Instantaneous Actions at a Distance Defended
Wolfgang G. Gasser
Darwinism refuted by adverse selection experiments – 19990223
Electrostatic effects are instantaneous actions at a distance. There is a very simple experiment which can refute the whole scientific world view. This view is based on the validity of the equations of Maxwell and on the premise that all electromagnetic effects propagate at the speed of light.
It is quite possible that this experiment has been executed without publishing the results. It is not even necessary to carry it out. One must only read carefully the works of Heinrich Hertz, who was the first to prove the existence of electromagnetic transversal radiation. Hertz was an honest person and did not keep quiet about all the results which were in contradiction with his own beliefs (as unfortunately most scientists do).
Hertz clearly found by means of interference effects that electrostatic effects propagate at infinite speed. But he was so convinced about the inexistence of actions at a distance that he did not believe in these effects (see below). Hertz also found in experiments, which he carried out several times very carefully, that the speed of electric waves in wires is around 200000 km/s (which is correct). This result was against the theory. So, when other researchers claimed to have confirmed that this speed was exactly the speed of light, Hertz explained his own results by unexplainable systematic errors!
It is generally admitted that the situation nearby an emitting dipole antenna does not agree with the normal explanation and the drawings of waves peeling off, which can be found in any textbook. So if we take seriously logic we must conclude that this explanation is in principle wrong.
Darwinism refuted by adverse selection experiments – 19990226
The derivation of electromagnetic waves is based on the divergence theorem (the first Maxwell equation) and it cannot be denied that this theorem is based on instantaneous effects. Einstein's 1905 paper on relativity does not touch this problem.
It is easy to test the existence of instantaneous actions at a distance experimentally. Interference effects between waves in a (highresistance) testwire originating from the center of a brass disc and the electrostatic effects of the disc can be measured. If oscillations of f = 100 Megahertz are used and the speed of the wire waves is 200 000 km/s, we get a wave length of 2 meters = c / f.

===============

RF powersupply testwire
If electrostatic effects propagate instantaneously, then after 2m, 4m, 6m, ... the wire must be in phase with the electrostatic effect of the disc. At least the data found by Hertz clearly suggest actions at a distance (see below).
Wolfgang:
Hertz also found in experiments, which he carried out several times very carefully, that the speed of electric waves in wires is about 200000 km/s (which is correct). This result was against the theory.
Sverker Johansson:
Not against Maxwell's it wasn't.
I guarantee you, it was! (See H. Hertz oder die Unterordnung des Experiments unter die Theorie) That's why Hertz himself gave preference to the experiments of others 'proving' that wire waves propagate at exactly the speed of light.
This case also shows how dangerous it is to only rely on modern textbooks.
Darwinism refuted by adverse selection experiments – 19990228
The generalization from the experimentally confirmed photons to photons mediating electrostatic forces is not justified. I have explained this in Elektromagnetismus und Quantentheorien.
Electrostatic attraction cannot even be explained qualitatively by such virtual photons because under momentum conservation two bodies can only drift apart by exchanging photons, and momentum conservation of photons has been experimentally confirmed!
Heinrich Hertz distinguishes between electrostatic and electrodynamic effects. He found electrodynamic forces (electromagnetic waves) decreasing inversely proportionally to the distance from the source, and electrostatic forces decreasing inversely proportionally to the distance square.
It is the application of the Gauss divergence or flux or integral theorem to incompressible liquids, which leads to instantaneous effects at a distance.
I do not deny that electromagnetic waves can be derived from the interplay of the full set of Maxwell's equations. But if one of these equations is based on actions at a distance, then the whole derivation is based on actions at a distance.
Darwinism refuted by adverse selection experiments – 19990303
Sverker Johansson:
If we go back to Maxwell, and the integral formulation of his equations: If you magically add or remove charges in the middle of a volume, you instantaneously change the flux integral over the surface of that volume, yes. But if you physically move the charges into the volume, at finite (below c) speeds, no instantaneous effects at a distance are produced.
If the effects from moving charges are not instantaneous, then the Gauss integral theorem and therefore the first Maxwell equation are invalidated!
I don't see why a direct appearance of charges in the middle of the volume should instantaneously influence the surface of the volume, whereas the introduction of a charge from outside would not.

Heinrich Hertz, Gesammelte Werke, Band 2, Leibzig, 1894:
Einleitende Übersicht
Seite 8: "Ebenso schnell gelang es, die durch den Draht und die durch die Luft fortgeleitete Wirkung zur Interferenz zu bringen und also ihre Phase zu vergleichen. Besassen nun beide Wirkungen eine endliche und die gleiche Geschwindigkeit, wie ich erwartete, so mussten sie in allen Entfernungen mit gleicher Phase interferieren. ... Als ich nun aber die Apparate sorgfältig aufgestellt hatte und den Versuch ausführte, fand ich die Phase der Interferenz deutlich verschieden in verschiedenen Entfernungen und zwar etwa in solcher Abwechslung, wie es einer unendlichen Ausbreitungsgeschwindigkeit entsprochen hätte. Entmutigt brach ich den Versuch ab."
Über die Ausbreitungsgeschindigkeit elektrodynamischer Wirkungen
Seite 118: "Die Gesamtkraft lässt sich in den elektrostatischen und elektrodynamischen Teil zerlegen; es unterliegt keinem Zweifel, dass in der Nähe der erstere, in der Ferne der letztere Teil überwiegt und die Richtung der Gesamtkraft angibt."
Seite 127: "Zweitens bemerken wir, dass die Verschiebung der Phase schneller erfolgt in der Nähe des Ursprungs, als in der Entfernung von demselben. Alle Zeilen zeigen dies übereinstimmend. Eine Veränderlichkeit der Fortpflanzungsgeschwindigkeit ist nicht wahrscheinlich. Wir schieben vielmehr mit gutem Grunde diese Erscheinung auf den Umstand, dass wir die Gesamtkraft benutzen, welche sich in elektrostatische und elektrodynamische Kraft trennen lässt. Schon die Theorie hat wahrscheinlich gemacht, dass erstere, welche in der Nähe der primären Schwingung überwiegt, sich schneller ausbreitet als letztere, welche in der Entfernung fast allein zur Geltung kommt."
Seite 129: "Die Interferenz wechselt nicht nach je 2.8 m ihr Vorzeichen. Also breiten sich die elektrodynamischen Wirkungen nicht mit unendlicher Geschwindigkeit aus."
Seite 130: "Da in der Nähe der primären Schwingung die Interferenzen allerdings nach je 2.8 m ihr Zeichen wechselt, so möchte man schliessen, dass sich die hier vorzugsweise wirkende elektrostatische Kraft mit unendlicher Geschwindigkeit ausbreitet."
Special Relativity overthrown? – 19990829
Wolfgang [post not included]:
There are lots of experiments disagreeing with the prediction of relativity which simply don't get published for several reasons (e.g. because the experimenters themselves do not believe in their own results). The simplest of all is the experiment of Hertz which clearly shows that electrostatic effects do not propagate at speed of light but are rather instantaneous effects.
jeff wiel:
Utter nonsense. The speed of electromagnetic radiation is easily measured in the lab. I've done it myself on many occasions.
I make a clear distinction between electromagnetic radiation (photons) and electromagnetic effects based on actions at a distance.
It was Maxwell himself who committed the most fundamental error: Maxwell claimed that his equations prove that all electromagnetic effects propagate at speed of light, despite the fact that these equations are based on actions at a distance.
Maxwell believed to have proven a dogma which was created or only perpetuated (against Kepler) by Descartes and Newton: there are no instantaneous actions in nature (apart from absurd nonlocality effects in QM, which had to be admitted by Bohr after the EPRpaper).
Maxwell's
theory also leads to a violation of momentum conservation. These problems are
described in 'Physic for Scientists and Engineers', third edition, extended
version by Paul A. Tipler, in '25.1. The magnetic field of a point
charge'. (I have a German translation.)
For example the following example of two parallel moving charged particles o (same speed →)
leads to a momentum torque.
o →
o →
They explain it away by assuming that there are also fields with momentum which exactly compensate the momentum change, but I don't think that the corresponding calculations actually have been done (in a transparent way).
Special Relativity overthrown? – 19990830
Dave E. Kahana:
Your claim has been tested many times.
Why should a physicist carry out such an experiment? And if even Hertz did not accept the results of his own experiments in contradiction with his scientific beliefs, why should other physicists be more skeptical?
Please provide some evidence for your claim that special experiments have been carried out in order to test whether electrostatic and magnetic forces propagate at the same speed as electromagnetic waves or not.
Maxwell's equations correctly describe classical electrodynamics, without action at a distance, and without instantaneous propagation.
You only believe that Maxwell's equations correctly describe classical electrodynamics. You do not understand it yourself but you rely on authority.
Electrostatic effects by definition do not propagate. They are static. This is another point of confusion for you.
In my example, the disc charge and its actions at a distance change at a frequency of 100 Megahertz and are therefore not 'static' in your sense.
You have not completely and precisely described Hertz's 105 year old experiments here. In any case, what you report that Hertz said is quite irrelevant to whether actions at a distance or instantaneous propagation are involved.
It cannot be irrelevant that Hertz found interference effects in agreement with instantaneous propagation of electrostatic attraction and repulsion. It would be irrelevant if better experiments had been carried out refuting Hertz's results, but as far as I know that's not the case.
Wolfgang:
The generalization from the experimentally confirmed photons to photons mediating electrostatic forces is not justified.
Dave E. Kahana:
Having failed to understand classical electrodynamics, you now wish to wander into another area which you misunderstand.
My statement may be short and provocative. It is however the result of a lot of reasoning and it will be generally accepted in the future.
Bodies radiating electromagnetic waves lose energy, and oscillations of given frequencies are involved.
The case of electrostatic (or magnetic) attraction and repulsion is completely different. Charged bodies maintain attraction and repulsion without radiating photons and losing energy.
Wolfgang:
Electrostatic attraction cannot even be explained qualitatively in this way because under momentum conservation two bodies can only drift apart by exchanging photons, and momentum conservation of photons has been experimentally confirmed!
Dave E. Kahana:
Virtual, not real photons are exchanged in generating the Coulomb force in quantum mechanics.
Why are "virtual" particles called photons, if they have almost nothing to do with real photons? Maybe one reason is that in this way it was possible to evade the necessity of experimental confirmation. Another reason may be that evidence of original photons can be declared evidence of these virtual particles and the theories based on them.
The Coulomb force can be derived directly from quantum electrodynamics.
One can work out theories as complex as you want which apparently explain simple relations.
Qualitative explanations can be given, but it is better just to derive the force explicitly. Quantitative descriptions are in any case better than qualitative ones.
Quantitative descriptions may be better for technology, but as a scientist really interested in nature I strongly prefer a sound qualitative explanation to an obscure quantitative one.
Wolfgang:
Don't you know the application of the Gauss divergence or flux or integral theorem to incompressible liquids which leads to instantaneous effects at a distance?
Dave E. Kahana:
I know the theory of incompressible fluids. It is a classical theory, and is inconsistent with relativity. Instantaneous effects are at the bottom of that theory. The Gauss integral theorem is not required to see that.
In any case, you were discussing electrodynamics here. You should learn to stick to the point.
Science works essentially by recognizing relations between things which apparently have no relation. Sticking to only one single point or subject is at least partly responsible for the pitiable state of modern (theoretical) science.
Wolfgang:
If the effects are not instantaneous, then the Gauss integral theorem and therefore the first Maxwell equation is invalidated!
Dave E. Kahana:
Incompressible fluids have nothing to do with the Maxwell equations or the Gauss integral theorem! The Gauss integral theorem is correct whether there are instantaneous effects or not!
Using the Gauss integral, the charge inside a closed surface is calculated in the same way from the electrostatic effects on the surface as the output of incompressiblefluid sources inside a volume filled with this incompressible fluid is calculated from the flow through the surface.
If either fluids are compressible or electrostatic effects propagate at a finite speed then the Gauss integral theorem is no longer (exactly) valid.
There are many different forms of waves, and all of them are the result of effects which propagate much faster than the waves themselves.
Think about water or rope waves. Assume that the physical effects responsible for the propagation of such waves would propagate themselves at the speed of the waves. Do you think that such an assumption can reasonably be made?
Special Relativity overthrown? – 19990831
Wolfgang:
Please provide some evidence for your claim that special experiments have been carried out in order to test whether electrostatic and magnetic forces propagate at the same speed as electromagnetic waves or not.
devens:
Actually, it's very easy to do, and it's done all the time. For instance, the people down at Cray, who make the supercomputers, are right up against the lightspeed limit in their topend supercomputers.
Irrelevant. The propagation mechanism of electric waves in wires is very different from the one of photons. Nevertheless the speed of wire waves lies in the same order of magnitude as the speed of light.
Wolfgang:
In my example, the disc charge and its actions at a distance change at a frequency of 100 Megahertz and are therefore not 'static' in your sense.
devens:
Ah, so you were deliberately using the wrong term to describe the scenario in hopes that people wouldn't notice that you didn't understand it yourself.
In reality, of course, this is NOT an electrostatic scenario at all, as charges do not move in an electrostatic scenario. This is an electrodynamic scenario, and all the forces involved are electrodynamic.
Do you assume an absolute rest frame? Or do you assume that electrostatic attraction becomes electrodynamic attraction as soon as relative motions are involved?
If you read about the history of physics or simply the works of Heinrich Hertz we are discussing, you will see that my use of 'electrostatic' makes sense.
Wolfgang:
The case of electrostatic (or magnetic) attraction and repulsion is completely different. Charged bodies maintain attraction and repulsion without radiating photons and losing energy.
devens:
This, of course, is a result of your inability to understand the model. There are photons being radiated, but these photons are virtual. They are not directly observable, as a result of not carrying energy in the conventional sense of the term. These virtual photons are definitely the same kind of particle as the real photons which do carry energy in the conventional sense, because they are converted into real photons by the loss of energy to them from an accelerating charged particle (for example). As well, changes in the energy state of bound electrons also take energy from or emit energy in photons, and the binding of the electron in an electrical potential well is mediated by the virtual photons.
I believe neither in angels, devils and ghosts, nor in virtual particles.
Wolfgang:
Why are "virtual" particles called photons, if they have almost nothing to do with real photons?
devens:
Because virtual photons differ from real photons in the rather unimportant matter of not being directly detectable.
"Rather unimportant"?
Wolfgang:
Maybe one reason is that in this way it was possible to evade the necessity of experimental confirmation.
devens:
Actually, experimental confirmation of them exists in the fact that the virtual photons are easily made real, and that real photons can do precisely the things required of them for the virtual photons to be the mediators of the electromagnetic force: Real photons 'couple', as we say, to charged particles in a very strong way, and can 'push' charged particles (this is how large particle accelerators accelerate particles, after all).
This is wrong. Attraction for instance cannot be explained in that way. And how do you make real the photons which are involved in the mutual attraction of charged macroscopic bodies. If it were possible to always make them real, we could find out the number and the frequencies of the involved virtual photons.
Wolfgang:
Another reason may be that evidence of original photons can be declared evidence of these virtual particles and the theories based on them.
devens:
Actually, the virtual particles arise from the theories, not the theories from the particles.
I'm not sure. In any case, such theories are highly speculative inventions of humans and should not be confused with nature.
devens:
In reality, of course, waves do not propagate slower than their causes do. If they did, then waves would be produced all through the conductive region at a rate faster than they propagate, which is not observed to happen.
Wolfgang:
Think about water or rope waves. Assume that the physical effects responsible for the propagation of the waves would propagate themselves at the speed of the waves. Do you think that such an assumption can reasonably be made?
devens:
Since it is observed that there are no phenomena of the types that would be produced if the waves lagged behind their creation, this is a REQUIRED assumption.
Do you deny the involvement of physical effects in rope waves which propagate faster than the waves themselves? In order to understand surface waves of water, the water can be considered an incompressible fluid. And an incompressible fluid entails instantaneous effects at a distance. This case of surface waves shows very elegantly that physical effects propagating much faster than the waves themselves must be involved.
Special Relativity overthrown? – 19990901
Dave E. Kahana:
Your statement about propagating electrostatic forces is an oxymoron, of course.
We have a linguistic problem. At least in German the main meaning of 'electric' is 'electricityrelated'. Attraction between charged bodies (whether moving or at rest does not matter) is therefore called electrostatic attraction, and not electric attraction.
Wolfgang:
You only believe that Maxwell's equations correctly describe classical electrodynamics. You do not understand it yourself but you rely on authority.
Dave E. Kahana:
I rely on no authority, and I have not argued from authority. I have proved for myself that Maxwell's equations do not involve action at a distance or instantaneous propagation. I have checked that they are invariant under the Lorentz transformation with my own hands and my own brain.
Why do you consider the mathematical fact that Maxwell's equations are invariant under the Lorentz transformation as proof that these equations do not imply actions at a distance?
The simplest Lorentzinvariant equation I know of is spherical propagation of a light:
[1] x^{2} – (ct)^{2} = 0 → x' ^{2} – (ct')^{2} = 0
The two cases however (front and back hemispheres), which are summarized by the above equation, are not FULLY Lorentzinvariant:
[2a] x – ct = 0 → (x' – ct') / √[1 + v/c]
[2b] x + ct = 0 → (x' + ct') / √[1 – v/c]
So we must conclude that some information is lost when uniting [2a] and [2b] into [1].
As an undergraduate, I have personally repeated experiments showing that Maxwell's equations correctly describe aspects of classical electrodynamics. Further, I have had direct experience in the operation and construction of particle accelerators, which employ both electrostatic and electrodynamic forces. Both static and dynamic forces are correctly described by the Maxwell equations or these machines simply would not work.
I never have denied that Maxwell's equations do correctly describe many aspects of electrodynamics. But history has shown many times that it is possible to work without major problems within scientific frameworks containing fundamental errors.
Wolfgang:
Why are these virtual particles called photons, if they have almost nothing to do with real photons?
Dave E. Kahana:
Because in fact they have a lot to do with real photons. They are distinguished because they appear only in intermediate states. Otherwise, mathematically, their description is nearly identical to that of real photons.
Virtual particles defy not only physical laws such as energy and momentum conservation but also common sense. Physicists have developed a lot of immunization strategies for their beloved dogmas. The most important principle for immunizing theories against logical refutation are Heisenberg's uncertainty relations.
Wolfgang:
If either the fluids are compressible or the electrostatic effects propagate at a finite speed then the Gauss integral theorem is no longer (exactly) valid.
Dave E. Kahana:
This is not true. Compressibility and speed of propagation are not relevant to the proof of the Gauss integral theorem. The theorem is more general than that. It does not depend on any physical theory. It is a geometrical theorem.
I do not mean that the theorem itself becomes invalid. I mean that the application of the Gauss integral theorem to electric charges is invalid, if electrostatic effects propagate at finite speed. And the first Maxwell equation constitutes an application of the Gauss integral theorem to electric charges and their electrostatic effects.
Special Relativity overthrown? – 19990901
Wolfgang:
For example the following example of two parallel moving charged particles o (same speed →) leads to a momentum torque.
o →
o →
They explain it away by assuming that there are also fields with momentum which exactly compensate the momentum change, but I don't think that the corresponding calculations actually have been done (in a transparent way).
jeff wiel:
So what? Why is this relevant to your claims?
It shows that a simple physical effect (momentum conservation) must be explained by the sum of more complicated effects which are assumed to be somehow more fundamental than the simple effect.
The assumption that the interference, the combination of complicated relations results (by chance) in a simple relation seems to go against Ockham's razor.
If we assume actions at a distance, then all reasonings which have led Einstein and others in direction to relativity theory become unnecessary, and magnetic effects depend only on relative motions between charged particles.
And in the example of the two parallel moving charged particles, no strange momentum changes arise which have to be explained away by assuming inverse momentum changes of surrounding fields.
SR BibleThumping – 19990930
Wolfgang [post not included]:
If such a huge inconsistency as Maxwell's claim that his equations prove that no electromagnetic effects propagate faster than c is not noticed then I conclude that internal consistency is rather unimportant whereas superficial consistency with generally accepted views is crucial.
Robert Low:
Oh, we can live with inconsistencies such as the claim that electromagnetic effects don't propagate faster than c in Maxwellian theory.
Fortunately, most of us members of the orthodox conspiracy of hidebound theorists are too stupid to spot that one.
This has nothing to do with stupidity but rather with faith in other scientists. Not even Einstein doubted the validity of Maxwell's claim. Like you now, he probably thought that other physicists would have pointed out the error, if Maxwell's derivation of electromagnetic waves did not imply that electrostatic and magnetic forces propagate at c.
It is a crucial and simple question whether all electromagnetic effects propagate at c or not. If I'm in error, I want to recognize it as soon as possible. And if you are in error, you (and many others) should know it as soon as possible, shouldn't you?
So let's try to clear up this crucial question. My main arguments are the following:
1) Hertz's experiments have clearly suggested that 'electrostatic forces' propagate instantaneously.
2) The derivation of electromagnetic waves is based on the divergence (Gauss integral) theorem (the first Maxwell equation) and it cannot be denied that this theorem is based on instantaneous effects. If the effects are not instantaneous, then the theorem (the first Maxwell equation) and the whole derivation of electromagnetic waves are invalidated!
If we are not able to clear up such a simple question in a transparent and understandable way (for intelligent observers), we must conclude that modern physics is based on authority (or scientific power politics) instead of logical reasoning.
SR BibleThumping – 19991001
Wolfgang:
1) Hertz's experiments have clearly suggested that 'electrostatic forces' propagate instantaneously.
Charles Francis:
Only that the time for propagation was immeasurably small.
The derivation that Maxwell's equations imply that electromagnetic radiation is propagated at the speed of light is a straightforward one carried out by hundreds, if not thousands of mathematics undergraduates every year. These students accept no authority other than logical reasoning.
I do not deny the fact that it is possible to derive electromagnetic radiation from the interplay of Maxwell's equations. But Coulomb's law is said to be a consequence of only the first Maxwell equation. So all the "thousands of mathematics undergraduates every year" are misled insofar as a consequence resulting from the interplay of a few equations is not necessarily relevant to each single equation.
Instantaneous propagation of the 'electrostatic force'? – 19991002
Frank Wappler, thank you very much for the translated quotes.
These quotes show that HEINRICH HERTZ has indeed found in his experiments that ELECTROSTATIC effects propagate INSTANTANEOUSLY and NOT at c as generally assumed.
Interference effects between waves in a wire originating from the center of a brass disc and the electrostatic effects of the disc can be measured. If oscillations of 35.7 Megahertz are used by H. Hertz, and the speed of the wire waves is 200 000 km/s, we get a wire wavelength of 5.6 meters. If electrostatic effects propagate instantaneously, after 5.6 m, 11.2 m, 16.8 m, ... the wire must be in phase with the electrostatic effect of the disc.
I'll reproduce the translation [of Heinrich Hertz, Gesammelte Werke, Band 2, Leibzig, 1894] by D. E. Jones from "Electric Waves being Researches on the Propagation of Electric Action with Finite Velocity through Space", Dover, 1962:
Introduction:
p. 8: "Nor was there any greater difficulty in producing interference between the action which had travelled along the wire and that which had travelled through the air, and thus in comparing their phases. Now if both actions were propagated, as I expected, with one and the same finite velocity, they must at all distances interfere with the same phase. ... But when I had carefully set up the apparatus and carried out the experiment, I found that the phase of the interference was obviously different at different distances, and that the alternation was such as would correspond to an infinite rate of propagation in air. Disheartened, I gave up experimenting."
On the finite velocity of propagation of electromagnetic actions:
p. 110: "The total force may be split up into the electrostatic part and the electromagnetic part; there is no doubt that at shorter distances the former, at greater distances the latter, preponderates and settles the direction of the total force."
p. 118: "In the second place, we notice that the retardation of phase proceeds more rapidly in the neighborhood of the origin than at a distance from it. All the rows agree in showing this. An alteration of the speed of propagation is not probable. We can with much better reason attribute this phenomenon to the fact that we are making use of the total force [...] which can be split up into the electrostatic force and the electromagnetic. Now, according to theory, it is probable that the former, which preponderates in the neighborhood of the primary oscillation, is propagated more rapidly than the latter, which is almost the only factor of importance at a distance."
p. 120: "The interference does not change sign every 2.8 m. Therefore the electromagnetic interactions are not propagated with infinite velocity."
p. 121: "Since the interferences undoubtedly change sign after 2.8 m in the neighborhood of the primary oscillation, we might conclude that the electrostatic force which here predominates is propagated with infinite velocity."
I have a few questions on those procedures and results:
Based on which requirements/ measurements did Hertz decide whether or not "the apparatus was set up carefully"?
Apart from the constancy of the primary oscillation and the possibility to compare at different distances the phase of the wire wave with the phase of the action propagating through the air, there is nothing which must be set up carefully.
How did he determine pairwise distance relations such as "2.8 m" or "neighborhood" (if not by employing Einstein's procedures, based on the exchange of light signals)?
A simple tape measure is enough to determine at which distances from the emitter the interference changes sign.
In any case, it would make sense to repeat this crucial experiment.
Instantaneous propagation of the 'electrostatic force'? – 19991003
Frank Wappler:
How did Hertz, how would you determine whether or not the primary oscillation is "constant"; and with respect to what else?
How did Hertz, how would you determine which "actions" are associated with "the wire" and/or "the air"; whether exclusively so, or at all?
Hertz was an excellent experimenter and I do not doubt that it was rather easy for him to produce a constant oscillation resulting in wire waves with a wavelength of 5.6 m. I'm neither knowledgeable about nor especially interested in experimental physics, and it was some years ago when I studied some of Hertz' texts. Now I deal only with passages I marked then. But Hertz has well described his experimental techniques, and I'm sure that for an experimental physicist it should not be very difficult to compare the phases of the oscillation propagating in a wire with the actions propagating through the air.
Once again Heinrich Hertz about his first attempt:
"But when I had carefully set up the apparatus and carried out the experiment, I found that the phase of the interference was obviously different at different distances, and that the alternation was such as would correspond to an infinite rate of propagation in air. Disheartened, I gave up experimenting."
Nevertheless, also after having learned to produce and detect an electrodynamic force propagating at c, the actions at a distance from the electrostatic force did not disappear in the nearfield:
"Since the interferences undoubtedly change sign after 2.8 m in the neighborhood of the primary oscillation, we might conclude that the electrostatic force which here predominates is propagated with infinite velocity."
Instantaneous propagation of the 'electrostatic force'? – 19991004
Wolfgang:
Hertz was an excellent experimenter and I do not doubt that it was rather easy for him to produce a constant oscillation resulting in wire waves with a wavelength of 5.6 m.
Frank Wappler:
Easy or not, I'd like to be sure how he or you determined (i.e. what he or you meant by) "constant oscillation" and "meter" _at all_, trial by trial.
As an experimental physicist I can assure you that it is meaningless to compare results of distinct experimental trials if they were not obtained by the same measurement procedure.
This of course requires that the selected experimental and measurement procedures be reproducible in the first place; hence the conventional choice of the Einstein procedures.
I agree with you in principle, but in the case we are discussing, there is absolutely no need to include Special Relativity. The experiments of Hertz precede SR by several years, and in addition to that, they are not sensitive to time dilation, length contraction and so on, because they are performed in a frame at rest with respect to the earth's surface.
So even if SR is assumed, clocks, rulers and simultaneity are well enough defined to decide whether the measured actions propagate at around 200'000 km/s (longitudinal wire waves), at around 300'000 km/s (photons in the air) or rather instantaneously ("electrostatic force").
If the electrostatic effects of an oscillating disc propagated indeed at finite speed, longitudinal waves similar to the ones propagating in wires would be a consequence.
There is a fundamental difference between on the one hand electrostatic and magnetic interactions and on the other hand electromagnetic radiation:
After radiation having separated from a dipole, the dipole is no longer affected by the radiation. Whether it is absorbed by an antenna or not has no retroaction on the emitting dipole. However, the induction of a current in a neighboring conductor has a retroaction on the dipole. (Translated from Elektromagnetismus und Quantentheorien)
Instantaneous propagation of the 'electrostatic force'? – 19991005
Frank Wappler:
What do you mean by "radiation having separated from"?  How do you suggest to measure coordinates of "radiation" with respect to any of the charges/ observers/ clocks/ rulerends who constitute a "dipole"?
Energy and momentum conservation are empirical facts at least in case of highfrequency radiation. If for instance an atom emits a photon, the atom suffers a recoil impulse in the opposite direction. The atom also loses the mass corresponding to the emerging photon.
In the same way as there is an interaction between the emitting atom and the emerging photon, there is an interaction between an emitting dipole and the emerging radiation. When radiating, the dipole loses energy which normally is compensated by an energy supply. (Unlike real photons, QED 'photons' have somehow neither mass nor momentum, therefore a charged body can maintain its electrostatic effect even if it emits many more QED 'photons' than it absorbs.)
So whereas in the beginning there is an undeniable interaction between an emitter and its (real) radiation, there is certainly no interaction between emitter and emitted radiation after the latter having separated from the former, e.g. when the radiation is absorbed by a radio antenna.
Instantaneous propagation of the 'electrostatic force'? – 19991009
Wolfgang:
These quotes show that HEINRICH HERTZ has indeed found in his experiments that ELECTROSTATIC effects propagate INSTANTANEOUSLY and NOT at c as generally assumed.
Harry H Conover:
This will come as a terrible shock to those who have been involved in the design of very successful electromagnetic wave (radio frequency) based communications systems and equipment for the past 80+ years.
Also, James Clerk Maxwell must be turning over in his grave on learning this rather remarkable fact! ;)
Dale Woodside:
A related scalar potential instantaneous propagation curiosity is discussed nicely in:
O. L. Brill and B. Goodman, "Causality in the Coulomb Gauge", Am. J. Phys. _35_, 832 (1967).
J. D. Jackson, Classical Electrodynamics, (John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1975, 2nd edition) pp. 220223.
Result: Causality is maintained...
A quote from the German translation of Jackson's 2nd edition:
"Am Rande sei auf eine Besonderheit der CoulombEichung hingewiesen. Elektromagnetische Wellen breiten sich bekanntlich mit endlicher Geschwindigkeit aus. Gleichung (6.45) besagt jedoch, dass sich das skalare Potential momentan im ganzen Raum 'ausbreitet'. Das Vektorpotential dagegen genügt der Wellengleichung (6.52), die die endliche Ausbreitungsgeschwindigkeit c enthält. Auf den ersten Blick erscheint es schwierig, dieses offensichtlich unphysikalische Verhalten zu umgehen."
This "obviously unphysical behavior" (i.e. instantaneous propagation of "the scalar potential") is yet inherent in Maxwell's equations. Despite Maxwell's contradictory claim, the possibility to derive electromagnetic radiation does not entail that electrostatic effects (described by the first Maxwell equation) propagate at the same speed as transversal radiation.
And this first Maxwell equation entails that it is possible to transmit information instantaneously. The change in charge of a body affects its neighborhood instantaneously. In the same way, electromagnetic induction is an instantaneous effect. If this effect is used to transmit information over a distance of 3 m no time delay of 10 nanoseconds is predicted by the most obvious interpretation of Maxwell's equations.
Maxwell's displacement current which is assumed to propagate at c is also an erroneous concept. Effects currently explained by displacement currents can be better explained by the first Maxwell equation which states that the net charge inside a closed surface can always be determined by its effect on the surface. The movements of charges affect distant surfaces instantaneously. Otherwise the first Maxwell equation would be valid only in static situations and could not be used to derive electromagnetic radiation.
In any case, Jackson's section on "instantaneous propagation of scalar potential" shows that instantaneous electromagnetic effects not only have to be explained away on the experimental side but also on the theoretical side.
Instantaneous propagation of the 'electrostatic force'? – 19991010
Wolfgang:
And this first Maxwell equation entails that it is possible to transmit information instantaneously. The change in charge of a body affects its neighborhood instantaneously.
Tom Roberts:
Not true. You cannot create or destroy charge, because the electromagnetic current is conserved (div J = 0) – that's a direct consequence of Maxwell's equations.
It is possible to change charge in a body without creating or destroying charge. So your remark is not relevant. The question is whether the effect of the displacement of charged particles propagates at c or instantaneously.
Instantaneous propagation of the 'electrostatic force'? – 19991011
bilge wrote:
Virtual photons can not only have mass, they can have the longitudinal polarization states that result. There is only one difference between a real photon and a virtual one: a real one satisfies q^2 = 0 and may freely propagate.
Frank Wappler explains:
Precisely; where q denotes the fourmomentum that has been transferred between the two charges/ observers who have exchanged this photon.
bilge continues:
Photons carry momentum. The electrostatic effect is the momentum carried by the photons due to the charge of an object. The photons do not carry charge and so cannot change any feature related to charge. All a photon can do is change the momentum of another charged body upon absorption. Any charged body may absorb a photon. If the absorber and emitter are different bodies, the result looks like a force because the momentum change in the emitter has to equal the momentum change in the absorber. Virtual photons do not exist independent of the emitter. If a charged object emits a photon, it must either reabsorb it to satisfy Heisenberg, or another charged object must absorb it to satisfy Heisenberg. Since the exchange could occur by swapping the roles of emitter/absorber, it is symmetric and should be interpreted that way. In that sense, an object absorbs the same number of virtual photons it emits.
Tom Roberts comments:
Pretty good description of photon absorption/ emission.
Except for one "little" thing  in a basis where individual photons have welldefined 4momenta, the number operator does not have a welldefined value, and you cannot count them! In a basis where the number operator has a welldefined value, individual photons do not have welldefined 4momenta! This is intimately related to the fact that photons are indistinguishable Bosons, and to the necessity to symmetrize the wavefunction over Bosons and antisymmetrize over Fermions  in a perturbative approximation this intermixes all the Bosons/Fermions in all of the different diagrams....
If one really tries to take into account all of the properties of photons in QED, the discussion gets so convoluted and complicated that it is essentially useless....
On the one hand we have the extremely simple and elegant Coulomb law and on the other hand this obscure quasimechanistic explanation of the same relation.
How can somebody taking seriously Ockham's razor prefer such an obscure and logically inconsistent explanation to the simple and elegant Coulomb law?
The QED explanation contains several concepts (elements) which are at least as complex as the Coulomb law itself.
How can somebody taking seriously Ockham's razor explain one simple concept by a combination of several complicated concepts?
Virtual particles are assumed on the one hand to have the needed properties (e.g. mass and momentum) and on the other hand, if necessary, not to have the same properties.
Actions at a distance are a far better explanation:
1) Photons as postulated by Einstein are real entities with concrete values for mass, momentum and frequency. QED photons only share the name with the original photons.
2) QED photons would be logically refuted if Heisenberg had not invented his famous uncertainty relations which allow to circumvent necessary logical conclusions.
3) Electrostatic attraction cannot even be explained qualitatively by QED photons because under momentum conservation two objects can only drift apart by exchanging particles. (Perhaps the Heisenberg uncertainty relations allow the assumption of negative mass and momentum :)
4) In order to prevent isolated charged objects from radiating more QED photons than they absorb, one must assume that the virtual photons are somehow tied to the objects. They fly away at c and if they don't find another charge, they change direction and fly back to the object. (It is certainly not always easy for them to find back home :)
5) Explaining interactions between charged objects by mediating particles leads to the even more complex problem of how these mediating particles interact with the charged objects.
6) Many experiments could be interpreted in a simpler and more transparent way as confirmation of actions at a distance than as confirmation of the currently accepted theories.
Wouldn't it be almost a miracle if such a strange and complex behavior as the one assumed for QED photons resulted in exactly the simple Coulomb law in all the many situations where this law is experimentally confirmed?
Instantaneous propagation of the 'electrostatic force'? – 19991012
Wolfgang:
Virtual particles are assumed on the one hand to have the needed properties (e.g. mass and momentum) and on the other hand, if necessary, not to have the same properties.
Aaron Bergman:
How many times does this have to be said? Virtual particles only need to exist in a didactic sense. The full theory is a theory of fields. You're attacking a caricature of the theory.
Since when do didactic particles carry momentum? :(
Huge forces of electrostatic repulsion and attraction do occur in nature. QED explains these forces by assuming QED photons carrying momentum, isn't it? If you tried to create the same forces using real photons, you would recognize how many high energy photons would be necessary for that. But the higher the energy of photons, the less relevant are Heisenberg's uncertainty relations. So we must assume that huge (but uncertain) numbers of low energy 'photons' must be involved.
It makes no sense to reduce electrostatic forces superficially to 'photons' and conservation of momentum, if conservation of momentum in principle can only lead to the opposite of what is observed in the case of attraction. I think it is better to explain a force by an action at a distance than by a local action which according to correct logical reasoning could only lead to a force in the opposite direction.
Feynman or who else is responsible for this strange idea may have overlooked the fact that not all mechanical situations are timereversible:
Two ships can drift apart if the passengers throw objects from one ship to the other. The opposite however, is not possible.
Challengings of SR make sad– 19991016
jddescript to Dennis:
Your techniques for detecting scam science types, in this forum and in general are very impressive. Essentially you know material physical history and don't expect any revolutionary surprises, like "actionatadistance" revealed phony when the finite velocity of light was noted.
Because I know of no one else on this forum advocating actions at a distance, I ask you: Why do you believe that scam and actions at a distance are related?
I think that one century ago it still made sense to search for a material cause of e.g. gravitation and electrostatic attraction. But what is the result of this search: gravitons, virtual photons, gluons and so on. But all these particles cannot even in a qualitative way explain the facts they have been invented for. An INFINITE number of virtual photons are assumed to be involved, transferring momentum somehow by interference (bilge and Tom Roberts, 99/10/13).
Why not simply assume that there are basic relations between material things, relations which cannot be further reduced to underlying material causes?
Look at physical effects which can be described by simple mathematical relations such as Coulomb's Law. You want to have a material cause of these relations. But if you know the material cause, you further want to know the material cause of this cause. You can continue to demand material explanations until the math becomes so complicated and obscure that you must stop. Then you are probably satisfied and think that the original simple relation is really explained.
If you don't agree with my description of your position, then please let me know: how do you explain exact momentum conservation in the case of gravity and electromagnetism? And take into account that momentum is not conserved in the case of interactions through electromagnetic radiation (between emitter and receiver)!
Proposals to measure speed of gravity? – 19991021
upthink:
Newton thought that gravity acted instantaneously.
Charles Francis:
Newton was never so rash. He thought:
"That one body may act upon another at a distance through a vacuum without the mediation of anything else, by and through which their action and force may be conveyed from one to the other, is to me so great an absurdity, that I believe no man, who has in philosophical matters a competent faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it."
This prejudice of Newton and others is responsible for the fact that actions at a distance were forcefully eliminated from physics at the end of the last and at the beginning of this century.
Already Occam, the first consequential advocate of Galilean relativity I know of, had developed three centuries before Newton a much sounder and more modern epistemology according to which actions at a distance are a completely reasonable assumption.
We must judge hypotheses and theories only by verifiable consequences and predictions and never by metaphysical claims such as Newton's prejudice concerning actions at a distance!
Johannes Kepler accepted instantaneous effects over huge distances. This allowed him not only to assume that the moon affects the tides but also to postulate a universal gravitational force. Newton's precursor Galilei ridiculed Kepler's notion that the moon affects the tides, because the assumption that particles from the moon come to the earth and affect the tides is really a bit strange.
One should also take into account that (the successful part of) Newton's theory of gravitation is based on Kepler and that the assumption that gravity propagates at c would have completely spoiled the theory.
The FAQ concerning the problem of finite propagation speed of gravity shows once more very elegantly that modern physics is completely unfalsifiable:
"This cancellation [of the effect of finite propagation speed] may seem less strange if one notes that a similar effect occurs in electromagnetism. If a charged particle is moving at a constant velocity, it exerts a force that points toward its present position, not its retarded position, even though electromagnetic interactions certainly move at the speed of light. HERE, AS IN GENERAL RELATIVITY, SUBTLETIES IN THE NATURE OF THE INTERACTION "CONSPIRE" TO DISGUISE THE EFFECT OF PROGAGATION DELAY. ... [emphasis mine]
Since this point can be confusing, it's worth exploring a little further, in a slightly more technical manner. Consider two bodies  call them A and B  held in orbit by either electrical or gravitational attraction. As long as the force on A points directly towards B and vice versa, a stable orbit is possible. If the force on A points instead towards the retarded (propagationtimedelayed) position of B, on the other hand, the effect is to add a new component of force in the direction of A's motion, causing instability of the orbit. This instability, in turn, leads to a change in the mechanical angular momentum of the AB system. But total angular momentum is conserved, so this change can only occur if some of the angular momentum of the AB system is carried away by electromagnetic or gravitational radiation." (corepower.com/~relfaq/grav_speed.html)
Such reasonings can be considered either a refutation of the theory, or a proof of gravitational radiation which is assumed to exactly compensate the effects resulting from the finite propagation speed of gravity, so that the result is the same as in the case of instantaneous propagation.
Momentum conservation without actions at distance is almost impossible. A lot of faith is needed for believing that in all possible situations, secondary effects emerge cancelling exactly out the violations of momentum conservation resulting from the primary effects of retardation.
Charles Francis:
If Einstein did not like the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, one dreads to think of the contempt in which Newton would have held it.
That Einstein did not like QM actions at distance is easy to understand: If actions at a distance are possible, then many reasonings which have led him and others to relativity lose their logical necessity.
Einstein wrote in 1920:
"In setting up the special relativity, the following ... idea about Faraday's electromagnetic induction played a guiding role. According to Faraday, relative motion of a magnet and a closed electric circuit induces an electric current in the latter. Whether the magnet is moved or the conductor doesn't matter; only the relative motion is significant. ... The phenomena of electromagnetic induction ... compelled me to postulate the principle of (special) relativity." (Collected Papers of A.E., Volume 2, p.262)
If even such EPR actionsatadistance are assumed to exist then also 'common sense' actions at a distance of classical physics should be possible, and Einstein's above reasoning becomes almost meaningless, because the explanation of electromagnetic induction by actions at a distance is much simpler and much more consistent than the SR explanation.
Who Says Light Behaves as a Particle? – 19991031
Prior to the EPR paper, the orthodox exponents of QM such as Bohr and Heisenberg had subscribed to these principles:
1) No actions at a distance
2) The polarization direction of emerging photons is undetermined
3) Photon pairs with the same 'polarization' are possible
That these statements are logically inconsistent was shown in the EPR paper. Bohr's rather enigmatic reply was a masterpiece of rhetoric and sophistry, but not much more.
In the meanwhile physicists have become accustomed to these strange EPR actionsatadistance (called "nonlocality" or "quantum entanglement"), and the EPR correlations are sold as experimentally confirmed, original QM predictions. Does it make sense to sacrifice at first so much of physical simplicity and of common sense to the belief that actions at a distance are impossible, and later reintroduce actions at distance in such a special context? I think it was only face saving of those who had claimed that QM is the best and most complete description of reality ever possible.
If actions at distance are part of nature (and there is a lot theoretical and empirical evidence), then we must restart physics from its state at Maxwell's time.
Does materialism exclude instantaneous effects? – 19991031
c.h.thompson:
Now you've got me mystified! In another message (EPR Paradox  explanation requested) you said "There is a huge difference between "common sense" actions at a distance and "spooky" EPR actions."
I took this as meaning that you rejected all spooky ones. So to what kind does the above statement that they are a part of nature refer?
I reject EPR actionsatadistance. But I think that nobody should accept EPR actionsatadistance and reject the actions at a distance of preMaxwellian physics, because the latter are more general than the former.
We can think of "material" models leading to the wellknown instantaneous inverse distance square laws. We only have to assume incompressible fluids. If the whole universe were filled with such a fluid, the simple assumption that matter draws in (sucks in and annihilates) fluid proportionally to the mass, leads to instantaneous attraction obeying the inverse distance square law.
The important point is not whether all forces are mediated by material causes, but whether they act instantaneously or at the speed of light.
If one calculates the actual vectors by which the earth is accelerated by other planets, we find out that these vectors point to the locations where these planets are now, and not where they have been when photons arriving now were emitted.
So, if we explain gravitation by gravitons (or by a field propagating at c) then we must assume that gravitons originating from e.g. Jupiter must remain in telepathic connection with Jupiter. Only such a telepathic link (or complicated calculations in advance) can guarantee that the gravitons accelerate the earth in the direction where Jupiter is now.
Longitudinal electromagnetic waves – 19991124
DJMenCk:
While Maxwell equations predict forces that are at right angles to each other, they do not forbid longitudinal waves.
Matthew Nobes:
Pardon me, but can you prove that? I would really, really like to see how Maxwell's equations can give a longitudinal wave.
It is easy to see that Maxwell's theory entails longitudinal waves. It is simply so because the electric fields of a linearly oscillating charge propagate at c.
Maxwell's theory did entail longitudinal waves in the same way as it entailed an identity between the speed of light and the speed of wire waves. Heinrich Hertz even declared his own measurements of the speed of wire waves invalid for this theoretical reason, despite the fact that he had reproduced a value of around 200'000 km/s (instead of c = 300'000 km/s) several times (See H. Hertz oder die Unterordnung des Experiments unter die Theorie).
It is perfectly natural that Maxwell did also predict transversal waves because it was known that light is a transversal wave, and Weber and Kohlrausch had shown in 1856 that the speed of light can be derived in the same way from electromagnetic constants as the velocity of other wave forms from their relevant constitutive constants.
Only after having failed to detect longitudinal waves, Maxwell's theory has been changed so that it does no longer predict longitudinal waves. That's characteristic:
1. All think that a theory predicts "x is true".
2. Finally unquestionable experiments show that x is false.
3. No problem, a shift in the interpretation, 'minor' changes or the addition of adhochypotheses will make "x is false" a wellconfirmed prediction of the theory.
As far as I know there is a fundamental difference between longitudinal wire waves and transversal waves:
 Photons are dragged by water or glass (drag effect of Fresnel) according to relativistic velocity addition
 Wire waves are subject to classical addition
If this is true then it is especially puzzling insofar as wire waves have a velocity very similar to light in glass. Can somebody confirm or refute the assumption/claim that the moving electrons in wires are fully dragged by the wires?
Longitudinal electromagnetic waves – 19991126
Wolfgang:
It is easy to see that Maxwell's theory entails longitudinal waves. It is simply so because the electric fields of a linearly oscillating charge propagate at c.
Matthew Nobes:
How does this imply that the waves are longitudinal?
If electrostatic attraction is explained by electric fields propagating at c, then we get longitudinal waves propagating in both directions of the line given by the oscillating charge.
Maybe Heinrich Hertz even had tried at first to detect longitudinal waves before he succeeded in detecting transversal waves. He writes about his first attempt:
"Nor was there any greater difficulty in producing interference between the action which had travelled along the wire and that which had travelled through the air, and thus in comparing their phases. Now if both actions were propagated, as I expected, with one and the same finite velocity, they must at all distances interfere with the same phase. ... But when I had carefully set up the apparatus and carried out the experiment, I found that the phase of the interference was obviously different at different distances, and that the alternation was such as would correspond to an infinite rate of propagation in air. Disheartened, I gave up experimenting." (Ref.)
If my supposition is correct, then instead of detecting the expected longitudinal waves, he only found actions at a distance from the "primary oscillation".
Your proof that Maxwell's equations have longitudinal wave solutions begins where?
The existence of longitudinal wire waves is a fact. So if they cannot be derived (in a transparent way) from Maxwell's equations, then this is only further evidence of the inconsistency of Maxwell's theory.
An atom emits light. How long is the wavetrain? – 20000407
William J. Beaty:
If an atom behaves like a dipole antenna, then whenever an atom emits "light waves", should we imagine that the wavetrain consists of NUMEROUS cycles? Or must this wavetrain consist of a very brief wave packet which always contains less than even a single cycle?
Modern physicists often forget that the interpretation of photons as pointlike or even virtual entities unexplains all what is explained by classical concepts such as concrete electromagnetic fields. If we insist on an intuitive explanation of photons, then we must conclude that the energy of a single photon is present as oscillating electromagnetic fields within a wavetrain consisting of a limited number of cycles.
The whole problem of the photon concept (in the same way as many other problems of Maxwell's theory and of modern physics) is still a result of the premise of naive materialism that instantaneous actions at a distance are impossible.
The frequency of a photon is fully determined by its energy. The assumption that an atom behaves like a dipole antenna during emission and absorption seems untenable to me. In the Mössbauer effect only gamma photons within a very small energy range (e.g. ±10^{14}) can be absorbed. The QED explanation, that the photon tries out all possible paths in the whole universe and therefore recognizes that it can be absorbed by a Mössbauer absorber, is certainly less simple and obvious than the explanation based on actionsatadistance:
If a photon comes close enough to an atom with the corresponding lowenergy state, then the whole photon energy and momentum can instantaneously be transferred to the atom.
So the statement "a wave model cannot explain the photoelectric effect" is not generally valid.
Also because of a lot of further evidence of actionsatadistance, there is absolutely no reason why we should prefer an explanation based on an axiomatic (theologylike) system to this simple, concrete and fundamentally physical one.
See also: Was QED intended as a joke?
Simple propagation speed (thought) experiment – 20000423
Let us assume two electrically chargeable disks at a distance of d = 60 cm. If no physical effects can propagate faster than c, then one disk can only react after a delay of d/c = 2 nanosecond to a change in charge of the other.
Does the simultaneous presence of electrical charges in both disks during less than 2 ns lead to an electrostatic force between the disks? According to preMaxwellian physics (based on instantaneous actions at a distance) it certainly does.
It is possible to connect both disks with an oscillating electrical source of 10^{9} Hertz. If the wires connecting the disks with the oscillating source have the same length, then the disk oscillations are always in phase. PreMaxwellian physics predicts a repulsive force between the disks.
By changing the length of one of the two wires, we can give rise to a phase shift between the two disk oscillations. If the phase shift is half an oscillation, then the disks are always inversely charged.
The treatment of these situations under the premise that electrostatic forces propagate at c is very complicated and it is hardly credible that the outcome should be the same as in the case of instantaneous effects.
Is it possible to experimentally decide whether electrostatic effects propagate at c or are instantaneous actions at a distance? No, it seems not to be possible, for the simple reason that modern physics is primarily an INTERPRETATIONAL and not an EXPERIMENTAL discipline.
Simple propagation speed (thought) experiment – 20000426
Tom Roberts:
"PreMaxwellian physics" does not apply: Applying electrostatics to such a dynamic situation is completely invalid. In particular there will be electromagnetic radiation emitted, and that will carry momentum (i.e. exert a force on the conductors). This will vary in its directional intensities with the phase between plates.
A quote from Heinrich Hertz concerning a quite similar situation:
"The total force may be split up into the electrostatic part and the electromagnetic part; there is no doubt that at shorter distances the former, at greater distances the latter, preponderates and settles the direction of the total force." (Ref.)
This is such a complicated physical situation that I have no idea (or even any sort of guess) how the forces balance out. Certainly your simplistic approach is hopeless.
I don't think that the situation is very complicated. Whereas the electrostatic part can lead to both attraction and repulsion, the electromagneticradiation part can only lead to a (tiny) repulsion (because of radiation pressure).
Let us assume that the distance between the two (capacitor) plates is 60 cm and the electrical source oscillates at 250 Megahertz. The period of one cycle is then 4 ns and electromagnetic radiation propagates 120 cm during one cycle. If chargeoscillations of both plates are in phase, the instantaneouspropagation hypothesis leads to a repulsive electrostatic force between the plates (sin^{2}oscillations of 250 Megahertz).
 +  +  +  +  + 5 cycles of the left plate

 +  +  +  +  + 5 cycles of the right plate
If (the information about) the Coulomb field from the left plate propagates at speed c to the right plate, then it arrives there 2 ns later, and during these two nanoseconds, the right plate has performed half a cycle and therefore exactly inverted its charge. So if the right plate has positive charge, it receives a negative field from the left plate and vice versa.
 +  +  +  +  + Coulomb field from the left plate

 +  +  +  +  + Coulomb field of the right plate
Therefore at least according to the most obvious interpretation, we conclude that the propagationatc hypothesis leads to an attractive instead of a repulsive force between the plates.
So let's perform this simple experiment.
How fast is gravity – 20000429
Tom Van Flandern:
LIGO is only a gravitational wave detector, not a gravimeter able to detect gravity or gravitational force variations. [...] you seem to have confused changes in gravitational force with gravitational waves. These two concepts are nothing alike. It is undisputed that gravitational waves, if these [...] exist, must propagate at lightspeed. However, gravitational waves are often confused with changes in gravitational fields (force variations) [...]
Darrin Moss:
If we assume gravity consists of a single field, and waves propagate through that field at the speed c, then surely this same field cannot propagate disturbances instantaneously.
Non sequitur. There is no apriori reason why changes in the "field" itself [imagine a dielectric medium or a lumiferous ether] should propagate at the same speed as "waves" through the "field". In the case of Coulomb fields and electromagnetic radiation, the "waves" do not even propagate through the "field" [e.g. through the Coulombfield].
Tom Van Flandern:
The "speed of gravity", which is the same as the speed of propagation of force variations
Darrin Moss:
But surely in any field that supports waves of a characteristic speed, the propagation of "force variations" must occur at that same speed. The same applies in all sorts of contexts. For example, in fluid media there are acoustic waves and the medium also has the ability to communicate static forces, but a change in the static forces can't propagate faster than the acoustic propagation speed.
That's obviously wrong. Water is an almost incompressible fluid with an acoustic propagation speed of around 1.5 km/s. But the effects of a big enough earthquake on the seabed at a depth of 7.5 km don't need 5 seconds to propagate to the surface.
A better example for recognizing that physical effects propagating faster than the waves themselves must be involved constitutes the case of surface waves of water.
If you stand in the path of a supersonic fighter approaching you at Mach 2, you will never even feel the slightest breeze or elevation in pressure (let alone hear any sound) until it hits you.
If we replace the supersonic fighter by a huge meteorite, then we will feel not only a slight breeze before it hits us.
We have the example of electromagnetism, in which the field of a moving charge points to the charge's present position, even though we understand that changes in the force are propagated at the speed of light. See, for example, Rindler's "Essential Relativity", chapter 6.3, where he derives the field of a uniformly moving charge, and comments "It is interesting to note that the electric field ... is directed away from the point where the charge is AT THAT INSTANT, though (because of the finite speed of propagation of all effects) it cannot be DUE to the position of the charge at that instant."
There may be special cases (e.g. a uniformly moving charge) where it is actually possible to show that SUBTLETIES in our official theories (rather than subtleties in Nature herself) CONSPIRE to DISGUISE the effect of propagation delays. "Notdisguised" propagation delays however violate momentum conservation. (Such a Bohrian language is also used in the FAQ, see above)
How fast is gravity – 20000430
Tom Van Flandern:
See W.D. Walker and J. Dual, "Superluminal propagation speed of longitudinally oscillating electrical fields", abstract #72 in: "Causality and Locality in Modern Physics and Astronomy: Open Questions and Possible Solutions", ed. S. Jeffers, York University, North York, 1997. A web version of the paper is available: arXiv:grqc/9706082.
A quote from the abstract: "The results indicate that the phase speed of a longitudinally oscillating electrical field is much faster than the speed of light in the near field."
How fast is gravity – 20000514
Tom Van Flandern:
Yes, I think electrostatic force variations certainly can be used to send fasterthanlight signals, because their propagation speeds are fasterthanlight in forward time, and therefore have no causality violations. This is fully in accord with, and allowed by, Lorentzian relativity. Moreover, the WalkerDual experiment (previously cited) comes very close to demonstrating an actual electrostatic signal sent FTL.
Paul Schlyter:
When do you plan to build an "FTL radio transmitter" based on electrostatic force variations? It ought to be much easier to do this than to build an "FTL gravity transmitter", don't you think so?
What kind of sense does it make to transmit information over a few meters instantaneously? Electromagnetic radiation needs 10 nanoseconds for 3 meters. The big advantage of electromagnetic radiation over instantaneous (i.e. nothing propagates) electrostatic effects is the possibility to direct and redirect (e.g. by mirrors) radiation.
Electrostatic forces however decrease in all directions with the inverse distance square law.
Two quotes from Heinrich Hertz:
"The total force may be split up into the electrostatic part and the electromagnetic part; there is no doubt that at shorter distances the former, at greater distances the latter, preponderates and settles the direction of the total force."
"Since the interferences undoubtedly change sign after 2.8 m in the neighborhood of the primary oscillation, we might conclude that the electrostatic force which here predominates is propagated with infinite velocity." (Ref.)
That most (or even all?) experiments, when interpreted directly, are inconsistent with a propagation at c of electrostatic forces is normally accepted. But a direct result of an experiment can almost always be explained away by further assumptions.
In your place I would be very eager to build such a device and prove to the world that I was right. I mean, if you succeed in becoming the first person to demonstrate transmission of messages FTL, you'll become one of the icons in the history of science. And you'd probably have no more problems getting funds for what you'd want to do. What about it, Tom  wouldn't this be something?
It has already been shown that electrostatic effects of constant oscillations are in phase with the source. Logical reasoning is enough to conclude that the effects at a distance are also in phase with the source if the signal is not constantly oscillating but represents information.
So the experimental result of FTL transmission can only have an impact if it will be "officially" recognized and published.
I can only see one reason to hesitate trying to do this: fear of being wrong, and have this demonstrated to the world.
On the contrary, I do not exclude that the experiment has already been performed but that its result is kept quiet, because it is almost impossible to explain it by an adhochypothesis within the orthodox view.
Consistent logical reasoning clearly shows, that the assumption of electrostatic forces propagating at the same speed as electromagnetic radiation is refuted both on theoretical and experimental grounds.
How fast is gravity – 20000516
Wolfgang:
So the experimental result of FTL transmission can only have an impact if it will be "officially" recognized and published.
Paul Schlyter:
Well, that would be the purpose of such an experiment: show that information actually can be transmitted FTL, and not merely that the "oscillations are in phase" in some simple case.
There are two possibilities: either the electrostatic effects of constant oscillations are everywhere (more or less) in phase with the source or they are not. Both electromagnetic radiation (propagating at c) and wire waves (propagating at around 0.66 c) are not everywhere in phase with the source. If such a source oscillates at 10^{8} Hertz, then the wire waves are only at distances 2m, 4m, 6m, ... ... in phase with the source, and electromagnetic radiation at distances 3m, 6m, 9m,… .
Now let us suppose that the electrostatic actions at a distance of such constant oscillations are actually EVERYWHERE in phase with their source and nothing at all can be detected propagating at c.
Without the introduction of an adhochypothesis having nothing to do with Maxwell's equations, we must conclude from the experimental results concerning constant signals that also variable signals are transmitted instantaneously.
If electrostatic effects actually propagated at c as officially assumed, then the action of the charge of the oscillating source ( ) would propagate like e.m. radiation.
( ) 1) propagation at c
(+)
() +
(+)  +
() +  +
(+)  +  +
Such an outcome is excluded by the experiments which are in agreement with instantaneous effects (in the nearfield):
( ) 2) instantaneous effects
(+) + + + + + +
()      
(+) + + + + + +
()      
(+) + + + + + +
The introduction of the hypothesis that no information can be transmitted faster than light leads to a rather strange outcome.
(+) 3) "instantaneous effects" propagating at c
() 
(+) + +
()   
(+) + + + +
What does happen if we emit after two normal cycles an inverted cycle?
(+)
() 
(+) + +
()   
(+) + + + +
(+) ? ? ? ? ?
() ? ? ? ? ? ?
Wolfgang:
Consistent logical reasoning clearly shows, that the assumption of electrostatic forces propagating at the same speed as electromagnetic radiation is refuted both on theoretical and experimental grounds.
Paul Schlyter:
If you're making a controversial claim in physics, and if you want to be taken seriously, you cannot just refer to "consistent logic" or "experiments already performed but kept secret"  you'll have to do the experiment and have it published in a peerreviewed journal!
The majority of the socalled "experimental facts" are based on MUCH more questionable "logical reasonings" (and adhochypotheses) than the experimental fact of instantaneous actions at a distance allowing fasterthanlight transmission of information.
Anyway, such an experiment is certainly not difficult to do, at least if interference is used in order to determine time differences of signals propagating both as electrostatic forces and in wires. Does anybody know experimentalists who are able and willing to perform such an experiment with signals containing information?
Wolfgang (in other thread):
It was Maxwell himself who committed the most fundamental error: he claimed that his equations prove that all electromagnetic effects propagate at speed of light, despite the fact that these equations are based on actions at a distance.
John H. Morrison:
Maxwell was quite correct. Express E and B in terms of phi and A. Use the Lorentz gauge. The Green's functions are retarded and advanced potentials. There are no solutions involving action at a distance.
The Coulomb gauge involves apparent action at a distance, but as all gauges give identical physical results, the apparent action at a distance must be canceled by the vector potential term.
I do not doubt that it is possible to introduce complicated premises and theorems from which it then becomes possible to derive the preconceived results.
Take the case of transversal rope waves. Claiming that magnetic (or electrostatic) effects cannot propagate faster than electromagnetic waves is as wrong as claiming that transversal forces cannot propagate faster on the rope than the rope waves.
When Maxwell's theory became generally accepted, a huge confusion prevailed between electric currents in wires (electrons push and pull electrons), electrostatic and magnetic effects (actions at a distance) and electromagnetic waves (photons). Astonishingly this confusion still prevails more than 100 years later.
The electromagnetic momentum density is proportional to E x B, where the cross product is used.
I do not doubt that electromagnetic radiation carries (rather small) momentum, I only criticize the adhoc assumption that electromagnetic radiation (somehow violating normal momentum conservation) will appear in order to compensate strange momentum changes resulting from retardation.
Infinite electric flux paradox – 20070208
Gauss' law for electricity states that the electric flux out of any closed surface is proportional to the total charge enclosed within the surface. The law is also valid if the closed surface is replaced by two parallel planes. The flux out of each plane is then half the charge enclosed between the planes.
Let us imagine an electron at x = x_{0} = 10 nanolightsecond (nLS = 0.3 m) of a coordinate system (y = 0, z = 0). The flux through the yzplane (x = 0) divided by the permittivity of space is therefore equal to half the elementary electron charge.
Now let us assume that the electron at rest is captured at the time t_{0} = 0 by a fast moving neutral particle and that afterwards the electron moves at v = 0.9 c to the origin of the coordinate system, i.e. from {10, 0, 0} to {0, 0, 0}.
A change in electric field through the plane can occur at the earliest at t_{1} = t_{0} + x_{0} / c = 10 ns at the origin of the coordinate system. At t_{1} the electron has reduced its distance from the plane by v ∙ t_{1} from x_{0} = 10 nLS to x_{1} = 1 nLS. When an effect from x_{1} propagating at c can reach the plane, the electron's position is x_{2} = 0.1 nLS. When an effect from x_{2} can reach the plane, the position is already x_{3} = 0.01 nLS, and so on.
Time in Position Duration Effect radius
nanosec. in nLS until crossing in nLS
t0 = 0 x0 = 10 Δt0 = 11.11111 r0 = 4.8432
t1 = 10 x1 = 1 Δt1 = 1.11111 r1 = 0.48432
t2 = 11 x2 = 0.1 Δt2 = 0.11111 r2 = 0.048432
t3 = 11.1 x3 = 0.01 Δt3 = 0.01111 r3 = 0.0048432
t4 = 11.11 x4 = 0.001 Δt4 = 0.00111 r4 = 0.00048432
The duration of the movement from x_{n} to the crosspoint x = 0 is Δt_{n} = x_{n} / v. During this time Δt_{n} the electric field and flux on the plane can only change within a circle around the cross point with the "effect radius" r_{n} = √[(Δt_{n} ∙ c)^{2}  x_{n}^{2}].
So whereas the electric field at the origin of our coordinate system continuously increases to infinity until the electron crosses the plane, the region where the flux no longer can change with electron movement, continuously increases in the same way. At least superficial reasoning leads to the conclusion that the flux through the whole plane increases to infinity instead of remaining constant (and of changing sign at crossing time).
In the original theory of Coulomb, there is no paradox, because the flux increase near the crosspoint is instantaneously compensated by a flux decrease in more distant regions because of decreasing angles of incidence.
Infinite electric flux paradox – 20070213
Hans de Vries:
There's no paradox either in standard EM. Charge is relativistic invariant and Gauss' law works just as fine for a moving charge.
Consider the electron to be at rest and now move the plane instead. The flux through the plane is that of half an electron always. This is in the rest frame.
In your case, the flux can change at all points of the plane at the same time. In my example however, an electron is at rest at {x=10, y=0, z=0} and starts at t = 0 moving at v = 0.9 c towards {0, 0, 0}. Until the electron crosses the plane {x=0, y, z} at t = 10 / 0.9, the flux through the plane can only change within the circle y^{2} + z^{2} <= r^{2} with r = √[ (10 / 0.9)^{2}  10^{2 }] = 4.84.
The assumption seems reasonable that from t = 10 on, when the information that the electron is no longer at rest at {10, 0, 0} reaches the plane, a flux change through the plane spreads from {0, 0, 0}, reaching the circumference y^{2} + z^{2} = r^{2} of the circle with radius r at time t = 10 / 0.9.
According to Gauss's Law, any increase in integrated flux within a region near the center {0, 0, 0} of the yzplane must be compensated by an integrated flux decrease outside that region. So any increase in total flux within our circle must wait until our electron crosses the plane. Only then an integrated flux decrease outside the circle and therefore also an integrated change within the circle becomes possible.
As far as I've learned now, the logical conclusion of such an "infinite flux paradox" is avoided by the assumption that the velocity of a moving charge leads to extrapolated/ anticipated flux changes: The instantaneous change of the flux integral through a plane from flux to +flux at the moment a charge crosses the plane, is caused primarily NOT by local effects of the crossing charge BUT by extrapolated effects of former positions of the charge.
But does this solution not entail another problem: The charge can be stopped just before crossing the plane. Because this information cannot reach the whole circle of the plane where the flux is about to change, the flux integral through the circle and therefore through the whole plane will nonetheless change, thus leading to a contradiction with Gauss' law for electricity?
Isn't it astonishing that in dynamic situations, Gauss' law is assumed to be valid as well under "retardation with c" (Maxwell) as under "instantaneous interaction" (Coulomb), despite very different mechanisms and math (being very simple and transparent in case of Coulomb, and rather complicated and opaque in case of Maxwell)?
Has the old reproach that Maxwell starts with notmediated actionsatadistance and ends with the claim that the effects are produced without such actionsatadistance actually been cleared up? According to Heinrich Hertz 1890 this procedure leads to the unsatisfying feeling that either Maxwell's result or his reasoning leading to this result should be wrong.
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"Maxwell geht aus von der Annahme unvermittelter Fernkräfte, ... und er endet mit der Behauptung, dass diese Polarisationen sich wirklich so verändern, ohne dass in Wahrheit Fernkräfte die Ursachen derselben seien. Dieser Gang hinterlässt das unbefriedigende Gefühl, als müsse entweder das schliessliche Ergebnis, oder der Weg unrichtig sein, auf welchem es gewonnen wurde. " (Heinrich Hertz, "Über die Grundgleichungen der Elektrodynamik für ruhende Körper", Gesammelte Werke, 1894)
Nearfield Electromagnetic Effects on Einstein Special Relativity – 20070315
William Walker:
By the way, recently these superluminal field results have been independently confirmed theoretically and numerically by other researchers:
Aspect on the phase delay and phase velocity in the electromagnetic nearfield (Sten, Hujanen)
Superluminal Behaviors of Electromagnetic Nearfields (Wang, Xiong)
Bill Miller:
It seems that William may indeed be talking about a real anomaly.
Isn't it astonishing that still in the 21st century, there is no (halfway decent) experiment showing that purely electric fields or electromagnetic induction propagate at the same speed as photons in vacuum?
According to Heinrich Hertz, the claim that electricity moves like an incompressible fluid is one Maxwell's favorite statements. An incompressible fluid however does entail INSTANTANEOUS mediated effects at a distance. Thus, we can be sure that Maxwell himself is not consistent in this question.
Maxwell starts with instantaneous actionsatdistance, then he derives transversal radiation propagating at c, and finally he claims to have shown that retardation at c is valid for each Maxwellequation alone, thus undermining his own derivation of c in the case of transversal waves.
Recommended reading:
Arguments in favour of action at a distance by André K. Assis
On Essential Incompleteness of Hertz’s Experiments on Propagation of Electromagnetic Interactions by R. SmirnovRueda
Experimental report: