Copyright, Harold Aspden, 1997

Abstract: In 1985 the author sought publication of a brief Letter to the Editor in the journal Nature. It had the above title and was duly rejected as being 'too speculative'. Since it is relevant to the subject of these Web pages it is now reproduced here, word for word, so that you, the reader, may weigh the importance of such 'speculation', taking into account the concluding commentary at the end of this Essay.

Statistical analysis by T. M. Lutz describes an interesting investigation into the periodicity of geomagnetic reversal patterns over long time periods [1]. It is important that such efforts should be made to determine whether there are patterns of reversal that conform with the Earth's motion with the Sun about the centre of the galaxy. However, though Lutz seems to rule out possible reversal periodicities measured in a few tens of millions of years, there is cause, it seems, to believe that a cyclical sequence is in evidence. Whether this is on the scale of 30 or 260 million cycle periods, the difficult question must be faced, as to why the Earth's magnetic field should be at all affected, either directly or indirectly, as a function of motion through empty space. Indirect action could be connected with the related evidence of periods of Phanzerozoic "geological and biological upheavals" mentioned by Lutz and researched in depth, for example by Steiner [2].

It is, therefore, sought by this letter to draw attention to an extremely simple facet of electrical field theory which, curiously enough, has direct bearing upon this enigmatic problem. It will be shown that if 'space' can, in any way, be said to have electrical properties, then we must think also that regions of 'anti-space' exist, just as there is matter and anti-matter. Then we infer space domain boundaries, possibly of cosmological proportions, and can see scope for thinking of magnetic reversals as our Earth crosses such boundaries. This is especially if the geomagnetic field involves a reaction effect in the space medium, always assuming that the latter does have electrical features. We will not here speculate on that issue. It suffices to show that the domain form and boundaries must exist.

Only one assumption is necessary. This is that vacuous space has the ability to store electric field energy density E2/8π by responding to a field E as if it contains discrete charges q in a uniform plenum or continuum of opposite charge density σ. [Note that c.g.s units are used here]. This means that there are electrostatic forces acting between the charges q and σ, when the q charges are displaced in unison by a force Eq acting on each charge. We write, as equation (1):

Eq = kx

where x is displacement and k is a constant of the system. Thus q, σ and k are unknown quantities. However, the energy stored per charge q is kx2/2 or, since there are σ/q charges in unit volume of electrically-neutral space, the energy density is k(σ/q)x2/2. We eliminate x from equation (1) to find, as equation (2), that:
k = 4πσq

This may not seem at all surprising because this same formula is a measure of the change of force acting on a charge q in passing through a surface having the charge s per unit area. However, equation (2) relates to a force rate and a charge density and, as experts on electrical theory well know, there is no way of justifying equation (2) without specifying boundary conditions. Displacement of a charge q from the centre of a sphere of charge density σ, for example, is subject to a restoring force rate of one third that given by equation (2). So we know that either space is a true void electrically [in which case we have no insight into how it may store field energy] or [given that it has an intrinsic electrical form] it is not spherically bounded. In fact, consistent with our assumption, wherever we are in space, we must lie between two planar boundaries of infinite extent in relation to boundary spacing, if we want equation (2) to hold with rigour. This is an absolute necessity, based on accepted electrical theory and the assumption that there is something, however elusive, having electrical form in the space medium.

The above conclusion holds if there is nothing in space outside the planar stratum of charge density σ. It also holds if there are sequential parallel planar layers or strata of alternately-opposite charge density. Thus we can have 'space' and 'anti-space' with the forms (-q,+σs) and (+q,-σ), respectively, as depicted in Fig. 1. Indeed, if we want to think of space as extending to infinite bounds then it must have this form. Theoretically, however, the magnitude of σ need not be the same in each stratum. Also, the planar boundaries need not be equi-spaced.

Fig. 1

Figure caption: Path of solar system in traversing space boundaries between strata with a positively charged continuum (dark edged) and strata with a negatively charged continuum (plain edged).

Now, the evidence in support comes from the fact that, after travelling a distance measured in tens and sometimes hundreds of light years, our geomagnetic field reverses. This indicates a crossing of a space boundary. Then, bearing in mind that our linear motion through cosmic space is compounded by a cyclic galactic motion measured in hundreds of millions of years, we find that there are periods when the boundary encounters occur more rapidly because the motion is normal to the boundary planes and intervening periods when encounters are less frequent because the motion is oblique to, or parallel with, the planes. Hence there should be galactic periodical geomagnetic reversals. Furthermore, the slow oblique boundary crossings must have some dramatic effect in disturbing the Sun and exciting its radiation and sunspot activity, possibly accounting for some of the geological effects indirectly linked with the magnetic reversals.

It is submitted, therefore, that the pattern of reversal of the geomagnetic field, if it can be linked with the periodicities of our galactic motion, will prove the existence of a stratified 'space' and 'anti-space'. It will also help to induce an acceptance of the related explanation of Planck's radiation law and the derivation of the fine structure constant in terms of a vacuum of exactly the form just discussed, this being the subject of a very recent paper in which the fine structure constant was calculated and found to be in precise accord with its measured value [3].

The author acknowledges a valuable discussion, nearly 20 years ago, with Professor L. H. Thomas of Columbia University, New York, in which the vital importance of boundary conditions of the kind considered here was emphasized. In previous work [4], the author has sought to adhere to a space domain space structure of cubic nature, by analogy with ferromagnetism. However, it does seem that the electric vacuum is stratified, though magnetic or spin properties might add other form in the planar dimension.

1. T. M. Lutz, Nature, v. 317, 404 (1985),
2. J. Steiner, Jour. Geol. Soc. Australia, v. 14, 99 (1967). 3. H. Aspden, Physics Letters, v. 110A, 113 (1985). 4. H. Aspden, 'Physics Unified', Sabberton, p. 171 (1980).


Commentary: The text in square brackets, as used above, has been added to the original version as considered by the journal Nature. Their letter of rejection (Reference A10291 dated 11 November 1985) and signed by Dr. George Hentschel, Assistant Editor, said simply: " Thank you for submitting your manuscript 'Geomagnetic reversal periodicity' for consideration. Regrettably we are unable to publish it as the paper is too speculative to be appropriate for Nature. I am therefore returning your manuscript."

The result, of course, is that my contribution which argues that space has to be sliced into planar sections, if we are to make sense of electric field energy storage by the vacuum medium, did not enter the scientific record. Only these Web pages can now serve to enlighten those interested in such matters. Is anyone interested? You might think so, if you now refer to my Research Note 11/97 recently added to these Web pages. Also, had you read an item in THE TIMES (London newspaper), Monday September 25, 1995 (p. 16), you would see that Nigel Hawkes had a relevant item in his Science Briefing entitled 'When North becomes South'.

He writes: "It remains very hard to explain why the Earth's magnetic field should change direction so often, and so unpredictably. For the past few million years it has been averaging a flip every 220,000 years, and if that pattern is to continue we are overdue for another one. But earlier in geological history, during the Cretaceous 'quiet zone' between 118 and 83 million years ago, it never reversed at all."

Such geomagnetic reversal behaviour is as expected from the showing in Fig. 1. There would be times when the reversals are relatively quite rapid and other times when a long lapse could occur between those reversals. Remember also that the spacing between the parallel boundary planes in Fig. 1 need not be regular. If it were and if it really is true that the geomagnetic field did not reverse for 35 million years then that does pose a problem to what is suggested. The reason is easily explained. Given uniform spacing, suppose we draw a circle, a tangent to that circle and a line intersecting the circle and drawn parallel to that tangent. Let the spacing between those two parallel lines be 1/20th of the circle diameter. The angle 2cos-1(0.90) is then the angular portion of the circle enclosed between those two parallel lines. This is 0.144. In contrast, where parallel lines having the same spacing are drawn to intersect the circle virtually radially, the angular portion is 1/(20)π or 0.0159, so it takes 9 times longer to travel between boundary crossings in one part of the orbit than in the rapid crossing region. Comparing 35 million years with 220,000 years one has a ratio of 160.

Now, faced with this situation, I would suspect that the data for proving the absence of field reversals going back to that doldrum period 100 million years ago is questionable. It seems unlikely that the inter-boundary spacing could be some 20 so times greater in some regions of space in comparison with the region we occupy at present. Whatever determines the boundary spacing, the chances are that there will be some tendency towards uniformity.

One must, of course, also take into account other factors, such as the compounded velocities of the motion of the solar system relative to the galactic centre and the cosmic background. Cosmic radiation data suggest motion through the cosmic background at say, 350-400 km/s whereas the galactic orbital motion is at much higher speeds. If the planar boundaries in the space medium are set in the frame of that cosmic background, then there will be times in a cycle when the solar system is moving through those boundaries in a normal direction at the sum of the two speeds just mentioned and times when the speed difference applies. No doubt, much of this, albeit speculative, enquiry can be resolved by analysis of cosmological data by research students familiar with such matters.

There seems, however, to be more purpose in confining studies of these reversals to data available for the past 10 million or so years to see how the pattern of reversals can be accommodated by theory. As this author sees it, the aether is an essential actor in this phenomenon of Nature and it must not be ignored. There seems little sense in engaging in the computing exercise reported in that above-quoted newspaper article by Nigel Hawkes. By using a computer model based on an electrically conductive fluid core stirred by convective currents and aided by the Earth's rotation, it seems that researchers could contrive a magnetic field reversal. It took over two thousand hours of computing time on a Cray supercomputer to create a field flip which appeared close to the end of their computer run. So, what does that prove?

As I understand the laws of electromagnetism, the motion of a conductor in a magnetic field will develop a reaction that produces an opposing magnetic field effect. Fields can get themselves involved in eddies and vortices and flux can get trapped in some situations, but always there is the overriding factor that reaction means opposition. Fields get weaker, not stronger. You cannot induce a strong magnetic field by a self-exciting dynamo and keep faith with the orthodox laws of physics unless you have something for the dynamo to push against. If you turn a rotor in a machine, that machine must hold firm and not turn as a whole. Otherwise you spin the whole system as if it were a flywheel and no magnetism is then induced. If you have a magnetic field established and turn the rotor in that field then it can develop radial electric fields and so produce currents which can be fed back to aid the magnetic field. However, that presupposes there is some way for those currents to find a route that is effectively a winding designed to produce its own magnetic field.

If heat flow is introduced into the argument then, from what we know about the Nernst Effect, EMFs can be produced in directions mutual orthogonal to a magnetic field and the thermal gradient. Accordingly, a radial thermal field in the conductive core of body Earth might set up circuital currents that develop magnetic polarization. My understanding of that phenomenon is that the Nernst coefficient involved can be negative or positive, according to the properties of the substance, which means that this is not always a reaction effect that assures opposition to the polarizing magnetic field. Accordingly, I see scope for understanding a possible process of self-induction of magnetism in body Earth, and accept that erratic reversals can then occur if the thermal activity in the Earth leads to instabilities. However, given that my aether theory is so good at providing the quantitative basis for the geomagnetic field as well as explaining its source and given that the space domain boundaries simply must exist to give foundation for electrostatic field energy storage, then I see no real option. I hold firm to my belief that the theory which features so much in these Web pages offers the true account explaining the origin of the geomagnetic field.