of comets, we would never have meteor showers, and when we look at comets we would not see features that look like erosion and ice vaporizing, we would instead see features that look depositional, as if layered on by successive events that deposited material.

So, not only is his mechanism wrong, and can be shown to be wrong in several ways, but there are consequences from the mainstream model and to his model, and the consequences that we observe are all consistent with the mainstream model and not his model.

Electrical Predictions

With that in mind, I’m going to end this Part 1 of the two-part series on James McCanney’s ideas with specific predictions that he made, ones that were made about a year and a half ago relative to when this episode came out. They are predictions about Comet ISON, more properly known as Comet C/2012 S1.

Comet ISON passed relatively close by Mars, though not quite as close as Siding-Spring did a year later. In the lead-up, James McCanney said several interesting things, making very specific predictions. For example, on Freedomslips Radio in October 2012, he said:

“This is gonna be a big one, and it's gonna have a major league interaction with Mars .. Mars could have it's orbit changed .. we could see Mars lose its two moons. We could see a new atmosphere on Mars .. We will lose sight of Mars for a period of time. There will be terraforming on Mars .. We're going to have some electrical alignments .. the discharge of the solar capacitor, that a comet has a discharge, the Earth has a discharge .. you can start to get for example Earth weather when this comet is at a great distance … Mars is gonna slow down in it's orbit, it's gonna drop into a lower orbit, and potentially come much closer to Earth."

On other, later interviews, such as Coast to Coast in March and May of 2013, he adamantly repeated that comet ISON was going to have electrical discharge interactions with Mars, that we would certainly see, and we haven’t seen for millennia: [Coast to Coast AM, May 23, 2013, Hour 3, starting 16:34]

“It’s very close. I mean, if the orbit changed just a little bit, those– they could connect. If they don’t hit directly, Mars is gonna, uh, connect electrically and we’re gonna see some fireworks, and that’s something in the early morning sky so I encourage people keep uh, tuned, uh to my web page and information I’ll be putting out where to look exactly.”

So, there you go: A fairly specific, broad prediction of electrical fireworks between the comet and Mars, based on his model, and nothing happened. It didn’t happen with ISON, which passed only 10,843,000 km (6,737,000 miles) from Mars on October 1, 2013, nor did it happen a year later with Comet Siding-Spring (AKA C/2013 A1) which passed a mere 41,300 km (25,700 miles) from Mars. For reference, that’s only 6x the diameter of Mars away.

And we saw no electrical discharges, NOTHING at all even remotely similar to what James McCanney predicted.


With all of that in mind, I think that’s as good a place as any to wrap up this Part 1 of looking into the claims of James McCanney. The take-home message from this episode is that McCanney has a lot of ideas about comets and the Electric Universe, but all of them are disproven by the evidence, and all observations are fully explainable by the standard model. However, Mr. McCanney seems to be immune to such evidence, for he continues to claim this: [Coast to Coast AM, July 7, 2003, starting 1:41:14]

“The situation is, most astronomers today are in total denial of the facts. The facts are, comets are not dirty snowballs.”

Part 2, to come out at the beginning of December, will focus on other kinds of claims that Prof. McCanney makes, including that the Big Bang is wrong, Venus was a comet, hurricanes come from space, and that the Apollo moon landings were fake.

Provide Your Comments:

Comments to date: 2. Page 1 of 1. Average Rating:

Stuart R   Lyons, CO, USA

10:14am on Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Mary, you make several points. I normally don't respond to someone who just denies everything I wrote without any evidence, but I will in this case.

- No, I don't say that he's wrong just because he disagrees with modern science. I have explicitly explained WHY modern science is what it is and why everything that McCanney says disagrees with the observable evidence.

- I'm lying about the data? Really? Every observation - not only the remote sensing but also the ONE lander we have now on a comet - shows that comets have ices, that they are dust/rock held together by ices.

- Are you seriously citing a screened calls voice vote to a paranormal-themed radio program as hard data that McCanney is correct? I don't think anything more needs to be said.

- It doesn't matter what popular opinion is among people who have not done the research. People can still be wrong even if it's the "popular" view, especially among people who haven't studied it.

mary   boston

10:00am on Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 

Your "arguement" is basically that McCanney disagrees with standard science so he must be wrong. You also lie about real results like water on comet nuclei referring to remote second hand observations rather than en situ measurements. You are what we call a "text book repeater". Keep defending the holy grail. McCanney debated NASA's finest David Morrison on Coast to Coast AM and won the debate by popular call in vote. Trouble is the public believes him NOT YOU so get over it already.

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