As brought out in Chapter IX, the addition of thermal or other translational motion to the compound units shown on Chart B. atoms and sub-atomic particles, gives these units some new behavior characteristics and a whole new set of properties—thermal and mechanical—emerges. But the nature of the changes that occur when the atom or particle acquires a translational motion is, in a sense, rather superficial, and the unit is still customarily regarded as the same kind of an entity whether or not it possesses motion of this kind. An atom in motion is simply a moving atom; it is not given any new name.
This is true of translational motion in general. It does not modify the behavior of the unit to which it is applied enough to justify considering the unit in motion as a unit of a different kind. In expanding Chart B we will therefore omit any reference to addition of translational motion. There is, however, a second kind of rotational motion which can be superimposed on the compound units previously discussed, and which will modify the properties of those units to such a degree that the products may be considered as belonging in a new category or, at least, a new subdivision of the original category. The motion which produces these results is rotational motion that periodically reverses direction; that is, rotational vibration.
Motion of this type plays only a relatively minor role in our ordinary experience. The escapement of a watch is an example with which we are all familiar, and many other mechanical devices include parts with a “rocking” motion of one kind or another but, in general, there is not enough difference between rotational and linear oscillations in such applications to justify making any special distinction between the two. At the level of atoms and particles, however, the effects of a rotational vibration are altogether different from those of a linear vibration. The reason is that the atom or particle is basically a rotating unit. The result of adding linear translation or vibration, motion of a different nature, is to move the rotating unit, but rotational vibration is motion of the same kind as that which constitutes the basic structure of the unit to which it is applied, hence the result of adding rotational vibration is to modify the rotating unit.
In the detailed study of the rotational motion of the atoms of matter previously published it was shown that the three-dimensional rotation actually consists of a two-dimensional rotation and an oppositely directed one-dimensional rotation. The rotational vibration, which must necessarily oppose the rotation, may therefore be either one-dimensional or two-dimensional. The one-dimensional rotational vibration that exists in the theoretical RS universe can be identified with the physical phenomenon known as an electric charge. Such charges are easily produced in almost any kind of matter or subatomic particle and can be detached from these units with equal ease. In a low temperature environment such as that on the surface of the earth the electric charge therefore plays the part of a temporary appendage to the relatively permanent systems of rotating motion.
This view of the role of the electric charge in the physical universe which we derive by development of the consequences of the postulates of the Reciprocal System is, of course, a far cry from the prevailing opinion at present, which regards the charge as the very essence of all material things. “Almost all the phenomena we see around us in nature are based upon electric forces and their effects,”112 we are told.
But the amazing thing about this extraordinary glorification of the electric charge is that when we inquire into the particulars of the commanding position which the charge is supposed to occupy, we find that all of the really significant functions ascribed to the electric charge are those of hypothetical charges which cannot be detected by any direct means and which, if they exist as postulated, can exist only in defiance of the physical laws that the observed charges follow unfailingly. The electric charges that are known to exist participate in some interesting and important phenomena, to be sure, but not anything of a basic nature. Even the author of the statement quoted in the preceding paragraph admits, almost in the same breath, that we cannot detect any major effects of electric forces by direct observation. We find them only in theory. It is the purely hypothetical charges that are supposed to determine the structure of the atom; it is the purely hypothetical charges that are supposed to account for the cohesion of solids and liquids; and it is the purely hypothetical charges that are supposed to constitute the electric current.
In no case is there any tangible evidence of the presence of these postulated charges. The atom is electrically neutral, so far as we can determine; the solid aggregate is unquestionably neutral and, except for minor and incidental effects, a conductor carrying a current is likewise neutral. In order to give the charge hypothesis any plausibility at all it is necessary to explain the observed neutral conditions by the assumption that there are equal numbers of positive and negative charges present in the atom, in the solid, and in the conductor, and that the effects of these oppositely directed charges neutralize each other, although observation of the known charges shows that when charges of opposite polarity are brought into close proximity they do not neutralize each other’s effects, they destroy each other.
Furthermore, there is additional evidence available in each case to further strengthen the conclusion that naturally follows from the foregoing: the conclusion that the hypothetical charges are nonexistent. As pointed out in the preceding chapter, an electric current can easily be distinguished from a flow of static charges, and since the latter are known to be charged particles, this establishes a prima facie case in favor of the contention that the mobile units which constitute the electric current are not charged particles. The conflicts between the nuclear atom theory and established physical principles are notorious, and almost every behavior characteristic of the known electric charge must be repudiated in order to entertain the hypothesis that the atom is constructed of charged particles. The electrical theory of solid and liquid cohesion is an even more astonishing collection of contradictions and inconsistencies, many of which have been discussed earlier in this volume or in preceding volumes of this series.
On considering this situation as it now stands, without taking the historical development into account, it seems incredible that a hypothetical system so internally inconsistent and so definitely in conflict with known facts and established physical principles should be so generally accepted by the scientific community. If we ask the specific question, Do these hypothetical charges actually exist?, the answer on the basis of the evidence now available must necessarily be a resounding No! Strenuous efforts by successive generations of physicists have produced some impressive mathematical correlations between theory and experiment, it is true, but, as emphasized in Chapter III, mathematical agreement is no guarantee of conceptual validity, and these mathematical successes do not in any way offset the miserable performance of the charge hypothesis from the conceptual standpoint.
Why, then, has this hypothesis achieved such virtually unanimous acceptance, not only in one, but in all three of these applications? Some of the items that were discussed earlier in this presentation, such as lack of recognition of the limitations of mathematical methods, failure to realize that it is the shortcomings of a theory rather than its good points that render the ultimate verdict on its validity, and the like, must take their share of the blame, but the principal reason why the negative answer to the question as to the validity of the charge hypothesis has not appeared is that the question itself has not been asked. What has happened is that the physicists have been unable to find any other force capable of producing the observed effects and consequently the electrical hypothesis has never been seriously challenged. As the physicists see the picture, the choice is between electrical, magnetic, and gravitational forces. The gravitational force is too weak, and there are a number of reasons why magnetism must be ruled out. It has seemed, therefore, that the observed phenomena must be attributed to electrical charges, notwithstanding the many indications to the contrary. Consequently, the contradictions and inconsistencies that are so common in existing theory are not currently regarded as casting any doubt upon the validity of the electrical theory per se, but merely as defects in the formulation of the theory which presumably will be corrected item by item as scientific knowledge advances.
The emergence of a new theoretical system in which electric charges play no part at all in any of the three phenomena discussed in the preceding paragraphs—the structure of the atom, the new theory of which was presented in Chapters VI and VII, the electric current (Chapter XI) and the cohesion of solids and liquids (Chapter IX)—now places the whole situation in an entirely different light. The question now becomes, Which of these theories, the electrical or the non-electrical, is supported by the evidence from experiment and observation? Once this question is asked and the issue is squarely faced, there can be no doubt as to the answer. There is no direct evidence indicating that electric charges take part in these phenomena—any conclusion to that effect is merely inference or supposition based on indirect considerations—whereas there is much direct evidence to the contrary.
However reluctant the scientific profession may be to discard a theory (or more accurately, three separate theories, since the three applications which we have been discussing have no common denominator other than the hypothetical electric charge on which all are based) that is so far-reaching and that represents so much time and effort on the part of so many people, this theory is no longer tenable. The only real justification for retaining it after its foundations were destroyed by advances in experimental knowledge has been the lack of any alternative, and when such an alternative appears, as it now has, this justification automatically vanishes.
In beginning a survey of the principal characteristics and effects of electric charges as they exist in the theoretical RS universe, and hence, because of the demonstrated identity between the RS universe and the actual physical universe, exist in the latter as well, we note first that these charges are particularly easy to produce in the subatomic particles that rotate in only one dimension—the electron and the positron—and these particles are therefore the most familiar kind of charged objects. The association of “electron“, and “charge” in scientific thought has, in fact, been so close that existing physical and chemical theory has been developed on the assumption that the common negative charge rests solely in the electron and that any such charge that may be observed in any other body is due to the presence of electrons within that body. Even the positive charges on atoms or atomic groups are explained on the assumption that the neutral atom or group possesses a specific number of electrons and that it is a deficiency in this number due to loss of one or more electrons that manifests itself as a positive electric charge.
The relatively recent discovery of the positron, a particle identical with the electron except in polarity, has struck a devastating blow at the foundations of this hypothesis. Physicists are understandably reluctant to recognize the havoc that this discovery has caused in their theories and they are making every effort to reconcile the positron with existing ideas in one way or another. One current hypothesis, for instance, is that this particle constitutes a “hole” in the general space-time structure. But such hypotheses as this are actually nothing more than alternate ways of expressing the observed fact that the positron is simply the mirror image of the electron. Unless some sound theoretical basis for a distinction between the two can be produced, it is evident that the positron should have the same sort of properties as the electron, and the great differences between the two that are disclosed by observation therefore constitute an anomaly for which present-day theory has no explanation.
Prior to the discovery of the positron it had been understood that the positive counterpart of the negative charge of the observed electron was the positive charge on the “proton,” an entity defined as the “nucleus” of the hydrogen atom, and there was a great deal of speculation as to the reason for the lack of symmetry between the proton and the electron, speculation which is now seen to have been meaningless, since these are actually entities of a quite different character and there is no reason why they should be symmetrical. But even though this point has been clarified, the original erroneous concept of the relation of proton to electron still survives in the nuclear theory of the atom.
The observed is a hydrogen atom carrying a positive electric charge equal in magnitude to the negative charge on the electron. The observations give us no indication, however, as to whether the proton is formed by the addition of a positive charge to the hydrogen atom or by removal of a negative charge from that atom. When the nuclear theory was originally formulated the only mobile charges that were known were negative, and hence the removal hypothesis was the natural one at that time. Discovery of the positron has destroyed the force of the original argument and it is now evident that the identification of the observed proton as the “nucleus” of the hydrogen atom is purely hypothetical. Development of the Reciprocal System goes a step farther and shows that this hypothesis is erroneous.
In the RS universe the electron is an uncharged particle with a displacement in space. It is capable of acquiring a rotational vibration, or charge, in time: a negative charge, as customarily designated. The positron is an uncharged particle with a displacement in time, and is therefore capable of acquiring a rotational vibration, or charge, in space: a positive charge. The atom—any material atom—is an uncharged compound system of motions with a net displacement in time, hence, like the positron, it is capable of acquiring a rotational vibration, or charge, in space: a positive charge.
The charge on the atom is a motion of the atom, not something that results from attachment or detachment of mobile charges. A proton is not a “hydrogen nucleus“; it is a hydrogen atom with an added vibrational motion. An alpha particle is not a “helium nucleus“; it is a helium atom with two units of charge; that is, two units of rotational vibration. A sodium ion is not a sodium atom that has lost an electron; it is a sodium atom with an added vibrational motion, all charges originate in exactly the same manner that the charge on the electron originates: by addition of a rotational vibration to an existing rotational motion of the opposite space-time direction.
The lack of symmetry between the properties of positive and negative charges in the material universe is not due to anything inherent in the charges, but to the nature of matter. Positrons are rare in the material environment because in the uncharged state they are single units of time displacement and, as such, are readily absorbed into the structure of the material atoms, whereas the ability of these atoms to utilize electrons is severely limited. Positive ions, however, are more common than negative ions, particularly if we consider the material universe as a whole, because an atom of any element can acquire a positive charge, since the net rotational displacement of any material atom is in time, but only a relatively small number of elements can form negative ions, as only a few of them have the one-dimensional rotational space displacement that is necessary for the acquisition of a negative charge.
Mechanical principles indicate that in order to produce a rotational motion, either unidirectional or vibratory, by means of linear forces, a force couple is necessary. Where the couple is provided by interaction between an electron and an atom of a solid conductor, the atom is not as readily moved as the electron and it may or may not acquire a charge, depending on the circumstances. Where the couple is provided by interaction between two atoms or small atomic groups, as in a liquid or gas, both of the interacting units are free to rotate and are approximately equal in size, hence both acquire charges. The directions of these charges are opposite, and at low ionization levels liquid or gaseous ions are therefore usually produced as ion pairs.
Although gaseous ions are more important in the universe as a whole—most of the gaseous matter in the stars and much of that in inter-stellar space is ionized—liquid ionization is a familiar feature of our local environment, and observation of ionization and related processes in solutions has furnished the background, unfortunately an erroneous background, for a large part of present-day atomic and electrical theory. The most serious mistake that was made in the interpretation of these observations was to conclude that ionization is a process of separation of the molecule into previously existing charged components. Like the equally erroneous conclusion that charges in general are due to excess or deficiency of electrons, this was a reasonable supposition in the light of the limited amount of knowledge about ionization and related phenomena that existed at the time, but the consequences of an error are none the less serious if the error is excusable.
The key piece of information that was lacking when the basic ideas in this area were being formulated is the fact that electric charges are easily created and easily destroyed. Today the assertion that the electrons, which emanate from a disintegrating atom, were not present as such in the intact atom but were created in the process of disintegration is accepted without demur, since the creation of such particles is now commonplace. But such an idea was wholly foreign to the thinking of Faraday and his contemporaries, and they felt perfectly safe in assuming that if electrons emanate from a radioactive atom they must have been present in the original atom, and similarly that if a molecule separates into ions in solution, it must have existed as an association of such ions before solution took place. The emergence of a new physical theory now brings into focus a point which, by this time, should have been recognized in any event; that is, the advance of experimental knowledge has dealt just as harshly with the nineteenth century theory of ionization as with the nineteenth century theory of radioactive disintegration. In both cases it is now clear that the charges have no prior existence; they are created in the process.
Identification of the process of solution as the point at which the charges are created eliminates the major problems that confront existing theory. One important point is that it provides an agency, the thermal energy of the liquid, that is adequate to account for the action which takes place. As pointed out in Chapter VIII, the currently accepted electrical theory of the cohesion of matter is singularly lacking in plausible explanations for the processes which it postulates, and one of the issues on which this theory is particularly vague and confused is how the ions originate in the first place.
There has been an attempt to devise an explanation based on a hypothetical tendency for the atoms to assume a structure similar to that of the inert gases; that is, it is postulated that chlorine which, according to the electrical theory, has 17 orbital electrons, tends to gain another in order to attain the argon value 18, whereas sodium, which is presumed to contain 11 such electrons, tends to eject one in order to reach the neon value 10. This hypothesis has a ring of plausibility as long as we confine our attention to compounds of the NaCl type, but these are relatively few in number, and as soon as we turn to other kinds of compounds the theory breaks down. The hypothetical loss of two electrons from the positive components of FeCl2, CuCl2, or ZnCl2, for instance, leaves us with 25, 27, and 28 electrons respectively, none of which is anywhere near the inert gas values 18 or 36. To get around this difficulty the theorists have executed one of the most amazing scientific maneuvers ever recorded.
In order to appreciate just what has taken place, let us bear in mind that the basic premise of the electrical theory, or electronic theory, as it is now more often called, because of the change in thinking that we are now discussing, is that the cohesion of solids and liquids is due to the electrostatic forces between oppositely charged components of these structures. When this basic premise is accepted it then becomes necessary to find some explanation of the origin of the charges, inasmuch as the atoms of matter, in their normal states, are not charged. The concept of gain or loss of electrons by virtue of a hypothetical tendency to attain the inert gas (or some other particularly stable) electronic pattern was invented for this purpose. It is thus what we may call an auxiliary premise, one which is not directly involved in the cohesion hypothesis, but is directed at a collateral issue raised by that hypothesis. The electronic pattern does not explain the cohesion; it merely offers an explanation of the origin of the hypothetical ions whose electrostatic attraction is assumed to account for the cohesive force.
But somewhere along the line the theorists have lost sight of their objective. They have forgotten that the electronic pattern is only a means to an end—to provide some justification for the hypothesis that a solid aggregate is composed of positively and negatively charged constituents—and they have come to look upon the electronic pattern as an end in itself. Then, since the original objective imposed some restrictions on the kind of assumptions that could be made concerning the electronic pattern and interfered with free exercise of the imagination in fitting that pattern to the observed behavior of matter they have blithely jettisoned their original premise, and now explain most compounds by the concepts of “covalent bonds”, “hydrogen bonds,” etc., which provide no oppositely charged components. “It is apparent,” says a textbook, “that covalence cannot properly be classified as positive or negative.”113 This is equivalent to removing the first floor of a building and leaving the second floor suspended in air.
The need for any such weird procedures is automatically eliminated by the new theoretical system, which provides a single mechanism of universal applicability to account for the cohesion of all solids and liquids, and another mechanism of general applicability to account for ionization. The new system likewise provides a simple and logical explanation of the differences in the solubility characteristics of various classes of substances. According to these new findings, the distinctions that are commonly drawn between polar and non-polar substances, electrolytes and non-electrolytes, etc., are matters only of degree and have no fundamental significance. The cohesion of all solids and liquids, regardless of composition, results from exactly the same cause: the establishment of equilibrium between the inward-directed space-time force and the outward-directed rotational forces of the individual atoms. Any substances in solution may be ionized by the thermal forces of the liquid acting against the cohesive forces, providing (1) that such a substance contains both a component capable of taking a positive charge and one capable of taking a negative charge, and (2) that the bond strengths do not exceed the strength of the liquid thermal forces. Metals, for instance, cannot be ionized, as they do not comply with requirement (1): they cannot be negatively charged. Most organic compounds are non-electrolytes because they do not comply with requirement (2): their cohesive forces are too strong (that is, their rotational forces are especially weak).
The explanation of electrolytic processes provided by the Reciprocal System does not differ greatly from that embodied in previous theories. The most obvious point of difference is in the identification of the moving entities. Existing theory calls for a movement of charged electrons, which are said to be carried by the negative ions through the solution from the location of the original ionization to the cathode and then travel independently through the external circuit to the point of neutralization at the anode. In the Reciprocal System there is a movement of units of space displacement over the same path. In the solution these displacement units manifest themselves as negative charges; in matter they become uncharged electrons.
The change in aspect which the space displacement unit undergoes when it enters a new environment at the cathode warrants some special comment as it is typical of the kind of changes that are now causing the physicists so much distress: those which Marshak admits, in the statement previously quoted, are “extremely disconcerting”. The situation here is that the physicists’ concept of continuity or persistence in the physical universe is based largely on their observations of matter. The atom of matter is a complex structure which because of its complexity, cannot be directly converted into anything else. It may expel particles; it may absorb particles; it may even split into two or more smaller atoms, but it does not suddenly change from atom to non-atom (except perhaps in an annihilation process, and even this process is not commonly regarded as a conversion of the atom into something else, but rather as a destruction of the atom). With this example of the atom before them, the physicists and their colleagues in other scientific fields have formed a concept of the basic entities of the physical universe as things: units whose identity persists through the various physical processes to which they are subjected.
On the basis of this concept, the activities of the theoretical branch of physical science have been directed toward finding explanations of physical phenomena, which will preserve the identities of the “things” that are involved. Discovery of the electron and observation of the ejection of electrons by radioactive atoms led to the formulation of a theory of atomic structure in which electrons participate as electrons. Collateral requirements stemming from this hypothesis then led to the further conclusion that charged hydrogen atoms, or protons, also participate in the atomic structure as protons. When neutrons were discovered, the theory was modified to include these particles in the structure as neutrons. Now that mesons have appeared in great profusion, vigorous efforts are being made to devise means whereby these particles can participate in the theoretical structure of the atom as mesons. It is this concept of the persistence of electrons as electrons, of neutrons as neutrons, etc., that is now being systematically demolished by the experimenters, to the great distress of the theorists.
The truth is that the universe simply is not constructed in the manner that present-day theorists envision. Atoms, electrons, neutrons, mesons, and the like, are not “things”; they are combinations of various kinds of motion, and they have no persistence from one environment to another, except to the limited extent that structural complexity places some restrictions on the kind of transformations that can take place—a qualification that is significant only in the case of the atom. A neutron, for example, is not absorbed by an atom as a neutron; it is absorbed as a unit of time displacement, and the neutron, as such, does not play any part in the structure of the atom. The unit of time displacement, which was the essence of the independent neutron merely, adds to the previously existing motion of the atom and becomes an integral part of that motion. It is the unit of time displacement (that is, the unit of motion) that persists, not the neutron.
The frequent transformations and exchanges of identity among the sub-atomic particles that are so bewildering to the present generation of physicists are perfectly normal processes, and the only step that is necessary in order to make them fully understandable is to discard the traditional idea that the participants in these processes are “things.” Once it is realized that only the unit of motion persists and that the particular aspect, which this unit will wear, depends on its environment, the whole situation clears up automatically.
In the electrolytic process, which we are now considering, the withdrawal of electrons from the cathode by means of the external energy source (battery or equivalent) creates the electrical equivalent of a vacuum in the cathode. The negative ion cannot penetrate matter, but the negative charge on this ion is the equivalent of an uncharged electron, and since it is easily detached from the ion, it is forced into the electrical “vacuum” of the cathode. In the context of previous thinking, in which a charge is regarded as a “thing” and an uncharged electron is regarded as a “thing“, of a totally different, even antithetical, character, the idea of such an exchange of identities is simply absurd. But when we realize that the charge of a negative ion is not a “thing” but a motion, and that an uncharged electron is an equivalent motion—one which has exactly the same magnitude and same space-time direction—it becomes understandable that the ionic charge, which cannot exist as such within the cathode, should enter the cathode as an uncharged electron.
The RS explanation of the ionization process as a whole is similarly logical and self-consistent, and it is in agreement with all of the known facts in the area concerned; something that no other theory can claim. Furthermore, the new system provides a specific reason for everything that happens in the process, unlike current theory which leaves several important steps unexplained. There is a specific tangible force, the force of the space-time progression, which accounts for the atomic cohesion; there is another specific tangible force, the thermal force of the liquid molecules, which causes the cohesion to be overcome and ionization to take place; there is a specific force due to the concentration of charges in the neighborhood of each electrode which accounts for the migration of the ions to the electrodes; there is an externally applied force which causes movement of electrons from cathode to anode in the external circuit there is a specific unbalance of forces, the “electron vacuum” at the cathode and the “electron pressure” at the anode, resulting from this forced movement of electrons which causes the action that takes place at each electrode. None of these forces, those previously known or those added by the new theory, is a “demon“—an ad hoc construction invented for the particular purpose at hand—the existence of each one can be demonstrated independently of the application in which it has here been utilized.
As brought out in Chapter XI, the uncharged electron, a rotating unit of space displacement, can move freely through matter, a time structure, but cannot move through open space, since the relation of space to space is not motion. An uncharged positron, a unit of rotational time displacement, can move freely through open space but, in general, cannot move through matter, since the relation of time to time is not motion. There are a few substances, which have enough space displacement in their atomic structures to make positron movement theoretically possible, but there is also another obstacle to such movement because a positron is vulnerable to capture by an atom and will probably be absorbed before it has gone very far. Charged electrons and positrons are neutral from the space-time standpoint, and since they contain both space and time displacement they can move freely in either space or matter. Like their uncharged counterparts, however, charged positrons are subject to capture, and they have thus far been observed only in open space. Charged electrons are common, both in space and in matter, and in their various manifestations are known as static electricity.
The behavior of charged electrons in matter is similar, in many respects, to that of the uncharged electrons that constitute the electric current. In response to potential differences they move freely in good conductors, less freely in poor conductors, are restrained by insulators, etc., and in motion they have the same magnetic effects as the uncharged units. The mutual repulsion between the charges introduces some observable differences, however, and the electrostatic forces that are exerted by the charges both while they are in motion and while they are at rest distinguish charged from uncharged electrons in a clear and definite manner. The origin and characteristics of these electrostatic forces and the nature of the magnetic effects will be given some further consideration in the next chapter after the underlying principles have been clarified.
With the additions, which have been made to the compound motion system in the subject matter of this chapter, we may now expand Chart B in the manner shown in Chart C. The explanation of the nature and origin of the charges, as indicated by their positions on the enlarged chart, and the clarification of the true relation of electric charge to electric current constitute item number eleven in the list of Outstanding Achievements of the Reciprocal System. The particular innovation that has been introduced here and has made this achievement possible should be somewhat less disturbing to existing habits of thought than most of its predecessors. The idea that a charge is a motion—a rotational vibration—is, of course, entirely new to science, but it does not conflict with any previous explanation of the nature of the charge, since no such explanation has ever been proposed heretofore, and the new concept is therefore an addition to current thought rather than a revision. Some of the consequences of the innovation are at odds with accepted ideas, to be sure, but this is always true when new concepts are introduced.