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Consciousness, Physics, and the Holographic Paradigm

Essays by A.T. Williams

Part I:  Sneaking Up On Einstein

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain,
and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
- Albert Einstein (1879–1955)


Section 1 Section 2 Section 3 Section 4 Section 5 Section 6

Chapter 4

Section 6:  Faraday and the Ether

Throughout much of the 19th century the movement of physical phenomena in space was generally thought to be facilitated by a poorly defined material ether. As was his custom in matters concerning mathematical and theoretical physics, James Clerk Maxwell consulted with his friend, colleague, and mentor William Thomson – who was later knighted as Baron Kelvin of Largs (Lord Kelvin) – on the issue of the luminiferous ether and later incorporated some of Thomson's ideas in his dynamical theory of the electromagnetic field. Maxwell wrote:

    From these considerations Professor W. Thomson has argued*, that the medium must have a density capable of comparison with that of gross matter, and has even assigned an inferior limit to that density.
    We may therefore receive, as a datum derived from a branch of science independent of that with which we have to deal, the existence of a pervading medium, of small but real density, capable of being set in motion, and of transmitting motion from one part to another with great, but not infinite, velocity.

* On the Possible Density of the Luminiferous Medium, and on the Mechanical Value of a Cubic Mile of Sunlight,
Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1854), p. 57. 35

More than a century after Einstein's 1905 statement declaring that a mechanical ether is superfluous in the special theory of relativity, many individuals seem to believe his statement pertains to any ether, any time, anywhere. That is not the case. Einstein specifically targeted the rigid mechanical (Lorentzian) ether then in vogue. Nor was Einstein the first natural philosopher (physicist) to reject Maxwell's mechanical ether. Indeed, the universal principle of energy points directly to the all-encompassing, pervasive, nonmaterial primordial energy domain.

Some fifty years prior to Albert Einstein's exclusion of the Maxwell-Hertz-Lorentz ether, Michael Faraday had doubts about the necessity of a luminiferous ether. In his paper, The Hypothetical Ether, written in the early 1850's and preserved in the archives of the Royal Institution, London, Faraday wrote:

    The ether – its requirements – should not mathematics prove or shew that a fluid might exist in which lateral vibrations are more facil than direct vibrations.
    Can that be the case in a homogeneous fluid?
    Yet must not the ether be homogeneous to transmit rays in every direction at all times.
    If a stretched spring represent by its lateral vibrations the ether and its vibrations – what is there in the ether that represents the strong cohesion in the line of the string particles on which however the lateral vibration(s) essentially depend.
    And if one tries to refer it to a sort of polarity how can that consist with the transmission of rays in every direction at once across a given ether.
    If the ether be supposed capable of transmitting direct vibration(s) also – then which is most facilly transmitted.
    Which will pass into the ether.
    Do the direct vibrations constitute light rays or not.
    If so what is the property of this light.
    If not what are the results of this direct vibration.
    Can not all the light in a ray be polarized by Iceland Spar [transparent calcite] – and therefore is not all the vibrations lateral – Then there are no direct vibrations.
    As rays of heat and actinics 36 can be polarized so their rays or vibrations as lateral as those of light.
    Is it possible to conceive a liquid in which there shall be all lateral and no direct vibration.
    How do any lateral vibrations in fluids resolve themselves?
    The lateral vibrations in pools of water by wind – are soon converted into direct vibrations.
    How can the lateral vibrations from a center open out i.e. what becomes of them as to their lateral extent at increased distances – what is the relative magnitude laterally – close to the light center and at 10 or 100 times that distance.
    If the same then how do the vibrations open out at the increased distance so as to fill 100 times or 10000 times the same area or how do they superpose close at hand to the center so as to be able to open out to this extent.
    Should not a mathematical account be given of the possibility of all these things.
    If the ether be uniform in all directions and the transmission of rays shews that – then how is it that a progressive lateral vibration is not very quickly converted by the massy restitution of forces into direct vibrations expanding laterally.
    If a tense wire or string in a fluid have a progressive lateral vibration given to it – does any portion of the fluid [illeg.] with it and by it convey lateral vibration – or do they not all quickly become direct vibrations.

Faraday's paper, The Hypothetical Ether, remained unpublished until L. Pearce Williams included it in his biography of Faraday in 1965. The reason for its obscurity is an enigma. Williams notes that it is an integral part of Faraday's laboratory Diary, "There does exist a manuscript, contained in the eighth folio volume of the manuscript copy of the Diary, entitled 'The Hypothetical Ether'."37

As Faraday's biographer, Williams is at a loss to explain the highly irregular lack of publication imposed upon this single paper in Faraday's laboratory Diary. "This volume," he writes, "is at the Royal Institution. Thomas Martin, in his preface to volume 7 of the published Diary, does not mention this paper or give his reasons for not publishing it."38

Continued in Chapter 5:  The Energetic Primordial Medium


Reference Notes (Click on the Note number to return to the text):

35  Maxwell, James Clerk. The Scientific Papers of James Clerk Maxwell [1890], vol. 1, p. 528. W. D. Niven, editor. Two volumes bound as one, Dover Publications, New York (no date).

36  Actinism:  The intrinsic property in radiation that enables it to produce photochemical activity.

37  Williams, L. Pearce. Michael Faraday, A Biography, p. 455. Da Capo Press, Inc., New York, NY, 1965.  ISBN 0-306-80299-6

38  Ref. 37, p. 464, footnote 59.


Back to Chapter 4, Section 4:  Faraday Versus Maxwell
(If you arrived at this page from Chapter 3, Section 2, please either press your 'Back' button or click this link: Electromagnetic Radiation and Light Wave Energetics)

Index:  Consciousness, Physics, and the Holographic Paradigm

Last Edit:  September 26, 2010.

Comments and suggestions welcome.

This paper is a work in progress.
Please check for the latest update before quoting in other venues the concepts and hypotheses presented here.
Thank you.


Copyright © 2004-2010 by Alan T. Williams. All rights reserved.