17 Ionization



Electric charges are not confined to electrons. Units of the rotational vibration that constitutes electric charge may also be imparted to any other rotational combination, including atoms as well as other sub-atomic particles. The process of producing such charges is known as ionization, and electrically charged atoms or molecules are called ions. Like the electrons, atoms or molecules can be charged, or ionized, by any of a number of agencies, including radiation, thermal motion, other physical contact, etc. Essentially, the ionization process is simply a transfer of energy, and any kind of energy will serve the purpose if it is delivered to the right place and in the necessary concentration.

As indicated above, one of the sources from which the ionization energy can be derived is the thermal energy of the ionizable matter itself. We saw in Chapter 5 that the thermal motion is always directed outward. It therefore joins with ionization in opposition to the basic inward rotational motions of the atoms, and is to some degree interchangeable with ionization. The magnitude of the energy required to ionize matter varies with the structure of the atom and with the existing level of ionization. Each element therefore has a series of ionization levels corresponding to successive units of rotational vibration. When the thermal energy concentration (the temperature) of an aggregate reaches such a level the impacts to which the atoms are subjected are sufficiently energetic to cause some of the linear thermal motion to be transformed into rotational vibration, thus ionizing some of the atoms. Further rise in temperature results in ionization of additional atoms of the aggregate, and in additional ionization (more charges on the same atoms) of previously ionized matter.

Thermal ionization is only of minor importance in the terrestrial environment, but at the high temperatures prevailing in the sun and other stars, thermally ionized atoms, including positively* charged atoms of Division IV elements, are plentiful. The ionized condition is, in fact, normal at these temperatures, and at each of the stellar locations there is a general ionization level determined by the temperature. At the surface of the earth the electric ionization level is zero, and except for some special cases among the sub-atomic particles, any atom or particle that acquires a charge while in the gaseous state is in an unstable condition. It therefore eliminates the charge at the first opportunity. In some other region where the prevailing temperature corresponds to an ionization level of two units, for example, the doubly ionized state is the most stable condition, and any atoms that are above or below this degree of ionization tend to eliminate or acquire charges to the extent necessary to reach this stable level.

Since the rotational vibration that we know as ionization is basically a motion in opposition to the rotational motion of the atom, the ionization cannot exceed the net effective positive* displacement (the atomic number). In a region where the ionization level is very high, the heavier elements therefore have a considerably larger content of positive* displacement in the form of ionization at a given temperature than those of smaller mass. This point has an important bearing on the life cycle of the elements, and will be given further consideration later.

In the nuclear theory of atomic structure currently accepted by the physicists the atomic “nucleus” is surrounded by a number of electrons equal to the atomic number of the element. Ionization is viewed as a process of detaching electrons from the atom. On this basis, the maximum degree of ionization is attained when all electrons have been removed and only the bare nucleus remains. This is a plausible hypothesis, and, on first consideration, its plausibility would appear to be a point in favor of the nuclear theory. It should be realized, however, that any tenable theory of atomic structure will have essentially the same explanation of ionization, differing only in the language in which it is expressed. Such a theory must identify entities that are added to, or removed from, the atom as the atomic number increases. Successive addition or elimination of these entities then explains ionization. In the nuclear theory, which views the atom as a collection of particles, these entities are electrons. In the theory of the universe of motion, which finds the atom to be a combination of motions, they are units of rotational motion. Any other theory that might be formulated would necessarily have to identify some entity that could similarly be added or removed unit by unit. Thus the ionization process would be consistent with any theory. Consequently, it gives support to none.

In the terrestrial environment each ionization level of each element has a specific ionization potential that represents the amount of energy required in order to accomplish the ionization. It is currently assumed that these values are fixed natural relations and therefore constant for all environments. The theoretical status of this assumption in the context of the Reciprocal System of theory has not yet been clarified. It may well be valid throughout the gaseous state. However, the measured ionization levels are obviously not applicable to ionization in the condensed gas state, the state in which the gas molecules are within the equivalent of unit distance of each other. The physical relations in this state are very different from those in an ordinary gas, including reversal of all scalar directions. Thus all that we can now say about the ionization potential in this state is that each successive level of ionization must involve an increase in energy. As we will see in Volume III, the matter in most of the observed stars is in the condensed gas state.

The relation between temperature and the degree of ionization enables using the ionization, which can be observed spectroscopically, as a measure of the surface temperature of the stars. For example, below 12,000 K, helium is not ionized. At about 35,000 K it is mainly in the form of He II (singly ionized). At still higher temperatures it is doubly ionized (He III). Other elements have similar ionization patterns, and the mixture of ions observed in the spectrum of a star thus indicates the range of temperature at its surface. The O stars, which are in the range up to about 80,000 K are reported to contain N II, O II, C II, and Si III, as well as helium and hydrogen ions.

It should be understood, however, that this relation between ionization and temperature holds good only where the ionization is produced thermally. References are made in the astronomical literature to “ionization temperatures,” but these are merely the temperature equivalents of the ionization levels. Unless the ionization is thermally produced they do not indicate the actual temperature. The level of ionization is a reflection of the strength of the ionizing agency, whatever it may be. If that agency is the thermal energy, then the ionization is a measure of the temperature. But if the ionizing agency is radiation, the ionization level is a measure of the strength of the radiation, not the temperature.

In Volume III we will encounter the same kind of a misconception in dealing with the relation between temperature and the production of x-rays. When the x-rays are thermally produced, there is actually a relation between the x-ray emission and the temperature, but here, again, if the x-rays are produced by some other agency, the relation is between the x-ray emission and the strength of that other agency, and it is independent of the temperature. The importance of this point lies in the fact that the emission of x-rays is currently being treated as an indication of high temperature in cases where the nature of the x-ray production process is unknown; even in cases where the conditions are such that the temperatures necessary for thermal production of x-rays are impossible. Temperatures in the millions of degrees are inferred from x-ray observations in locations where the actual temperature level cannot be more than a few degrees above absolute zero.

“Temperature,” without a qualifying adjective, is a specifically defined concept, and it is temperature as thus defined that enters into the various thermal relations. The use of other kinds of “temperature” is entirely in order, providing that each is clearly defined, and is identified by an appropriate adjective, in an expression such as “ionization temperature.” In fact, we will introduce such an alternate kind of temperature, a magnetic temperature, in Chapter 24. But it should be recognized that these “temperatures” have their own sets of properties. The thermal relations do not apply to them. For example, the general gas law applies only to temperature in the usual (thermal) sense. This law is expressed as PV = RT, where P is the pressure, V is the volume, T is the temperature, and R is the gas constant. From this law it is apparent that a high temperature can be developed in a given volume of gas only under high pressure. In interstellar and intergalactic space the pressure acting on the extremely tenuous medium is near zero, and from the general gas law it is evident that the temperature must be at a correspondingly low level. The temperatures in the millions of degrees that are currently being reported from these regions are totally unrealistic, if they are intended to mean “temperature” in the thermal sense.

Some of the existing confusion in this area appears to be due to a failure to draw a clear distinction between the two types of vectorial motion in which the particles of a gas participate. These constituent particles share in the translational motion of a gaseous aggregate as a whole, and it is generally understood that this is not a thermal motion; that is, a fast-moving aggregate may be relatively cool. An atom or particle moving independently in space is subject to the same considerations. Its free translational motion has no thermal significance. The thermal motion is a product of containment. It is the directionally distributed random motion that results from the restriction of the motion to the volume within certain limits. The pressure is a measure of the containment. The temperature, the measure of the thermal motion, is therefore a function of the pressure, as indicated in the gas laws. High temperatures can only be attained under high pressures. If part, or all, of the gas in an aggregate escapes from confinement, its constituents move outward unidirectionally, and the thermal motion is converted to linear translational motion. The temperatures and pressures decrease accordingly.

The picture of the nature of electric charges and ionization that we derive from the postulates of the theory of the universe of motion is very different from the currently accepted explanation of these phenomena, which is an outgrowth of hypotheses formulated in the early days of electrical investigation on the basis of the limited amount of empirical information then available. The early investigators in this area identified negative* charges with electrons and positive* charges with atoms of matter. Meanwhile it was found that the atoms of certain elements undergo spontaneous disintegration in which electrons are emitted along with other products. On the basis of these empirical findings, the scientific community adopted the hypothesis previously mentioned in which positive* charges are attributed to an atomic “nucleus,” and negative* charges entirely to electrons. Positive* and negative* ionizations were then ascribed to deficiency or excess of electrons, respectively.

One disturbing feature of this explanation was the great disparity in the sizes of the units of the two entities that were identified as the carriers of the charges. The roles to be played by positive* and negative* charges in the theory were essentially reciprocal in nature, yet the presumed carrier of the positive* charge, the proton, has nearly two thousand times the mass of the negatively* charged particle, the electron. Physicists were therefore greatly relieved when the positive* analog of the electron, the positron, was discovered. It does not seem to be generally appreciated that this discovery, which restored the symmetry that we have come to expect in nature, has destroyed the foundations of the orthodox theory. It is now evident that the positive* charge is as much of a reality as the negative* charge; it is not merely an electron deficiency, as the theory contends.

While the discovery of the positron solved one of the symmetry problems, it produced another that has been even more troublesome. Inasmuch as the electron and the positron are inversely related, so far as we can tell, it would seem that they should appear in equal numbers. But positrons are scarce in our environment, whereas electrons are plentiful. Conventional science has no answer to this problem, other than mere speculations. From the theory of the universe of motion we find that the asymmetrical distribution of electrons and positrons, and of positive* and negative* charges in general, is not due to any inherent difference in the character of the motions that constitute the charges, but is a consequence of the fact that the net rotational displacement of the atoms of ordinary matter is in time; that is, it is positive. The charges acquired by these atoms in the ionization process are therefore positive*, except in the relatively few instances where negative* ionization is possible because of the existence of negative electric rotational displacement of the appropriate magnitude in the structures of certain atoms. The simple positively* charged sub-atomic particles, the positrons, are scarce in the vicinity of material atoms because their net rotational time displacement is compatible with the basic structure of the atoms, and they are readily absorbed on contact. The corresponding negatively* charged particles of the material system, the electrons, are abundant, as their space displacement is usable in the structures of the material atoms only to a very limited degree.

It is evident that both of the mechanisms discussed in the foregoing pages, the selective incorporation of the positrons into the structure of matter, which leaves a surplus of free electrons, and the ionization mechanism, which produces only positive* ions under high temperature conditions (where most of the ionization takes place), are incompatible with the existence of a law requiring absolute conservation of charge. This will no doubt disturb many individuals, because the conservation laws are generally regarded as firmly established basic physical principles. Some consideration of this issue will therefore be appropriate before moving on to other subject matter.

In conventional physical science the conservation laws are empirical. As expressed by one physicist:

We are in a curious situation. We know the conservation laws, but we do not know their underlying dynamic basis; that is, we do not know the kind of symmetries responsible for them.60

While the conservation laws have retained their original status as important fundamental principles of physics during the broad expansion of scientific knowledge that has taken place in the twentieth century, the general understanding of their nature has undergone a significant change. Any empirically based relation or conclusion is always subject to modification by reason of relevant new discoveries. This is what has happened to conservation. Originally, the law of conservation of energy, for instance, was thought to be inviolable. “No gain or loss of energy has ever been observed in an isolated system,” says a 1919 textbook.61 This statement is no longer true. Mass and energy, we have found, are interconvertible. Thus one can increase at the expense of the other. The content of a conservation law has therefore had to be redefined. As expressed by Eric M. Rogers,

In its present fullest form you may consider it [the conservation of energy] more than a generalization from experiment; it has expanded into a convention, an agreed scheme of energy now so defined that its total must, by definition, remain constant.62

It is now frequently stated that we should not speak of the conservation of mass or the conservation of energy, only the conservation of mass-energy. However, the conversion of one of these entities into the other occurs only under circumstances that, in the terrestrial environment, are quite exceptional, and the separate conservation laws are applicable under all ordinary circumstances. It would seem more appropriate, therefore, to state these laws individually, as in the past, and to qualify the statements in such a way as to limit the application of the laws to situations in which there is no conversion to or from a different form of motion.

These same considerations apply to electric charges. There is a wide range of physical activity in which the conservation of charge is maintained. Indeed, the currently prevailing view is that charge conservation is absolute, as indicated in the following statement:

The law of conservation of electric charge… states that… there is no way to alter, to the slightest degree, the total amount of electric charge in the world.63

Our finding is that all physical quantities with the dimensions t/s, including electric charge, are equivalent to, and, under appropriate conditions, interconvertible with kinetic energy. Thus while energy and charge are each conserved individually within a certain range of physical processes, there is a wider range of processes in which the quantity t/s is conserved, but changes occur in the magnitudes of the subsidiary quantities, such as charge or kinetic energy, because of conversion from one to another.

The law of conservation of electric charge is valid wherever no such conversion takes place, and it has persisted because most of the common electrical processes are of this nature. The observation that has been most influential in leading to the conclusion that charge conservation is absolute is the existence of processes in which positive* and negative* charges are created in pairs, and destroyed jointly. A unit negative* charge is a unit of outward scalar motion in time. A unit positive* charge is a unit of outward scalar motion in space. Since the two motions are oppositely directed from the natural zero point, a combination of the two units arrives at a net total motion (measured as energy or speed) of zero on the natural scale. Thus the creation or neutralization of such a pair of charges involves no change in the total net charge or energy. It is another instance of what we have called a zero energy process.

The induction process discussed in Chapter 16 is another example. As explained there, an external positive* charge induces a rotational vibration (charge) which is positive* relative to each of the atoms of the object subjected to the charge, and negative* relative to the mobile units of space (electrons) in which some of these atoms are located. The attractive and repulsive forces due to the external charge then cause each of the atom-electron combinations to separate into a pair of positively* and negatively* charged entities. It can be seen that this process does not alter the net amount of electric charge. An object (a combination of motions) with zero net rotational vibration (charge) separates into two components, the net total charge of which is zero.

However, it is also evident that these are processes of a special kind, and the fact that charge is conserved in such processes does not indicate that charge is always conserved. The best resolution of the conservation question appears to be to recognize that each of the conservation laws previously formulated is valid within certain limits, and therefore has a specific field of usefulness, but to state each of these laws in such a form that its applicability is restricted to the range of conditions in which no conversion from or to other forms of motion is involved.

While the foregoing is a significant limitation of the field of applicability of the charge conservation law, there is still a wide range of physical phenomena in which electric charge is conserved, as the processes that involve changes in the net total t/s in the form of electric charge are confined mainly to those that take place at very high temperatures, or very large kinetic energies.

One of the important areas in which charge is conserved is ionization in liquids. The molecules of a simple chemical compound such as hydrochloric acid (HCl), for example, consist of two components, in this case a hydrogen atom and a chlorine atom, oriented in the manner described in Volume I, and held together by the cohesive forces discussed in Chapter 1 of this volume. In the liquid state the molecules move independently, subject to the restrictions imposed by the nature of this state of matter. The effective rotation of the hydrogen atom, as oriented in HCl, is positive, while that of the chlorine atom is negative. These components of the molecule are therefore capable of taking positive* and negative* charges respectively, if they separate.

The molecules in a liquid aggregate are in constant motion, and collisions are frequent. A certain percentage of these collisions, depending on the temperature, are energetic enough to break the bonds between the molecular components and separate each molecule into two parts. Ordinarily these parts recombine promptly, but if the atom is located in a unit of electron space, the collision imparts a rotational vibration to each of the components. (As noted in Chapter 13, such rotational vibrations, electric charges, are easily produced in contacts of various kinds.) This rotational vibration is a positive* motion of the hydrogen atom relative to the associated electron space, and a negative* motion of the electron relative to the chlorine atom. The generation of the charges is thus a zero energy process, and it does not add to the energy of the system.

The HCl molecule has now become a H+ molecule, an ion, and a Cl atom associated with a charged electron, a Cl- ion, we may say. The charges on these new molecules, or ions, balance the valences of their associated atoms, and the ions are therefore stable in the same sense as the original HCl molecules, except that there is a rather strong tendency toward recombination that limits the net amount of ionization.

Let us now turn to an examination of the effects that are produced when a voltage is applied in such a way as to cause a voltage gradient in a liquid that is, to some extent, ionized. This is accomplished by inserting two electrical conductors, or electrodes, into the liquid, and connecting them through a source of current so that electrons are withdrawn from the positive* electrode, the anode, and forced into the negative* electrode, the cathode. Liquids such as HCl are not conductors of electricity, in the sense in which this term is applied to metals; that is, they do not permit free movement of electrons. However, the introduction of a voltage differential causes a movement of the ions in the ionized liquid.

As we saw in Chapter 15, this voltage differential forces some of the electrons at the cathode out into the spatial equivalent of time, and withdraws a similar number of electrons from the spatial equivalent of time at the anode. Some of the contacts with liquid molecules are sufficiently energetic to impart charges to electrons in the vicinity of the cathode. Thus a quantity of negative* charge accumulates in the liquid in this vicinity, a process known as polarization.

At the anode, the withdrawal of electrons leaves a deficiency of electrons, relative to the equilibrium concentration. This leads to a break-up of some of the neutral combinations of positive* atoms and negative* electrons. The electrons thus released are absorbed into the electron “vacuum,” losing their charges in the process. This leaves a surplus of positively* charged ions; that is, the region in the vicinity of the anode is positively* polarized.

As a result of the polarization, the positive* and negative* ions are attracted to the cathode and anode respectively by the electric forces between unlike charges. The positive* ions (such as H+) arriving at the cathode neutralize negatively* charged electrons, and withdraw them from the electron concentration in equivalent space. These are replaced by electrons drawn from the cathode. Additional electrons then acquire charges by the collision process to restore the polarization equilibrium in the liquid surrounding the cathode. Meanwhile the negative* ions (such as Cl-) arriving at the anode neutralize positive* charges in the vicinity of that electrode, and release electrons, which are drawn into the anode to restore the polarization equilibrium.

The loss of electrons from the cathode and acquisition of electrons by the anode in the process that has been described creates a voltage difference between the two electrodes, in addition to that supplied by the external voltage source. A current therefore flows from the anode to the cathode through the metallic conductor to restore the equilibrium condition. This current persists as long as the ions continue to move through the liquid.

The proportion of the total number of molecules that will be ionized in a particular liquid under specified conditions is a probability function, the value of which depends on a number of factors, including the strength of the chemical bond, the nature of the other substances present in the liquid, the temperature, etc. Where the bond is strong, as in the organic compounds, the molecules often do not ionize at all within the range of temperature in which the substance is liquid. Substances such as the metals, in which the atoms are joined by positive bonds, likewise cannot be ionized in the liquid state, since the zero energy ionization process depends on the existence of a positive*-negative* combination.

The presence or absence of ions in the liquid is an important factor in many physical and chemical phenomena, and for that reason chemical compounds are often classified on the basis of their behavior in this respect as polar or non-polar, electrolytes or non-electrolytes, etc. This distinction is not as fundamental as it might appear, as the difference in behavior is merely a reflection of the relative bond strength: whether it is greater or less than the amount necessary to prevent ionization. The position of organic compounds in general as non-electrolytes is primarily due to the extra strength of the two-dimensional bonds characteristic of these compounds. It is worth noting in this connection that organic compounds such as the acids, which have one atom or group less strongly attached than is normal in the organic division, are frequently subject to an appreciable degree of ionization.

Ionization of a liquid is not a process that continues to completion; it is a dynamic equilibrium similar to that which exists between liquid and vapor. The electric force of attraction between unlike ions is always present, and if an ion encounters one of the opposite polarity at a time when its thermal energy is below the ionizing level, recombination will occur. This elimination of ions is offset by the ionization of additional molecules whose energy reaches the ionizing level. If conditions are stable. an equilibrium is reached at a point where the rate of formation of new ions is equal to the rate of recombination.

The conventional explanation of the ionization process is that it consists of a transfer of electrons from one atom, or group of atoms, to another, thus causing a deficiency of electrons, identified as a positive* charge, in one of the participants, and an excess of electrons, identified as a negative* charge, in the other. In the electrolytic process, the negative ions are assumed to carry electrons to the anode, where they leave the ions, enter the conductor, and flow through the external circuit to the cathode. Here they encounter the positive* ions that have been drawn to this electrode, and the charges are neutralized, restoring the electrical balance.

This is a simple and plausible explanation. It is not surprising, therefore, that it has met with widespread acceptance. Like many another attractive, but erroneous, hypothesis, however, its net effect has been to direct physical thinking into unproductive channels. In fact, this interpretation of the electrolytic process is one of the major influences contributing to the belief that the electric current is a movement of charges, one of the basic errors of present-day electrical theory.

Since negative* charges clearly do move through the electrolyte to the anode, there is, on first consideration, an analogy with the metallic circuit, and discussions of electrolysis habitually refer to “passing a direct current through an electrolytic solution.” If there actually were a continuous flow around the circuit, and if the moving units could be identified as negative* charges in one segment of that circuit, it would be reasonable to assume that the moving units in the remainder of the circuit are also charges. But this argument is wholly dependent on the continuity, and that continuity clearly does not exist. The electrolytic process is not a simple flow of current around the circuit; it is a more complex series of events in which both positive* and negative* charges originate in the solution and move in opposite directions to the electrodes. This means that electrolytic conduction has to be explained independently of metallic conduction, and it eliminates most of the support that the electrolytic process has been presumed to give to the conventional theory of the electric current.

The final topic for consideration in this chapter is the overall limit on the magnitude of the combined thermal and ionization energy. As pointed out earlier, the thermal energy must reach a certain level, which depends on the characteristics of the atoms involved, before thermal ionization is possible. After this level is reached, an equilibrium is established between the temperature and the degree of ionization. A further increase in the temperature of an aggregate causes both the linear speed displacement (particle speed) and the charge displacement (ionization) to increase, up to the point at which all of the elements in the aggregate are fully ionized; that is, they have the maximum number of positive* charges that they are capable of acquiring. Beyond this point of maximum ionization a further increase in the temperature affects only the particle speeds. Ultimately the total of the outward displacements (ionization and thermal) reaches equality with one of the inward magnetic rotational displacement units of the atom. The inverse speed displacements then cancel each other, and the rotational motions that are involved revert to the linear status. At this point the material aggregate has reached what we may call a destructive limit.

There have been many instances in the preceding pages in which a limiting magnitude of the particular physical quantity under consideration has been shown to exist. We have just seen that the number of units of electric ionization of an atom is limited to the net equivalent number of units of effective electric rotational displacement. For example, the element magnesium, which has the equivalent of 12 net effective electric rotational displacement units, can take 12 units of electric vibrational displacement (ionization), but no more. Similarly, we found that the maximum rotational base of the thermal vibration in the solid state is the primary magnetic rotation of the atom. Most of the limits thus far encountered have been of this type, which we may designate as non-destructive limits. When such a limit is reached, further increase of this particular quantity is prevented, but there is no other effect.

We are now dealing with a quantity, the total outward speed displacement, which is subject to a different kind of a limit, a destructive limit. The essential difference between the two stems from the fact that the non-destructive limits merely define the extent to which certain kinds of additions to, or modifications of, the constituent motions of the atoms can be carried. Reaching the electric ionization limit only means that no more units of positive* electric charge can be added to the atom; it does not, in any way, imperil the existence of the atom. On the other hand, a limit that represents the attainment of equality with a basic motion of the atom has a deeper significance. Here it should be remembered that rotation is not a property of the scalar motion itself; it is a property of the coupling of the motion to the reference system. For example, the basic constituent of the uncharged electron is a unit of inward scalar motion in space. This motion per se has no properties other than the unit inward magnitude, but it is coupled to the reference system in such a way that it becomes a rotation, in the context of that system, retaining its inward scalar direction. When the electron is charged, the coupling is so modified that an oppositely directed rotational vibration is superimposed on the rotation. The charged positron is a unit inward motion in time, similarly coupled to the reference system.

When brought into proximity, a charged electron and a charged positron are attracted toward each other by the electrical forces. When they make contact, the two rotational vibrations of equal magnitude and opposite polarity cancel each other. The oppositely directed unit rotations do likewise. This eliminates all aspects of the coupling of the motion to the reference system other than the reference point, reducing the particles to radiation, and bringing them to rest in the natural reference system. As seen in the spatial reference system, they become two photons moving outward in opposite directions from the point in the reference system at which the neutralization took place.

This neutralization, or “annihilation,” process becomes more difficult to accomplish as the particles increase in size and complexity, and takes place on a significant scale only in the sub-atomic range. However, full units of the magnetic rotation of the atom units of inward rotational speed displacement can be neutralized by combination with outward displacements of equal magnitude. The outward motions available for this purpose are ionization and thermal motion. When the total displacement of these motions reaches equality with that of a full unit of the magnetic rotation of an atom, or any full unit of that rotation, the existence of the rotational unit terminates, and its speed displacement reverts to the linear basis (radiation or kinetic energy).

As we saw earlier, the thermal ionization level is related to the temperature. The total outward speed displacement at which neutralization occurs is therefore reached at a specific temperature, a destructive temperature limit. Full ionization is attained at a level far below this limiting temperature. Inasmuch as it is the total outward displacement that enters into the neutralization process, rather than the thermal motion alone, the temperature of the destructive limit of an element depends on its atomic number. The heavier elements have more displacement in the form of ionization when all are fully ionized, and these elements therefore reach the same total displacement at lower temperatures.

When the temperature of an aggregate arrives at the destructive limit of the heaviest element present, this element reduces to one with less magnetic (two-dimensional) rotation, the difference in mass, t3/s3, being converted to its one-dimensional equivalent, energy, t/s. As the rise in temperature continues, one after another or the elements meets the same fate in the order of decreasing atomic number.

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