Professor Robert Kiehn and Electricity


R. M. Kiehn

Emeritus Professor of Physics

University of Houston


This follows the talk by Forrest Bishop on the www yesterday 18 February 2012 at "Natural Philosophy Alliance" .

I trust this email is addressed to Professor Robert Kiehn via

It is important to gain as much benefit as possible from his role.

During Forrest’s talk yesterday, Professor Kiehn came up with some of the classic ripostes – Ivor Catt had not read the latest books on the subject, his version of classical electromagnetism was outdated, and so forth.

There is a suggestion that he was reacting to Forrest’s apparent assertion that electric charge does not exist. Certainly, during the discussion which followed, Robert Kiehn asked me to respond to various “experimental proofs” of the existence of the electron.

This raises the spectre that if Catt fails to refute experimental proof that the electron, or that electricity, exists, then all Catt’s work has no value (including for instance )

I would venture that Catt has never said that electricity, or the electron, does not exist. This may be because Catt is fully aware that should he make such assertion, all his work will be ignored. Perhaps all he says is that in its primary role it is not fit for purpose – the way a battery lights a lamp. "The Catt Question"

First we have to determine what is the pedigree of electricity, or the electron.

When I finally concluded that I would never again be able to publish in refereed journals, and so accredited experts would never again read what I wrote, I asked an elementary question about classical electromagnetism, "The Catt Question" .

The failure of the Great and the Good to answer that question satisfactorily means that we do not in fact have a classical theory, unless the way a battery lights a lamp is not the original ancestor of today’s electricity and electron. Perhaps I should rather say conventional electricity has no proper basis if it cannot help a battery to light a lamp. If it cannot help a battery to light a lamp, what is its primary role? Does a Primitive, for instance electricity or the electron, have to have a primary role? If it fails in one basic role, lighting a lamp, does it survive?

Note that Robert Kiehn asks me to address certain experimental proofs that the electron, or perhaps electricity, exists. This is countered by my asking how electricity lights a lamp. Is a proof that electricity exists the end of the problem, even if electricity cannot help a battery to light a lamp? Its offspring, Displacement Current, is also in difficulty in its primary role, that of creating magnetic field. [Note 1] This is presumably fine in a capacitor, but it must not create magnetic field when a voltage step travels at the speed of light along a transmission line, where dD/dt appears at the front face of the step, generating a horizontal magnetic field. . The essential feature of a TEM Wave is that it only has lateral (vertical) magnetic field, and no longitudinal (horizontal) field. See representations of the TEM step at ;   This has not been noticed because the only TEM Wave considered has been the sine wave. . The sine wave hopelessly obscures the fact that in a TEM Wave, Displacement Current must not generate magnetic field. It is also obscured by the “Rolling Wave” version of the TEM Wave, where E causes H causes E. . The false “Rolling Wave” is promoted by Feynman and Einstein. .

We reach the position where electric charge, electric current and displacement current cannot perform their traditional functions – which they were invented (or discovered) to perform. What then? We cannot resolve the problem by dismissing them as non-existent factors in electromagnetic theory, because then everything we say will be ignored. We must let them survive, limping along badly mauled. We may well find “In Some Corner of a Foreign Field” electricity and the electron doing a nice little job, not lying dead.

We very much need Professor Robert Kiehn to do two things; on the one hand answer "The Catt Question" and also tell us whether the displacement current in a TEM Step does or does not cause magnetic field , and on the other hand teach us the various proofs that the electron and electricity exist. My experience of the last 40 years tells me what he will do, but I hope he does not run true to form. [20 February 2014. Surprise, surprise! No answer from Kiehn.]


[Note 1]. David Tombe recently claimed that Maxwell did not invent Displacement Current in order to resolve a problem of the magnetic field around a capacitor. However, Heaviside said he did, and it is asserted by text books in the first half of the 20th century. See Wikipedia . (In the second half, the books become too obscure for interpretation.) Whatever the reason for its invention, Displacement Current is always supposed to generate a magnetic field. For more than a century, it has not been noticed that at the front face of a TEM step there is dD/dt and therefore there is displacement current, which must not destroy the pure TEM step by generating a forward (horizontal) magnetic field.


Ivor Catt   19 February 2012




From: Ivor Catt

Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2012 9:40 PM


Cc: "Greg Volk" ; "Forrest Bishop" ; ;

Subject: Answer to the Question Proposed By Ivor Catt

Dear Professor Robert Kiehn,

re the two hour www lecture by Forrest Bishop for “Natural Philosophy Alliance” today.

Saturday, February 18, 2012: 4 hours ago
Introduction to and Implications of Ivor Catt's TEM Wave Electrodynamics for
2 hours
Time: 07:00 AM - 09:00 AM (U.S. Pacific time)

Having worked in the field for fifty years, I have come up with more than one insight at more than one level – some complex, some blatant. Some of them do not depend on the validity of others of them. For instance, my comments on “self resonant frequency” are completely independent.

Thirty years ago, when (after 15 years of trying) I became convinced that I would no longer be able to publish in refereed journals as I had in the past , in 1982 I retreated to asking a very simple question about the classical theory which was being taught to 12 year olds throughout the world. It later came to be called “The Catt Question”. No professional with an established reputation in the field would make any comment, a situation which has continued for the next 30 years, except for two accredited experts [actually four 20/2/14] who were selected by their superiors and instructed to write to me. Each of them did this, but once only. They totally contradicted each other, and refused to do anything about it. (Third parties, not myself, asked them to do something about it.) Neither would their superiors. Neither would the relevant learned societies – The Royal Society, the IEEE and the IEE/IET. The IEE did venture the following; Also we note Secker 25oct95; "The reason that the Catt Anomaly [Question] has been around so long is that the 'experts' have not thought it of sufficient standing to take the trouble to demolish it!"” . It is most unfortunate that I called it an anomaly, losing a decade, until I changed the name to “The Catt Question”. . It is probably not possible to “demolish” a Question.

All of the above is within the framework of classical electromagnetism, based on what is taught to 12 year olds and undergraduates, or should be. There is nothing revolutionary about it. You appear to be inventing, or quoting, a revolutionary explanation of how a battery lights a lamp, which may or may not bear on my Question. Another member of npa introduces the photon into the story, which is revolutionary. That is, he appears to say that a battery uses photons to light a lamp. We also need clarification from him. When commenting on my work, the idea that photons are somehow involved is also broached by Ian Darney in Electronics World, December 2011, page 37, which unfortunately I do not seem to have put on the www yet.

What you said today was totally unclear to me. You appeared to move away from charge and current when a battery lights a lamp, which you said was “historical”. I think you say that, along with all those who have kept up to date (unlike me), the new theory involved Quantum this or that and also vector potential and scalar potential. It is important that you direct me to references which contain these (according to you) established up to date ideas, and also, if possible, give us a precis of the current state of the art yourself, on how a battery lights a lamp.

Ivor Catt


Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2012 6:52 PM


Cc: "Greg Volk" ; "Forrest Bishop" ;

Subject: Answer to the Question Proposed By Ivor Catt


I want to be sure that there is a follow up to the question proposed by Ivor Catt. How does the energy get from the battery to the lamp? Please could you explain physically how this takes place.

You made the assertion that charge exists and offered some statements in proof of this assertion. I didn't understand all of them. Since these were offered as criticisms, and since I would like to be able to see if these are serious and valid objections, I will need to have some more detail.

I did not understand the reasoning behind the moving electrons radiation question. Why is this a proof?

You mentioned a proof that involved placing objects between the plates of a capacitor. I didn’t follow this argument. Could you elaborate?

I am well aware of the current ideas in physics regarding the potentials. It is not clear to me why such ideas invalidate the old classical concepts of electric and magnetic fields. It would be nice to have a discussion of just how this model would be an improvement upon the classical methods of electrical engineers. So it would be really nice to have a explanation of the problem of power being sent down a transmission line in terms of potentials.

I hope that this will be a process in which we can learn something.






Sent: Monday, February 20, 2012 2:35 AM

To: ;

Cc: ; ; ; ;

Subject: Re: Answer to the Question Proposed By Ivor Catt

Dear Sir

As I find time I will respond to your questions in detail.


However, I suggest you download the free pdf file of my 4th monograph,

"Plasmas and Non-equilibrium Thermodynamics" from

1. Study Chapter 1 as an introduction to topological thermodynamics.


Study Chapter 2 where the topological notation is changed such that

topological thermodynamics becomes recognizable as Electromagnetism.

Maxwell's equations are deduced without regard to a choice of geometry,

metric, or coordinate systems.


Study Chapter 3 where non-equilibrium EM theory is compared to

equilibrium EM theory.


It is also demonstrated (in section 3.4.3) , how the system of partial differential

equations that define the wave equation, can be solved for singular solutions,

which not only satisfy the wave equation, but also satisfy the non-linear quadratic Eikonal equation.

These singular solutions are the solutions to the wave equation that are not sinusoidal waves.

Instead, the singular solutions, represent propagating step function discontinuities in E and B fields.

These discontinuities are what is meant by a signal.


Also check out section 3.5.3 where the concepts of TM TE and TEM solutions to the

Partial differential equation set described as the wave equation are defined.

Subsequently many examples are worked out (with solutions checked by Maple).


In chapter 4 after some discussions about equilibrium and non-equilibrium plasmas,

attention is turned to the production of many simple examples starting with 4.4.2 et seq.

Also consider the Eikonal theory details presented in CHAPTER 14.2

In the reference bibliography are more that 40 publications about ideas present in the volume 4

monograph. Most of them are available on line as well as in the journals

I will try to cover more of your "questions" but until you understand the concepts of the Eikonal

equation (applicable to discontinuities such as shock waves of both transverse and longitudinal

varieties, that appear in fluids as well as plasmas) I doubt that we will have a common ground.

[Here Kiehn has company. Sir Michael Pepper mentions

 plasma when discussing "The Catt Question" . See Pepper .]

I suggest you read at least the first 15 pages of "the Theory of Space Time and Gravitation" by V. Fock,

or "Electromagnetic Theory and Geometrical Optics" by Kline and Kay.

Regards, RMK

By the way I sent you an email with 4 or 5 textbooks that have discussions about the concept of Zo , the free space impedance.

In a message dated 2/19/2012 12:41:03 P.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

--- On Sun, 2/19/12, Ivor Catt <> wrote:

From: Ivor Catt <>
Subject: Re: Answer to the Question Proposed By Ivor Catt
Cc: ""Greg Volk"" <>, ""Forrest Bishop"" <>,,
Date: Sunday, February 19, 2012, 11:53 AM

Dear Professor Kiehen,

Ivor Catt



From: Greg Volk

Sent: Monday, February 20, 2012 3:14 AM

To: ; ;

Cc: ; ; ;

Subject: Re: Answer to the Question Proposed By Ivor Catt

Prof. Kiehn,

Thanks for the reply, and I look forward to your detailed answer, since I myself having been thinking about the question, “How does a battery light a lamp?”

Though I don’t quite see the direct relevance to Catt’s question, I do heartily recommend your work to anyone unfamiliar with it. Thanks.

Kind regards,



@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Kiehn; “ .... The electromagnetic system is a refinement of the thermodynamic system such as to include the concept of charge and currents. .... “


Where’s the beef?


We once had a cat which disliked certain food which we insisted on giving it. One day we came back to find it sitting at the opposite side of the room with a certain expression on its face. It had torn up pieces of paper and covered the disliked food with pieces of paper (admittedly with no maths written on them). Do people hate electromagnetic theory, or fear it, or what?


Here are examples of electromagnetic theory covered over in mathematics.'s_equations


There is mathematics, some of it quite complex, within real electromagnetic theory, as in , but it  has nothing to do with the conventional clutter force-fed to students.

A mathematical rake's progress .