Science and The Urantia Book. Neutrinos, Neutrons, and Neutron Stars
Because of the mandatory restrictions imposed on the revelators (1109), the science and cosmology of The Urantia Book is at the approximate level of current human knowledge for the mid-1930's. It also contains some statements that were prophetic at that time because the mandate allowed the revelators to supply vital information to fill gaps in our otherwise earned knowledge. One such gap-filler may have been:
"In large suns when hydrogen is exhausted and gravity contraction ensures, and such a body is not sufficiently opaque to retain the internal pressure of support for the outer gas regions, then a sudden collapse occurs. The gravity-electric changes give origin to vast quantities of tiny particles devoid of electric potential, and such particles readily escape from the solar interior thus bringing about the collapse of a gigantic sun within a few days."(464)
No tiny particles devoid of electric potential that could escape readily from the interior of a collapsing star were known to exist in 1934. In fact, the reality of such particles were not confirmed until 1956, one year after the publication of The Urantia Book. The existence of particles that might have such properties had been put forward as a suggestion by Wolfgang Pauli in 1932, because studies on radioactive beta decay of atoms had indicated that a neutron could decay to a proton and an electron, but measurements had shown that the combined mass energy of the electron and proton did not add up with that of the neutron. To account for the missing energy, Pauli suggested a little neutral particle was emitted, and then, on the same day, while lunching with the eminent astrophysicist Walter Baade, Pauli commented that he had done the worst thing a theoretical physicist could possibly do, he had proposed a particle that could never be discovered because it had no properties. Not long after, the great Enrico Fermi took up Pauli's idea and attempted to publish a paper on the subject in the prestigious science journal Nature. The editors rejected Fermi's paper on the grounds that it was too speculative. This was in 1933, the year before receipt of the relevant Urantia Paper.
An interesting thing to note is The Urantia Book statement that tiny particles devoid of electric potential would be released in vast quantities during the collapse of the star. If, in 1934, an author other than a knowledgeable particle physicist was prophesying about the formation of a neutron star (a wildly speculative proposal from Zwicky and Baade in the early 1930's), then surely that author would have been thinking about the reversal of beta decay in which a proton, an electron and Pauli's little neutral particle would be squeezed together to form a neutron.
Radioactive beta decay can be written...
1. neutron ----> proton + electron + LNP
where LNP stands for little neutral particle. Hence the reverse should be:
2. LNP + electron + proton---->neutron
For this to occur an electron and a proton have to be compressed to form a neutron but somehow they would have to add a little neutral particle in order to make up for the missing mass-energy. Thus, in terms of available speculative scientific concepts in 1934, The Urantia Book appears to have put things back to front, it has predicted a vast release of LNP's, when the reversal of radioactive beta decay would appear to demand that LNPs should disappear.
The idea of a neutron star was considered to be highly speculative right up until 1967. Most astronomers believed that stars of average size, like our sun, up to stars that are very massive, finished their lives as white dwarfs. The theoretical properties of neutron stars were just too preposterous; for example, a thimble full would weigh about 100 million tonnes. A favored alternative proposal was that large stars were presumed to blow off their surplus mass a piece at a time until they got below the Chandrasekhar limit of 1.4 solar masses, when they could retire as respectable white dwarfs. This process did not entail the release of vast quantities of tiny particles devoid of electric potential that accompany star collapse as described in the cited Urantia Book quotation.
Distinguished Russian astrophysicist, Igor Novikov, has written, "Apparently no searches in earnest for neutron stars or black holes were attempted by astronomers before the 1960s. It was tacitly assumed that these objects were far too eccentric and most probably were the fruits of theorists wishful thinking. Preferably, one avoided speaking about them. Sometimes they were mentioned vaguely with a remark yes, they could be formed, but in all likelihood this had never happened. At any rate, if they existed, then they could not be detected."
Acceptance of the existence of neutron stars gained ground slowly with discoveries accompanying the development of radio and x-ray astronomy. The Crab nebula played a central role as ideas about it emerged in the decade, 1950-1960. Originally observed as an explosion in the sky by Chinese astronomers in 1054, interest in the Crab nebula increased when, in 1958, Walter Baade reported visual observations suggesting moving ripples in its nebulosity. When sensitive electronic devices replaced the photographic plate as a means of detection, the oscillation frequency of what was thought to be a white dwarf star at the center of the Crab nebula turned out to be about 30 times per second.