An Experiment to Form a Radio Communication Channel in a Marine Environment

The 2021 paper, An Experiment to Form a Radio Communication Channel in a Marine Environment will, of course, strike most as crackpot physics since not only is it from a Russian institute (Tomsk Polytechnic University) it concludes with:

Thus, the possibility of creating a high-frequency radio communication channel in the marine environment has been proved experimentally under natural conditions. Presumably, this happens using electroscalar waves. The effect of transmission of a high-frequency radio signal across the interface between two media—seawater and air—has been found.

However, for yours truly it is not so easy to dismiss and the consequences for submarines – particularly Russian subs – may be profound. Late 2014-2016 I was involved with the development of system based on a patent for irrotational magnetic vector potential wave communication. I was writing the computer models of experimental results. “irrotational” MVP is sometimes called “longitudinal” MVP. It is frequently called “electroscalar”. These phrases are often associated with “suppressed technologies of Nikola Tesla” – spawning all manner of conspiracy theories. The way my involvement came about was rather strange, as one might imagine, and will do little to quell speculation.

Just after the DotCon bubble burst and the $500M Internet Chapter 2 project at HP blew a gasket, the mathematician (Tom Etter) I’d hired to try to come up with a relational programming paradigm to deal with nondeterminism in network synchronization (because he had a new approach to quantum information systems), was hired by Dick Shoup at a spin-off of Interval Research: The newly formed Boundary Institute. Federico Fagin underwrote this work because it promised to bring a new mathematical paradigm to bear on VLSI state machine circuit design (essentially involving imaginary logic states). Almost immediately, the scope of work expanded to involve theoretic predictions of how observers interact with quantum systems that could be used to construct rigorous psi experiments. Unfortunately, this immediately attracted the attention of Big Names In Psi and they showed up like a herd of bulls in a china shop, and the careful work Tom had done at Interval, HP and now was going to do at Boundary, got drowned out in the noise. This was frustrating to me because I’d really wanted to get the Internet Chapter 2 stuff Tom started under my sponsorship at HP hooked up with Fagin’s motive for underwriting Boundary.

7 years later I ended up moving back to Iowa with my late wife to be around family to help deal with her HD. Lo and behold a colleague of mine, Charlie Smith the guy who funded the second neural network summer with System Development Foundation money, had coincidentally moved to the next county over. So Charlie and I started working on projects together. One day I casually mentioned to Charlie that there was this guy I’d hired at HP to work on quantum theory in computer networks who ended up at an institute where they were researching psi phenomena. Charlie immeditely said, "You’ve got to read Carver Mead’s book “Collective Electrodynamics”! This seemed like such a non-sequitur that it caught me by surprise, so I asked him what the big deal was with that book. He said Carver (who was an old friend of his) had been itching to write a text book for electrodynamics based on the magnetic vector potential ever since the 1970s but he got diverted into VLSI to pay the bills. So I agreed to take a look at it, but not understanding what the connection was to the topic of psi, I didn’t prioritize reading it.

Well, a few years later, a mutual colleague of ours, whose father was one of the early radar researchers, forwarded me an email from a student of his father’s claiming he had a way of transmitting information using irrotational magnetic vector potential. So I forwarded it to Charlie. Charlie went nonlinear and immediately admonished this colleague, who was in Urbana at the time, to get together with others in the Urbana area, including a recently-retired chief scientist at a local commercial physics lab and childhood friend of our colleague, to see if they could reproduce the phenomena. Using the retired scientist’s basement equipment collected over his career they set to work. I received regular reports and I started writing computer models.

About the time results came in that the scientist called “definitive”, he was diagnosed with cancer. He declined fast. I was having difficulty getting a computational model to match the empirical results and, unfortunately, the scientist died before I had done so. The mutual colleague went into an emotional tailspin and nearly became homeless before I managed to mount a campaign to rescue him, bring him to my farmhouse in Iowa and rescue the experimental apparatus from the estate sale. However, I was not competent to complete the work and, in any event, had my hands full with a wife going increasingly psychotic from HD in combination with a near-suicidal colleague. But at least I had the equipment and could try to help the colleague recover enough emotional stability to get enough information out of him to complete the computational model. This I believe I managed to do, but the colleague never really recovered and I eventually had call for help from his family members in California to deal with him, as I was helping my wife transition to a higher level of care than I could provide her.

I could go on about why nothing came of this, but one thing that has happened to bring this work in Russia to my attention is that the colleague has now recovered and is trying to make amends for driving investors away during his mental instability – so he’s been calling me with lots of questions and ideas about how to revive the project.

I found out about the above 2021 Russian experiment today.

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DISCLOSURE: I did not read beyond the headline.

If my memory is correct, radio signals do not travel that well in salt water, but they do travel far over freshwater. So a radio station in a marine environment would not be very efficient in terms of broadcasting the signal. There is also the added problem of radio wave propagation over long distances: the further a signal has to travel the more likely there is to be signal loss and degradation of the message being sent. In a marine environment, depending on how far out in the marine world you go, you might have to have a series of broadcast antenna to facilitate the signal getting to the end destination. Of course this can be mitigated by calculating how big an antenna you may need (I used to know the equation for figuring that out). And then you have the corrosive nature of the salt that is in the water/air of a marine environment. Radio signal equipment does NOT get along with salt.

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The Russian experiment seems sufficiently well described to allow a relatively cheap attempt at reproducing it. Wave propagation at the interface between different media could have applications in other areas as well, for instance imagine ultrasound propagation between soft tissue and hard bones in the body.

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Yup, total crackpot territory. The idea, per the paper, is “to create a nonstationary spherically symmetric high-intensity electric field”. To unpack that: a “spherically symmetric electric field” is just what you get from a point charge (or evenly distributed charge on the surface of a sphere). So far so good. “High intensity” is okay too. But “nonstationary”, meaning varying and providing a means for actual communication… that’s the tough part, since charge is conserved. You have to import the charge from somewhere, and that destroys the purported “spherical symmetry”. Instead of the purported monopole antenna (charge appearing from nowhere), you end up with a dipole antenna (charge going from one end to another), which is just a normal antenna. Or perhaps you end up with a more complicated arrangement – but the thing they actually built is pretty close to a dipole. (If you did import the charge in a spherically symmetric way, you’d get exactly zero effect outside the antenna.) They bump up the voltage a bit with an autotransformer (which they call a “Tesla coil”, but come on, they only get 45 volts from it) and try to pretend that this is the equivalent of creating charge.

Anyway, they build two of these antennas, with a transmitter attached to one and a receiver to the other (consumer equipment, not lab-quality stuff), set it to transmit at 27.4 MHz with the audio input being a 500-Hz tone, and suspend both in the ocean at a depth of 6 meters (receiver) and 4 meters (transmitter). And get almost no reception: “signal” of about -87 dB vs “noise” of -94 dB. But that’s good enough for them to declare victory. They aren’t even fazed by the “signal” level changing very little as they increase the distance between transmitter and receiver (to a maximum of a few hundred meters).

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The most obvious omission is absence of a theoretically predicted signal attenuation with distance. What should “phase” people is not necessarily the small attenuation with distance, but the underlying theory which, AFAIK, is given in “Comparison of SHP and Extended Electrodynamic Theories” by Lee M Hively et al at IARD2020. If that theory predicts the measured attenuation, and that theory motivates the experiment, then the priors exclude being “phased”. And, to be fair, they did do the calculation for the conventional EM attenuation showing it to be ridiculously high as expected. Again, their main failure was omission of a calculated attenuation for the new-paradigm signal transmission to compare with their measurement.

Criticizing the amateurish nature of the equipment isn’t really fair when one is addressing a paradigm shift in physics that may entail many orders of magnitude effects, as apparently they expected, and as apparently may be predicted by the aforelinked theory. Specifically I quote from that abstract:

EED makes several novel predictions: (i) a scalar-longitudinal wave (SLW) with an electric field parallel to the direction of propagation together with the scalar field (C) that carries both energy and momentum; (ii) a propagating scalar wave (C) that carries only energy; (iii) new terms in the energy and momentum balance equations; and (iv) new media-interface matching conditions that correct inconsistencies under CED. Preliminary experiments are consistent with the EED predictions for the SLW.

If you look at Jackson’s equations for the dipole null, there should be null effects outside the near field of the antenna null (which is why it is called “null”). Divide any significant difference between detected signal and noise, by “null” and you get “many orders of magnitude” model selection power.

More reasonable as an indicator of “crackpottery” is, as you correctly point out, their lack of antenna modeling which should have demonstrated to them that they were transmitting (and receiving) with a dipole. However, Hively’s theory, as best I understand it, is that a dipole transmitter should produce measurable effects in the conventional “null”.

In the case of the experiments I was involved with, the transmitter was, indeed, modeled by a simple hertzian dipole in the GHz range. The receiver, however, was plasma with relativistic electrons forming a velocity vector with a large dot product with the MVP (resulting in a scalar potential) – not a dipole. The gradient of that electric potential (as the GHz carrier varies) then provides the motional E field, which is the complement of the motional Lorentz field (electron velocity cross-product with del cross-product MVP or B field).

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The point of noting that consumer-grade equipment was being used wasn’t “hahaha these guys are total amateurs”, it was that the few dB of difference between their “signal” and their “noise” can easily just be some imperfection with the equipment that consumers wouldn’t care about but that would be absent in, say, a $10K HP instrument. Nothing necessarily wrong with amateur equipment, but you have to know its limitations and maybe do some more work to get around them. Here, such work might have involved actually transmitting data rather than just a carrier tone: if they could transmit “Hi Mom” and receive it at the other end, that would mean something. (It wouldn’t necessarily mean that they’d done what they claimed and transmitted through hundreds of meters of seawater; electromagnetic theory is complicated, and the electromagnetic wave could have gone up to the surface, traveled through the air, and then gone back down into the water. But it’d be a hell of a lot more meaningful than those dB figures.)

Looking at the abstract of the Hively et al paper, the thing it’s proposing to expand on (electromagnetic theory via scalar and vector potentials) isn’t the primary theory: that’s Maxwell’s equations. Potential theory is derived from Maxwell’s equations, and it’s derived rigorously. To “extend” it, they either should be saying Maxwell’s equations are wrong or they should be pointing to an error in the derivation of potential theory. (The gauge constraint isn’t really limiting: from the three variables of the vector potential you effectively remove one variable via the gauge constraint, but you also have the scalar potential, so still have a total of three variables.)

BTW “fazed” is the spelling for what I meant. “Phased” has connotations of getting someone to march in lockstep – not the idea here.

If dipole antenna nulls were not really nulls, I think engineers would have noticed by now.

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Just to be clear, Hively’s extended electrodynamics is, in fact, a revision to classical electrodynamcis and quantum electrodynamics. But there is a more basic level of discourse this opens up.

A stronger such argument is that scientists would have noticed departures from Maxwell’s equations by now*.

Engineers might have noticed all kinds of “unexpected effects” over the decades and, since they are engineers rather than scientists, they would tend toward confirmation bias (“Oh, that’s just one of those complicated things that happens but it doesn’t impact our economics. Ship it.”) on the engineering side just as confirmation bias on the scientific side can attribute to theoretic confirmation, something that is, in reality, “just one of those complicated things”.

At this point, it is probably appropriate to pop-up a meta level of discourse to discuss one of Nick Szabo’s useful idioms: “Pascal’s Scams

Like Pascal’s Wager, Pascal’s Scams hold out some nearly infinite consequence that overwhelms even tiny probabilities of those consequences. In the present instance we have not just the usual appeal of crackpot physics (consequences of profound but unknown nature to changing physics at a fundamental level), but that we are in rising tensions over nuclear war and Russian nuclear submarines might be a lot more capable than thought due to fewer constraints on command, control and communication.

Nick’s general advice is to avoid considering consequences for which the probabilities are small but for which one has few data-points. That’s good advice as far as it goes, but then it ignores that fiduciary responsibility scales with the assets under management.

Consider Larry Fink with BlackRock’s $10T assets under management, and there is some crackpot physical theory out there that, if true, would have negative $1T impact on those assets. A simplistic calculation is that Larry should be able to tolerate an investment of up to p*$1T to perform due diligence to discount the crackpot physical theory so as to fulfill his fiduciary responsibility, where p is the probability the crackpot physical theory is true.

Let’s scale that up to, say, industrial policy of the Federal government, informed by the various scientific research agencies it funds, with its net present value under management calculated from tax revenues.

Now, I think most of us can agree that these huge centralizations of power and money are pathological and so the premise of the “justification” for investment in investigations of crackpot theories is flawed, but at some point we really must try to be a bit more adult about our calculations – especially given the notion that “preparedness” clear down to the Boy Scout level of “Be Prepared” must take into account things like nuclear war, for which we have few datapoints.

*In defense of my own investment of time and money in the plasma receiver, there are conventional antenna designs that involve active currents, which, in effect, enhances reception via the Lorentz force. The scientific circumstances would be in equipment designed for other purposes that would, incidentally, measure changes in relativistic electrons aligned with a dipole’s null. This isn’t inconceivable but it is also not obvious to me what sort of instruments, designed for other reasons, might detect that to such a level that the scientist’s confirmation bias would be overcome.

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In social terms, the thing that makes these guys crackpots isn’t that they’re challenging authority but rather the opposite: they’re trying to weasel around established physics rather than really challenging it. If this stuff were correct they should be going for the Nobel Prize, not trying to make an underwater communications system. But that would mean going up against people with real knowledge, which is far harder than leeching off “concentrations of money and power”, which are often easy marks for people who promise they can make war toys.

They can’t qualify for the Nobel Prize by their own admission since they credit others with the physics and those others have already published experimental results. Moreover, they give credit for material support to a “competitiveness” branch of their University, which implies application, hence war toys.

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Hans G. Schantz, author of The Art and Science of Ultrawideband Antennas and inventor of near field electromagnetic ranging (US Patent 9,285,453), wrote on several occasions on an ancestor to this site about how there were aspects to the behaviour of classical electromagnetic fields that were explored by the early “Maxwellians” which have been largely ignored since Maxwell’s theory was reduced to a highly mathematical formalism that rules out some phenomenology the original theory does not.

This plays a part in his techno-thriller series The Hidden Truth, but he made it clear there may be more to classical electrodynamics than we now assume. And then there’s the real world curiosity that (from my review) “… those who dig too deeply into these curiosities have a way of meeting tragic ends. Indeed, many of the early researchers into electromagnetism died young: Maxwell at age 48, Hertz at 36, FitzGerald at 39.”

Makes you wonder….

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In chasing down some of those historic rabbit holes to find where things might have jumped the track, specifically with regard to the the theory that explained our measurements, I came to Maxwell’s early (1848), and later admitted, misapplication of Helmholtz’s conservation of energy to claim Weber’s electrodynamics violated conservation of energy. This 1871 admission appeared in a postcard from Maxwell to Tait and then, finally, in the last chapter of his 1873 “Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism”:

Hence an indefinite amount of work cannot be generated by a particle moving in a periodic manner under the action of the force assumed by Weber.

There are other perverse aspect to this history such as that noted by the author of the aforelinked article (Assis) when he points out (just after the above quote):

It should be emphasized that what Maxwell wrote as ∂r/∂t would be written nowadays as dr/dt…

It turns out the theory that predicted our result is precisely this reversal of symbols! To wit:

Ordinarily, the E field is defined as:

E = -∇Φ - ∂A/∂t

Whereas this fit our measurements, with the additional tweak that Φ is instantaneous (“rigid”) hence appears only in the near field:

E_v = -∇Φ - dA/dt
E_v = -∇Φ - ∂A/∂t + v × (∇ × A) - ∇(v · A)

It is that last dot product term that is the “crackpot”.

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They can’t qualify for the Nobel Prize by their own admission since they credit others with the physics…

Uh, of the five theory papers cited by that work (well, four papers and one US patent), two papers have the same leading author as it. They’re not merely humble testers of other people’s hypotheses.

By the way, if there’s anything that screams crackpot, it’s publishing physics theory as a patent. Even rants on Internet forums are more respectable.

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Good point. I was focused on the earliest credited work – Hively’s 2016 patent disclosing Hively’s theory which then appeared in the Reed, Hively 2020 paper. There may have been original work in Tomilin’s papers.

“Screams” may be a bit harsh. The prior that new discoveries in science take a long time to make their way into applications is reasonable, but then that is only a prior, subject to new observations. " Benjamin Franklin’s lightning rod comes to mind. Although it is true that Franklin’s scientific advances were probably motivated more by curiosity than by the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow represented by the lightning rod, there are bound to be times when an engineer’s utility function allocates resources to science that otherwise would not have obtained.

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As I was reading this thread and unable to really understand it, I thought immediately of Hans G. Schantz’s excellent Hidden Truth Series. Serendipitously, in the middle of the final book, I just read a section describing surface waves, which seemed somewhat related to the OP.

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Makes me wonder if Hans has fallen off the wagon… I’m waiting patiently for the next installment. /:

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He is working on a nonfiction book about Maxwellian electromagnetism and how the modern presentation of it neglects the primacy of fields (as opposed to charges and particles), as the primary mechanism for propagation of energy and signals. Fiction is on hold until this one gets done.

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Apparently the Nobel Prize (or Ig Nobel Prize if one prefers) for the OP work would go to one Dale A. Woodside for equations 53-54 in his paper Three-vector and scalar field identities and uniqueness theorems in Euclidean and Minkowski spaces. This, according to a response I got from Hively regarding a comment he made in a paper of his where he describes that as being the scientific basis for his patent.

In particular it is the scalar C which permits an iso-constrained aka well-defined set of equations and unknowns. Equations 53 and 54 can be decomposed into 11 equations. The 11 unknowns are the 3 3-vectors (E, B and A) and the 2 scalars (C and φ)). C takes the place of, aka eliminates, gauge freedom. I will allow the peanut gallery their turn, now, to tell us that C is the “Crackpot” unknown.

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It bears mentioning that Hal Puthoff, in his 2016 MVP communication patent, criticizes Hively’s patent as relying on a violation of charge conservation. However Hively contends that in order to avoid ad hoc constraints in the system of classical electrodynamic equations, it is necessary to permit instantaneous charge nonconservation with an upper bound on time set by the Heizenberg uncertainty relation. This, he asserts, is a result of the wave equation for C: “not unlike energy fluctuations driving mass fluctuations in quantum theory and vice versa”.

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I decided to read “Hidden Truth”. I took note that the character of “Xueshu Quan” was in “Arlington, VA” and decided I just had to share this additional bit of “crackpottery”:

Hively’s patent was assigned to a company that went bankrupt – unsurprisingly for a “crackpot”, right?

Get a load of this:

The Chairman of the Board of the bankrupt company was Dendy Young – who was also Dendy Young of McLean Capital, LLC, 604 Boyle Lane, McLean, VA.

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