foundations of Physics


George Francis FitzGerald, Oliver Lodge, and James Clerk Maxwell all attempted to construct geometrical models of the electric and magnetic fields but all were left disappointed with their attempts. Carl Anton Bjerknes subsequently saw it as an abandoned problem: "We have theories relating to these [E-M] fields, but we have no idea whatever of what they are intrinsically, nor even the slightest idea of the path to follow in order to discover their true nature" (Bjerknes 1906, 1). Oliver Lodge concurred: "The problem of the constitution of the Ether, and of the way in which portions of it are modified to form the atoms or other constituent units of ordinary matter, has not yet been solved"  (Lodge 1909, xix). A satisfactory model of a hydrogen atom that predicts hyperfine energies is also wanting, a problem that Niels Bohr eventually abandoned.


The Vortex Atom revisits these problems and suggests an alternative approach to quantum mechanics. The suggested model for a 'particle' is that of a trapped photon rotating around the surface of a toroid. This is a development of work on the orbital angular momentum (OAM) of light carried out by researchers at the University of Glasgow. A resolution to the wave-particle duality is also proposed based on photonic research which suggests that it is possible for a single photon emission to excite two spatially separated detectors simultaneously.


Bjerknes, V. F. K. (ed.). Fields of Force: A Course of Lectures in Mathematical
Physics Delivered December 1 to 23, 1905. New York: The Columbia
University Press, 1906.

Lodge, Oliver. The Ether of Space. Harper, 1909.

Schrödinger, Erwin. ‘What is matter?” Scientific American 189, No. 3 (1953): 52–57.

Barry R. Clarke, The Quantum Puzzle: Critique of Quantum Theory and Electrodynamics, World Scientific Publishing, 2017.

Barry R. Clarke, The Vortex Atom: A New Paradigm, World Scientific Publishing, 2021.

How should we decide on the aim of physics? Is it merely a mathematical model for making predictions about our experience, without any visualizable mechanism? Or does it have a deeper value in trying to replicate through imaginative visualization the world external to us responsible for our experience? It is a question physics cannot answer in isolation by reference to its own successes or failures. If we are to find a guide as to the form our theories should take, we need to spend time examining the development of the human understanding, to discover its vector of evolution. As we shall see, as the passing millennia have provided us with an increasing sensory capacity, the human mind has produced maps of the environment that have had increasing utility. The identification and anticipating of predators, and the extraction of responses from the external world favourable to its survival, seem to have determined the direction of this development.  In his later years, one of the founders of quantum mechanics Erwin Schrödinger (1953, 52) was brought to confess that “physics stands at a grave crisis of ideas”. It is a stark admission from a man who had been at the very center of twentieth century physics. However, the difficulties facing the progress of theoretical physics did not begin with quantum mechanics but instead can be traced back to the electro-dynamical theories of the nineteenth century.