DISCOURSE NO. 7
NUCLEAR FUSION: HOT AND COLD
Copyright © Harold Aspden, 2001
Although our scientific fraternity believes that the sun derives its power from the process of nuclear fusion and many billions of dollars have been spent trying to tame the process here on Earth in fusion reactors, the story to date is one of failure. The time has come when we should at least consider what heresy is telling us, namely that maybe the sun's energy is not sustained by thermonuclear reactions which demand temperatures of 100,000,000 or so degrees.
Contemporary with my heretical prophecies, back in the 1950s and 1960s, saying that there is an aether containing a vast sea of energy and that Einstein's philosophy was wrong, there was a scientist named Charles E R Bruce at the laboratories of E.R.A. (Electrical Research Association) in U.K. who was trying to convince us that cosmic phenomena evolve from enormous electrical discharges. His mind was on the induction of electrical fields in space, of sufficient strength to promote plasma discharges that could account for much of what we see in the activity of stars.
As can be seen from scrutiny of these Web pages my interest has been the possible analogy between the aether and the formation of magnetic domains in iron, owing to energy deployment in a structured background and the development of the Bohr-quantized states of motion that go with the ferromagnetic state. My thinking is that the aether has a hidden structure and develops its own Bohr-quantized states of motion, so providing the governing quantum-based influence that regulates action in matter. Part of this picture involves the induction of strong electric fields in the aether as transitions occur which bring about order from a state of disorder, the onset of gravitation in the aether being analogous with the onset of ferromagnetism in iron cooled through its Curie temperature. The formation of stars with attendant presence of very strong electric fields has something in common with Bruce's ideas on cosmological electric discharges.
So, I was not spellbound at the thought that the power of the sun has to be primarily that of a nuclear fusion reaction. On the other hand, when the electrical manufacturing company I was working for back in the 1950s took an interest in fusion reactor research, I was absorbed by the problem encountered, namely that of stabilizing the electrical discharge that was to trigger fusion in the reactor. This seemed to be a straightforward problem of confining a high current discharge by its self-pinch action.
My interest was enhanced by my own private research pursuit of connecting the gravity force with its electrodynamic origin, a pursuit which by 1958 had made me realize something rather important about the true form of the Law of Electrodynamics, meaning the law of force governing how one isolated electron in motion acts on another such electron. It was to lead me soon thereafter into publishing a book in 196o entitled The Theory of Gravitation in which I presented what I believe is the correct form of the Law of Electrodynamics.
However, gravitation aside, I could not ignore the challenge of applying my mind to the problem posed by the electrodynamic discharge instability encountered in hot fusion reactor research. Indeed, that interest led to the filing of a patent on a reactor design that aimed to improve the stability of the plasma discharge. See [1958b].
Now, in retrospect, looking back to the 1958-59 period, I was enough of a scientific 'conformist' to accept basic teachings concerning electrical theory. The electrodynamic force between two discrete electric charges in motion was something that had never been measured in the laboratory. All the tests had been performed on interactions involving action of electrons attributable to closed circuit current flow. I exploited this distinction in formulating my own Law of Electrodynamics. However, the problem with the discharge in the fusion reactor was not one that needed my modified version of this law, or so I thought at the time!
By 1966, however, with the reactor control problems still persisting, it was evident that something quite unusual was affecting the electrodynamic interaction in the high current plasma discharge. I saw my chance early in 1965 and, though then working for IBM and no longer having a job interest in power engineering, I thought it worth commenting on this electrodynamic law topic in a Letter to the Editor of the IEE journal 'Electronics and Power'. See: [1965a].
An experiment using current flow in a falling column of mercury had replicated the discharge instability, even with a stabilizing axial magnetic field, and the lateral wriggle, snaking of the discharge, was shared by that column of mercury. Now, Ampere had based his formulation of electrodynamic force on four empirical facts plus one assumption. That assumption was crucial to determining the choice of law. I saw that experiment with the falling column of mercury as providing the fifth empirical fact needed to determine the law without making any assumption. My finding was that this supported the form of law that I had presented in my 1960 book, The Theory of Gravitation..
I was striving to justify my development of a Unified Field Theory, meaning the ultimate objective of presenting the unifying link between gravitation and electrodynamics, the pursuit which had defied Einstein's efforts.
That Electronic and Power Letter was published in April 1965 and the Editor had invited comment by Dr. A A Ware, the author of the paper in the January 1965 issue that had discussed the status of hot fusion reactor design and shown the falling mercury column experiment Dr. Ware put the case that no isolated charge in motion is truly independent of a closed circuit current path, inasmuch as displacement currents in the vacuum assure current loop action. Accordingly, rigorous mathematics denied me the scope for incorporating a modifying term in the formulation of that law of electrodynamics.
There you see the crux of my problem in contending, not with the physics of the subject, but with the attitude of the orthodox scientist. Once you say that a moving charge in isolation has to have its action as a current closed by displacement currents along a path through the vacuum medium, then you invite me to say that the net electrodynamic force action is shared between forces acting on the charge and forces acting on the displacement current. You invite me to say that the real part of the current circuit, the seat of the charge in motion, can interact with the aether to set up forces between charge and aether. In my efforts to get my message across all I am trying to do is to get the scientific community to understand that forces can be exerted electrodynamically between charge in motion and the aether. This means that the aether can act on the charge to speed it up or slow it down, energy being exchanged between charge and aether, and it means that the force need not act at right angles to charge motion as conventional theory requires. I saw the instabilities in the falling mercury discharge as being attributable to the tendency of the discharge to extend along its flow path.
I did react by submitting another Letter to the Editor of Electronics and Power, published in the June 1965 issue. See [1965b] and proceeded to show why that experiment with the falling column of mercury had more to tell us concerning how there really are electrodynamic forces acting axially along the path of current flow. This is contrary to standard teaching based on the Lorentz force law.
Slowly but surely, given that such axial forces exist in that falling column of mercury to cause it to wriggle and defy all attempts to stabilize it, I came to realize that there was no way a thermonuclear reactor could ever succeed if its designers relied on electrodynamic pinch in the discharge.
However, there was hope on the horizon. I had in my 1960 book The Theory of Gravitation shown that the rotation of a sphere of aether within a plenum of enveloping aether can induce a radial electric field about the axis of spin, albeit a field that is compensated by charge displacement in coextensive matter. I was later to discover from the experimental research of R. T. Ryan and B. Vonnegut ('Formation of a Vortex by an Elevated Electrical Heat Source', Nature Physical Science, 233 142, 1971), who sought to understand the secret of how tornadoes are formed, that they could stabilize an electric arc discharge, confining it to its axis, merely by quite slowly spinning about that axis a cylindrical metal cage. Here was the indication that the aether within that cage might be rotating about the axis of the arc discharge and producing a radial electric field which the arc plasma neutralized, but in so doing was constrained by radial forces which could overpower the radial electrodynamic effects.
Had I been working in the thermonuclear research field I would have urged investigations of the potential implied by Vonnegut's findings. In the event, however, I had in my sights a hope that there could be an entirely different prospect of generating power from a electrical plasma discharge. Arising from my curiosity about that falling mercury column developing instabilities when carrying a current, I began to ponder on the question whether the law governing electrodynamic force, as set up between two moving electrons, is also governing in the case where, say, a moving proton acts on a moving electron. That mercury column experiment involved a closed circuital current, which usually means that electrons, and electrons alone, carry the current around the circuit. However, in that mercury, it being a liquid metal conductor, there are free electrons that can act as carriers of the current, but also there are positive heavy ions that are not locked into a crystal lattice and so are mobile and must, therefore, as part of a flow of mercury, share in the electric charge transport. The current might flow around a closed loop, but in one part of that loop the flow is all-electron in composition and in the remaining part it is part-electron and part-heavy-ion.
This, plus something I could glean from the science references to anomalous force effects in cold-cathode (non-electron) arc discharges, caused me to do some analysis on how two moving charges of different mass might react in an inertial sense to a mutual interaction force, assuming that energy is conserved. The result was fascinating. The analysis of this problem featured in the second edition [1966a] of The Theory of Gravitation and later in a peer-reviewed paper of mine that appeared in the Journal of the Franklin Institute [1969a].
There just had to be a force term in the law of electrodynamics giving an action along the line of current flow, but the finding that impressed me was that the force acting on the heavy ion would be enhanced by a factor equal to the mass ratio as between that ion and the electron. This could mean a thousand-fold increase of the force and it would imply energy transfer from electrons to heavy ions in a manner that, by standard physics, would seem anomalous. So I was, at this stage in my research, beginning to see that what I was exploring was potentially not just an academic pursuit aimed at the problem of gravitation and the Unified Field Theory. There could be technological consequences.
The key step in my analysis in deriving this law of electrodynamics was that of deciding whether I would assume that the interaction force set up between the two moving charges could induce reaction forces on the charges that would mean overall an imbalance of angular momentum or of linear momentum. There just had to be one or the other in the general case. I opted for the imbalance of linear momentum, knowing that the resulting form of the law of electrodynamics would include a specific situation for which there is no imbalance in either sense, meaning full compliance with Newton's Third Law that action balances reaction. That was the only way I could see scope for electrodynamics embracing gravitation. The specific condition meant that gravitation would have to involve action between charges moving mutually parallel at all times.
Furthermore the gravitating charges, the ones setting up the gravity forces, would have the same mass or, as I later established, be part of a group of charges which, collectively, could cooperate in a compatible form, having regard to their charge effects.
To discuss that would divert us to the gravitational aspects of my theoretical work, whereas here I wish to pursue the anomalous energy topic.
The breach of the law that inertial action balances reaction means, simply, that energy is being exchanged between the interacting charges and the local aether underworld which determines the electromagnetic reference frame. In short, I could see scope for beginning to believe that electrical plasma discharges involving ions much heavier than electrons might be able to tap energy from the aether itself.
This would be something far more exciting than the generation of power by nuclear transmutation, whether fission or fusion. However, I was busy earning my living in a corporate environment not concerned with power generation. All I could do was pursue my theoretical investigations as a hobby and see where that pursuit took me.
My interest in the cold-cathode arc discharge energy prospects spilled over in 1977 when I declared my position in a paper published by the IEEE [1977a] and, to be sure of publication, I had even recorded my disclosure in a patent specification filed at the British Patent Office and duly published (Patent No. 2,002,953) [1979b].
August 20, 2001