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KRONOS Vol IV, No. 4
THE ELECTROMAGNETIC CIRCULARIZATION OF PLANETARY ORBITS
CHRIS S. SHERRERD
There is evidence that the Sun and planets possess large electric charges. Any charged body moving in a magnetic field in any direction other than one that is precisely aligned with the field will be subjected to a force tending to change its trajectory. In general, the acceleration due to such a force will tend to make the body revolve or spiral around an axis parallel to the magnetic field, and the radius of curvature will be determined by the velocity of the body relative to the magnetic field, the mass of the body, the charge of the body, and the strength of the field.*
For such effects to explain historically reported incongruities in orbital dynamics, it would appear that extremely large magnetic fields would have had to exist. For planetary masses traveling with velocities appropriate to inner solar-system orbits and carrying electric charges like those observed or proposed, orbital changes along curves with radii between, say, half to twice the Earth's present orbital radius, would require magnetic field strengths in the regions outside the Earth's Roche limit many orders of magnitude larger than those known to exist today. We therefore would ask, what are: (a) the sources of magnetic dipole moments having field strengths of such magnitudes; and (b) the causes of their sudden dissipation 25 centuries ago?
Now as those familiar with inductance in electrical circuits well know, a magnetic field, as mathematically represented by a dipole moment, is a form of energy storage. The establishment of a magnetic field involves a transfer of kinetic energy in the form of electrical currents (or motions of charged bodies, as in the case of magnetic braking) into potential (magnetic field) energy. The dissipation (i.e., demagnetization) of a magnetic field likewise involves a transfer of energy back into kinetic form. It is conceivable that transfers of energy between such kinetic and potential forms might explain the orbital incongruities of concern.
But, as we will now discuss, it is also conceivable that such "magnetic effects" existed as manifestations of other effects.
WHAT ACTUALLY ARE MAGNETIC FORCES?
We speak of magnetic fields and magnetic dipole moments as physical realities, which they indeed represent to the engineer designing electromagnetic devices for a technological society. But to the physicist, who is interested in understanding the structure of matter and energy, it is a different story.
In an absolute sense, there is no such physical entity as a "magnetic field". Rather, in a strict sense, a "magnetic field" is but a mathematical model representing the force vectors, which are exerted upon either a moving electrical charge or a physical "object" possessing a magnetic dipole moment, when in a region of space "near" a reference physical "object" which also possesses a magnetic dipole moment. The force vectors are the very real physical phenomena, and it is they which give rise to our mathematical construct called by the general term "magnetism".
But what is it which really characterizes a physical "object" which "possesses a magnetic dipole moment" such that such forces are observable? In a key paper delivered at the A. E. I. Research Laboratory at Rugby, England, on October 11, 1961, Dr. K. J. R. Wilkerson reported on the results of his pondering the question "by what mechanism does an electric charge in . . . motion in a magnetic field perceive a force, whereas one at rest in a magnetic field does not?''(1) His conclusion is that magnetic forces are not a unique property of matter per se, but rather are relativistic manifestations of electrostatic forces! By the Special Theory of Relativity, which has been macroscopically well demonstrated experimentally in other areas, a physical object with a net electrostatic charge which is in motion relative to a flow of electric current in another physical object will experience different Fitzgerald-Lorentz contractions of the spacings of the positive residual charges among the conductor atoms (i.e., the well-known "holes" of semi-conductor solid-state technology) and of the electrons in the physical object containing the current flow, and hence will experience different positive and negative net charges in that body. That net difference, purely electrostatic in nature, gives rise to the forces on the charged body which we observe as "magnetic forces".
Physical "objects" which "possess a magnetic dipole moment" are, therefore, "objects" which contain both negative and positive charges (i.e., electrons and positive ions or "holes") with a difference in net flow between them (i.e., within which there is a net electric current flow). With conductors carrying an electric current and with certain electric flows within plasma fields (we discuss this latter case in more detail below), that is easy to envision. But "magnetized objects" likewise are such, insofar as they are objects, in whose local crystalline structures the atoms are so aligned, that orbital electron and "hole" motions present net overall non-zero vector summations of each. On the other hand, "magnetic" fields which are not properties of physical objects, such as the "magnetic" or "H" field of electromagnetic radiation, or that of sub-atomic "particles" when represented as electromagnetic "waves", apparently are fundamentally of a quite different, though related, property of matter and energy.
In his paper, Wilkerson also points out that the equivalent electrostatic field of such a relativistic manifestation is "surprisingly" large even for low-conduction electron-drift velocities: "In a copper sheet 1 mm thick, carrying a linear current density of 20 A/cm . . . the charge below each square centimeter of sheet transported by the drift electrons is 2000 Coulombs, and so corresponds to an electric field E of 11 x 1015 V/cm near each face of the sheet." "That such noticeable effects as magnetism should spring from exceedingly small <Fitzgerald-Lorentz > contractions which are to be associated with practicable velocities, must be attributed to the precise balance of large opposing charge concentrations which make up the structure of an electrical conductor."(2)
How does this relativistic manifestation affect planetary dynamics? If interplanetary space is indeed occupied by the dual plasma flows of low-speed protons flowing radially out from the Sun and very high-speed electrons flowing radially into the Sun,(3) then any charged body in motion relative to the outward proton flow would indeed experience a very strong relativistic electrostatic field due to this difference in the Fitzgerald-Lorentz contractions of the spacings between the low-speed protons and between the high-speed electrons. For a charged body approaching the Sun on a precisely radial path (i.e., motion locally parallel to and also immersed within the dual "current flow"), the forces would tend to be precisely balanced, and motion would remain precisely radial. However, such motion would be dynamically unstable: Given even a slightly off-radial velocity component, the forces would be unbalanced, such as to cause the velocity vector to become further off-radial. (That is, these forces would be proportional in magnitude to, and in the direction of, the vector cross product of the curl vector of the plasma field and the body's velocity vector.) Hence, any charged body approaching the Sun on a path not precisely radial will experience "magnetic forces" tending to circularize its orbit about the Sun, not because of the existence of interplanetary "magnetic fields" but due to the dual unbalanced proton-electron plasma flows.
However, rather than affecting only the body's velocity vector, such a net force will, by virtue of Newton's Third Law, also have a significant effect on the plasma current flow paths, that effect being observable as a "plasma sheath" about the body. A plasma current flowing at relativistic speeds will offer high resistance to such effects; in the above hypothesis, the high-speed incoming electron flow would manifest a much higher resistance to such effects than would the slower outgoing proton flow. But in either case, both the body's orbital velocity and the plasma current flow paths will be considerably affected.
1. K. J. R. Wilkerson, "Magnetic Force and Moving Charge," Proceedings of the Institution of
Electrical Engineers (1961), 109B, pp. 244-248.