Origin of magnetic fields may lie in special relativity's spacetime distortions

Sep 09, 2010 By Lisa Zyga feature
Images of (left) the vector, (middle) the generated vorticity, and (right) the magnitude of the square of the vorticity of the new mechanism for the origin of magnetic fields. Image credit: S. M. Mahajan, et al. © 2010 The American Physical Society.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Magnetic fields play an important role on scales ranging from the sub-atomic to the cosmic, from particle spins to galaxy clusters. Although scientists know how to create and manipulate magnetic fields, as well as use them for a variety of applications from computers to credit cards, they still don't have a universal theory of how magnetic fields initially originated in astrophysical settings. In a new study, two scientists have proposed a new primary generation mechanism for the magnetic field that is based on the spacetime distortions caused by special relativity.

Magnetic fields are invisible fields that exert a vector force, characterized by both strength and direction, and are produced by magnetic objects or changing electric fields. When described by ideal dynamics, magnetic fields are mathematically and physically equivalent to a vorticity, meaning they have a tendency to rotate. This is what makes it difficult to determine the origin of magnetic fields, since it means that magnetic fields have helicity, which is a kind of “topological charge.” However, helicity cannot change under the influence of an ideal force, forbidding the emergence of any vorticity from an initial zero value.

To get around this constraint, scientists have more recently turned to non-ideal dynamics. Researchers have looked at non-ideal mechanisms ranging from something called the baroclinic effect to processes stemming from inflation, , and radiation effects. However, while these mechanisms likely play a role in generation at some scales, none of these effects can be considered a universal mechanism that operates at all scales.

In their new study, Swadesh Mahajan from The University of Texas at Austin and Zensho Yoshida from The University of Tokyo have proposed something entirely different. Since all non-ideal mechanisms are too weak and not general enough to explain the origin of magnetic fields, they decided to reexamine the ideal dynamics. They found that vorticity/magnetic fields can be generated in strictly ideal dynamics, as long as the dynamics is embedded in the twisted spacetime described by . Their mechanism can seed a magnetic field, which can then be amplified by the dynamo mechanism to create larger magnetic fields.

As the physicists demonstrate, special relativity effects can destroy the topological constraints that would otherwise forbid the creation of magnetic fields. Basically, the relativistic distortions of spacetime can modify the way in which inhomogeneous flow fields interact with inhomogeneous entropy. Although other mechanisms can still play a role in creating magnetic fields, the new relativistic drive emerges as a strong ideal universal origin mechanism for seeding magnetic fields. The new mechanism is especially dominant for highly relativistic flows, such as cosmic particle-antiparticle plasmas, plasmas in the magnetosphere of neutron stars, etc. Even for nonrelativistic plasmas, the relativistic drive can easily overcome damping and remain dominant until the magnetic field reaches values in the range ~1 gauss, which is about twice that of the Earth's magnetic field.

“To generate magnetic fields (a vorticity) from a state of no magnetic field, we must break the topological invariant,” Mahajan told PhysOrg.com. “For that to happen, the effective force has to be so that it cannot be expressed as a perfect gradient. The baroclinic departure could do it, and special relativity does it (in ideal dynamics) by simply demanding that the equations of motion be Lorentz invariant.”

The discovery that special relativity can provide an ideal universal vorticity generation mechanism could help scientists understand the origins of the massive magnetic fields in astrophysical settings. As one of the most challenging unsolved problems in theoretical physics, finding a universal origin of magnetic fields could also shed light on the properties of large physical systems, and possibly even advanced spacetime geometries.

“Magnetic fields are found in all levels of cosmic and astrophysical settings,” Mahajan said. “Most of them are, perhaps, relic fields created at some time in the evolution of the universe. The magnetic fields could have played a very fundamental part in the structure formation. Unless one isolates how and where and perhaps when they are generated, it is hard to put together a satisfactory story of the universe. Unraveling the origin story is a big deal. Magnetic field generation in laboratory systems, especially in the highly relativistic systems, is again a fundamental determinant of the further evolution of such systems and needs to be understood. We are nowhere near the complete unraveling, but we hope that we may have taken a major step towards creating an eventual story; it will require a lot of computational and modeling effort to develop the story.”


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Explore further: Researchers demonstrate ultra low-field nuclear magnetic resonance using Earth's magnetic field

More information: S. M. Mahajan and Z. Yoshida. “Twisting Space-Time: Relativistic Origin of Seed Magnetic Field and Vorticity.” Physical Review Letters 105, 095005 (2010). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.105.095005

4.7 /5 (48 votes)

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User comments : 46

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snivvy
Sep 09, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Jarek
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 09, 2010
(...)it means that magnetic fields have helicity, which is a kind of “topological charge.”

Bingo! On such fluxons in not vacuum like here, but in superconductors, they are planning to make quantum computers: http://www.rle.mi...0/44.pdf
Such solitons behave just like particles.
“To generate magnetic fields (a vorticity) from a state of no magnetic field, we must break the topological invariant,”

Topology forbids to just break it with its conservation laws like argument principle - there just have to be created the whole fluxon-antifluxon pairs:
http://demonstrat...arities/
Such fluxons should have additional energy density per length - explaining e.g. many orders of magnitude larger energy of magnetic reconnections on Sun's corona than predicted.
If we look at a single fermion, such fluxon have to go through its spin axis - suggesting how to construct real particles (4th section of http://arxiv.org/pdf/0910.2724 )
patnclaire
3.4 / 5 (5) Sep 09, 2010
Alas, it costs $25 to buy the article
Sirinx
Sep 09, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Jarek
1.6 / 5 (7) Sep 09, 2010
In dense aether theory magnetic field simply is vorticity(...)

Vorticity/fluxons are more fundamental than charge (neutrinos) ... but there is still something behind it.
See quantization of flux going through superconducting ring - 'the phase', which this time is called order parameter, has to 'enclose' - make some integer number of rotations.
The situation looks similar while using rotation operator in Schroedinger's phase picture on atomic scale ...
To see these magnetic vortices we need a field of something what can rotate - like quantum phase, but additionally allowing for spin 1/2 singularities and handling with the centers of singularity - ellipse/ellipsoid field fulfill these requirements.
In optics there are already observed such spin 1/2 singularities in ellipse field representing light polarization:
http://citeseerx....type=pdf
JES
3.4 / 5 (9) Sep 09, 2010
Although I must agree with the first comment, a part of me strongly would like to see proper warp drive technology come out from it..:-)
Skeptic_Heretic
2.6 / 5 (8) Sep 09, 2010
Although I must agree with the first comment, a part of me strongly would like to see proper warp drive technology come out from it..:-)
Completely different concept.
OregonWind
4 / 5 (4) Sep 09, 2010
Try this also:

http://www.k.u-to...s-e.html

from the University of Tokyo

It doesn't add much but helps a little. In order to understand this subject better one would need knowledge of advanced math. The editors of physorg did what could be done to explain. a very complex and abstract subject. To read the original article for free, visit a college library.
Pyle
3.7 / 5 (10) Sep 09, 2010
Completely different concept

Probably, but this is a step down the road to understanding the "fundamental" forces and there is no telling where that leads.

I would think the recent observations of magnetars would be a great place to play with their theories and explore if these extreme cases related to necessary mass for black holes and the fluxuations of the observed magnetospheres can be understood.

To respond to @snivvy, me too , but it doesn't mean I can't throw laymen conjecture babble at it.
thales
4.3 / 5 (12) Sep 09, 2010
Dense aether fluxon soliton topology vorticity isomorphous hydrodynamic quantum phase nested foam bubbles torsional deforms fractal vortex rings.


Got that?
jsa09
4.9 / 5 (10) Sep 09, 2010
A while ago I commented here that we do not know what causes magnetic fields and I was jumped on by a number of people claiming that we knew all about them.

It appears after reading this article that I am not the only person that does not know what causes magnetic fields.
ubavontuba
2.1 / 5 (7) Sep 09, 2010
Lisa Zyga needs to relax and stop trying to impress people with big words.

All this article is saying is that like raindrops, magnetic vortexes need a catalyst to get them started.

Or even more simply (and poetically?)...

Somethings gotta start swirling
For vortexes to go twirling
Energy starts curling
Building and whirling...

...Okay, that's enough of that.

Anyway, the author appears to be saying the unevenness of spacetime serves as the necessary catalyst.
DaveGee
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 09, 2010
Although I must agree with the first comment, a part of me strongly would like to see proper warp drive technology come out from it..:-)
Completely different concept.


Okay well how about something a little more down to earth like a viable Fusion Reactor? :)
DaveGee
2 / 5 (4) Sep 09, 2010
A while ago I commented here that we do not know what causes magnetic fields and I was jumped on by a number of people claiming that we knew all about them. It appears after reading this article that I am not the only person that does not know what causes magnetic fields.


Well for one thing we know that a dime store refrigerator magnet can overcome and equally impressive force in our universe that we probably know just as well as magnetic forces.
TehDog
5 / 5 (3) Sep 09, 2010
wiki11 wrote nothing

I down voted this post after seeing the author.
After seeing the content, I wish I'd up voted...
trekgeek1
3 / 5 (6) Sep 10, 2010
Although I must agree with the first comment, a part of me strongly would like to see proper warp drive technology come out from it..:-)

Completely different concept.


How the hell do you know the operational principles behind a fictional FTL propulsion system? We know so little about warp drive physics and magnetic fields, how can we begin to call them entirely different concepts? It may be possible that magnetic fields are absolutely essential to creating a stable warp bubble.
chandram
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 10, 2010
i do not know how magnetic fields arose in our universe. One thing is sure that the Physics evolved over the past 100/1000 years can not understand what transpired in the first moments of the Big Bang and may be up to first half billion years of its existence. certainly, space time distortions, expansion/contraction, etc. in fact can produce/generate mass and energy and so also can result in rotating masses with charge built in. If one rationalize the birth of the Universe, the unified potential field gave birth to it and only subsequently the four component fields emerged as demanded by by the logic of evolution, first to come was gravity followed by strong nuclear, electromagnetic and lastly the weak nuclear. It is NOT Special theory of Relativity that can help understand the process, it is the Cosmological observation that will decide the issues. Cosmology is parallel in reverse way to Particle Physics. The answers will lie buried in them, e.g. what was the primordial matter?
Hesperos
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2010
And I thought that magnetic fields were a product of electron movement...
Pyle
2 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2010
And I thought that magnetic fields were a product of electron movement...

Why? What about electron movement causes a magnetic field? What about the magnetic field around the Earth or stars? Where from?
If we were discussing how a combustion engine works, you effectively said, "Gas makes it work."

Back to cool stuff. Warp bubble? Would that be at the "vortice" of a vacuum bubble? Nice.

@DaveGee I see much more direct potential in a leap in nuclear fusion technology resulting from this line of research. At the very least it could result in better control of magnetic fields to contain a reaction. More aggressively, it may give us a missing piece in the puzzle of star formation and improve our understanding of the fusion reactors bombarding us from space.
hodzaa
1.8 / 5 (10) Sep 10, 2010
A while ago I commented here that we do not know what causes magnetic fields and I was jumped on by a number of people claiming that we knew all about them.
We have only their formal description, which is directly related to experiments, i.e. Maxwell's equations. Unfortunately, the original form of Maxwell's equations was much more extensive then the later form of Heaviside and its physical idea, i.e. the deformations of elastic fluid was neglected with formally thinking physicists completely. In this way, the theory of scalar magnetic field, which was commonly accepted at the Kelvin/Tesla times is completely forgotten by now. We are just revealing it again in anti-gravity devices like EM-drive, Heim's drive, etc.

This is a product of consequential reductionism and mathematical Platonism in physics of the last century: all phenomena, which are more complex, then formal math can currently follow are neglected as an unpublishable ones.
hodzaa
Sep 10, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
hodzaa
1.4 / 5 (10) Sep 10, 2010
A nice evidence of intrinsic vacuum vorticity is the formation of particle-antiparticle pairs during breaking of highly energetic photons in the vacuum. We can observe the analogous formation of tiny vortex pairs at the water surface under proper illumination.

http://superstrun...cles.jpg

Note that this vorticity doesn't influent the surface wave spreading - so that such vortices are invisible in these waves in the same way, like the magnetic vortexes of vacuum are invisible in visible light.
hodzaa
1.9 / 5 (9) Sep 10, 2010
BTW "Space-time distortion of special relativity" is just an oxymoron - can anyone explain why is it so?
Skeptic_Heretic
2.6 / 5 (8) Sep 10, 2010
Although I must agree with the first comment, a part of me strongly would like to see proper warp drive technology come out from it..:-)

Completely different concept.


How the hell do you know the operational principles behind a fictional FTL propulsion system? We know so little about warp drive physics and magnetic fields, how can we begin to call them entirely different concepts? It may be possible that magnetic fields are absolutely essential to creating a stable warp bubble.

The concept of warp drives involves warping of the fabric of reality. Magnetic fields operate within but not upon the fabric of reality.

Again, entirely different concepts. We have conceptual warp drive theories. Magnetics are not involved. That's how I know.
hodzaa
2.5 / 5 (11) Sep 10, 2010
We have conceptual wtalk arp drive theories. Magnetics are not involved. That's how I know.

Actually magnetic field is one of few methods, how to warp space-time around objects (compare the Heim's drive, which is actually a sort of warp device) - but I don't want to discuss warp drives right here.
Skeptic_Heretic
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 10, 2010
We have conceptual wtalk arp drive theories. Magnetics are not involved. That's how I know.

Actually magnetic field is one of few methods, how to warp space-time around objects (compare the Heim's drive, which is actually a sort of warp device) - but I don't want to discuss warp drives right here.

I concur. I think we'd either come to an understanding or it would simply devolve into ad hominem attacks on both sides, for very little intellectual purpose. The Heim drive is a field induction concept rather than a warp concept though. It doesn't warp the fabric of reality, it warps itself within the fields of reality's fabric.
Skeptic_Heretic
2 / 5 (4) Sep 10, 2010
And by the way, I've been within the Heim camp for a long time. The man was absolutely brilliant.
ZI'm starting to think that being physically handicapped allows the mind to work at a far higher level similar to how the inability to see allows one's hearing to adapt to new ehights. I five'd you for that one.
Sirinx
2.4 / 5 (8) Sep 10, 2010
It doesn't warp the fabric of reality, it warps itself within the fields of reality's fabric.
It warps vacuum around itself with rotation of objects in magnetic field. The blind combinations of popular phrases like the "fields of reality's fabric" have no physical meaning.
..I've been within the Heim camp for a long time..
Nothing changed with Heim theory from this time.

BTW Can anyone explain, why "Space-time distortion of special relativity" is an oxymoron - or it's just me, who is able to recognize BS?
Skeptic_Heretic
2 / 5 (4) Sep 10, 2010
It warps vacuum around itself with rotation of objects in magnetic field. The blind combinations of popular phrases like the "fields of reality's fabric" have no physical meaning.
Demonstrably wrong. Now I feel bad that I even subtly agreed with you. There is no vaccuum. Learn that and deal with it.
"Reality's Fabric" = Space-time
Fields of reality's fabric" = the known and as yet unknown energetic fields.

Heim's theory hasn't changed, but the understanding and implications of it have. You have again proved yourself to be unread and unknowledgable within even obscure aspects of physics.
Nartoon
Sep 11, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
StandingBear
5 / 5 (1) Sep 11, 2010
Fundamental research on a fundamental force of nature! What could be better? Many applications possible with more understanding.
otto1932
3.3 / 5 (4) Sep 11, 2010
Back to cool stuff. Warp bubble? Would that be at the "vortice" of a vacuum bubble? Nice.
So. An honest if naive question... Are these relic fields and/or relativistic distortions of spacetime related to virtual particle creation? AND can these things be 'mined' or somehow tapped into to provide usable energy? (yeah- zero point)

Are these relic fields and distortions related to gravity?

otto1932
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 11, 2010
can these things be 'mined' or somehow tapped into to provide usable energy?
It's true, you can find many "scalar magnetic field" motors (Bedini) running on "free energy" on the web. They're really appear like running without
Another true is, I never saw any confirmation of it in peer-reviewed press. The third true is, I can never find ANY ATTEMPT for replication of these experiments in peer-review press. Actually it seems, mainstream physics has quite different problems, then to look for source of energy (cold fusion, ZPE, whatever..). It's easier to ask for financial support from society, then to attempt find something useful for it, instead.

It's evident, if you don't try something, it will never work and it can never violate existing laws. Galileo opponents knew very well, why not to look into his telescope...
Yeah, I've seen the engines. I also know you're full of poop. ANYBODY ELSE?
frajo
4.1 / 5 (7) Sep 12, 2010
AND can these things be 'mined' or somehow tapped into to provide usable energy? (yeah- zero point)
Didn't you read the Wiki page on "zero-point energy"? It contains a paragraph "Claims in pseudoscience" which addresses your question.
otto1932
5 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2010
@frajo
Your post was not very useful in helping to understand where these fields reside or whether they can be used to do work. For instance I assume that space-time distortions occur near objects but it seems the article is saying that they exist independent of gravity-producing objects?

At any rate your source taught me a new word- Nullpunktenergie- so thanks. Also, the article does state that no way has been found YET to extract this energy, but I would assume that with new discoveries such as the one in the article, the question is worth revisiting again. Because I am an optimist.

ANYBODY ELSE?
AWT
1.7 / 5 (6) Sep 12, 2010
ANYBODY ELSE?
Aren't you a retired teacher or something? We are not your pupils.
otto1932
4 / 5 (4) Sep 12, 2010
ANYBODY ELSE?
Aren't you a retired teacher or something? We are not your pupils.
No. I am the one asking questions.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2010
@Otto,

For energy to do work, there has to be a differential (or potential). Therefore, ZPE (being at the lowest potential) cannot effectively be "mined," without spending more energy (to do so) than you get.

Variances in ZPE do give a tantalizing promise of minute potentials, but they're too small to be practicable in macro applications.
Hesperos
1 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2010
PYLE: "What about the magnetic field around the Earth or stars? Where from?"

ALL magnetic fields are caused by electron movement, even stars and planets and in so-called permanent magnets.

Sometimes I feel like I'm attempting to discuss a complicated chess game, while the kibitzers are bent on arguing about how pawns move.
otto1932
4.7 / 5 (3) Sep 12, 2010
ALL magnetic fields are caused by electron movement, even stars and planets and in so-called permanent magnets.
So what does the article mean by 'relic fields'?

""Magnetic fields are found in all levels of cosmic and astrophysical settings," Mahajan said. "Most of them are, perhaps, relic fields created at some time in the evolution of the universe.""

-Fields which somehow remain after the things which create them are gone? I don't understand.
Hesperos
5 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2010
ALL magnetic fields are caused by electron movement, even in stars and planets and in so-called permanent magnets.
So what does the article mean by 'relic fields'?

""Magnetic fields are found in all levels of cosmic and astrophysical settings," Mahajan said. "Most of them are, perhaps, relic fields created at some time in the evolution of the universe.""

-Fields which somehow remain after the things which create them are gone? I don't understand.


Me either.
Hesperos
5 / 5 (3) Sep 13, 2010
So what does the article mean by 'relic fields'?

-Fields which somehow remain after the things which create them are gone? I don't understand.

Thinking about it some more, the only thing that makes sense to me (sort of) is that maybe nothing is never really ever "gone". Perhaps the authors were postulating that the source of the fields were of such a magnitude that they had/have influence (which we are able to detect) not only throughout space, but also throughout time.

chandram
1.7 / 5 (3) Sep 13, 2010
all fundamental particles who possess spin have rotations and produce/ generate intrinsic magnetic field. Charged particle spinning and even a neutral particle with some internal charge structure like neutron also possess intrinsic magnetic moment. Thus, electrons are not the only source of magnetic field. Magnetic field is basically a part of electromagnetic field and so also the electric field.
NNATH
kasen
4.8 / 5 (4) Sep 13, 2010
why "Space-time distortion of special relativity" is an oxymoron - or it's just me, who is able to recognize BS?


SR uses the flat Minkwoski spacetime, true, but the authors are talking about "space-time distortion caused by the demands of special relativity". Specifically, Lorentz invariance of the equations of movement, as said in the article. Technically, it's Lorentz covariance, since they're equations, but that's nitpicking.

If I understand correctly, what they've attempted is explaining how a magnetic field can originate from 0 by following idealised, very general models(which couldn't generate them from 0 w/o the SR restrictions). With this knowledge, they could trace back to the point of origin of a specific magnetic field, particularly in an astrophysical context, where direct observation may not be possible. Most likely in the time dimension, i.e. early universe and such.
PPihkala
3 / 5 (5) Sep 13, 2010
Electromagnetic theory using those crippled 4 equations is like looking at nature thru black-and-white TV and wondering why it's too difficult to see tigers in the bush. It would be high time in earnest to study what the original 20 Maxwell's equations can reveal, because by now we should have the computing power to use those, not the kindergarten versions that Lorentz et Heaviside made 100 years ago. Those versions assume that there is homogenous environment for all currents and fields and throws out anything that happens in inhomogenous environment, where there is space-time curvature etc. So to understand those situations too, use original math with 20 equations. We need to learn all about asymmetric situations too, not only the symmetric cases that were left after 20 to 4 equation simplification.
Hesperos
1 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2010
all fundamental particles who possess spin have rotations and produce/ generate intrinsic magnetic field. Charged particle spinning and even a neutral particle with some internal charge structure like neutron also possess intrinsic magnetic moment. Thus, electrons are not the only source of magnetic field. Magnetic field is basically a part of electromagnetic field and so also the electric field.

Yes that makes sense. I'm an engineer and a radio amateur and as such I know that the electric field propagates at right angles to the magnetic field. The reason electron movement is responsible for (virtually all) magnetic fields is the fact that they are both numerous and extremely mobile. I hadn't thought of magnetic fields being associated with neutrons however, but that makes sense too, although they must be extremely weak.

Pyle
3 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2010
@Hesperos,
For a second there I thought you had it:
source of the fields were of such a magnitude

then this happened:
I hadn't thought of magnetic fields being associated with neutrons however, but that makes sense too, although they must be extremely weak.

The Earth's magnetic field is NOT caused by electron movement alone. The Earth's magnetic field is a hydromagnetic dynamo, look it up.

The question this article tries to address is where the "fundamental" particles got their spin from. As the article states, vorticity didn't seem to work in a zero sum system. The researchers have attempted to show that under special relativity it does and that magnetism doesn't ruin/fits within our current theories.
I am hoping that if we can get a handle on magnetism maybe gravity or CP violation are next.
Hesperos
not rated yet Sep 14, 2010
PYLE
I am hoping that if we can get a handle on magnetism maybe gravity or CP violation are next.

The Electro-Weak Theory has been in existence for some time now. Look it up.

So far as I know, no connection between Electro-Weak and gravity has been established. Such a connection would form the basis of the long sought Unified Field Theory pursued by Einstein during much of his tenure at Princeton.
Pyle
1 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2010
Hesperos, stop.
I was merely suggesting that if we understood magnetism better it might lead to a better understanding of other fundamental forces and phenomenon.
Caliban
not rated yet Sep 24, 2010
All right, then!

Add this to the mix:

http://www.newsci...ity.html

Do you end up with Gumbo -or borscht?