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The IEEE and the Electric Universe

A podium isn’t endorsement says Victoria chapter

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The IEEE’s outpost in Victoria is to play host to an airing of the fringe “Electric Universe” theory today.

If Melbourne-dwelling members have time, they can pop over to Engineering House at North Melbourne to hear one Wal Thornhill expound the theory under the title The Electric Universe – A Practical Engineer’s Cosmology (ITEE Joint Event)”.

The theory borrows the meme of scientific scepticism beloved of everybody from Heartland Institude climate sceptics to homeopathy to anti-vaccination campaigners, with the promo stating that Electric Universe theory “acknowledges the primacy of the electric force in nature and is inherently sceptical about gravity-only cosmology, standard relativity theory, and extravagant mathematical speculation”.

The theory also wraps up denial of the existence of black holes, the big bang, and universe expansion. Comets aren’t the “dirty snowballs” described by most cosmologists, but “negatively charged bodies”, and Earth received its water by once being a satellite of Saturn.

Asked by The Register whether an apparent position endorsing fringe theories was in keeping with the IEEE’s standing as one of the world’s peak engineering bodies. We received this response from Dr Greg Adamson, chair of the IEEE’s Victorian Section:

“The IEEE Victorian Section sponsors more than 50 technical presentations a year on a wide range of topics, some of them speculative. Speakers speak on our platform, but not on our behalf. We attempt to provide interesting topics for our members, who aren't shy about testing the technical credentials of these speakers.”

Engineers Australia, convener of the ITEE College which is handling registrations for the event, and a body without whose permission nobody can tag themselves “engineer”, did not respond to inquiries. ®

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