Ivor Catt,

Electronics World,

April 2004.

Charging a capacitor

The bare cupboard


The New Scholasticism


Ivor Catt, Electronics World, April 2004.

There is widespread refusal to confront alleged problems in the reigning basic theories in science. The science I am most familiar with where this occurs is electromagnetic theory, though I know of other blatant cases, for instance theory of flight.


Displacement Current.

Our article in December 1978 pointed out that electric charge entering the plate of a capacitor did not immediately desire to traverse the space between the capacitor plates. (Bleaney is wrong when (s)he writes that the field between the plates is uniform.) After entering the capacitor plate from the input wire, the charge first has to spread itself across the plate. Only then can it express a desire to traverse the space between the plates.

This desire led to "Maxwell's leap of genius", Displacement Current. Maxwell himself, and all those who followed him and worshipped him, failed to notice that after entering the capacitor plate from the input wire, the charge had first to spread itself across the plate. This intermediate step has been ignored by all text books and lecturers. Since we pointed it out in December 1978 , it has been ignored for a further quarter century. All of today's text books are written as though this problem, of charge spreading out across the plate, remains unnoticed, like the Emperor's nakedness.


The spreading out of electric charge across the capacitor plate is real electric current, and must cause real magnetic field, according to Ampere's Rule or the Biot-Savart Law. The alleged genius of Maxwell was that the notional electric current, called by Maxwell "Displacement Current", was invented to produce magnetic field and so lead to key conclusions. Since the key (and only) purpose of Displacement Current is to cause magnetic field, it is unacceptable that there continues to be no discussion of the magnetic field which must be caused by the much more real electric current as the electric charge spreads out across the plate from the incoming wire.


The Catt Question.

When a TEM step travels at the speed of light down the vacuum between two parallel plane conductors, a problem was noticed in 1982, now renamed "The Catt Question".  The TEM Wave travelling in a coaxial cable with vacuum dielectric is a more easy way to picture the same question. The Catt Question, camouflaged by w (omega) for a century, was first noticed in 1982. Prior to that, the only signal discussed was a sine wave, which buried the problem in fancy maths. If the sine wave is replaced by a simple step, the problem becomes obvious for the first time. It is now discussed.


After the step has passed, there appears extra negative electric charge on the surface of the negative conductor to terminate the lateral lines of electric flux between the positive conductor and the negative conductor. Where does this extra charge come from?


It took many years of painstaking work to elicit a single reply from each of two luminaries, who totally contradicted each other, and then went silent. All other accredited "experts" also remain silent.


Maxwell's Equations.

For more than a century, it has been fashionable to drool over Maxwell's Equations, and assume that others have grasped their physical import. For decades, I insisted that I had never doubted Maxwell's Equations. I knew that a hint of such behaviour would lead to excommunication. Like everyone else, I kept away from them and avoided investigating them.


In spite of this, my major advances in electromagnetic theory, and also my computer inventions, were totally suppressed by all journals in the world for some decades.


Some time after Tom Ivall, Editor of Wireless World, began to publish my material, I ventured to investigate Maxwell's Equations. I was shocked by what I discovered, and published what I found in Wireless World. Since Ivall was my ally, and all other journals in the world still totally boycotted me, I felt I would lose nothing by rocking the Maxwell boat. Ivall had already been threatened for publishing less controversial material by me.


There has been more or less no response to my publications on Maxwell's Equations .


In all these three cases, all publication and teaching continues as though what I have said has never been said. The reader is challenged to give reference to any text book or syllabus which refers in any way whatsoever to my discussions.

The material in this letter can be reached via or

We assiduously add more and more bells and whistles onto a brittle structure which has been frozen since about 1920. The structure, which requires avoidance of the above questions, serves no purpose beyond rewarding those who live within its glass home, who live off those they can entice within it.


Moving Backwards.

My co-author researched key insights removed from later editions of a standard e-m text book. This raises the interesting spectre, that we are not just standing still. We are moving backwards.


I have spent many years trying to understand why there exists so little grasp of the physics of a logic step travelling from one gate to the next. I found that not only students, but also lecturers, have no access to information on the TEM Wave. The TEM Step is the key electromagnetic element in all digital computers, and therefore in 99% of all electronics today. I have found that none of the books in the British Library or in the IEE Library in London discuss the TEM Wave. Heaviside had a complete grasp of the TEM Wave. He had to, because he was sending Morse pulses, or TEM pulses, down a cable from Newcastle to Denmark. A century later, when I arrived in Motorola R and D at the inception of high speed digital electronics (1nsec ECL), I also had to master it. The whole of digital electronics [today] is vulnerable because even today's lecturers have no access to insight into the TEM Wave. They will certainly not learn from Heaviside, whom their text books and lectures ignore, or from me. They insist that I do not exist. Ask your lecturer about Catt. He will reply; "Who?"

Ivor Catt.   3jan04                  Addendum

Throwing glass at stone houses

 Theory of Flight.


Displacement Current


Catt Question


Maxwell's Equations

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Moving Backwards.


TEM Wave.

The Heaviside Signal figures 4, 5.

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