Plasma Physics and Astrophysics
Research Papers and Proposals

by Thomas Smid

This page contains abstracts of the following Research Reports and Proposals:

Theoretical Aspects of Ionospheric Physics
Excitation of Oscillations of a Magnetized Collisionless Plasma
Scattering of Radio Waves by High Atomic Rydberg States
Resonant Excitation of Airglow by High Power Radio Waves
Emission and Propagation of Electromagnetic Waves in Partially Ionized Gases
Non-LTE Plasma Diffusion in Inhomogeneous Atmospheres
Alternative Theory for Heat Excess Observed in Electrolysis Experiments ('Cold Fusion')
Star Formation/ Solar System Formation
Solar Physics
Magnetic Field Induction
Cosmological Redshifts
Magnetic Fields and Galactic Rotation Curves

Related Keywords:

ionosphere, ionization, recombination, coulomb collisions, inelastic collisions, plasma oscillations, radiative emission by excited states, line broadening by plasma field fluctuations, non-linear photo-absorption, photon coherence, Planck constant, Einstein-Bohr radiation formula, resistive heating, nuclear fusion, missing neutrino problem, Laplace theory, gravitational contraction, collisional cooling, auto-ionization, planetary system, Titius-Bode law, sun, photosphere, solar corona, magnetic fields, Maxwell equations, induction, electric currents, cosmology (big bang theory), galactic redshifts (Hubble Law), intergalactic plasma, dark matter


This web page addresses some fundamental problems and concepts which I treated in detail in the course of my scientific work and is by no means intended as a comprehensive coverage of the field. However, some of the 'textbook knowledge' can be shown to be so severely flawed that my approaches might as well be a starting point for a comprehensive re-formulation of the corresponding theories (it should be emphasized that this does not involve any 'new physics' but only a consequent and consistent application of fundamental principles).
The flaws in the established theories fall generally into two categories: a) errors in elementary and mathematical logic like the definition of atomic (i.e. microscopic) parameters through statistical equilibrium (i.e. macroscopic) assumptions or the relaxation of initial definitions in the course of mathematical derivations; b) transfer of certain physical concepts to different areas where they are not appropriate anymore (e.g. the use of 'temperature' and other notions defined in Thermodynamics for gases which, like space plasmas, are not collisionally dominated (non-LTE case). Some of these inconsistencies are briefly addressed in the abstracts below, but the emphasis is on a presentation of my own approaches and results, as these have been formulated self-consistently and do not rely on established but wrong concepts (a more detailed discussion of these points and a quantitative formulation of the theoretical approaches applied here can be found on the Home Page; within the present text, I have furthermore provided links to figures illustrating the main results of the numerical computations).
For a better understanding, I have presented the abstracts in an order corresponding to the logical sequence of development of the theories (i.e. more or less chronologically) and added some explanatory comments where necessary (which are indicated through the italic print style).

It is evident from my CV and Publication List that much of my work has not been published, either because it has only been formulated in the form of informal research reports or because publication has been prevented by the referees or editors of the corresponding journals. As already mentioned in the introduction, most of the addressed issues are ,at least indirectly, highly critical accounts of accepted theories used presently in corresponding fields of work, and in fact invalidate them completely in some cases.
The first time I noticed inconsistencies in the addressed theoretical concepts was when I got involved with the basic theories in ionospheric physics in order to interpret some upper atmospheric EUV emission for my Ph.D. thesis. Originally, the latter should have basically just been a radiative transfer modelling of some satellite data. However, with the obvious discrepancies in the (LTE-) concepts for the description of the fundamental physical processes like ionization, recombination and Coulomb collisions, I shifted the emphasis of the whole thesis to the latter aspect and developed a consistent non-LTE (i.e. a detailed balance) description as appropriate for the ionosphere (and other space plasmas).

Abstract of Dissertation 'Theoretische Aspekte der Ionosphärenphysik'(1987, Universität Bonn)

Expressions are derived for the atomic cross sections concerning the resonant scattering, photo-ionization and radiative recombination processes under full consideration of the quantum-mechanical boundary conditions for a resonant oscillator (for both the one-dimensional as well as the two-dimensional case which is relevant for circular polarization and/or magnetic fields). The resultant recombination cross section for electrons and protons turns out to be several orders of magnitudes larger than values found in the literature (FIG.1).
After adapting the recombination cross section to ionospheric conditions, the electron spectrum is computed at several heights taking into account the various elastic and inelastic collision processes.
Contrary to common opinion, the results show no indication of thermalization of photoelectrons which prove to be distributed over a range of several eV, the spectral shape being determined by electron-impact ionization and excitation (FIG.2). A comparison with the spectral shape of measured electron fluxes shows that the cross sections for inelastic collisions must be 3 to 4 orders of magnitude smaller than the corresponding values found in the literature. Additional consideration of dissociative recombination turns out to be unnecessary within this context because the total electron density is consistent with experimental measurements at each height.
The ion densities between a height of 100 and 900 km are then locally computed for the constituents O2,NO,N2,O,N,He and H after determination of the recombination coefficient from the electron spectra and recombination cross sections. The charge-exchange cross sections are shown to have a crucial influence upon the ion densities of the minor constituents. However, no reasonable values could be found that conform with experimental data.
This demonstrates the necessity for a rigorous theoretical treatment of charge exchange processes on the one hand, and a need for uncontaminated local measurements of ion densities on the other. A consistent theoretical description of charge exchange collisions may also yield an alternative explanation for the increased ion temperatures at greater heights, which are wrongly attributed to elastic collisions with photoelectrons ( more recent research has indicated however, that this is more likely to be due to non-LTE ion diffusion effects (see corresponding abstract further down)) .
The ionospheric HeI and OII emissions are analyzed in the last part of the dissertation using a radiative transport code. Here evidence was found for a circular polarized component in the solar HeI-584 A- line, and only the doublet term was seen to contribute to the OII-538/539 A emissions (in contrast to the results of other authors). The continuum intensity at these wavelengths is consistent with the emission rate derived theoretically from the electron spectra and recombination cross sections.

Although my thesis was formally accepted, the above scientific results found very little resonance despite their obvious importance for ionospheric physics in particular as well as certain aspects of atomic and plasma physics.
After having left Bonn University (while being unemployed), I tried to publish parts of my thesis in relevant journals but without success (my approach for calculating the radiative recombination cross section into high atomic levels was rejected by Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer for no apparent reason and my method of calculating a non-divergent total cross section for Coulomb scattering found no sympathy with Physical Review Letters although it became obvious over the course of several review stages and appeals that their scientific position was not consistent.
In early 1989 I was invited to take on a short term (6 months) appointment within the Ionospheric Physics Group (now Radio and Space Plasma Physics Group) at Leicester University in England on the basis of my above summarized thesis that I had submitted earlier speculatively in connection with an application for a regular post (which was however past the deadline and taken by somebody else). There was no specific task outlined for me and as the first research project I tackled the problem of plasma oscillations, in particular those excited by high power radio waves (radar probing was (and is) the main interest at Leicester theoretically as well as experimentally). I found the problem inconsistently treated in the relevant textbooks and other literature and developed my own theoretical approach which is summarized in the following.


Abstract of 'The Excitation of Oscillations of a Magnetized Collisionless Plasma'

An equation of motion for a plasma electron is defined which takes the internal restoring field of the plasma additionally to the usual external electric and magnetic field terms into account.
The coupled and non-linear differential equations are numerically integrated two dimensionally for a constant magnetic and sinusoidally varying electric field, thus being representative for the interaction of electromagnetic (radio) waves with a 'hot' collisionless, magnetized plasma.
A Fourier transformation of the perturbed component of the electron orbit is applied to show the associated spectra of the forced plasma oscillation. They prove to depend in a complicated way upon the relevant physical parameters. Non-linear effects (line structuring and shifting) show up if the radio wave is in resonance with one of the fundamental frequencies of the plasma (FIG.3). These are related to a limitation of the linear energy input to the plasma and a periodically modulated plasma oscillation (FIG.4).
Possible implications and consequences for the propagation of radio waves in plasmas are indicated.
Download the complete paper
(See also the Home Page for some general theoretical aspects regards plasma oscillations).

I submitted the paper in 1990 to Journal of Plasma Physics and in 1992 to Journal of Geophysical Research (together with Airglow-paper discussed further down below); in both cases it was rejected after several appeals in which the original objections of the referees were clearly invalidated.
After completion of this work I got an extension of my contract for another 6 months which should have bridged the time while I was waiting to get a regular grant (which unfortunately was turned down later). During this period I did some data analysis of interferometric radar backscatter from the ionosphere. Although it inspired to a certain extent my following work, its scientific importance was only limited and is not worth to be considered here.


After that, whilst being out of contract, I decided to develop the vague theoretical idea that the scattering of radio waves is actually due to highly excited atomic states rather than free electrons (I had already noticed years earlier that the latter model is not consistent as it makes the radiative emission (by the accelerated charge) dependent on the state of motion of the system from which it is observed). In about 12 months, I managed to formulate the problem theoretically in detail and translate it into a suitable Fortran program.
I wrote up the theory and discussion of the numerical results and submitted the (100+-pages) manuscript to Radio Science in Sept.1991 (a revised version, which included phase coherency effects, shortly afterwards in Nov. 1991). Originally rejected due to its length (although unrefereed), I decided to request a microfiche publication which was accepted in Sept.1992. Only a short summary version appeared in print (Radio Science 28,3,361,1993 (microfiche supplement S93-001)).

Abstract of 'Scattering of Radio Waves by High Atomic Rydberg States'.

The scattering coefficient of highly excited atomic levels formed by recombination from a plasma and energetically broadened by plasma field fluctuations is determined. For this purpose, the population of the levels is calculated from a detailed balance equation which is solved consistently together with the corresponding equation for the free electron spectrum (FIG.5). All relevant quantum mechanical cross sections and decay constants as well as the elastic scattering cross sections are hereby derived from first principles in a form directly suitable for numerical application.
A special emphasis in the theoretical treatment is laid on the problem of the energetical level broadening for a given plasma- density and -energy, because the spectral line width of a discrete transition is the crucial quantity affecting the resultant scattering coefficient as a function of frequency, and because usual theoretical approaches concerning Stark broadening are either inconsistent or insufficient for the present purpose. Furthermore, as a new aspect concerning the interaction of radiation with atoms, the effect of a finite wave field strength (compared to the plasma fluctuation field) and the wave coherence on the photoionization cross section is considered as an important mechanism which has to be taken into account in a complete and consistent theory.
Numerical results are obtained for initial values appropriate for ionospheric conditions. The solution proves to be in no way related to LTE- situations, therewith invalidating usual treatments of the problem of determining the population of excited levels (FIG.6).
The resultant coefficient for resonant scattering of radio waves by Rydberg atoms is consistent with experimental data obtained from the ionosphere (FIG.7). With the present theory it turns out to depend sensitively on the electron impact and (radio-) photoionization frequencies since they determine the level population for high quantum numbers (this offers for instance a straightforward explanation for the so called ionospheric 'short wave fadeout' which is observed in connection with solar radio bursts (FIG.8)).
The results suggest therefore that the considered mechanism is exclusively responsible for the scattering of radio waves in particular and electromagnetic radiation in general.
(See the Home Page for details regards the various Cross Sections, Stark Broadening, Photoionization and Level Population or download the complete paper).

It should be noted that despite the obviously original and controversial yet well founded nature of my theory and the strong observational evidence for its correctness, no reaction of any sort has appeared in the literature (at least to my knowledge).


Parallel to writing the revised version of the above paper, I had begun to investigate an application of my work concerning plasma oscillations. I noted that the oscillation of the energy of plasma electrons, which my theory predicts to be caused by high power HF- radio waves in the ionosphere, would lead to the enhanced airglow emission observed in experiments. An exact quantitative agreement could be achieved if one assumed that the plasma field fluctuations, which are responsible for broadening atomic transitions lines and effectively enhancing the scattering cross section for electromagnetic waves, also cause an enhancement of the spontaneously emitted radiation if the 'collision broadening' exceeds the natural line broadening. Unlike rival theories trying to explain the observed effect (e.g. those by P.A. Bernhardt and A. Gurevich), my approach was much less based on speculative assumptions but could be derived strictly and quantitatively from known principles and/or unambiguous experimental evidence (most importantly, it does not make use of adjustable free parameters to match it quantitatively to experimental results). I submitted the manuscript in June 1992 together with a slightly revised version of the previously rejected paper 'Excitation of Oscillations ...' to Journal of Geophysical Research.

Abstract of 'The Resonant Excitation of Airglow by High Power Radio Waves'

A theory is presented which explains the increase of the intensity of ionospheric airglow emissions observed in the presence of high power HF radio waves by driven oscillations of the energy of the plasma electrons in combination with a narrow band, resonant type excitation behaviour at the atomic transition energy (FIG.9). Cross section and energetical width of the excitation band are assumed to be identical with the line profile for resonant scattering of radiation. Due to the narrow width of the line and the small number of electrons within, a significant excitation rate is generally only achieved if electrons from a wider energetical range are systematically driven through this band (FIG.10). This scenario, which hitherto has not yet been considered in the literature concerning atomic excitation by electron impact, is also confirmed by well known phenomena observed with glow discharges in the laboratory, the usual (non-resonant) cross section being for instance unable to account for the sharply defined spatial structures (striations) related to the applied electric field and the specific transition energy (FIG.11).
With the present airglow enhancement problem, the necessary variation of the electron energy is caused by the non-linearity of the plasma oscillation driven by the radio wave. Its amplitude has a sharp maximum at the altitude where the resonance frequency of the magneto-plasma is equal to the wave frequency. The thickness of the interaction layer is determined by the modulation period of the non-linear plasma oscillation and the gradient of the local plasma density and amounts to about 3-4 km for the OI- airglow experiment considered here. The energy oscillation induced in this layer is of the order of 0.1 eV (FIG.12) and leads to excitation rates of 16 cm-3sec-1 and 26 cm-3sec-1 for the metastable O(1D) and O(1S) levels respectively. These values yield almost exactly the observed increase of the intensities of both the forbidden OI- lines at 6300 A and 5577 A, if one assumes additionally that the apparent photon emission rate is generally enhanced by the ratio of the line broadening due to plasma field fluctuations to the natural line broadening. The absence of any observed diffusion effects of the excited O(1D) atoms in the considered airglow images suggests also that the level broadening causes a reduction of the lifetime of the metastable OI- levels.
Download the complete paper

Despite its obvious relevance for ionospheric airglow experiments in particular and radiative emissions from partially ionized plasmas in general, the paper was rejected due to 'lack of interest'. The accompanying paper concerning non-linear plasma oscillations was rejected by similar (insubstantial) arguments as with the first submission to Journal of Plasma Physics.


I decided to combine results from the last two works and constructed a program able to compute the radiative emission from a plasma due to recombination into excited atomic states and subsequent cascading. I used some preliminary numerical results as a basis for a research proposal in order to investigate the emission and propagation of electromagnetic waves in plasmas in general and submitted it in Sept. 1992 to the Science Research Council for an Advanced Fellowship .

Abstract of research report (proposal) 'Emission and Propagation of Electromagnetic Waves in Partially Ionized Gases'

The numerical results presented in this report are mainly based on a modified version of the program used for the paper 'Scattering of Radio Waves by High Atomic Rydberg States' (see above), with the only difference that now the photon emission rate rather than the scattering cross section related to the excited atom density in the given plasma is calculated. In addition, the concept of radiation enhancement by line broadening due to plasma field fluctuations was adopted from the 'Excitation of Airglow ... ' paper in order to yield the true emission rates.
As a numerical example, the corresponding radio emission emitted from the lower solar corona was calculated for frequencies from 10 MHz to 10 GHz. Good agreement with experimental data was found (considering the crude model) in particular for frequencies of the order of 100 MHz (the critical frequency of this solar layer) (FIG.13). Note that only the radiative emission due to atomic cascading following recombination of the plasma needed to be considered here, suggesting therefore that other hypothetical assumptions for the production of radio waves are incorrect. The spectrum in this frequency range appears nevertheless to be continuous because of the strong line broadening, the latter also having boosted the absolute intensities by 11 orders of magnitude here because of the related radiative enhancement mentioned above (the very fact that a theoretical factor of this magnitude produces agreement with experiments to within a factor 2, should be a strong evidence that the proposed mechanism is indeed real).
If one applies the program to the solar photosphere on the basis of the assumption that the whole of the solar continuum (apart from the EUV-region) is in fact a blended line spectrum due to atomic cascading, several interesting effects become apparent (FIG.14): a) the generally assumed plasma density for this region is far too low to yield the correct shape of the solar spectrum; at least a density of 1020 cm-3 would be necessary in order to make the spectrum continuous well into the visible region. b)due to the radiative enhancement effect, the intensity of the sun becomes so high that its total observed energy output can be accounted for by the proposed electronic processes, that is without the assumption of nuclear reactions in its interior (note that a strict (i.e. classical) form of energy conservation does not hold for electromagnetic radiation (e.g. interference); alternatively one could assume here the Planck 'constant' to become variable for sufficiently strong plasma field fluctuations). c) [the fact that the theoretical exceed the experimental intensities even by several orders of magnitude indicates that radiative transfer effects within the photosphere reduce the amount of light leaving the sun: this is likely to be caused by resonant multiple scattering by the broadened discrete energy levels of neutral hydrogen which reflect most of the radiation (which can be assumed to be emitted from a thin layer at the bottom of the photosphere) into lower layers of the sun where it is lost (in comparison, absorption within or above the photosphere is negligible both for the ground- and excited states of neutral hydrogen, in particular due to the reduction of the photoionization cross section by plasma field fluctuations (See the Home Page). The density of neutral hydrogen in the solar atmosphere can be shown to be small enough to assume phase-incoherent scattering for optical wavelengths which allows one to take the usual approach for the corresponding radiative transfer problem here; for densities higher than about 1012 cm-3 scattering would become phase-correlated as the distance between individual atoms becomes smaller than the wavelength of the radiation and the scattering phase function would become highly anisotropic (in the case of spatial anisotropies introduced for instance by magnetic fields, this would lead to a pronounced directional dependence of the radiation analogous to the phenomenon of specular rather than diffuse reflection from a surface (e.g. orthogonality effect for the scattering of radio waves by the ionosphere ); for a spatially homogeneous situation scattering would then be mainly in the forward direction and therefore reduce the effects of scattering altogether).]
The proposed radiative enhancement due to line broadening by plasma field fluctuations produces also an important feature near the ionization edge of gaseous spectra. As the effect increases strongly with increasing quantum number, a strong emission is produced near the threshold frequencies despite the relatively low population of the corresponding levels (evidence for this is given both by the solar and ionospheric emission near the Ly- ionization edge (FIG.15), (FIG.16),with a traditional emission model being unable to account for the strongly peaked intensity at this frequency).
A further important topic, which had already theoretically been developed in ('Scattering of Radio Waves ..' is the proposed dependence of the photoabsorption cross section on the wave field strength (i.e. the intensity) of the radiation if the latter is not much larger than the local random plasma fluctuation field. In this case, the intensity reduction for a plane wave is not given by the usual exponential absorption law anymore but changes to an inversely proportional behaviour (FIG.17).
An analogous reduction of the photoionization cross section can be expected if the radiation is too incoherent in order to maintain a constant phase during the ionization process. A certain degree of randomization of the radiation is for instance produced by collisions of the atomic electron with plasma electrons during emission and the corresponding coherence length is maintained when the contributions of many atoms are being superposed (FIG.20). As the duration of the ionization process depends on the amplitude of the electromagnetic wave (i.e. the intensity), this effect is in general coupled with the above mentioned intensity dependence (one should note that the absorption of radiation should occur independently of the coherency factor which only affects the number of released photoelectrons, i.e. the radiation will be reduced according to the original photoionization cross section, whereas the ionization will be determined by the reduced cross section). The phase-coherence of a radiation field introduces obviously a completely new dimension into problems involving the interaction with matter, which could for instance even be important for the correct calibration of solid state radiation detectors (see and the paper Scattering of Radio Waves...(Chpt.2.4) for more in this respect).
Note: the passage in square brackets is a modification of the original proposal

Unfortunately, the proposal was rejected with no reasons given (the latter however being the formal policy here).


I then started a completely different project which I had always put back as I had considered it only to be of secondary importance in comparison to the investigation of the basic physical processes. The plasma diffusion problem is in fact only a mathematical one, but has nevertheless not been consistently solved for the non-LTE case. I formulated a new approach and translated it into a Fortran program. Based on preliminary numerical results, I submitted an application for an Advanced Fellowship to the Science Research Council in Sept.1993.

Abstract of Research Report 'Non-LTE Plasma Diffusion in Inhomogeneous Atmospheres'

Present theories of plasma diffusion in the ionospheric F-layer generally assume Maxwellian velocity distributions both for the ions and electrons (i.e. LTE) despite the essentially collisionless nature of the problem. The inconsistency of this approach is for instance apparent from the treatment in the textbook of Rishbeth and Garriott (1969) (Chpt.4.3): the assumption of quasi neutrality (electron density=ion density at all heights) implicates obviously an electric polarization field E=0, in contradiction to the value derived from the suggested force equations for the electrons and ions. More importantly, the assumed Maxwellian distribution results in identical upward and downward fluxes of both constituents at any height, i.e. despite a spatial gradient no polarization field would be necessary as the diffusion terms would vanish identically, again in inconsistency with the derived value.
From these paradoxical results in case of an LTE-approach applied to an almost collisionless inhomogeneous plasma, it is apparent that only a consistent solution of the Boltzmann equation is capable of describing the plasma diffusion problem for the ionospheric F-region correctly. A new theoretical approach has been developed which ,unlike existing methods, is completely general and exact: the terms in the Boltzmann equation are rearranged to yield first order linear differential equations in real and velocity space. Their formal solution leads to non-linear integral equations which are being solved numerically in an iterative manner. By switching the iteration alternatingly between real and velocity space, a numerical instability is being eliminated which otherwise would prohibit a solution if the convection term dominates the local production and loss (i.e. chemical) terms. However, numerical convergence problems due to the discontinuities of the finite medium could not be removed and therefore only first order solutions for the ion convection problem in the ionosphere (which neglect the spatial gradient of the velocity distribution function in comparison to the gradient of the total ion density) could be computed under the assumption of an infinite homogeneous continuation of the medium beyond the boundaries of the inhomogeneous region. With the correct physical boundary conditions, illustrative results could still be obtained for the free diffusion problem (i.e. without any force field) and for the case of a given (although not necessarily Maxwellian) velocity distribution function (only the ions were considered here as they determine the dynamics of the ionosphere and furthermore the distribution function of the Rydberg atoms which are responsible for the scattering of radio waves; exactly the same scheme can however in principle be applied for the electrons as well).
An essential feature of the Boltzmann equation for a plasma is the appearance of the ionization production and recombinative loss terms which are commonly neglected in the classical formulation of the Boltzmann equation. Just these quantities however are responsible for the inhomogeneities of the ionospheric plasma and affect therefore the velocity distribution function through the convection terms in the equation (See the Home Page). In the ionospheric case, the mean free path of the ions with regard to recombination is proportional to the velocity, and slow ions tend to be trapped in the region of maximum density whereas faster ions can penetrate to greater heights. This is reflected in the numerical results for the distribution function which show a relative overpopulation of slow ions (i.e. 'cooling') near the lower boundary and a corresponding deficit of slow ions (i.e. 'heating') near the upper boundary. For intermediate heights the curves are asymmetric due to the gradient of the ion production rate and the finite mean free path with regard to recombination (FIG.18). The related upward/downward flux asymmetry (=5.5 % here) determines directly the plasma polarization field which can be estimated to be about 3.10-6 V/m here (See the Home Page for general aspects regards plasma polarization fields). It is easy to show that this field overcompensates for the gravitational force on the ions and leads to an upward acceleration of similar magnitude. The numerical results indicate that this results in a distortion of the distribution function into a double humped feature which, unlike a Maxwellian, still yields the required density decrease with height despite the upwards accelerating field (FIG.19). With the interpretation of radar backscatter as scattering from highly excited neutral atoms (which can be assumed to have a velocity distribution function identical to the ions from which they are formed through recombination), this also conforms with the well known double humped shape of 'incoherent scatter ion lines' observed in the ionospheric F-region.
For the future, it is intended to overcome the restrictions caused by the mentioned numerical instabilities by removing the discontinuities due to the discretization of the original equation. A more sophisticated one dimensional model which simulates the ion convection on the actually curved magnetic field line would remove the necessity of an upper boundary and the associated discontinuity problems at this point (the problems at the lower boundary are less severe because one can choose it such that this height is collision dominated and the distribution function therefore given as Maxwellian).
Also, the electron convection should be included into the scheme in order that the plasma polarization field is determined self-consistently.
Download the complete proposal

Also this proposal was rejected without comment. (like the previous one it was formally supported by the Physics Department at Leicester University, but otherwise ignored despite its high relevance).

Shortly afterwards I was forced to leave Leicester University where I had stayed until then out of contract. After this I have unfortunately not been in a position to produce new original work. I have however developed a couple of new qualitative ideas loosely related to my previous results which I have formulated as research proposals in connection with job applications. These are specified in the following.


The first proposal was an informal one which applied some of my previous results to the problem of excess heat observed in electrolysis experiment ('cold fusion'). I sent it as a personal letter to the discoverers of the effect, Profs. Fleischmann and Pons in February 1995. The following abstract is an unedited passage of this letter.

Research Proposal 'Alternative Theory for Heat Excess Observed in Electrolysis Experiments ('Nuclear Cold Fusion')'

The theory is based on the insight that, contrary to common opinion, energy conservation is only an a priori valid concept in classical mechanics but just an ad hoc assumption if one considers conversion into radiative energy, i.e. energy conservation can be violated in the latter case without leading to logical contradictions [(in fact energy conservation has strictly no meaning in this case; see also the abstract 'Emission and Propagation .... above)]. I have developed a generalisation of the Bohr-Einstein radiation formula to account for the emission of radiation in the presence of plasma field fluctuations rather than by undisturbed atoms, which is described in chapter 3.4. of the enclosed paper (i.e. the paper 'The Resonant Excitation of Airglow ...' (see above) ( this theory complements in a sense my Radio Science publication of 1993 (see enclosed copy) which dealt with the scattering rather than the emission of radiation by plasmas.
I can confidently say that in all cases where the assumption for the physical parameters of the plasma was unambiguous, the proposed radiation enhancement effect yielded excellent agreement with observations irrespective of the physical object and the resultant enhancement factor (which is 12 for the ionospheric airglow, 1011 for the solar radio emission, the latter appearing as a continuum due to the strong line broadening) and without having to assume radiation processes other than recombination and subsequent atomic cascading. Further test calculations indicate also that, ominously in this context, the 'missing neutrino' problem related to the radiative output of the sun disappears if one considers the radiative enhancement within the visible spectrum, suggesting therefore that nuclear fusion might actually be much less important for the present energy generation of the sun.
The application of my theory to the electrolysis problem could be straightforward if one would know the quantum mechanical decay constants and cross sections for radiative transitions within the electrode and/or electrolyte. Use of the values for free (hydrogen- like) atoms indicates for instance that the emission related to transitions in the infrared region should be enhanced by several orders of magnitude in excess of the energy conserving value even if one assumes heavy quenching of the radiation by Coulomb collisions. It is the latter which will eventually limit the development of a chain reaction which could result from the re-absorption of the radiation (if the test tube does not blow up before that).
The fact that the excess energy is observed only after the electrodes have absorbed constituents of the electrolyte (e.g. deuterium) indicates that the normal lattice structure of the electrodes only allows for a relatively small excitation rate of radiative states (being produced either by recombination or electron impact) which is then observed as the usual 'resistive heating'. Apparently, within the 'contaminated' volume excitation of the corresponding transitions is much easier. The quantum mechanical nature of the processes and the circumstance that certain transitions should be more effective than others, could also explain the difference in the magnitude of the excess heat observed for different electrode/electrolyte combinations.
As my theory is already quantitatively tested in other areas (I do not bother about the fact that publication has been refused as the results speak for themselves) , I am confident that with a corresponding modification, it will also quantitatively explain the excess heat observed in electrolysis experiments. As the theory involves no nuclear effects, it evades therefore the necessity to reproduce a given ratio between excess heat and particle flux. The latter can thus be considered separately.
I am aware that it could be difficult to bring the cold fusion topic back into public discussion again, but I think that the reason for the initial failure to succeed was the circumstance that only speculative, qualitative theories were at hand to explain the observed amount of excess heat. The opponents of cold fusion had therefore the opportunity to attack the credibility of the results by standard arguments without running a great risk. With a simultaneous submission of a quantitative consistent theory, this could not have happened, although then the publication might have been prevented in the first place (as the example with my enclosed paper shows).
Anyway, I do not think that the position of the cold fusion opponents is as strong as they purport. I consider for instance the negative result of the Williams et al. (1989) paper as a clear misrepresentation of data through a suitable choice of the statistical error band. Also, decades of fruitless attempts in hot fusion research and the 'missing neutrino problem' in connection with the energy output of the sun are not exactly indicators that established nuclear theory is correct.
(Note: the sentence in square brackets in the first paragraph has been added later )
Unfortunately, I received no response with regard to this letter


The following proposal was sent to a number of places in connection with applications for Postdoctoral Research Positions or Fellowships between Nov.1996 and Feb. 1998 (i.e. Queen Mary and Westfield College, London; Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge (UK); University of Washington; Max Planck Institut für Astrophysik (Germany); University of Maryland; Princeton University; University of California (Santa Barbara); University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, Royal Astronomical Society (London)) and to numerous other places after this.

Research Proposal 'Star Formation/ Formation of the Solar System'

My aim is to examine the possibility that the quantum nature of the atom plays a crucial role for the formation of the solar system (and the steps of star formation in general).
My previous research has revealed new processes and effects occurring in ionized gases, in particular
a) a resonant-type inelastic collision process for electrons and ions with neutrals at the usual radiative transition energies
b) broadening of these lines and enhancement of the collision cross section with increasing plasma density.
Apart from having been proven to be of importance for laboratory glow discharges as well as the ionosphere, these processes are also evident if one compares the (gravitational) potential with the kinetic energy of an atom in the solar photosphere, with other processes being unable to account for the apparent cooling.
For a Laplace-type theory of solar system formation, a highly effective cooling mechanism is necessary in order to explain the contraction of the primeval nebula, as can easily be shown both from virial energy and hydrostatic pressure considerations. Existing theories have to make here speculative ad-hoc assumptions like the presence of dust or suitable molecules, which are highly questionable in particular for the above mentioned case of cooling in the photosphere of the present day sun.
[Resonant excitation between highly excited states of hydrogen (up to n=1000 and higher) by ions represents a cooling mechanism which is orders of magnitude more effective than the generally assumed molecular cooling (although the density of excited states is only about 10-10 cm-3 for the initial phase of the collapse, the excitation cross section is of the order of 10-2 cm2). Most importantly, this mechanism works for any energy up to 30 keV (because of the small electron/ion mass ratio) and can therefore also account for the final stages of the collapse (molecules would cease to exist once the gravitational and therewith kinetic energy (virial theorem) has reached several eV).]
With my theory a universally valid and self-consistent model could be constructed which could even start from a completely dark and neutral cloud as there will always be a certain amount of auto-ionization due to collisions of bound electrons in colliding neutral atoms (as is for instance indicated by the existence of the night-time ionosphere; see the Home Page).
It is obvious that during contraction of the gas cloud, the discrete energy spectrum of hydrogen (including highly excited states) should modulate the cooling rate in a way which could explain the stages of a star formation and therefore details of the solar system like for instance the Titius-Bode law for planetary distances.
Note: the paragraph in square brackets has been added for more recent applications.
Further discussion

The following proposal was sent to the University of Birmingham (UK) in Jan.1998 (and already earlier in Sept. 1995 in somewhat different form) in connection with an application for a Postdoctoral Position in their Solar Physics Group, to the University of Glasgow in Nov.2000 and to the Max-Planck- Institut für Aeronomie in Jan.2001 (and to a number of other places after this; the version below corresponds to the more recent applications)

Research Proposal 'Solar Physics'

My prospective research shall be based on certain results of my previous investigations which revealed the existence of a resonance- type collisional excitation (i.e. cooling) process for partially ionized gases. Applied to the solar case, this could explain the low temperature within the photosphere compared to the value to be expected from the gravitational energy (protons up to 30 keV energy can excite atomic states due to the small electron/proton mass ratio; as the high plasma density broadens the energy states to a continuum, this mechanism is therefore extremely effective). Below the photosphere, the cooling process disappears as atoms cease to exist due to the high particle volume density here. It is my aim to show that the corona, whether quiet or disturbed, is determined by those (few) high energetic plasma particles that can penetrate the photospheric layer without suffering energy loss due to collisional excitation (therewith explaining the 'coronal heating'). Ionizing collisions of these particles with ambient atoms could then for instance be responsible for the X- ray emission observed from corresponding regions above the photosphere.
In the optical region, the proposed mechanism could explain both the intensity and shape of the solar spectrum as a result of electronic transitions in and above the photosphere alone as the intensity is strongly enhanced due to plasma field fluctuations (see Fig.14)
Further discussion
(see also previous proposal and the abstract 'Emission and Propagation ....' for related aspects)


A further topic which has been addressed by me in job applications (in this case Imperial College (London) and University of Warwick) is the problem of

Magnetic Field Induction:

It is easy to show that the usual definition for magnetic field induction by electric currents is only logically consistent if the latter is to be understood as a relative motion between negative and positive charges (see It would therefore be worthwhile to examine the possibility of magnetic field induction by collisions of charged particles with neutral atoms [or even only neutrals], as the usual macroscopic current is only uniquely defined for a fully ionized plasma and neglects inner-atomic fields. This aspect could consequently be of significant importance for planetary magnetospheres, as atmospheric neutral densities are usually much higher than plasma densities here [of course, this aspect is also likely to be relevant in many other areas and might in fact call for a complete re-consideration of the induction 'laws' in the Maxwell equations with regard to their validity as elementary expressions].


The following proposal was sent in Jan. 2000 to the Institute of Astronomy (University of Cambridge, UK), Jodrell Bank Observatory (University of Manchester), Queen Mary and Westfield College (London), Max-Planck- Institut für Radioastronomie (Bonn) and to numerous other places after this.

Research Proposal 'Cosmological Redshifts'

The Hubble law for the large scale redshift of galaxies is usually taken as evidence (if not proof) for the picture of an expanding universe in general and the Big Bang theory in particular. However, recessional velocities have by no means been actually measured and the assumption of the Doppler effect being responsible for the shift is only reached due to the absence of other known physical explanations. In fact, the Hubble law appears to be based on rather limited data sets, and in particular has not been examined for its strict validity throughout the whole of the electromagnetic spectrum (in fact, it is known that the redshift factor for certain spectral lines from the same object differs by up to 10% even within the visible part of the spectrum itself).
It is my plan for the present post to find experimental evidence for the possibility that 'cosmological' redshifts are actually propagation effects of the radiation in the intergalactic plasma electric field (a kind of counter-part to the Faraday rotation in a magnetic field).
My previous research has already revealed several hitherto unknown effects in the area of ionospheric physics which clearly show the importance of temporal and spatial characteristics of the random plasma fluctuation field for the emission and propagation of electromagnetic waves, and I am suggesting that it is the plasma 'micro'field which is also responsible for the redshift of galaxies (see the page Plasma Theory of Hubble Redshift of Galaxies for more).
Due to the low plasma density in intergalactic space, the associated electric field can be considered to be quasi-static and quasi-homogeneous for most electromagnetic waves, but these conditions are not valid any more for sufficiently low frequencies / large wavelengths. For a plasma density np=10-6 cm-3 for instance, quasi- homogeneity breaks down for wavelengths of the order of 1m and more. Even observations in the cm- region could already reveal deviations from the known values which on the other hand should obviously hold throughout the spectrum if the observed redshift is velocity related.
If spectral features of galaxies in the radio region are too weak to be measured, the effect could possibly still be demonstrated in the laboratory, by examining the propagation of light through a (sufficiently strong) static electric field.

Although a positive outcome of the proposed project would obviously immediately invalidate the 'Big-Bang' theory, the reverse (i.e. a constant redshift factor throughout the spectrum) would still not rule out the intergalactic medium as the actual cause for the Hubble law. Many details regarding the emission and propagation of electromagnetic waves in plasmas are still unexplored (as difficult to handle theoretically) especially for such extreme conditions (and distances) as given by intergalactic space.
(see also my related page Plasma Theory of 'Gravitational Lensing').


The following proposal was sent to numerous places from Oct. 2002 onwards.

Research Proposal 'Magnetic Fields and Galactic Rotation Curves'

The shape of galactic rotation curves (i.e. the galactic rotation velocity as a function of the distance from the galactic center), has led astronomers to the conclusion that galaxies must be surrounded by an invisible massive halo of 'dark matter' which exceeds the visible mass by up to 10 times.
The underlying assumption with this model is that gravity is the only force determining the dynamics of the galaxy. However, practically all rotation curves indicating the existence of dark matter have been obtained by observing the Doppler shift of gas (usually the 21 cm line of hydrogen) rather than of stars. It is generally assumed that the gas provides a tracer for the motion of the stars, but this assumption neglects the fact that ionized atoms are very much affected by electromagnetic forces: it is easy to show that with the generally assumed galactic magnetic field of 10-6 Gauss, the Lorentz force on a thermal proton is about 10 orders of magnitude stronger than the gravitational force (assuming a galaxy of the mass and size of the Milky Way) and should therefore completely determine the dynamics of the plasma, which in turn should also have an impact on the neutral gas because of recombination. Even a large additional amount of dark matter would therefore not exclusively determine the galactic gas dynamics.
For more details see my site


More recent developments can be found on the News Page on this website (these include for instance further work on my plasma redshift theory, a further development of my photoionization theory, as well as making available some of my old and new numerical codes regarding e.g. atomic physics, plasma physics, radiative transfer and inverse problems).

Anybody interested in more details of my work (or in offering me a position on this basis) is of course welcome to contact me (see email- address below).

Print Version

With regard to some of the more general theoretical issues addressed here and inconsistencies in other areas of physics see the Home Page and respectively.

Thomas Smid (M.Sc. Physics, Ph.D. Astronomy)
Note: this page was previously published under the URL


Curriculum Vitae

Fields of Work

(1) Non-LTE Radiative Transfer (numerical solution of the radiative transfer integral equation by means of linearization and iteration; application to resonance scattering of solar EUV emission lines in the optically thick upper atmosphere; numerical studies of partial frequency redistribution and polarization effects in spectral lines; hybrid 3D-model for replication of satellite and rocket data with arbitrary zenith angle line of sights using a strict non-LTE model for calculating the initial source functions). (Publications (1),(2),(3),(5))

(2) Plasma Spectroscopy (non-LTE theory for radiative recombination, numerical computation of corresponding cross sections using exact wave functions; numerical computation of the photoelectron energy spectrum in the ionosphere assuming detailed local equilibrium of photoionization, radiative recombination, inelastic and elastic electron collisions; numerical model for N-constituent gas in photochemical equilibrium including charge exchange; fully consistent non-LTE computation of density of atoms in highly excited states (up to n=1000) and the related scattering coefficient for radio waves (application to ionospheric radar backscatter) as well as the associated spontaneous radiative emission spectrum (application to ionospheric and solar emissions)). (Publications (3),(4),(6),(9))

(3) Plasma Oscillations (two-dimensional numerical simulation of driven, non-linear plasma oscillations; application to ionospheric modification (airglow) experiments); alternative theory for artificial airglow excitation and emission) (Publications (8), (9))

(4) Plasma Diffusion (exact numerical solution of the Boltzmann equation for the non-LTE plasma diffusion problem in collisionless inhomogeneous atmospheres; application to ion diffusion in the ionosphere) (Publications (11))

(5) Radar Remote Sensing (theoretical and technical aspects of radar backscatter from the ionosphere) (Publications (7))

(6) Inverse Problems/ Retrieval Theory (in particular applied to radiative transfer in the atmosphere) (Publications (12))

(7) Data Analysis (all of the above points were to a certain degree linked to the analysis of observational data, if not contractually then simply in order to confirm the validity of the theoretical results; this utilized for instance FFT-transform time series analysis and graphic plotting routines (GHOST)) (Publications (2),(3),(4),(7),(9))


M.Sc. (Diplom) (Physics):1980, Universität Bonn (secondary subject: Astronomy).
Ph.D. (Doctorate)(Astronomy):1987, Universität Bonn (secondary subject: Geodesy).

Appointments/ Work History

Independent Research and Algorithm- Development (3/03-present) (further development of some theoretical issues in connection with my previous work; also development of existing and new algorithms (e.g. with regard to radiative transfer and inverse problems), see the News Page for some of the more recent issues; also related and unrelated web-development (HTML, Javascript, PHP- scripting)).

Job Centre Work Placement, Space Research Centre, University of Leicester (11/02-2/03) (complete re-design and re-structuring of the website of the Space Research Centre ( ) (see also Further Skills and Qualifications).

Independent Research and Web- Development (1/94-10/02) (further development and publication of theoretical issues in connection with my previous work (see this page for more) ; also related and unrelated web-development.

Research Associate, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester (4/89-12/93)
(several short term contracts + out of contract research; numerical modelling of new theories in connection with the scattering and absorption of radio waves in the ionosphere; also time series analysis of interferometric radar backscatter data ) (see also Fields of Work:(2),(3),(4),(5),(6))

Unemployed (8/87-3/89)

Research Assistant (Ph.D. student), Institut für Astrophysik und Extraterrestrische Forschung, Universität Bonn (6/82-7/87) (contract (6/82-5/86) in connection with my Ph.D. Thesis; construction of a computer algorithm for interpreting solar EUV emission lines scattered in the optically thick Helium geocorona as well as intrinsic ionospheric emissions under non-LTE conditions; the program is capable of considering arbitrary positions and lines of sight of the remote sensing instrument (specifiable through a set of geographical and astronomical coordinates) and was successfully used to interpret full angular scans of the satellite STP 78-1 (see Publications (3)) as well as full height profiles of rocket borne photometer data (Astro-Hel; see Publications (2))) (see also Fields of Work:(1),(2),(6))

Social national service (1/81-4/82) (1/81-3/81:Staatl. Amt für Wasser- und Abfallwirtschaft Bonn (computerisation of rainfall and river-level data; 4/81-4/82: Rheinische Landesklinik Bonn (assistant nurse in psychiatric hospital)).

Graduate Student Assistant, Institut für Astrophysik und Extraterrestrische Forschung, Universität Bonn (11/79-12/80) (short term contract in connection with my M.Sc. Thesis; theoretical investigations into the importance of multiple scattering in the wings of spectral lines (application to rocket-borne spectrophotometric measurements of upper atmospheric EUV emission lines)) (see also Fields of Work:(1)).


(1) Fahr,H.J. and Smid,T. (1982). The Contribution of Singly Scattered Photons to the Optically Thick Resonance Radiation Field of the Helium Geocorona. J.Geophys.Res.87,2487.

(2) Fahr,H.J., Lay,G. and Smid,T. (1986). Spectrophotometric EUV-Observations and the Theoretical Modelling of the Geocoronal HeI-584/537 A Radiation Field. Annales Geophysicae 4,A,6,447.

(3) Smid, T. (1987) Theoretische Aspekte der Ionosphärenphysik. PhD Thesis. Universität Bonn. (see /research/#A1 for an abstract).

(4) Smid,T.S. (1993). Scattering of Radio Waves by High Atomic Rydberg States.
Radio Science 28,3,361,S93-001. (download from /papers/ )

Self-Publications and Unpublished

(5) Smid,T.S. (1984). Formation of Source Function Profiles by Multiple Resonant Scattering with Partial Frequency Redistribution.

(6) Smid,T.S. (1987). A Non-Statistical Derivation of Physical Parameters for Atomic Dipole Transitions. Application to the Numerical Computation of Radiative Recombination Cross Sections. (translated part of Ph.D. thesis). (see also reference (4)).

(7) Smid,T.S. (1990). SABRE/SADIE Interferometric Radar Backscatter Observations of the High Latitude Ionosphere. (Research Report).

(8) Smid,T.S. (1992). The Excitation of Oscillations of a Magnetized Collisionless Plasma. (download from /papers/).

(9) Smid,T.S. (1992). The Resonant Excitation of Airglow by High Power Radio Waves. (download from /papers/ ).

(10) Smid,T.S. (1992). Emission and Propagation of Electromagnetic Waves in Partially Ionized Gases. (Research Report and Proposal).

(11) Smid,T.S. (1993). Non-LTE Plasma Diffusion in Inhomogeneous Atmospheres. (Research Report and Proposal). (download from /papers/ ).

(12) Smid,T.S. (2008). A Direct Numerical Solution to the Inverse Radiative Transfer Problem

Further Skills and Qualifications

10+ years mathematical/scientific programming in PL1, Fortran and C/C++ on IBM, VAX, Unix and Windows systems.

City and Guilds VQ 1+2 Information Technology (Wordprocessing, Spreadsheets, Databases, Desktop-Publishing (VQ 1)) [LATeC, Wyggeston and Q.E.I. College, Leicester, 10/1998].

A-Level Web Authoring [Open College Network, 3/2000)]; up to 5 years experience in HTML, CSS, Javascript, DHTML, DOM, SSI, PHP (see, for examples).

Experience in photographic theory and practice, including digital image processing.

Fluent in English and German, also some knowledge of French and Russian.