29 September, 2011

Communication with vector potential waves

Field lines (black) and potential (red) for a dipole, static field. 
In QEX July/August 2011 Robert K. Zimmerman (NP4B, VE3RKZ) had an intriguing article entitled "Transmission and Reception of Longitudinally-Polarized Momentum Waves."  What he claims is that he has communicated over a distance of 1500 m at 1296 MHz using vector potential or momentum waves.

Unlike transversal electromagnetic (TEM) waves these are longitudinal waves just like sound waves. This may seem like real magic, but if true it would allow covert communications which is undetectable with ordinary radio receivers and antennas.

The electric scalar potential around a dipole is shown in red in the figure. This is for static dipole charges where the potential is usually denoted φ. The time-varying case is more complex and has an additional magnetic vector potential A which has three components, in total a 4-component vector potential.

If I understand the papers right, it is one of the components of the A-vector that is used in these experiments, and it seems to be one component of the curl-free vector potential (thus without a magnetic field) alluded to initially here. But as I could not find any figure showing that, I chose to show the nearest I could find, the electric scalar potential φ. (Figure from the Equipotential page of Hyperphysics.)

Zimmerman has made an experiment with a transmitter antenna inside a 7" round waveguide of length 69 cm. I think the intention is that the TEM wave cannot escape from this waveguide, only the vector potential wave. On the receiver side he has used a similar waveguide with a folded fluorescent tube, the type which is used in camping lanterns. The fluorescent tube is arranged geometrically in such a way as to be insensitive to TEM waves.

I am open to new ideas and find the whole concept very interesting. On the other hand I wish that he had documented the whole experiment better, by for instance demonstrating how he had listened with an ordinary receiver and antenna to convince himself and us, his readers, that there really wasn't any TEM wave emitted. Also I wish that he would have provided more detailed explanations of how the transmitter and receiver antennas work in the QEX-article and in his other paper "Macroscopic Aharanov-Bohm Effect at L-band microwave frequencies," Modern Physics Letters B. 2011.

Now the Aharonov-Bohm effect is a real particle physics phenomenon which has both been predicted in theory (1959) and also shown in experiment (1986). It is nicely illustrated on the Physics World pages. It shows that the vector potential is indeed real and influences particles. But here the claim is that it manifests itself not only in the microscopic domain, but also at the macroscopic level. Although I am more positive than the "Software Safety" blog, I remain for now interested, but so far unconvinced, and awaiting more evidence.


  1. There is an article called "Confirmation Measurements of Vector Potential Waves" in the July/August 2012 issue of QEX. It starts with the following paragraph: "After measurements with multiple antennas and plasma tubes, we confirmed the observations that led Robert Zimmerman and Dr. Natalia Nikolova to announce the detection of vector potential waves. We found another possible explanation for these observations, however, based entirely upon conventional electromagnetic theory and not involving vector potential waves."

  2. Hi Karl-Martin

    Thanks for your comment. I got QEX today and have now read briefly through the article by KJ6VW (George Works) and KG4SRS (Shelley Works). The conclusion seems to be that the asymmetry in received signal observed by reversing the DC polarity of the plasma tube detector and which indicates vector potential waves just as well can be explained by asymmetry in the cathode location in the plasma tube.

  3. Dear friends, my name is Andres LUCIANO Guerra Tumang am radio amateur PY2FJ here in Brazil, and ja exclusivehosting realisei experiences with these neon bulbs and mercury and got ready when promised as if you an antana fisica and the transmission occurred by having connected bulbs.Do you have any tips that you can pass me to hone my knowledge ...Thank you...My e-mail intelpira@terra.com.br 73.

  4. Nice to hear from you, Andres. I don't have any first hand experience with these effects other than having read the papers, so I suggest you contact some of the authors of the QST papers referred to above.