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BASIC PHYSICAL CONCEPTS - PART B

ENERGY AGGREGATION

By Charles Rhodes, P. Eng., Ph.D.

INTRODUCTION:
This web page reviews basic physics that leads to aggregation of particles to form hydrogen, stars, atomic nuclei, atoms, molecules, gases and solids.
 

FIELD OVERLAP:
If the particles in a cluster are very far apart there is little overlap between the particle fields and hence to a good approximation the effects of field overlap on field energy density can be ignored. Then the total potential energy Ep is given by:
Ep = sum over all Eip
However, as the particles approach the CM there is significant field overlap. This field overlap changes the total system potential energy and hence due to energy conservation changes the total system kinetic energy. There is the appearance of a force that either pulls a particle toward the cluster CM or repels the particle away from the cluster CM. As a result the particles convert potential energy into kinetic energy.
 

MAXWELLS EQUATIONS:
The behavior of electric charge and electric and magnetic fields is described by a group of mathematical equations that are collectively known as Maxwells equations. Maxwells equations have both propagating and stationary solutions. The stationary solutions are known as charged particles (eg. electron, proton, atomic nuclei). The propagating solutions are known as electromagnetic radiation.
 

QUANTUM MECHANICS:
Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Schrodinger, Dirac and others developed mathematical equations that accurately describe observed atomic and nuclear energy transitions. These equations are collectively known as quantum mechanics. In quantum mechanics changes in charged particle energy can only take certain discrete values. There is a finite probability of a particle absorbing or emitting a photon and transitioning from one discrete energy state to another. This probabilistic behavior determines physical parameters such as nuclear half life.
 

ENERGY QUANTA:
The net charge on a particle is quantized (restricted to integral multiples of the proton charge). The mechanism of this charge quantization is not known to this author. However, charge quantization causes discrete changes in energy and hence causes quantization of emitted and absorbed radiant photon energy. Photons propagate at the speed of light. Let Ep be the amount of energy contained in an emitted or absorbed photon. It can be shown that:
Ep = photon energy
= change in charged particle energy
= h Fp
where:
h = Planck constant
and
Fp = the electromagnetic wave frequency of the photon.
 

The probability of occupancy of a particular energy state depends on the amount of random kinetic energy (temperature). The difference in energy between one discrete energy state and another is known as a quantum of energy.

PLANCK CONSTANT:
The lumped quantity h, which is known as the Planck constant, has a value of:
h = 6.626069 X 10^-34 J-s

It can be shown that the Planck constant h is actually complex function of other physical constants. However, quantum mechanical treatment of h as a separate physical constant greatly simplifies the solution of many practical problems.
 

PHOTON LINEAR MOMENTUM:
The linear momentum (Pp - Ppo) of a Photon with energy Ep and velocity Vp - Vo) is given by:
(Pp - Ppo) = (Ep / C^2) (Vp - Vo)

However, for a photon:
(Vp - Vo) = C
and
Ep = h Fp

Combining these three equations gives the change in linear momentum (Pp - Ppo) caused by absorption of a single photon as:
(Pp - Ppo) = (Ep / C^2) (Vp - Vo)
= (Ep / C^2) C
= (h Fp / C^2) C

Hence:
(Pp - Ppo)^2 = (h Fp / C)^2
OR
|(Pp - Ppo)| = (h Fp / C)

Note that typically an electromagnetic wave consists of many photons. If the photons are emitted with spherical symmetry there is no change in the momentum of the emitter. However, from the perspective of a small distant receiver the absorbed photons all arrive propagating in one direction and hence transfer momentum to the receiver.
 

ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION:
Each photon has a characteristic frequency Fp. Examples of photons are:
gamma rays
x-rays
light
microwaves
radio waves
AC power waves

Due to its higher frequency Fp a gamma wave photon contains many orders of magnitude more energy than a radio wave photon. Absorption of a gamma ray photon will damage a DNA molecule whereas the structure of the same molecule is unaffected by a radio wave photon. Hence gamma rays pose a serious biological health hazard whereas radio waves and radiation from low frequency AC power systems are not normally biological health hazards.
 

PHOTON EMISSION / ABSORPTION:
In a constant ambient magnetic field a stable charged particle has a stable energy. If there is a change in the ambient magnetic field, which affects the particle's stable energy value, the particle will tend to absorb or emit a photon in order to reach its new stable energy value.

The probability of emission or absorption of a photon is dependent upon the photon energy, the photon density and the characterisics of the emitting or absorbing energy aggregation.
 

POTENTIAL ENERGY WELL AND ENERGY AGGREGATION:
If particles fall into a potential energy well as they approach the CM they increase their kinetic energy and reduce their potential energy. If while in that state part or all of the kinetic energy and momentum converts to radiation and is emitted into space then some or all of the particles are trapped in a potential energy well in which there is insufficient kinetic energy and momentum for the particles to escape from one another. Hence the particles aggregate to form nuclei, atoms, molecules, gases, dust, rocks, planets and ultimately stars.

ENERGY LOSS VIA RADIATION:
In an environment of low external radiation kinetic energy loss via radiation exceeds kinetic energy gain via radiation. In this environment particles tend to aggregate to form atoms and atoms tend to aggregate to form molecules. During the processes of stable particle aggregation and unstable particle decay radiant energy emissions occur.
 

BINDING ENERGY:
Random thermal kinetic (heat) energy is spontaneously emitted from a cluster of particles via thermal electromagnetic radiation (photons). This radiation emission process reduces the average random kinetic energy per particle remaining in a potential well to a level below that necessary for individual particles to escape from the potential energy well. The remaining particles are bound together by the potential energy well.

The binding energy is the energy that must be added to an average particle to allow it to escape from the potential energy well. For electrons this binding energy is sometimes known as the Work Function.

This binding energy process is explored in much more detail on the web page titled: ENERGY COMPOSITION OF MATTER.
 

ENERGY GAIN VIA RADIATION:
In an environment of intense external radiation of suitable frequency an energy aggregation can absorb radiation and hence increase in energy. An example of this phenomena is photosynthesis. Another example is photo-cathlode electron emission
 

STAR FORMATION:
It is believed that in interstellar space free protons and free electrons electromagnetically aggragated to form atomic hydrogen and then further electromagnetically aggregated to form molecular hydrogen. The molecular hydrogen gravitationally aggregated to form stars and the local universe that we observe today.
 

PAIR PRODUCTION:
In certain circumstances a high energy photon can change into a matter-antimatter charged particle pair (such as an electron plus an anti-electron). This process is known as pair production. The sum of the particle and anti-particle charges is zero due to charge conservation. Emission of a particle or an anti-particle carries away equal rest energies.

This process may be key to stellar formation of deuterium from hydrogen. It is assumed that the stellar process operates by two protons impacting with sufficient kinetic energy to form an electron-positron pair. The positron is ejected leaving behind the deuterium particle group consisting of two low kinetic energy protons and a newly formed electron. This reaction route relies on some hydrogen nuclei in the star acquiring sufficient kinetic energy (> 0.511 MeV) to form electron-positron pairs.
 

STABLE PARTICLE AGGREGATIONS:
Under sufficient temperature and pressure conditions, such as at the centre of a star, protons (hydrogen nuclei) can combine to form stable deuterium according to:
(H-1) + (H-1) = (H-2) + positron
The positron almost immediately combines with a nearby free electon to form a 1.0 MeV gamma photon.
The requirement for relatively high kinetic energy but relatively low net momentum makes the probability of this reaction occuring during random collisions quite small and hence this reaction is very slow. This reaction is the primary determinant of the life of stars.

When the deuterium (H-2) concentration becomes sufficiently high deuterium nuclei can interact together according to:
(H-2) + (H-2) = (H-3) + n
or
(H-2) + (H-2) = (He-3) + P
to form either tritium (H-3) plus energetic free neutrons or to form helium-3 (He-3) plus energetic free protons. The free neutrons will convert more hydrogen into deuterium.

Tritium and deuterium can interact together according to:
(H-3) + (H-2) = (He-4) + n
to form helium-4 (He-4) nuclei plus more energetic free neutrons

Helium-3 and deuterium can interact together according to:
(He-3) + (H-2) = (He-4) + p
to form helium-4 (He-4) plus energetic free protons.

Each energy aggregation step involves a conversion of field energy into kinetic energy and then into emitted thermal radiation. The result is a mutual potential energy well.
 

UNSTABLE PARTICLES:
Unstable particles are particles that spontaneously decay into other particles and/or photons. An example of an unstable particle is a free neutron which has an average half life of about 11 minutes. A free neutron that is not captured by another nucleus spontaneously decays into a free electron, a free proton and a neutrino. Neutrinos have no charge, have little or no rest mass, have spin and propagate at or near the speed of light. However, within an atomic nucleus neutrons often appear to be highly stable.

Deuterium (H-2) consists of two protons bound to one electron and is a stable particle.

An unstable particle is tritium (H-3) which consists of three protons bound to two electrons. In a low neutron radiation environment tritium spontaneously decays into helium-3 (He-3) with a half life of about 12.6 years in accordance with the equation:
H-3 = He-3 + electron

Helium-3 consists of three protons bound to one electron. In a high neutron radiation environment such as a nuclear reactor helium-3 can absorb a neutron to form tritium.
He-3 + n = H-3 + proton

Atomic nuclei are energy and charge aggregations. Unstable nuclei are known as radio active isotopes or radio isotopes.
 

PARTICLES & CHARGE:
For semi-stable and stable atomic particles it has been experimentally observed that net electric charge occurs only in integral multiples of the proton charge:
Qp = (1.6021765 X 10^-19 coulombs).
Spontaneous quantum changes in charge usually occur by emission of an electron or a positron.

Charge is a conserved quantized parameter. Each atomic nucleus i is composed of Np net positive charges, each with charge Qp and Ne net negative charges, each with charge:
Qe = -Qp.
Hence, each particle i with rest energy has a net quantized electric charge Qi given by:
Qi = (Npi - Nei) Qp
where:
Npi= positive integer = number of contained positive charge quanta in particle i;
Nei = positive integer = number of contained negative charge quanta in particle i;
Qp = proton charge.

Each particle i has energy Ei which for energy aggregation to occur must satisfy the inequality:
Ei < (Npi Ep + Nei Ee)
where:
Ep = proton rest energy
Ee = electron rest energy
 

COMMON PARTICLES:
Nuclear structure permits the existence of many particles with extremely short half lives. Such particles are usually only observed in the context of high energy particle physics experiments or as a result of neutron absorption in a nuclear reactor. The following table lists low atomic weight particles with significant half lives that have practical relevance to engineering. Most of these particles are atomic nuclei. The data comes from the TABLE OF ISOTOPES.

Np  NeCOMMON NAMEHALF LIFE
-10anti-protonstable (except in interactions with ordinary matter)
01electronstable
    
0-1positron (anti-electron)stable (except in interactions with ordinary matter)
10proton (hydrogen nucleus)stable
11neutron11 minutes
    
21deuteronstable
    
31helium-3 nucleusstable
32tritium nucleus12.6 years
    
42helium-4 nucleus (alpha particle)  stable
    
5no stable particle for Np = 5unstable
    
62beryllium-6 nucleus0.4 s
63lithium-6 nucleusstable
64helium-6 nucleus0.797 s
    
73beryllium-7 nucleus53.6 days
74lithium-7 nucleusstable
    
83boron-8 nucleus0.77 s
84Be-8 nucleusstable at 2 He-4 nuclei
85lithium-8 nucleus0.841 s
86helium-8 nucleus0.122 s
    
93carbon-9 nucleus0.127 s
95Be-9 nucleusstable
96lithium-9 nucleus0.176 s
    
104carbon-10 nucleus19.48 s
105boron-10 nucleusstable
106Be-10 nucleus2.5 X 10^6 years
    
115carbon-11 nucleus20.34 minutes
116boron-11 nucleusstable
117Be-11 nucleus13.6 s
    
125nitrogen-12 nucleus0.01095 s
126carbon-12 nucleusstable
127boron-12 nucleus0.0203 s
128Be-12 nucleus0.0114 s
    
135oxygen-13 nucleus0.0087 s
136nitrogen-13 nucleus9.96 min
137carbon-13 nucleusstable
138boron-13 nucleus0.0186 s
    
146oxygen-14 nucleus70.91 s
147nitrogen-14 nucleusstable
148carbon-14 nucleus5730 y
    
157oxygen-15 nucleus123 s
158nitrogen-15 nucleusstable
159carbon-15 nucleus2.5 s
    
167oxygen-16 nucleusstable
168nitrogen-16 nucleus7.14 s
169carbon-16 nucleus.74 s
    
177neon-17 nucleus0.10 s
178fluorine-17 nucleus66.6 s
179oxygen-17 nucleusstable
1710nitrogen-17 nucleus4.16 s
    
188neon-18 nucleus1.5 s
189fluorine-18 nucleus109.7 min
1810oxygen-18 nucleusstable
1811nitrogen-18 nucleus0.63 s
    
198neon-19 nucleus17.4 s
199fluorine-19 nucleusstable
1910oxygen-19 nucleus29.1 s
    
208magnesium-20 nucleus0.6 s
209sodium-20 nucleus0.39 s
2010neon-20 nucleusstable
2011fluorine-20 nucleus11.56 s
2012oxygen-20 nucleus14 s
    
219magnesium-21 nucleus0.121 s
2110sodium-21 nucleus23.0 s
2111neon-21 nucleusstable
2112fluorine-21 nucleus4.35 s
    
2210magnesium-22 nucleus0.13 s
2211sodium-22 nucleus2.62 year
2212neon-22 nucleusstable
2213fluorine-22 nucleus4.0 s
    
2310aluminum-23 nucleus0.13 s
2311magnesium-23 nucleus12.1 s
2312sodium-23 nucleusstable
2313neon-23 nucleus37.6 s
    
2411aluminum-24 nucleus2.10 s
2412magnesium-24 nucleusstable
2413sodium-24 nucleus14.96 h
2414neon-24 nucleus3.38 min
    
2511silicon-25 nucleus0.23 s
2512aluminum-25 nucleus7.24 s
2513magnesium-25 nucleusstable
2514sodium-25 nucleus60 s
    
2612silicon-26 nucleus2.1 s
2613aluminum-26 nucleus7.4 X 10^5 year
2614magnesium-26 nucleusstable
2615sodium-26 nucleus1.04 s
    
2713silicon-27 nucleus4.14 s
2714aluminum-27 nucleusstable
2715magnesium-27 nucleus9.46 m
    
2813phosphorus-28 nucleus0.28 s
2814silicon-28 nucleusstable
2815aluminum-28 nucleus2.31 min
2816magnesium-28 nucleus21.2 hr
    
2913sulphur-29 nucleus0.19 s
2914phosphorus-29 nucleus4.45 s
2915silicon-29 nucleusstable
2916aluminum-29 nucleus6.6 min
    
3014sulphur-30 nucleus1.4 s
3015phosphorus-30 nucleus2.50 min
3016silicon-30 nucleusstable
3017aluminum-30 nucleus3.3 s
    

Hence atomic nuclei are simply stable and semi-stable energy states of a mutual potential energy well corresponding to various values of Np and Ne. For most values of Np the nuclei become more unstable as Ne deviates away from its stable value. For each Np value the nucleus usually seeks stability by either positron or electron emission (beta decay) to approach the stable Ne value. Emission of a positron increments the Ne value while decreasing the nucleus total energy. Emission of an electron decrements the Ne value while decreasing nucleus total energy.

Application of an external magnetic field causes the stable energy of a nucleus to change. The nucleus can respond by adjusting its energy by absorption or emission of photons. Quantization of charge causes these photons to be quantized in energy.

Note that for most values of Np there is only one corresponding value of Ne that yields a stable particle. However, in cases where the energy difference between adjacent Ne values is too small to support positron/electron emission there may be multiple stable Ne values for a particular Np value.

The stable nuclei can be identified simply by listing all the stable isotopes from the TABLE OF ISOTOPES.
P-31, S-32, S-33, S-34, Cl-35, S-36, Ar-36, Cl-37, Ar-38, K-39, Ar-40, K-40 (unstable), Ca-40, K-41, Ca-42, Ca-43, Ca-44, Sc-45, Ca-46, Ti-46, Ti-47, Ca-48 (unstable), Ti-48, Ti-49, Ti-50, V-50 (unstable), Cr-50, V-51, Cr-52, Cr-53, Cr-54, Fe-54, Mn-55, Fe-56, Fe-57, Fe-58, Ni-58, Co-59, Ni-60, Ni-61, Ni-62, Cu-63, Ni-64, Zn-64, Cu-65, Zn-66, Zn-67, Zn-68, Ga-69,Zn-70, Ge-70, Ga-71, Ge-72, Ge-73, Ge-74, Se-74, As-75, Ge-76, Se-76, Se-77, Se-78, Kr-78, Br-79, Se-80, Kr-80, Br-81, Se-82, Kr-82, Kr-84, Sr-84, Rb-85, Kr-86, Sr-86, Rb-87, Sr-87, Sr-88, Y-89, Zr-90, Zr-91, Zr-92, Mo-92, Nb-93, Zr-94, Mo-94, Mo-95, Mo-96, Zr-96, Ru-96, Mo-97, Mo-98, Ru-98, Ru-99, Ru-100, Mo-100, Ru-101, Ru-102, Pd-102, Rh-103, Ru-104, Pd-104, Pd-105, Pd-106, Cd-106, Ag-107, Pd-108, Cd-108, Ag-109, Pd-110, Cd-110, Cd-111, Cd-112, Sn-112, Cd-113, In-113, Cd-114, Sn-114, In-115, Sn-115, Cd-116, Sn-116, Sn-117, Sn-118, Sn-119, Sn-120, Te-120, Sb-121, Sn-122, Te-122, Te-123, Sb-123, Sn-124, Te-124, Xe-124, Te-125, Te-126, Xe-126, I-127, Te-128, Xe-128, Xe-129, Te-130, Xe-130, Ba-130, Xe-131, Xe-132, Ba-132, Cs-133, Xe-134, Ba-134, Ba-135, Xe-136, Ba-136, Ce-136, Ba-137, Ba-138, Ce-138, La-138, La-139, Ce-140, Pr-141, Ce-142, Nd-142, Nd-143, Nd-144, Sm-144, Nd-145, Nd-146, Sm-147, Sm-148, Nd-148, Sm-149, Sm-150, Nd-150, Eu-151, Sm-152, Gd-152, Eu-153, Sm-154, Gd-154, Gd-155, Gd-156, Dy-156, Gd-157, Gd-158, Dy-158, Tb-159, Gd-160, Dy-160, Dy-161, Dy-162, Er-162, Dy-163, Dy-164, Er-164, Ho-165, Er-166, Er-167, Er-168, Yb-168, Tm-169, Er-170, Yb-170, Yb-171, Yb-172, Yb-173, Yb-174, Hf-174, Lu-175, Hf-176, Yb-176, Lu-176, Hf-177, Hf-178, Hf-179, Hf-180, Ta-180, W-180, Ta-181, W-182, W-183, W-184, Os-184, Re-185, W-186, Os-186, Os-187, Re-187, Os-188, Os-189, Os-190, Pt-190, Ir-191, Os-192, Pt-192, Ir-193, Pt-194, Pt-195, Pt-196, Hg-196, Au-197, Pt-198, Hg-198, Hg-199, Hg-200, Hg-201, Hg-202, Tl-203, Hg-204, Pb-204, Tl-205, Pb-206, Pb-207, Pb-208

Note that experimentally there are no stable nuclei with Np values in excess of 208. For Np > 208 there are decay sequences including alpha particle emission, neutron emission or fission that over time gradually reduce Np.

Thus we have identified that stable nuclei are particles with Np values that satisfy:
0 < Np < 209
and that for each Np value there are 1 to 4 Ne values that result in a stable particle.
In round numbers there are about 300 stable particles and there are about 900 documented unstable particles with Np values less than 209.
 

SUMMARY OF PARTICLE PARAMETERS:
Each particle i has associated electric, magnetic and gravitational fields that extend out to infinity. Particle linear motion results in field changes that propagate radially at the speed of light. Propagating changes in electromagnetic fields are known as electromagnetic radiation.

Each particle i has a characteristic total amount of energy Ei which is finite and is nearly stable. The total energy Ei of a particle is the sum of the core energy and the field energies. The spacial energy density of particle i decreases rapidly with increasing distance from the particle's nominal position (Xi - Xo). However, the energy density of an isolated particle remains non-zero out to infinity.

Electrons and protons consist of opposite but unequal quantized charges that move in opposite directions at the along a stable closed path that approximately traces the surface of a toroid, The charge is uniformly distributed over the surface of the toroid.

The distributed charge causes a spherically symmetric external electric field and a cylindrically symmetric internal electric field. The charge motion causes a cylindrically symmetric external poloidal magnetic field and a cylindrically symmetric internal toroidal magnetic field.

The cylindrically symmetric internal electric field plays a key role in charged particle structural stability. Hence only a narrow range of (Ne / Np) values leads to stable atomic nuclei.

The charge motion within a particle at rest is a closed spiral and is referred to as "spin". The spin creates a poloidal magnetic field which can interact with an external magnetic field. Each charged particle takes one of two possible spins states. In one spin state the toroidal magnetic field points CW around the poloidal magnetic field. In the other spin state the toroidal magnetic field points CCW around the poloidal magnetic field.

The electric, magnetic and gravitational fields contain potential energy that contributes to the particle's total energy Ei. However, a stable charged particle has additional stable rest energy that is referred to herein as core energy. Most matters relating to changes in core energy, such as triggered by very high energy nuclear particle interactions, are beyond the scope of this web site. At ordinary particle energy levels changes in core energy only occur during production or annihilation of electron-positron pairs. The mechanism by which core energy accompanys charge is not understood.
 

SOLAR SYSTEM:
In our solar system the gravitational field due to core energy can be converted to photons. However, the core energy cannot be converted because there is no available anti-matter. Hence, all energy in our solar system that can do work comes from existing kinetic energy or from new overlap of particle fields that occurs during energy aggregation.
 

NATURAL FLOWS OF ENERGY:
Nuclear fusion processes within a star such as the sun slowly convert solar hydrogen into deuterium and then into heavier elements and liberate heat. In the heavier elements formed by normal solar fusion the average energy per constituant particle is less than for free particles. The sun loses energy primarily by thermal emission of photons into space.

For bodies with a large number of atoms the energy difference between the adjacent discrete real energy solutions is so small compared to the total system energy that from an external observers perspective the discrete changes in energy associated with changes in bulk motion are invisible. However, an important observable effect of quantization of electron energy states is the frequency dependence on temperature of random kinetic (heat) energy loss via thermal electromagnetic radiation.

The measured rate of solar hydrogen loss via particle emission is relatively small compared to the rate of solar hydrogen depletion via formation of deuterium, which formation drives present solar radiation emission.

During their lifetimes stars emit large amounts of thermal electromagnetic radiation. This radiation flux enables absorption and re-emission of energy by planets in a manner that allows performance of work on the surface of the planets.

About 30% of the solar photons that are incident upon the Earth are reflected back into space. About 70% of the solar photons that are incident upon the Earth are absorbed by atomic electrons near the Earth's surface, giving these atomic electrons surplus energy.

Atomic electrons occupy discrete energy states. An electron decaying from a high energy state to a lower energy state can transfer its surplus energy to another particle or can emit a photon. A change in electron energy due to photon absorption can cause an electric current or can drive a chemical reaction, either of which can be used to do work.

Electrons with surplus energy gradually lose energy by interaction with nearby molecules. The resulting local surplus random molecular kinetic energy can expand a gas such as the atmosphere to create wind or can evaporate a liquid such as sea water to create rain. Wind and rain water can be harnessed with suitable turbines to do work.

At steady state conditions all work eventually converts to random kinetic energy of molecules (ambient temperature heat). Randomly vibrating and rotating molecules containing separated electric charges continuously absorb and/or emit infrared photons. At the Earth's surface infrared transmission exceeds infrared absorption, so infrared photons are emitted into outer space.
 

CLUSTERS OF PARTICLES:
To evaluate the effect of field overlap within a cluster of particles the total rest energy of the cluster of particles is compared to the total rest energy of an equal number of identical but individually isolated particles.

In a cluster of particles the kinetic energy can be purely random (as with heat) or can be partially ordered which order causes net cluster momentum.

In a cluster of particles the total kinetic energy related to charged particle motion can increase due to absorption of photons from an external source or can decrease due to emission of photons into space. Note that net absorption or emission of photons generally occurs near the outer surface of the cluster.
 

RADIATION EMISSION BY AN ELECTROMAGNETICALLY AGGREGATED CLUSTER OF CHARGED PARTICLES
In an electromagnetic aggregation of charged particles the individual particles are generally in constant random motion with respect to other particles. The kinetic energy associated with this motion is known as heat. The relative motion of the charged particles causes changes in electric and magnetic field overlaps that propagate out of the cluster as electromagnetic radiation. This radiation is variously known as Planck radiation, thermal radiation or black body radiation. The rate of emission of this radiation increases with the surface area, emission surface temperature and radiation frequency.

If the emitting surface is a solid emitting directly into a vacuum the radiation emission rate is well described by a black body approximation. However, if there is a mixed gas atmosphere between the solid and the vacuum the situation is much more complex. Depending on the characteristics of the individual gases the emitting surface position becomes a function of emission frequency. In an atmosphere the emitting surface temperature is a function of the emitting surface altitude.

For example, CO2 makes the Earth's atmosphere opaque in certain frequency bands. Within these frequency bands the emitting surface is located near the top of the Earth's atmosphere, not near the Earth's surface. At the top of the Earth's atmosphere the temperature is much less than at the Earth's surface. Hence within these frequency bands the rate of thermal radiation emission is very small due to the low temperature at the emission surface. From the perspective of an observer in outer space the thermal radiation emission spectrum of the Earth has a large absorption notch due to this effect. This effect makes CO2 a greenhouse gas. An increase in the atmospheric CO2 concentration causes the observed absorption notch to widen which causes global warming.

Water vapor has a comparable effect due to absorption bands at both the high frequency and low frequency ends of the thermal infrared spectrum. The increase in the Earth's surface temperature due to CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere increases the water vapor pressure which increases the atmospheric water vapor concentration. Thus the effect of water vapor multiplies the global warming due to an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration.
 

ENERGY FLOW BALANCE:
On very dry land the Earth's surface temperature automatically adjusts to keep the average daily energy loss by emission of infrared photons into outer space approximately equal to the average daily energy gain by absorption of solar photons. The difference between these two energy flows causes net thermal absorption (warming) or net thermal emission (cooling). The net energy flux is absorbed by heating of the oceans and by melting of ice.
 

ENERGY TRANSPORT:
Typically a natural directional flow of energy such as a water fall is used to supply energy to one end of an energy guide system such as an electricity transmission line. At the other end of the energy guide system the excess energy is used to do work and/or produce local heat. Both the work and the local heat ultimately become ambient temperature heat which converts into infrared photons that are emitted into outer space.
 

NON-DETERMINISTIC NEAR FUTURE:
The combination of energy aggregations and the ongoing radiative energy flows provides an environment that enables life as we know it. At the atomic and molecular scale the quantum mechanical equations for particle energy have multiple discrete real solutions. This multiplicity of real solutions together with suitable energy flows gives life forms a limited degree of choice regarding their immediate future. Human beings know this choice as "free will".
 

DISTANT FUTURE:
There are only a finite number of free electrons and protons. These particles form hydrogen. The stars are constantly capturing the hydrogen, converting its particle field energy into photons and emitting those photons into outer space. Absent a mechanism for replacing the free electrons an protons, eventually the supply of field energy from aggregation of charged particles will be exhausted.

It is possible to speculate that quasars or some other distant massive astromomical object might provide a mechanism for capture of radiation and regeneration of free charged particles. However, that issue is far beyond the scope of this web site.
 

This web page last updated January 7, 2014.

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