The author's theory of the aether has, as its very foundation, a fundamental structure, analysis of which in terms of the physics of electricity and electromagnetism, gives full account of the nature of the photon, as verified by a theoretical evaluation of the fine-structure constant in excellent accord with its measured value. The fine-structure constant is a dimensionless physical quantity which plays a dominant role in the theoretical interpretation of the radiation spectrum of atoms and so in the interpretation of cosmological data by the astrophysicist.

The theory dates from the late 1950s and was first introduced in 1960 by the
author's 48 page publication* 'The Theory of Gravitation'*, which showed
how to derive the following formula:

This is an expression for the inverse of the fine-structure constant, a physical quantity dependent upon the Planck constant h, the speed of light c and the unitary charge of the electron, all quantities which are characteristic properties of the aether. Note that h is the fundamental parameter of quantum theory in that it governs the jitter motion that is associated with Heisenberg's Principle of Uncertainty concerning the relationship between position and momentum of matter in its interaction with the vacuum medium, the aether. The electric charge e is the seat of the aether displacement currents we associate with electrical energy storage in the vacuum medium and with electromagnetic wave propagation through that medium at the speed of light c. The ratio r/d is a term that emerges from the author's theory as the radius r of a circular orbital motion, that jitter motion just mentioned, expressed in terms of the lattice spacing d of a cubic structure seen as defining the sites of electric charges of magnitude e permeating the whole of what we call space, namely the aether, which charge is neutralized electrically by being set in a background continuum of a uniformly dispersed system of charge of opposite polarity.

The author's task in that late 1950 effort was that of deriving the theoretical value of r/d, based on those lattice charges taking up positions of minimum, but positive, energy potential and connecting the result to a disturbance of the aether lattice by causing a tiny 3x3x3 unit of that lattice to spin and so account for the setting up electromagnetic waves, the frequency of which is proportional to the angular speed of the spin and the energy involved, this being the phenomenon we term the 'photon'. Contrary to the physicist's orthodox opinion that photons transfer energy by travelling at the speed of light, the theory indicated that photons are standing events seated in the aether at points where energy is exchanged between matter and aether and vice versa, whereas the communication at light speed is by electromagnetic waves which signal the amount of energy by their frequency and control a one-to-one energy quantum transfer by virtue of conveying a quantum of momentum between the two events.

That, in summary, is what the author's theoretical derivation of the fine-structure constant meant and, that quantity having no alternative explanation in physics, the result was clear evidence that we exist within a real omnipresent aether medium and that our future progress in understanding cosmology and many of the outstanding mysteries of science depends upon our accepting that the aether really does exist and not trying to evade reference to it, as one does in following the doctrines of Einstein's theory of relativity.

As the title of that 1960 publication implies, one spin-off from the theory was an insight into how the force of gravity can be explained as an electromagnetic force set up in the presence of matter and acting between charges induced quantum-electrodynamically to provide a dynamically-balancing system in motion at that jitter frequency of the aether. More that this, however, even in that 1960 work, there was an insight into the solution of another major mystery in science, that of what causes Earth and other astronomical bodies to spin and have an intrinsic state of magnetization.

Not surprisingly, over the years since 1960, the author found that the theory developed with time and, in respect of the fine-structure constant, this development concerned the determination of the exact value of r/d. It was evident, as noted in that 1960 publication, that the aether could not have its lattice charges precisely at positions of zero energy potential, because that would preclude storage of what we call 'field energy' and deny scope for the aether to shed energy at a seat of wave interception by a photon event. Accordingly, as inspection of that 1960 publication will show, the author could but surmise as to the precise state of lattice charge displacement by increase of that radius parameter r, looking at the tiny difference, a very small fraction of one per cent, needed to bring the theoretical value of the fine-structure constant into exact agreement with its measured value.

This problem persisted and, though the theory
developed substantially, particularly with regard to the theory of gravitation
and the theoretical derivation of G, the constant of gravitation, was still not
fully resolved in 1969, when the author published his book *'Physics without
Einstein'*.

It was in 1972 that the key breakthrough emerged
and the result was published in *'Physics Letters'*, **43A**
p. 423 (1972) under the title: *'Aether Theory and the Fine Structure
Constant'* . This paper was co-authored with Dr. D. M. Eagles of the
National Measurement Laboratory in Australia, it being his initiative in having
Dr. Burton of that laboratory's computer unit recalculate the author's
derivation of the fine-structure constant, to a higher degree of precision, that
led to a cooperative effort in interpreting the result. The key to the exact
evaluation of the free-space value of the fine structure constant was a kind of
state of resonance as between the form of the aether lattice charge e and that
of the electron, the latter having a much smaller charge volume. This
'resonance' was really a condition governed by the conservation of the volume of
space occupied by a unitary charge e, according to its mass-energy, in
transmutations of state as between the lattice charge form and the
electron-positron form we associate with QED, quantum electrodynamics. QED is
understood by theoretical physicists as accounting for 'vacuum energy
fluctuations' by which they interpret the observed spin properties of the
electron with very high accuracy. In electron charge volume terms, this author's
theory implied a volume ratio of 1844.52 for the aether charges to be seated at
absolute zero electric interaction energy potential energy, but this quantity
has to be an odd integer and that brings into play the r-increase displacement
needed to give the aether some small level of energy priming, that ratio then
becoming 1843.

The formula for the inverse of the fine-structure constant then becomes:

which was in 1972, and still is in 2001, within
1 part in a million accord with the value as measured today. The way in which
the above formula is derived from the early formula above is explained in that
*'Physics Letters'* paper. It is based on theory which applies the
Thomson formula linking charge radius and mass to obtain a relationship between
the radius of the electron charge and that of the aether lattice charge as the
ratio 8(r/d)^{2}/9, which, if the related charge volume ratio, is 1/N,
means that the above formula applies with N as 1843.

This theoretical derivation of the
fine-structure constant was mentioned by B. W. Petley of the National Physical
Laboratory in U.K. in his 1985 book *'The Fundamental Constants and the
Frontier of Measurement'*, published by Adam Hilger Ltd. (pages 161 and
163). Petley discusses in his book (pages 42 and 43) the possibility that the
fine-structure constant might vary with time, by reference to observation of red
shifts affecting the spectra of distant QSOs (quasar stellar objects) only to
conclude that it would seem that, if there is any variation, it is no more that
one part in 10^{12} per year.

Now, the reason for writing this, some 29 years
after that 1972 paper presenting the above formula was published, is the fact
that J. K. Webb et al, in *'Physical Review Letters'*,
**87**, p. 091301 (27 August 2001), present data to show that
several distant QSOs exhibit a fine-structure constant that is of the order of
nearly one part in 100,000 smaller than that applicable here on
Earth.

This causes the author to wonder how this affects the theory outlined above. The first point of importance is the fact that N has, on energy optimization criteria, a maximum value of 1843. This means that, for a more highly energized state of the aether such as might apply in the locality of a QSO, the fine-structure constant, which decreases as N decreases, can only have a smaller value owing to N changing with that energy activity. The theory, unless well-founded, had a 50% chance of meeting this test, since one could imagine N increasing or decreasing. The evidence indicates a decrease of N and so the theory meets this test. The question then arises as to the amount of the reduction in value estimated from the observation data. The data, as shown in a diagram, included error bars, presented as a function of red shift. The data revealed two groups, one of which has its error bars overlapping, but with centres close to, the zero difference as compared with the Earth value and the other group of which includes four sets of data all of which have error bars ranging about positions which imply a difference of the order of 1 part in 100,000.

As to the latter the authors gave one estimated
measure as -(0.76 +/- 0.28)x10^{-5} but they made the observation that
'The only potentially significant systematic errors push (this discrepancy)
towards positive values', a statement which says that the 0.76 term should
really be somewhat higher.

Now, concerning the scope of this author's
theory in adapting to this situation, it is conceivable that in a region of very
high energy activity, such as might apply for the QSO, there could be an
effective displacement which increases r to a level set by one lattice charge in
two having the next lower odd N value of 1841. The simple-cubic lattice
structure of the charge sites in the aether and, in particular, also in the
3x3x3 array of the photon structure, would retain the three-dimensional symmetry
for such a state. Therefore, one could argue that an effective value of 1842
could apply instead of 1843 and so modify the value of the fine-structure
constant as specified by the relevant expression above. One then finds that in
such a case the fine-structure constant would be reduced in terms of its value
here on Earth by the factor (0.904)x10^{-5}, which could well explain
the phenomenon evident from the QSO data.

It is submitted that the new data strengthens,
rather than weakens, the aether theory advocated by the author. Furthermore, and
in conclusion, it is noted that the author has already discussed in LECTURE
No. 6 the anomalous galactic red shift data reported earlier by the
astrophysicist W. G. Tifft ['Discrete States
of Redshift and Galaxy Dynamics II: Systems of Galaxies', Astronomical Journal,
**211**, 31-46 (1977)] which
implied that even lower N values can exist in certain cosmological regions of
very high energy.