Oliver Heaviside’s Energy Current.

What makes Heaviside so important is his concept of “Energy Current”, which he only mentioned twice in his five books. This excludes his earlier use of the term when he had not fully developed it.

The energy current that I refer to is the electromagnetic energy which has a sideways dimension E, a sideways dimension H at right angles to E, and a forward velocity c at right angles to both. Central to my work is the energy current travelling in the space between two parallel conductors. http://www.ivorcatt.co.uk/cattq.htm

In 1960 the two experts in the world on Heaviside were Gossick in Kentucky and H J Josephs in England. I interviewed Gossick once in Kentucky for three hours, and spent a lot of time with Josephs, perhaps a total of six hours, and sometimes taped my interviews. My co-author Malcolm Davidson also interviewed Josephs. Gossick is now dead, and Josephs will surely be dead. Our primary objectives were to find out whether Gossick or Josephs had noticed Heaviside’s crucial concept of energy current, and they had not. Also, they had no inkling of “Theory C”. http://www.ivorcatt.co.uk/2608.htm ; http://www.ivorcatt.com/2_4.htm . Nahim wrote probably the first biography of Heaviside, except for the Searle-Catt biography; http://www.forrestbishop.4t.com/OHM/Heaviside_the_Man.htm . Nahin did not notice Heaviside’s “Energy Current”.

“Energy Current” as a concept does not bring us to our next destination, which I have called “The Heaviside Signal”, where E and H coexist in the same way as the width of a brick and its height exist, and do not interact. Even Heaviside toyed with the other, fashionable version of the TEM Wave, which I have called “The Rolling Wave”.


Heaviside vacillated between the two views, the rolling wave and the Heaviside signal. He always applauded the idea of displacement current, which appears to put him on the side of the rolling wave. Further, on page 6, art. 453 of volume 3 of his “Electromagnetic Theory”, when he says that the curl of E, not E itself, is the real source of the waves, he is again arguing for the rolling wave. Curliness is obviously a bid for shear, vorticular forces, a concept intrinsic to the rolling wave. However, elsewhere he seems to stand firmly for the Heaviside signal. For instance  (  in volume 3 of his “Electromagnetic Theory”, art. 451, page 6), he says, “It carries all its properties with it unchanged,” which is a clear statement of the Heaviside signal. Heaviside mentions the slab elsewhere in his writings. One does not conceive of slabs rolling, or generating shear forces or stresses. Almost by definition, a slab, like a slab of heavy granite, moves forward unchanged at constant velocity.

Today, all thought is in the hands of “The Rolling Wave”. This includes Feynman and Einstein.


Every change of an electric field produces a magnetic field; every change of this magnetic field produces an electric field

The reason why all professors and text book writers have “The Rolling Wave” is that in their hearts they do not accept Newton’s First Law of Motion; “A body continues in its state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by forces.” Their core view is that everything which moves must have something which caused it to move, and continues to cause it to move. Then what is H caused by? It must be caused by changing E. And vice versa, E is caused by changing H. The relative phases of E and H must be, preferably not known, or at least ignored. This is because since the truth is that E and H exist in fixed proportion 377 at every point, they must be in phase. http://www.ivorcatt.com/2613.htm . So it has to be that changing E causes, not H, but changing H, which is not how Feynman and Einstein think about it.

Heaviside’s great contribution was announced with his phrase; “We reverse this .... .... “

The answer lies hidden in Heaviside's magnificent, regal statement, "We reverse this." http://www.electromagnetism.demon.co.uk/z014.htm .  In his Electrical Papers, vol. 1, 1892, page 438, Heaviside wrote;

Now, in Maxwell's theory there is the potential energy of the displacement produced in the dielectric parts by the electric force, and there is the kinetic or magnetic energy of the magnetic force in all parts of the field, including the conducting parts. They are supposed to be set up by the current in the wire. We reverse this; the current in the wire is set up by the energy transmitted through the medium around it….

So Heaviside made two giant steps forward. Firstly, “We reverse this”; the field causes the current, not the other way round. Secondly, “It carries all its properties with it unchanged”. His is also a third contribution, the concept of “Energy Current” as opposed to electric current. The Poynting Vector, Energy Current, travels forward unchanged at the speed of light for the medium. As, nothing makes it continue on its journey, just as Newton’s First Law of Motion tells us that nothing causes a planet or the earth to continue on its journey. It is in the nature of the earth or a TEM Wave to do so.


The next step was taken a century later than Heaviside’s “We reverse this .... ”. The next step, by Catt in 1976, is Theory C; “When a battery is connected to a lamp by two wires and the lamp lights, electric current is not involved.” http://www.ivorcatt.com/2_4.htm ; http://www.ivorcatt.co.uk/2608.htm . Theory C is a very narrow theory. Theory C does not say that electric charge does not exist. That would be a much broader theory. Theory C is limited to saying that in its primary role, of helping a battery to light a lamp, electric current is not involved.


Theory C is a natural implication of Heaviside’s Theory H, “We reverse this .... ”. If the field causes the electric current, it is easy to see the field delivering the energy directly to the lamp without the involvement of the electric current. The field, the Poynting Vector, has the right dimensions for energy.


Light from the sun is the Poynting Vector. The sun delivers heat to us via the Poynting Vector, and no electric current is involved. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poynting_vector

Ivor Catt, 4 April 2015.


A comment


With regard to the Catt Question and my opinion;


I believe that the 'Catt Question' introduces concern with regard to classical EM theory in an interesting, conceptual and understanding way. It to me, asks questions of the physical interpretation and understanding of the theory. On the other hand, I have to acknowledge and also believe that the essence of the formulation and calculation of classical EM is theoretically sound to a good degree in the macroscopic sense, as that can be verified through empirical methods. The theory as a whole has much success in predicting measurable phenomena which have indeed been verified on countless occasions, however, there is always more to explore and different angles to view physical phenomena from.


 Many apologies for not contacting you last night, I was not as available as I thought I might be yesterday. – CS,  6 April 2014