Saturday, October 07, 2006

Still fighting the Civil War

Over on Colonel Lang's, there was a discussion of the American Civil War 1861-1865 - it has been taken down and even in google cache it is a fading memory.

The protagonist's argument was the war was because of an unreasonable North. The Constitution was on the side of the South, it allowed slavery. States' Rights meant that the states determined if they wanted slavery or not. Slavery would have been eventually abolished in an Independent South because it would want to stay part of the Western world. And Britain and France had managed to abolish slavery without any war.

There was another side with good arguments too. But what I want to say is that that last bit was too much for me, and I sent in a reply which went approximately like this:

"Britain and France managed to abolish slavery without secession either. Let's see - the slave trade was banned in 1808, the British banned slavery in 1838, the French banned slavery in 1848, and here in 1861, over a dying institution by then generally recognized in the West as morally reprehensible the Southerners wanted to secede? One has to wonder where they kept their brains and their hearts."

Next I check, the whole post has vanished. I cannot say that my comment was the trigger, but I can say that my IP address is banned from making comments on that blog.

I suppose the fact that the Confederacy seems rational only to its descendants and not to any outside observer is unbearable.


CapitalistImperialistPig said...

Well that's a shock! ;)

nige said...

Do you agree with Richard P Feynman on the matter of comparing the Maxwell equations to the American Civil War?


"From a long view of the history of mankind – seen from, say, ten thousand years from now – there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged as Maxwell’s discovery of the laws of electrodynamics. The American Civil War will pale into provincial insignificance in comparison with this important scientific event of the same decade."

– R.P. Feynman, R.B. Leighton, and M. Sands, Feynman Lectures on Physics, vol. 2, Addison-Wesley, London, 1964, c. 1, p. 11.

However: "Maxwell's four equations" were first written by Oliver Heaviside in 1875-93 (vector calculus form; Heaviside had five equations but conservation of absolute charge was dropped after the discovery of pair production of matter + antimatter from gamma rays in 1932) and the original twenty "Maxwell" differential equations are actually due to Ampere, Faraday (Faraday's curl.E = -dB/dt means exactly what it sounds like, Faraday discovered precisely that induction effect; the curl of the electric field is directly proportional to the rate of change of the magnetic field strength, or vice-versa, and the "-" comes from Lenz' law), and Gauss. Heaviside himself invented the Maxwell equation "div.B = 0" (no magnetic monopoles, which is suspect due to Dirac's study of 1932).

So Feynman was fooled. Really, all Maxwell did in the 1860s was to take Faraday's induction law (curl.E = -dB/dt) and Weber's 1856 empirical finding that the reciprocal of the product of magnetic and electric force constants is equal to light speed, and connect them together by inventing a solid vacuum "aetherial" displacement current I = dD/dt where D = permittivity*E, E being volts/metre. Hence, from Ampere's law Maxwell had curl.B = uI = u*dD/dt where u is permeability.

Solving curl.B = u*dD/dt with curl.E = -dB/dt for a wave then gives a wave speed of c.

The idea behind this came entirely from Michael Faraday, who wrote a paper called "Thoughts on Ray Vibrations" in 1846 which physically predicted light was waves of oscillating electromagnetic fields, without using any mathematical equations!

Furthermore, Faraday had investigated displacement currents in liquid and other dielectric materials, which were vital to Maxwell, who writes in his Treatise that he read Faraday's detailed notes carefully before starting to theorise mathematically. Further, Maxwell corrsponded with Faraday during the 1850s.

However, Maxwell did not even then manage to predict c! He got it NUMERICALLY wrong by a factor of the square root of two in trying to come up with the mathematics in his first major publication:

A.F. Chalmers’ article, ‘Maxwell and the Displacement Current’ (Physics Education, vol. 10, 1975, pp. 45-9) states that Orwell’s novel 1984 helps to illustrate how the tale was fabricated:

‘history was constantly rewritten in such a way that it invariably appeared consistent with the reigning ideology.’

Maxwell tried to fix his original calculation deliberately in order to obtain the anticipated value for the speed of light, proven by Part 3 of his paper, On Physical Lines of Force (January 1862), as Chalmers explains:

‘Maxwell’s derivation contains an error, due to a faulty application of elasticity theory. If this error is corrected, we find that Maxwell’s model in fact yields a velocity of propagation in the electromagnetic medium which is a factor of 2^{1/2} smaller than the velocity of light.’

It took three years for Maxwell to finally force-fit his ‘displacement current’ theory to take the form which allows it to give the already-known speed of light without the 41% error. Chalmers noted: ‘the change was not explicitly acknowledged by Maxwell.’

So, was Feynman right to credit Maxwell with discovering the laws actually discovered by Ampere, Faraday, Gauss, and Heaviside, and only screwed up by Maxwell?

Maxwell screwed up everything. His screw-loose gear cog and idler wheel aether led him to suggest, in an Encyclopedia Britannica article, the Michelson-Morley experiment as a way to determine the existence of absolute velocity of light. He failed to predict that such an aether would contract the instrument in the direction of motion, shortening the light path that way, and preventing interference fringes! It was the null result from this gormless experiment which led Einstein to falsely dismiss the spacetime fabric in 1905. By the time he realised that there was some reality in a vacuum, it was too late and a new Machian prejudice had set in. Mach "discredited" (sneered at) the spacetime fabric together with atoms and electrons, because he claimed anything you can't directly see with your eyes (visible light) should be excluded from science. This led to Boltzmann's suicide. All Einstein was doing in 1905 was riding the wave of Machianism. By the time he grew up, in the 1920s, he accepted some kind of spacetime fabric but claimed it must be a continuum, and that quantum theories are lies. Only in 1954 does Einstein admit in a letter to Michel Besso:

"I consider it quite possible that physics cannot be based on the field concept,i.e., on continuous structures. In that case, nothing remains of my entire castle in the air, gravitation theory included, [and of] the rest of modern physics."

The continuing errors in Maxwell's theory are two in number:

(1) currents aren't continuous, they are composed of particulate electrons or other discrete charges. Hence you can't say that current I = dQ/dt. When the amount of charge flowing past any given point in a circuit is low (less than 1 electron per second, for example), I = dQ/dt is nonsense. You can't apply calculus meaningfully to inherently discrete situations, without error at the low limit.

(2) Maxwell's displacement current concept,

I = dD/dt = permittivity*dE/dt,

is negated by the discovery in quantum field theory that the vacuum can't get polarized below about 10^{20} volts/metre of electric field strength (IR cutoff).

Hence, radio waves (which weren't first discovered by Hertz, they were first demonstrated years earlier over many metres in London to the Royal Society, which dismissed as a "mere" Faraday induction effect), are not Maxwellian waves!

Radio waves don't have to exceed 10^{20} v/m to propagate by Maxwell's aetherial displacement current mechanism!

The true mechanism for what Maxwell falsely believed to be displacement current is a Yang-Mills exchange radiation effect: see

Displacement current doesn't physically exist, as Maxwell and Hertz believed, in radio waves. The term dD/dt actually represents a simple but involved mechanism whereby accelerating charges at the wavefront in each conductor exchange radio frequency energy but none of the energy escapes to the surroundings because each conductor's emission is naturally an inversion of the signal from the other, so the superimposed signals cancel out as seen from a distance large in comparison to the distance of separation of the two conductors.

nige said...

‘Our electrical theory has grown like a ramshackle farmhouse which has been added to, and improved, by the additions of successive tenants to satisfy their momentary needs, and with little regard for the future.’

– H.W. Heckstall-Smith, Intermediate Electrical Theory, Dent, London, 1932, p283.