Ivor Catt et al.,
This is the historic first disclosure in
Displacement Current - and how to get rid of it
I. Catt and M. F. Davidson and D. S. Walton, in Wireless World dec78.
To enable the continuity of
electric current to be retained across a capacitor Maxwell proposed a
"displacement current". By treating the capacitor as a special kind
of transmission line this mathematical convenience is no longer required.
theory proposes that when an electric current flows
down a wire into a capacitor it spreads out across the plate, producing an
electric charge which in turn leads to an electric field between the
capacitor plates. The valuable concept of continuity of electric current is
then retained by postulating (after Maxwell) [reference 1] a
"displacement current", which is a mathematical manipulation of the
electric field E between the capacitor plates which has the dimensions of
electric current and completes the flow of "electricity". This
approach permits us to retain Kirchhoff's Laws and other valuable concepts,
even though superficially it appears that at the capacitor there is a break
in the otherwise continuous flow of electric current.
The flaw in this model is revealed
when we notice that the electric current entered the capacitor at one point
only on the capacitor plate. We must then explain how the electric charge
flowing down the wire suddenly distributes itself uniformly across the whole capacitor
plate. We know that this cannot happen since the charge cannot flow out
across the plate at a velocity in excess of the velocity of light. This
paradoxical situation is brought about by a fundamental flaw in the basic
model. Work on high speed logic design [reference 2] has shown that the model
of a lumped capacitance is faulty, and "displacement current" is an
artefact of this faulty model.
The true model is quite different.
Electric current enters the capacitor [Note 1] through
a wire and then spreads out across the plate of the capacitor in the same way
as ripples flow out from a stone dropped into a pond. If we consider only one
pie-shaped wedge of the capacitor, see Figure 64 in http://www.ivorcatt.com/6_5.htm
or Fig. 1c in WW dec78, we can
recognise it as a parallel plate transmission line whose only unusual feature
is that the line width is increasing (and hence the impedance is decreasing).
The capacitor is made up of a number of these pie-shaped transmission lines
in parallel, so the proper model for a capacitor is a transmission line.
Equivalent series resistance for a
capacitor is the initial characteristic impedance of this transmission line
at a radius equal to the radius of the input wires. Series inductance does
not exist. Pace the many documented values for series inductance in a
capacitor, this confirms experience that when the so-called series inductance
of a capacitor is measured it turns out to be no more than the series inductance
of the wires connected to the capacitor. No mechanism has ever been proposed
for an internal series inductance in a capacitor.
Since any capacitor has now become
a transmission line, it is no more necessary to postulate "displacement
current" in a capacitor than it is necessary to do so for a transmission
line. The excision of "displacement current" from Electromagnetic
Theory has been based on arguments which are independent of the classic
dispute over whether the electric current causes the electromagnetic field or
1. "History of displacement current", by Catt, Davidson and Walton, Physics Education, to be published early 1979. [jan99. The Inst. Phys. broke their contract with me to publish this article. It was eventually published in Wireless World in March 1979. (Essen F.R.S. told me Inst. Phys broke their contract with him to publish another article.)]
(noise) in digital computers", I. Catt, IEEE Trans. EC-16, Dec. 1967,
[Note 1. 7oct02. The article discusses a capacitor
as it is always drawn in circuit diagrams, for instance the Harmsworth 1905
Encyclopaedia p1541. It has two circular plates, and the connecting wires
enter each plate at its centre. See Figure 64 at http://www.ivorcatt.com/6_5.htm
. This idea of the capacitor,
which is for example a Leyden Jar, led Maxwell to propose "the extra current", later called
"Displacement Current". The truth is different, a practical
capacitor being as shown in Figure 65 of http://www.ivorcatt.com/6_5.htm
. A true diagram, with
electric current travelling along the capacitor plate from one end to the
other, could have prevented Maxwell from proposing "Displacement
Current" in the first place, except that Maxwell was impartial [his
treatise, art. 62.] over the possibility of instantaneous action at
a distance, so that electric charge (which was not particulate during
Maxwell's time, and had no mass,) might be able to jump from one end of the
capacitor plate to the other instantaneously.
[This article follows inexorably
from the realisation that a capacitor is made up of two parallel plates,
entered at one end, exactly like a transmission line. The realisation that
classical electromagnetic theory treats displacement current in a capacitor
and in a transmission line in contradictory ways has been ignored over the
succeeding twenty years by every Reader in Electromagnetism in every
university in the world. They keep their heads down. They take their
salaries, but evade their duties. Ask your favourite Reader in
Electromagnetism, even from the University of North-West Redbourn,
to make a written comment on this. Or ask the author of a book on
electromagnetic theory. One hundred and fifty pounds to the first man who is
successful! However, my money is safe. Not one of them will want to lose his
job, or have to modify his book, by commenting in writing, and so betraying
their and their colleagues' threadbare, inconsistent dogma. They continue to
pump the dogma down the throats of bemused students. - Ivor
Second paper; "History of Displacement Current"
Scandals in Electromagnetic
Professor D. A. Bell, (HoD), M.A., B.Sc., Ph.D., F.Inst.P., F.I.E.E., saves
the day, using all his gongs. Then, silence for 15 years, which continues. No more cracked chimes
from Bell. May he R.I.P.
The intrepid D.A. Bell, Professor
of Electrical Engineering at Hull University, F.Inst.P., F.I.E.E., tried
to shore up a shaky structure with a dumb article in Wireless World in
16dec86. Dear Mr. Catt, I am
sorry, but I am unable to agree to the reprinting of any of my Wireless World
contributions in your proposed book; and in particular this applies to
"No Radio without Displacement Current" [Wireless World, August
1979.] Yours sincerely, [signed] D. A. Bell.
[Comment by I.C. " . and in particular ." presumably indicates that he refers to a particularly fine example of his writing. No throwing pearls before swine! IC 12feb99]
19.12.86. Dear Professor Bell,
Thank you for your letter dated 16Dec86. Is your reason for refusal that you
consider that you should benefit financially from the re-publication of your
contributions? Yours sincerely, Ivor Catt.
No it is not. - D. A. Bell,
Dear Professor Bell, Thank you for
your letter dated 16Dec86, in which you refused permission to reprint your
part in the debate on electromagnetic theory which has appeared in nearly
every issue of Wireless World from 1978 to 1986.
I formally request that you
reconsider your decision of 16Dec86.
When the new revolutionary theory
of electromagnetism was first put forward by Catt-Walton-Davidson in 1978-79
etc., you took it upon yourself to carry the flag for the traditionalists
opposing our new theory. What you wrote in your article "NO RADIO
WITHOUT DISPLACEMENT CURRENT" was damaging to us and to the advance of
science, because your very senior position in the academic hierarchy in ways
particularly relevant to electromagnetic theory (you were ex-Reader in
Electromagnetism in Birmingham University) tended to mask the crass ignorance
you and your Establishment colleagues (e.g. Prof. Brown [past
President of IEE] of Imperial
College, now Marconi) showed about the subject that was generating your
[I heard of a particularly dirty trick by Brown. He went around saying Catt was a genius - for instance to Professor Clarricoat. This was perfect cover for his organisation, the I.E.E., of which he was then President, totally suppressing Catt then and for the next few decades. Catt had to be suppressed or his theoretical advances would show up their ignorance. It was difficult enough for them to keep up appearances in a stable environment. IC 12feb99.]
If you do not change your
position, I shall say in my book that you refused to have your article
published. Yours faithfully, Ivor Catt 20 12 86
Professor D. A. Bell, 87 East End,
North Humberside HU17 8RX
Dear Professor Bell, Your refusal
to allow me to reprint your Wireless World article NO RADIO WITHOUT
DISPLACEMENT CURRENT was unexpected, and I enclose an example of the pages
which have already been printed containing your article, on the assumption
that you would present no difficulty. Unless you withdraw your refusal, these
pages will have to be reprinted, which will be expensive. This will leave a
space in the book, because it is far too late to renumber all the pages and
reprint the whole book. You are very welcome to write something new to
replace your article. I calculate that with my typing it should run to either
less than 1600 words (small, orthodox type) or less than 1200 words (this
I am offering space in the book I
am making, which book contains all my articles in Wireless World on e-m
theory from 1978 to 1986. The space would be that caused by your refusal to
allow me to insert your article NO RADIO WITHOUT DISPLACEMENT CURRENT. You
would also be welcome to write less than the 1200 words mentioned above.
Should you be concerned that I
might in the end refuse you space in my book after you had made the effort to
produce the thousand words or so, I plan to defer to the Editor of Wireless
World as the arbiter over fair play. I am therefore sending him a copy of
this letter plus my previous letter to you.
You will appreciate that
membership of the I.E.E. binds you to the Rules of Conduct for a member,
which include doing everything within your power to enable discussion of the
fundamentals of the subject.
You will also be welcome to the
usual author royalty on books sold pro-rated in proportion to the pages you
contribute divided by the total pages in the book. I offer the usual higher
limit of royalty, which is 15% of retail.
Yours sincerely, Ivor Catt 29.12.86
Dear Mr. Catt,
Thank you for your letter of 18
March. I will arrange for an Investigating Panel to consider your complaint
against Professor Bell.
So that there shall be no
confusion could you please confirm to me that the cause of your complaint is
Professor Bell's refusal to permit you to republish the article which he
wrote on "No Radio without Displacement Current" and which appeared
in Wireless World in August 1979 in a book which you are preparing.
Yours sincerely F G Helps Chairmen
of the Investigating Panel, Institution of Electrical Engineers, Savoy Place,
London WC2R 0BL 23mar87
Dear Dr. F G Helps,
Thank you for your letter dated 23
You correctly state the cause of
I enclose copies of Bell's letter
to me dated 15 3 87 and my reply dated 22 3 87.
Should Bell agree to option [c] in
my 22Mar letter [You will allow reprint of your Aug79 article in
future editions of the book], I would
have to consider withdrawing my complaint. However, in view of his item (3)
in his 15Mar letter [My decision not to comment is final and I will
not enter into any further correspondence], we can dismiss that possibility.
Should Bell assert that his Aug79
article is not a response to my Dec78 and Mar79 articles, I plan to produce;
Copies of letters in Wireless World in which the debate between Bell and me
(or my co-authors) was continued.
Signed confirmation from editor(s) of Wireless World
and other experts that Bell entered into a published dialogue with me on the
question of the validity of my theories, and that he represented the
traditional Establishment position.
The cause of my complaint is
narrowly stated in your letter dated 23Mar. However, further documentation
will help the Panel to understand the Intent behind his professional
misconduct, his Intention to persist in misconduct, and the extent of the
damage which has already resulted from his misconduct and the future damage
which will accrue unless he changes his behaviour.
My 18Feb letter shows in the
narrow sense that Bell is in breach of IEE Rules of Conduct. However, the
Rules of Conduct themselves point to a broader approach to such a situation;
code of professional conduct designed to cover all eventualities must
necessarily be written in general terms expressing broad ethical
Broadly, it is necessary to show
that in the narrow sense, Bell has breached the Rules of Conduct if he is to
be disciplined. Once that is so decided, then his
punishment should be commensurate with the broader, ethical issues raised by
his behaviour. I find it difficult to conjure up behaviour by someone placed
as he is, with major resonsibility for furthering
the Art and enabling open communication towards that end, that could be more
damaging to advance in Science and Engineering, and in breach of the
discipline which is central to the interests and responsibilities of the
Institution of which he is a Fellow. From his position, he could not have
behaved in a manner more damaging to advance in electromagnetic theory.
Yours sincerely, Ivor Catt 26 3 87 cc D A Bell
The I.E.E. Disciplinary Committee
later reported to me that their decision was unanimous in favour of D A Bell.
- Ivor Catt, 6feb99.
The IEE for its own part stood its
ground for a further decade, insisting that Ivor
Catt's contributions to e-m did not exist, until they published a slamming
denigration in an IEE journal of Catt's 1994 book Electromagnetism by
one B. Lago, see http://www.ivorcatt.com/9_review.htm . (B Lago's only
function in life seems to be to lob a grenade at Catt's theories once every
20 years. Apart from that, he doesn't appear to exist. Nobody seems to have
met him.) However, during that period '85-'95, although for another ten years
embargoing Catt's e-m theory, they began, shortly after the misconduct by
Bell, to publish commentary on the major projects to develop the "Catt
Spiral" WSI invention with funding by the Brit. Govt., Unisys, Fujitzu, Tandem, SGS. (All attempts by Catt to publish on
the matter have however always been rejected by the IEE.) The IEE's doyen Dr.
A. Lynch then broke rank, and the IEE published the joint Lynch-Catt paper on
e-m, discussing the Catt Anomaly, in 1998. It is on this website. However,
IEE members still are shielded from my dec78 paper; the one attacked by Bell.
I predict that the IEE will risk giving it members
access to the dec78 ideas in around the year 2015. However, we have to get
past a lot more ignorant noise before that happy day.
Ivor Catt feb99.
IC 15feb99. This is not just
another run-of-the-mill scandal like the BSE suppression.
I decided that both I.E.E.
officials and others should be able to read today's appraisal by my two
co-researchers of the significance of the advances we have made, which have
been suppressed by individuals like Bell and by institutions like the IEE and
the InstPhys. The first reply was David;
"In so far as one can be a
competent judge of one's own work - 'very significant'."
Recently I spent three hours
talking to two of our senior technicians on em
theory. They were spellbound as I went through all the concepts. It reminded
me of the power of a coherent theory, which, in reality, is incredibly sound
and has a profound impact on those that listen with an open mind. It did me a
lot of good.
It is a great privilege to go
through the experience that Ivor, Malcolm and David
went through. We have experienced something that very few men have in the
whole of history. We were at the hinge of history. You will never forget the
day when I sat before the window with you at my right, and said "Then
electric current goes." The evening before Walton had said to me
"Then that's the end of Displacement Current." These are the
turning points in the history of mankind. You were there. Dave was there. I
was there. We are very privileged. I started calculating the way energy goes
from capacitor to inductor and back. Remember the excitement when it turned
down again, and so it looked as though it would simluate
a sine wave with lots of small steps. - Ivor
Then I had to phone Dave.
Henry V said; "I was there,
on St. Crispin's Day." There were thousands of them. But at the end of
displacement current and at the end of electric current, there were only the
three of us very privileged adventurers.
that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
rouse him at the name of Crispian.
that shall live this day, and see old age,
yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
say 'Tomorrow is St. Crispian'.
will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day'.
men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
he'll remember, with advantages,
feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
in his mouth as household words -
the King, Bedford and Exeter,
and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
story shall the good man teach his son;
Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
this day to the ending of the world,
in it shall be remembered-
few. we happy few, we band of brothers;
today that sheds his blood with me
be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
day shall gentle his condition;
gentlemen of England now a-bed
themselves accurs'd they were not here,
hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
The dates are writ big in history.
I have before me a letter from
Walton, unnoticed until today.
Your phone call last night was very exciting. I think I see the transformer
now in terms of crosstalk ...."
David moved fast.
On 26may76 David Walton had said
to Catt; 'So that gets rid of displacement current.'
Then, on 27may76, Catt said to Davidson; "The electric current
These were truly St. Crispin's Day, but shared by a tiny group of
A very favoured few, a happy few.
How could such as we have
been more favoured?
I think you should show this to your technicians, who were so
much impressed by your talk on e-m. Can we get them to glimpse the grandeur
of the experience?
- Ivor, feb99.
This is the
historic first disclosure, in dec 1978, of research
findings by Catt, Davidson and Walton. After having been totally suppressed
for many years, with 100% rejection by journals throughout the world, a
breakthrough was made in 1978 with the then editor of Wireless World, Tom Ivall, who visited my home. However, even after that,
much political manoeuvering was needed to get it
past his technical editor, with whom I later became very friendly during his
breakdown. The reaction was very hostile. Typically, Lago
wrote, in Wireless World July79; "
. the articles are wrong in almost
every detail and it is vital that this should be clearly demonstrated before
undue damage is done." Shortly after his second blast, twenty years
later, see http://www.ivorcatt.com/9_review.htm , the IEE grudgingly admitted to the existence of this body of
research, and published the Lynch-Catt joint paper outlining the Catt
Anomaly, see http://www.electromagnetism.demon.co.uk/y7aiee.htm . However,
the contents below are still not available to IEE or IEEE members, who continue to think a capacitor has a
self-resonant frequency. See http://www.ivorcatt.com/2603.htm . Also see "The Capacitor", http://www.ivorcatt.com/6_5.htm
, which contains more of the
[Scandals in Electromagnetic Theory http://www.ivorcatt.com/28scan.htm
The Heaviside Signal http://www.ivorcatt.com/2604.htm
http://www.ivorcatt.com/1_1.htm figures 4, 5.