Size of the Universe Part 4
Dave Takes On Electromagnetism
A while back, I did an Internet search for “how magnetism works.” Guess what turned up—absolutely nothing. One page I came across went into great lengthy detail describing a magnetic field from a purely mathematical perspective; didn’t stay long. Interestingly, I came across a few remarks in the comments sections of a couple web pages that were echoing my own sentiments, comments to the effect: “Why can’t any of these scientists, if they are so smart, explain how magnetism works.” I concur. Here we are, more than 150 years after Maxwell's field equations, yet I have never heard any sort of clear explanation of what charge is, or why magnets or charges repell or attract.
Case in point: I had finished writing 95% of this article when I came across a certain Livescience.com article. First the author rather arrogantly makes fun of a rap artist for asking the question: Why does magnetism work? The author’s explanation: Why, because it is an exchange of virtual photons, of course. Wow, thanks, that explains everything. Did anyone else get that?
Well, if no one else is going to even try, might as well take a crack at it—another void to fill, as it were. Although I wouldn't call it nothing but wild guesswork, I want to stress that this particular page should not be taken as anything academic. It is entirely conceptual and based on intuition; a way of looking at nature that makes sense to me, anyhow, based on what I do know and without getting into particulars and deep math. I am not a trained physicist, and I will admit that particle physics has gotten over my head these days: a theoretical particle for every force; multiple dimensions; and everything supposedly spins, including sub-atomic particles; particles that only fleetingly exist in an atom smasher . . . So I write this article as a challenge, I suppose, to those who have made particle physics their life’s work: If you have gained such ground in understanding nature as to find predicted particles in giant billion-dollar atom smashers, then surely you can explain electromagnetism better and more eloquently to the layman than "an exchange of virtual photons." As for references for this page, I can’t provide any because, basically, there weren’t any to draw from (beyond the usual textbook explanation).
The heart of magnetism is, of course, the humble electron, a negatively charged particle. But what is charge? I think something called phase has a lot to do with it. When you hook two stereo speakers up correctly, you get nice loud bass. When you hook one up backwards, suddenly, your awesome sounding stereo system sounds wimpy. One speaker is moving in while the other is moving out. So you crank the bass knob up to 10, trying to hear some low-end until thppppp—time for some new speakers. I believe charge works in much the same way. While neutrons and uncharged atoms exist in a more-or-less phase-cancelled state, much like the miswired speakers in our stereo example, charged atoms are a different story: Electrons are always oscillating in one direction, let’s say outward, while protons are oscillating inward. So add or subtract an electron from a neutral atom, and the "stereo" comes alive. Oscillating inward and outward from where, you might ask? Well, that’s a good question. Inward and outward from another dimension is my only answer.
So you might view the electric field surrounding a collection of charged atoms as something like a beach ball inflating and deflating. That positive charge under the oak tree in your yard is puffing outward while that negative charge up in the cloud is puffing inward. And when that positive charge under the oak tree in your yard is puffing inward, that negative charge up in the cloud is puffing outward, growing in strength, until . . .
It is important to keep in mind, here, that these oscillating pulses, which I prefer to call them, do not travel outward like a sound wave or wave across water. In this case, the entity we call space simply compresses and springs back in what you might call a reflex action. I am going to assume that the influence of these in-and-out pulses on other charged atoms—in other words, the back-and-forth motion of space between two charges—is instantaneous regardless of distance, with the strength of that influence falling off in accordance with the inverse square law (unless aided by a conductor). This seemingly defies Einstein’s assertion that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, but to assign a speed to such pulses suggests a propagating wave, which I don’t believe is the case. Electromagnetic waves—photons, if you will—obviously do, on the other hand, keep traveling outwards until running into something, and their speed cannot exceed the speed of light.
Like the opposite poles of a magnet, opposite charges attract. But when it comes to charges building up, the electrons tend to break free before there is any great tug between the atoms themselves.
Now magnetism: Electrons orbit the iron atoms in a magnet crossways the magnet. In other words, they orbit at a right angle to N and S. With each in/out pulse of the electrons/protons in the atoms, there is a corresponding pulse at a right angle to the electron’s orbit. The direction of the pulse alternates between the north and south poles of the magnet.
But whereas the in/out pulses of an electric field around a charge are normally spherical in nature, the back-and-forth sideways pulses of a magnetic field are capable of aligning themselves in ferrous materials. Get the orbits of enough electrons lined up, and a powerful force is created—magnetism.
I believe I am correct in stating that an ordinary magnet does not possess an inherent electric charge, therefore it is interesting to note that while the in and out motion of the electrons are normally phase cancelled in the atoms of a magnet, the opposite is true for the sideways motions.
I like to visualize the pulses that produce magnetism as a piston moving back and forth from north to south, south to north. Now imagine a second magnet—a second piston moving back and forth in perfect sync with the first. Call the top of each piston north if you would like. Position the pistons (magnets) so that north is facing north. Notice that once every stroke, the pistons are moving towards each other—repulsion. Turn both pistons around so south is facing south; still, once every stroke, the pistons will be moving towards each other. But now, only turn one piston around so that south is facing north. The pistons move in tandem; there is no repulsion, and any force then wishing to push the pistons together can step in and do its thing.So in an attempt to break down magnetism into the simplest terms possible:
The next logical question might be, what is the force pushing the magnets together? Well, obviously, there is more to matter than just simple vibrations: There is something else going on. I view sub-atomic particles as tiny tears in the fabric of space, tiny holes from our dimension to another through which space flows. Imagine a tank full of water with two outlets in the very top about 20 centimeters apart. Two pvc pipes are connected to the outlets, via a flexible connector, and each pipe runs straight down below the water line. Except for the two outlets and one air inlet, the tank is sealed and air is pumped in, creating pressure. The water will try and exit the tank through the pipes, and the free ends of the pipes, the holes, will attract one another, moving towards each other faster and faster until they meet. At least, I’m pretty sure that is what would happen (never actually tried it). In the case of matter, the holes oscillate (or space oscillates as it is pushed towards the holes), hence the particle and the wave—a force which repels the holes from each other even as they try to merge.
So if space is going down the proverbial tubes, so to speak, why doesn’t the universe implode? you might ask. Well, because space is being continually replenished. In other words, while matter might have been created 14 billion years ago, space is continually entering our dimension from somewhere else. Whatever entities are responsible for this “dark energy,” they must be much, much smaller than even the largest sub-atomic particle that we know of. Now, the logical and most simple conclusion from all this is that the force causing magnetic attraction, the attraction between opposing charges, and the strong nuclear force is simply gravity that has found a gap between atoms/sub-atomic particles where the repulsive force has been reduced, creating the impression that there are much-stronger forces at work (gravity, in this case, being synonymous with the pressure and flow of water in the water-tank analogy). But again, I should point out that this is contrary to what I constantly hear, which is that there must be some distinct, mystical energy field/particle (or theorized particle) responsible for each force. In any event, the net repulsive force between two magnets must be twice as strong as the pushing force, from the viewpoint of the pushing force always being the same regardless of how the magnets are alligned. And assuming, for a second, the oscillations that produce a magnetic field around a magnet are indeed a purely back-and-forth phenomenon, and therfore only oppose half the time (when two identical poles face one another), each individual clash of two pulsations must therefore be four times more powerful than the pushing force.
As mentioned, electromagnetic waves travel outward at or near the speed of light, and as any grade-school science book will probably tell you, light waves are transverse waves, with not only an up and down component, but a sideways component as well. So what I refer to as pulses could, for visualization purposes anyhow, be looked at as products of the actual wave, much like a small boat rising and falling as the wake of another boat passes underneath. Or you could look at it as the water itself in a particular spot rising up and down as the wave energy passes through—whatever works. I am sure there is a highbrow term for such aspects of wave function, but—frankly—I didn’t even bother to look up such things when writing this, as the idea here is simplicity.
One thing I think is misleading is the typical way a light wave is illustrated—as a long spaghetti string of successive waves (even I am guilty). I think if you could actually freeze a photon in time, it would be a single wave—a bump (a motion of space) rising up or down with a corresponding sideways motion. Even if I am wrong regarding photons, the spaghetti string idea certainly could not be applied to electrons, or you could not get the back and forth motion needed to produce such defined vibrational fields.
Another typical illustration is the old series-of-ripples-on-a-pond idea used to depict electromagnetic waves emanating from a radio tower, spreading out and dissipating over time. This is a correct depiction, but you have to remember that the ripples are composed of individual photons, which, if I understand correctly, have very little curve along their leading edge; and, of course, universal expansion aside, an individual photon does not itself spread out over time and dissipate; its energy is set by its frequency.
If any of this makes sense to you, I should point out that this way of looking at things demands that magnetism and electric charges have an inherent frequency. However, I did a search once for the “frequency of magnetism” and was astounded to find absolutely zilch. In fact, I found pages describing the opposite—that magnetism has no frequency. Not only does this contradict everything I thought I understood about magnetism, common sense would dictate that what we call a magnetic field is a vibrational pattern, as evident by the lines of flux that show up in the old iron-filings-over-cardboard example. So there you go. I’m not sure exactly what they meant by “no frequency;” which might make sense if they were referring to the force causing magnetic attraction by itself (pushing force), but either I'm crazy or maybe its no wonder that no one can explain how magnetism works.
Electric power through a conductor:
So as we have established (as science did long ago) an electric field and a magnetic field are both perpendicular components of a traveling electromagnetic wave. So where magnetism can be looked at as a directional concentration of the sideways motions of a group of electrons, an electrical discharge or the flow of current down a wire from a negative charge to a positive charge can be looked at as a flow of electrons facilitated by the directional concentration of the up and down (in and out) motions of a group of electrons. As the pulses in the wire move back and forth from negative to positive, the electrons flow in one direction, creating a dilute magnetic field. A magnet wrapped by a wire can produce traveling waves, of course, in the wire when the magnetic field is jogged.
If you want to visualize the magnetic field across a wire, simply lay a bar magnet across a wire. The polarity of the magnetic field will depend on which end of the wire is negative and which end is positive. Even better, imagine that there is now a hole drilled through the magnet through its width, and the wire is threaded through it. Now pull the wire taught and spin the magnet around the wire.
Going back for a moment to the first example—of simply laying a bar magnet across a wire—imagine a second wire running parallel to the first. Electron flow in the second wire is the same direction, so lay a bar magnet across the wire positioned so the polarity is in the same direction as the first magnet. Opposite poles of each magnet will, of course, be facing one another, and the magnets (wires) will attract.
So how does this all work, you might ask, if the magnetic fields of both wires are constantly spinning? The trick here is to spin the magnets in perfect tandem. Whenever the magnets line up, the opposite poles will always be pointing towards one another; the wires attract. And yes, no matter what you want to believe is spinning—a static entity or an oscillation—the idea of electrons that all spin in unison, regardless of their point of origin, is a very bizarre concept.
Now, I have read that this spinning action is also taking place as any electron orbits the nucleus of an atom; but, at present, I am not certain how this conclusion was arrived at, and I have my doubts that such an attribute can be applied to the electrons of a magnet. At any rate, visualizing such a convoluted thing might be difficult, but it does work out—as long as the electrons spin in tandem with each other.
12/01/15: I didn’t really notice this until about a year after posting this page, but by suggesting—in a roundabout way—that gravity, the attraction between opposing charges, the strong nuclear force, and magnetic attraction might be all manifestations of the same force, and then suggesting that there was a compounding source of energy filling up what we commonly refer to as empty space, I unwittingly pointed to a single source of energy that may be driving the bulk of our reality—the force driving universal expansion. Well, to be fact, the math must work out, so I will leave it up to number crunchers more skilled then myself to decide if the notion has any merit.
1/30/16: Investigating things a bit further, I now see why the electrons in an ordinary bar magnet must also be spinning, for two reasons: one, an electrified coil of wire produces a magnetic field similar in shape to an ordinary magnet; and two, an ordinary magnet interacts the same way with the magnetic field around a current carrying wire—no matter where the magnet is positioned along the circumference of the wire—which requires that the electrons in both spin in tandem . . . simple enough. At any rate, in regards to my theory, it only means that the strength of two opposing pulsations must be substantially higher than a factor of four times the pushing force. However, without knowing the frequency of the pulsations or the rate of spin, it is impossible to determine that value.
5/19/16: Some things that agree or disagree with my theory.
1 The proven phenomenon of quantum entanglement, which suggests there can be bizarre instantaneous links between matter over great distances.
2 Experiments that have been conducted since James Maxwell formulated his theory on electromagnetism that show all sub-atomic particles have a wave nature to them.
What disagrees, conceptually speaking:
1 James Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory, apparently: If there is any “heart of the matter” of the mechanics of electromagnetism being incomprehensible to the masses, it is definitely here. As the short story goes, one day in 1862, James Maxwell was giving a lecture and figured out that a magnetic field should produce waves that propagate at the speed of light. As far as I can ascertain, his calculations predicted waves that should travel at the speed of light and did not specifically address a velocity at which a field should influence another field. At the time Maxwell came up with his equations, the speed of light had been measured—with increasing degrees of accuracy—since nearly two hundred years prior. And there was a bias that permeated the physics community against the existence of any sort of instantaneous action. The methods used for measuring the speed of light usually involved very long distances, specifically measuring light from the sun that had traveled to distant planets and back again. The concept is simple enough, and I have no trouble comprehending it or the math involved; however, what is mind-boggling is that Maxwell made his prediction for light-speed electromagnetic waves using no such long distances.
What is missing is an understandable explanation of just how he pulled off such a feat, a graphic representation perhaps that goes beyond the math or the long story. But good luck finding one, while most every other discovery in physics has been reduced to such form, from what I have discovered, the subject—and the math—tend to be one of the most overlooked areas of physics when it comes to “Maxwell’s Field Equations for Dummies.”
I have tried to digest Maxwell’s papers and equations myself, but so far, have not gotten very far. One item I have deduced from other’s interpretation is that Maxwell considered a light wave to be something different from an “ordinary” field around a magnet. He apparently viewed the magnetic field around a magnet as something static, having no oscillation—an “apparition” that showed itself in the presence of moving electrons. On the other hand, he considered magnetic waves to be oscillations of the same apparition. One Wikipedia article I came across states that his theory considered any “action at a distance” to be something that only goes on inside a magnet’s own field. Well, a magnetic field can be channeled, perhaps, but would still not have a defined edge, so exactly where should such action cease, I have to ask? Perhaps one day, a hundred years from now, I will grasp Maxwell’s thought processes and make my own determination as whether or not my theory would require any drastic change in the math, which it should not, if correct.
Beyond the sources below, I have only found a few brief articles here and there that say pretty much the same thing.
2 Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity: Being more familiar with Einstein’s theories, I believe I am safe in stating that Albert Einstein, like many scientists that came before, did not especially like the idea of any instantaneous action at a distance. So in that sense, anyway, my theory conflicts with special relativity. And even though Einstein himself pointed out that the way an object behaves within a gravitation field is indistinguishable from and object being accelerated through space; like Maxwell regarding magnetic fields, I believe Einstein viewed space as being more or less stationary in and around a gravitational field. Einstein probably would have scoffed at the suggestion that rather than being accelerated through space, propelled by the force of a rocket, an atom in a gravitational field is actually accelerated by space speeding through it (a simplified view of my theory). So to accommodate his stationary space, he proposed that gravitational attraction was the result of matter following a 4-dimensional curve in space-time, with the resulting coordinate system resembling a stretched fabric. With my theory, I have merely offered a possible reason for that perception. I realize that I am taking a virtual sledgehammer to some of physic's most foundational concepts with my ideas, but then, I went off the official “curriculum” when I created this page.
11/04/16: So according to my theory, which I have dubbed “electric and magnetic fields as oscillations” theory for lack of something better, the electrons and protons responsible for electric and magnetic fields are oscillating in unison, with electrons and protons being in opposite phase. So I put together a couple predictions in regards to my theory:
#1 The oscillations of all electrons are in sync like one single vibration, broken and separated in three-dimensional space. The same applies to protons, with the exception of being 180 degrees out of phase.
#2 The frequency of electromagnetic oscillations must vary depending on the frame of reference. In other words, if one found themselves in a gravitational field stronger than earth’s, or they happened to be moving at an extreme velocity, the frequency of the oscillations would be higher because time would be running slower.
As far as prediction two is concerned, it might just be impossible, for all I know, to ever determine the frequency of electromagnetic oscillations for a given frame of reference, but if someone (Maxwell) can simply look at a “static entity” and say it should produce waves that travel at X speed using a formula for sound waves, I’m not sure what may be possible.
Just for kicks, a thought experiment: Imagine a tank of compressed air with a T-fitting for a nozzle. A balloon is attached to one stem of the T-fitting, so that when the tank’s valve is turned, the air, of course, bypasses the balloon. Now imagine a second valve after the T-fitting, controlling airflow to a second smaller tank, which is empty and hidden. Before you turn the first valve on, in your mind, turn the second valve on just a bit. Now turn on the first valve all the way. Most of the air will go into the balloon, of course, and some will go into the small tank. As the balloon gets larger, the small tank also fills with air until backpressure reduces the amount of air going into it, sending more and more air into the balloon. The expansion of the balloon accelerates. A person standing nearby is unaware of the hidden smaller tank and sees the accelerating expansion of the balloon as some new form of energy.
Note: If this were carried out as an actual experiment with real air tanks and a real balloon, the balloon would create its own backpressure as it expanded, of course, which would tarnish the results. So for the above thought experiment, we will just call the balloon “a special balloon that can stretch for eternity.”
Now, I make no such claim that the above is any sort of fundamental description of reality—but who knows?