TEM Wave and sine wave



Relative phase of E and H in a TEM Wave

Lord Martin Rees, Professor Martin Rees, Sir Michael Pepper FRS, Brian Josephson , Professor Howie FRS, Dr Neil McEwan, May Chiao


Confusion over the relative phase of E and H in a TEM Wave.
17th April 2009

On 17 April 2009, the first hit of 12,000 on Google for "tem wave" was http://info.ee.surrey.ac.uk/Teaching/Courses/EFT/transmission/html/TEMWave.html , which has a moving picture of a sinusoidal TEM Wave where E and H are in phase. It ways; "The wave you find is a TEM Wave, the sort you might find in a coax cable ...."
Frustratingly, it does not state that E and H are in phase. This is a universal omission in the literature. Only the moving picture shows E and H in phase.

Google hit no. 2 http://www.websters-dictionary-online.org/TE/TEM-wave.html states; "In a homogeneous isotropic medium, an electromagnetic wave in which both the electric and magnetic field vectors are everywhere perpendicular to the direction of propagation." Howevder, as aways in the literature, it does not state that E and H are in phase.

Hit no. 3, http://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/newsgroups/viewtopic.php?t=74709 , is symptomatic of the problem here discussed, and discussed by me at http://www.electromagnetism.demon.co.uk/17136.htm ; "The TEM Wave; a lost concept", which is hit no. 8. Also discussed by me at Google hit no. 24; http://www.electromagnetism.demon.co.uk/20136.htm . (In this last, the bolshie attitude of the IEE/IET to the problem I raise here, is shown in Lago's review of my book in "IEE Journal "Electronics & Communication Engineering" oct95, p218 says; ".... There are many items in this [Catt's] book which give cause for concern, for example the false statement that 'The Transverse Electromagnetic Wave has virtually disappeared from today's electromagnetic theory'." - B Lago". I quote his review at http://www.ivorcatt.co.uk/9_review.htm ).

Google hit no. 4 illustrates the problem. It says; :"hi guys n gals. i am a fresh one to EMT and I am facinf difficulty in understanding the transverse electromagnetic wave. ...." He is not answered usefully.

Hit no. 5 is not useful for our purpose. Nor is is hit no. 6;

Nor is hit no. 7; http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_the_TEM_wave_does_not_exist_in_the_optical_fiber .

Nor is hit no. 8; http://www.woxikon.com/eng/TEM%20wave.php

Let us now turn to a Google search for "transverse electromagnetic wave"

Here the picture darkens. The first hit out of 5,000 is http://www.play-hookey.com/optics/transverse_electromagnetic_wave.html , where Ken Bigelow wrongly states that E and H are out of phase; " Note especially that the electric and magnetic fields are not in phase with each other, but are rather 90° out of phase. Most books portray these two components of the total wave as being in phase with each other, but I find myself disagreeing with that interpretation, based on three fundamental laws of physics: ...."

Some seven years ago I tried to get Big to correct this error, without success.

In stark contrast to Bigelow at Hit no. 1, the Wikipedia hit, no. 2, has a drawing clearly showing E and H in phase; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transverse_wave . Typically, the diagram is the only assertion as to the relative phases of E and H.

Hit no. 3 is correct as to the phases of E and H, but only in a diagram, not in the text.

Hit no. 4; http://www.intota.com/experts.asp?strSearchType=all&strQuery=transverse+electromagnetic+wave typically states the direction of electric and magnetic fields, but not their relative phase; "Transverse Electromagnetic Wave - An electromagnetic wave in which the electric-field vectors and magnetic-field vectors are perpendicular to the direction of propagation."

Hit no. 7 shows the relative phases correctly, but only in a drawing.

Today, April 2009, Bigelow still comments on my intrusion;
http://www.play-hookey.com/optics/transverse_electromagnetic_wave.html "Now, if the two component waves are assumed to be in phase with each other, then the total energy of the wave varies from some maximum value to zero, and then back up to the maximum value. This requires that each photon send all of its energy somewhere else twice per cycle, and then receive it back again. I have yet to see any satisfactory explanation of either where it goes or why it would come back to re-form the photon.
I've decided to end my argument page on the TEM dispute. The best assumption I ever got from anybody was that the energy was in "another part of the wave." But since the wave is necessarily composed of individual photons, that requires that photons trade energy back and forth with each other. This makes no sense anyway, and is quite impossible in a laser beam, where all photons are in phase with each other. Nevertheless, such photons must have the same properties as they do in random light or any other electromagnetic wave." (Following Big's line of reasoning, let us consider a pipe through which water is flowing, but an air gap is part of the flow. Big presumably thinks that it would not be possible for the water behind the gap and the water ahead of the gap to flow happily along, with the air gap flowing at the same speed as the water. However, ridiculing Big does not saolve the problem, because he is hit no. 1 out of 5,000. As I remember, Big once said on his website that nobody except me argued with him. Admittedly, this is contradicted by the fact that someone told me that he had argued with Big. However, that would be only two people trying to correct Big's error. This leads one to the recent conclusion of Forrest Bishop and myself, that virtually nobody in the world is concerned about electromagnetic theory. Against this, there are plenty of people who make a field day out of fancy maths dubiously attached to electromagnetic theory {and imposing it on their students} http://videolectures.net/mit802s02_lewin_lec18/ (Note 1), but that is another matter. What is missing is rational, scientific approach, and physical grasp. Except for a tiny number of exceptions, these more or less do not exist throughout the world.)

Under a Google search for "transverse electromagnetic wave", my comment is only hit no. 7 ; http://www.electromagnetism.demon.co.uk/20136.htm , and does not discuss Bigelow, which I do at


Classical electromagnetic theory survives because of confusion as to the nature of the TEM Wave, whether it is the "Rolling Wave" or the "Heaviside Signal", see http://www.ivorcatt.com/2604.htm . It survives because of confusion as to the relative phases of E and H in a sinusoidal TEM wave. It survives because it is wrongly thought that the only possible TEM wave is sinusoidal, or at least that using Fourier Series, the sinusoidal wave is the only one that needs to be addressed. All of these confusions make it impossible for The Confused, which is everyone, to consider "The Catt Questioin" http://www.electromagnetism.demon.co.uk/cattq.htm rationally.

Classical electromagnetic theory survives because scientists do not address it rigorously, in a scientific way. If scientists addressed their classical electromagnetic theory scientifically, using the usual precepts for scientific thinking, then classical electromagnetism would collapse.


It is interesting to notice the following contradiction in fashionable theory. The standard signal in today's digital age is the logic step, which has to be addressed by a viable electromagnetic theory. (Similarly, Heaviside had to address it in 1880 when he sent Morse signals from Newcastle to Denmark.) The logic step - the voltage change from zero to 5v and back after a short time, to denote 000010000 , is ignored, using as justification Fourier Series; that any (recurring?) waveform can be represented by a combination of sine waves, and so theory about the sine wave suffices. However, fashionable theory cleaves to "The Rolling Wave", where change of E causes H and change of H causes E. Now this idea of causality from change is plausible in a single sine wave, but ridiculous if as a result of summing many sine waves into a square pulse, E and H are not changing at a time when their changes are supposed to cause each other. Of course, this anomaly is a subset of the problem discussed in my article "Mathverse" at
http://www.ivorcatt.com/2613.htm .


Note 1.
Note that the lecturer in exhalted MIT draws the D (or E) field uniform across the plates of a capacitor. Like everyone else in power, he does not know that the electromagnetic signal approaches the capacitor from the south (energy current), and so cannot be uniform - particularly if he thinks that the only possible waveform is sinusoidal. The false assumption of uniform field in the capacitor undermines his mathematics.




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