Physics and Maths



Physics and Maths

At this point I should briefly state that, since my work had been ignored for decades and none of it was in any college or university course, I abandoned it. Thus, in its place, I needed to learn Classical Electromagnetism. I began this study by asking "The Catt Question" , previously called "The Catt Anomaly", an elementary question about classical electromagnetic theory. It has nothing to do with any Catt theories.

Nobel Prizewinner Brian Josephson wrote; "I've just been talking with Catt at the college's alumni lunch today. He explained that the origin of the 'Catt anomaly' was in the question of what happens when one charges a capacitor rapidly. It certainly is the case that there will be a time delay in charging because of the finite size of the capacitor and it is unfortunate if a paper pointing this out was not accepted for publication anywhere other than Wireless World (which incidentally, in the 1950s, published a letter from me on how to reduce distortion in class D amplifiers). On the other hand, I cannot endorse the rejected paper unconditionally as I have not seen the detail. Brian J. PS: Ivor seemed unaware that we had met me before -- Forrest introduced him to me on an earlier occasion when they were dining in Trinity through Ivor's Cambridge MA [?]." - Brian Josephson 28/9/08

Forrest Bishop came to Trinity High Table as the guest of Kurt Metzer. Forrest Bishop and Brian Josephson previously agreed by email to meet at Trinity High Table, and they dined together. On Brian's request, Forrest pointed out Ivor Catt's back to Brian. Ivor was sitting at the other long table. Brian did not then approach Ivor Catt, and they had never met before until last Sunday when Brian introducted himself to Catt at an "alumni get-together". Brian then being rather preoccupied, since it was in the middle of a magnificent buffet lunch, they had a brief meeting, and Brian did not take up Ivor's suggestion that they meet later that day.

The article "Displacement Current" is at and
The content of that 1978 paper is totally independent of "The Catt Question" which Catt first discovered in 1982. When last Sunday Josephson said; "I'm not sure that you are right," Catt responded that it was not a matter of whether I was right, and Catt then broached the matter of the dec78 paper. He said that for more than a century nobody had noticed that when charge/current enters a capacitor down a wire it first had to spread out across the capacitor plate before expressing a desire to traverse the space to the other plate. Josephson replied that perhaps this was a minor approximation, to which Catt replied that this spreading out was very slow. The velocity depended on the square root of the dielectric constant of the dielectric, which might be 10,000. Catt then said that today, 30 years later, no professor or text book write knew that this key oversight had been pointed out 30 years ago.

"it is unfortunate if a paper pointing this out was not accepted for
publication anywhere other than Wireless World" - Brian Josephson, 28sept08, above.

Also see "Charging a Capacitor"

Wireless World had published material by my team of researchers - Davidson and Walton - for a couple of years. I told the then editor, the late Tom Ivall, that we also had "controversial material". He said that they welcomed controversial material. I replied that I doubted it. After discussion with my two co-researchers, as a try-on, we boiled down one item of "controversial material" to a two page article, "Displacement Current" , which Brian now regrets could only be published in "Wireless World".
"it is unfortunate if a paper pointing this out was not accepted for
publication anywhere other than Wireless World." - BJ, above.
I sent the article to Tom Ivall. Nothing happened. After a few months, when I enquired, Ivall told me he had handed it to his Technical Editor, Eric Shorter. I replied; "But he is a physics graduate." Ivall was only a Chartered Engineer. When still nothing happened, I finally phoned Tom Ivall and told him (I told him, I did not suggest) that Davidson and I would come at 10 am next day to
see him and Shorter. Three hours later, I received a call from Shorter, saying that the article was O.K. I then said; "Then we do not need to come and see you tomorrow."
Ivall added "- and how to get rid of it" to the title, and published it in December 1978. As Forrest now says, this was extremely important information. The scientists at UKAEA Culham circulated it and then had a meeting. They delegated to Dr. B. G. Burrows to tell Ivall that if he ever published anything more by Catt et al., WirelessWorld would be boycotted by the scientific community. However, (1) Ivall had met both Catt and Burrows,
and felt that their level of expertise was similar; (2) Ivall had independent means, and (3) Ivall was considering leaving the editor job because of his health problems. He then published articles by Catt or letters discussing Catt's ideas in every monthly issue except two for ten years. Monthly circulation 60,000.

What is underlying the article is the new information that "a capacitor is a transmission line". The classical treatment of the capacitor has to be compatible with the classical treatment of the transmission line, which it is not.

At Trinity High Table a year or two ago, I told May Chiao, deputy editor of "Nature Physics", that if she published an article which contained the information; "A capacitor is a transmission line," that would be the end of her editorial career - certainly if the article also mentioned Displacement Current. I told her she could hosever publish "A transmission line is a capacitor." Five minutes later she said; "But a transmission line is a capacitor!"

The May Chiao experience has to be considered alongside the statement by Nobel Prizewinner Josephson, above; " .... it is unfortunate if a paper pointing this out was not accepted for
publication anywhere other than Wireless World" - Brian Josephson, 28sept08..

She does not reply to my letters .

Also see "Maths and Physics" , where Josephson shows us the smoking gun; the key factor in the capture of science by mathematics.

Ivor Catt


Comment by Forrest Bishop.

The reason I consider this such an important paper is twofold. First, the idea of displacement current led to the term in Ampere's Law that allowed Maxwell to construct his electromagnetic wave equation(s) and then furthermore, and this is important: supposedly that enabled Maxwell to unify magnetism, electricity and light, and to predict radio. This has come down to us as THE premier example of the Power & the Glory of mathematical physics. Your (CDW) little paper pulls the rug right out from under that pretension.
Next, and even more importantly, the CDW revelation- that a capacitor, which Catt had previously said was a transmission line, "charges" up in a manner that stepwise mimics an exponential. . That was why the Electric Current proponents have been able to get away with their lumped elements and mathematical obfuscations for the past couple centuries [and their faulty exponential]. This is why "the ramifications are across the board", as I wrote three years ago- this revelation positively affects all of advanced electronic technology and all of the physics that goes beyond the basic ideas of electricity and magnetism.

Forrest Bishop. 30th September 2008


Comment by Ivor Catt on Forrest's comments.

The thread begins with what Heaviside called "Maxwell's leap of genius" in formulating the concept of Displacement Current. It was formulated in order to take the capacitor into the fold fenced by Kirchhoff's First Law ; "At any point in an electrical circuit that does not represent a capacitor plate, the sum of currents flowing towards that point is equal to the sum of currents flowing away from that point."

The article "Displacement Current" investigates Kirchhoff's Law at the point where the input wire enters a capacitor. To satisfy the Law, Maxwell proposed a pseudo-current leaving the capacitor plate equal to the input current, so that the total current entering the point where wire connects to plate became zero. He overlooked the fact that the input current first spreads out across the capacitor plate, so that the extra Displacement Current, far from satisfying Kirchhoff's Law, defies it by making more current leave this point, both along the plate and across the space between the capacitor plates, than enters this point down the input wire. Everyone since Maxwell, including Heaviside, had until it was pointed out a century later in 1978 , also failed to notice the oversight. This oversight, since it was pointed out, has been ignored by lecturers and text book writers.

As Forrest notes, the spurious "Displacement Current" is a field, or wave, in the space between the capacitor plates. This generated the idea that light was electromagnetic, because light was also a wave in space.

The "Displacement Current" term is a key term in Maxwell's Equations, which in turn are regarded as perhaps the high point in the glory of mathematical physics. Feynman says that Maxwell's Equations will be regarded historically as more important than the American Civil War, which occurred in the same decade. Thus, as Forrest says, the article "Displacement Current" has massive ramifications.

Ivor Catt 1st October 2008




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