Magnetism is one of Ken Wheeler’s most intense obsessions. Find out why the Theoria Apophasis creator is wrong about magnetism and why experts in the field view him with derision.
Magnetism fascinates people. The attraction and repulsion we see when we play with magnets feels both magical and compelling.
Those qualities have also attracted their share of frauds like Franz Mesmer, from whose odd notions about magnetic healing we get the word “mesmerized.” Ken Wheeler seems to be trying to carry on Mesmer’s deceptive tradition.
Understanding how magnets work correctly is more difficult than people think. We couldn’t do it until scientists acquired a detailed understanding of both Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.
Magnets Would Be Impossible Under Classical Physics
Eventually, Hendreka van Leeuwen proved in 1921 that magnets should be impossible if we rely on the traditional laws of classical physics. Her discovery led scientists to seek answers by applying new principles derived from Special Relativity and Quantum Theory.
Modern physics has shown that the reason some substances are magnetic is a quantum principle. Electrons, like other fermion particles, maintain symmetrical wave functions, which includes their magnetic properties.
Particle physicists call these magnetic properties “spin.” Atoms have an overall spin based on the sum of the spins of all the electrons they contain.
Magnet Is an Object In Which Atoms Have Aligned Spins
A magnet is an object whose atoms all have aligned overall spins. Science calls the process by which the atoms in magnets align their spins “exchange interaction.”
This elegant, empirically proven explanation poses a threat to Ken Wheeler. He insists in the face of all facts and reason that electrons, quantum mechanics and relativity can’t exist.
In a vain attempt to prove the impossible, the Angry Photographer has cobbled together a loose amalgam of misguided and contradictory theories on how magnets work. These notions are based on outmoded, pseudoscientific beliefs.
Claims He’s the Only One Who Understands Magnetism
Kentucky Ken claims to be “the first human being on Earth to uncover magnetism. and how it works.” He seems to mean this literally, and to be completely sincere about it, calling it “one of the greatest secrets of nature.”
To begin with, the Angry Photographer’s bizarre notions about electromagnetism aren’t even original. Although he denies any connection, he has largely derived, not to say copied, his ideas from a movement called the Electric Universe.
Specifically, Ken Wheeler has scooped up his dogma from the obscure, eccentric, electrical engineer Eric Dollard. He gives Dollard only scant credit for the ideas he’s appropriated from him. Ironically, when the Angry Photographer finally got to meet his hero, Dollard rebuffed him.
Eric Dollard’s Followers Deny Gravity or Nuclear Forces
Mind you, Dollard doesn’t warrant much credit, since he claims electrons don’t exist, that a disproven substance called the ether does, and that the Maxwell Equations, which physicists and electrical engineers apply daily, are “of dubious practical value.”
Followers of this movement believe, in one form or another, that the only force of nature is electricity, or electromagnetism. They deny the existence of gravity or the nuclear forces.
While distancing himself from the movement, the idea of a single natural force is a central tenet of the Theoria Apophasis producer’s theories on magnetism.The Angry Photographer has self-published a book entitled Uncovering the Missing Secrets of Magnetism.
“Conjugate Magneto-Dielectric Geometry of the Universe”
It purports to explore “the nature of Magnetism, with regards to the true model of atomic geometry and field mechanics by means of rational physics & logic.” The YouTuber behind Theoria Apophasis praises his own book, declaring that it “reveals a huge secret that’s existed for thousands of years.”
The secret to which Ken Wheeler refers is his so-called “conjugate magneto-dielectric geometry of the entire Universe.” He bases his geometric model on two shapes, the torus (donut) and the hyperboloid (hourglass). His diagram may help.
The Angry Photographer claims that the two shapes are negative images of one another. They’re not. He claims that when combined, the two shapes form a sphere. They don’t. The British scientist behind the YouTube channel AB science debunks these claims in more detail here.
The Theoria Apophasis host tells us the torus is the “magnetic” part of the field while the hyperboloid represents the “dielectric.” Science tells us there’s no such thing as a dielectric field, and a magnet’s shape determines the shape of the magnetic field it causes. It’s not necessarily donut-shaped.
Michelson-Morley Experiment Disproves Ether’s Existence
Beyond all that, the central flaw underlying Ken Wheeler’s ideas about electromagnetism is that he believes in “the ether.” We explain in depth how the Michelson-Morley Experiment disproves the ether’s existence under Field Theory – Why Ken’s Wrong and the YouTuber Planarwalk also shares a more in-depth debunking of the Angry Photographer’s ethereal claims.
Having realized that electromagnetic waves don’t need a medium like the ether, scientists came to understand that electromagnetism has both wavelike and particle-like properties. which generated the revolutionary theories of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.
These are two of the most successful theories in the history of science. Although they’re counterintuitive, they’ve been confirmed by countless experiments and they’ve predicted phenomena that their originators couldn’t have known about. Further, we now know Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are the only reasons magnetism can exist.
Fundamentally Opposes Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
Ken Wheeler desperately wants to believe in the ether. For reasons best known to himself, he fundamentally opposes both Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.
The Angry Photographer stubbornly refuses to accept the dual nature of electromagnetism; that it has both wavelike and particle-like attributes. He also irrationally denies the existence of photons and electrons.
The creator of Theoria Apophasis devotes an especially large amount of effort to ridiculing the concept of virtual photons. He insists that “they’re not the input or output of any experiment.”
Falsely Denies Virtual Photon Experiment Results
This is demonstrably false. In 1947, Willis Lamb and Robert Retherford conducted an experiment to measure hydrogen’s microwave spectrum.
They observed an energy discrepancy, from which they discovered virtual photons. Physicists now call this discrepancy the Lamb shift, and Lamb received the Nobel Prize for it back in 1955.
More recently, virtual photons are also the output the well-known A. A. Stahlhofen and G. Nimtz quantum tunnelling experiment. They explained how virtual photons resulted from their work in the peer-reviewed science journal Europhysics Letters in 2006.
Peculiar Aspect: Obsession with Digital Photography
The most peculiar aspect of this refusal to believe in photons or electrons is that the Angry Photographer is obsessed with digital photography gear. For example, he denies Einstein’s photoelectric effect. Yet every time he takes pictures, the sensors in his high-priced cameras convert photons into electrons.
The Theoria Apophasis host tries to impose his notions about magnetism onto a phenomenon that continues to puzzle astrophysicists. The fact that it’s not yet fully understood gives him the chance to make up explanations for it that confirm his odd ideas.
Scientists call the phenomena astrophysical jets. They’re unimaginably massive linear streams of high energy gas that flow out of stars and even galaxies.
Extragalactic Jets Confirm Einstein’s Special Relativity
Physicists call the ones galaxies emit “extragalactic jets.” They’re the largest known structures in the Universe.
Apart from their size, extragalactic jets interest scientists because they contain relativistic particles, and they seem to travel very close to the speed of light. Studying them confirms Enstein’s Theory of Special Relativity, and it may also help us to better understand the power source of the galaxies that emit them.
Ken Wheeler has pounced on this frontier of science to try to confirm his discredited ideas about magnetism. He claims to have realized the jets’ true nature through a “profound revelation” he’s had.
Falsely Claims Jets Are Spontaneous Generation of Hydrogen
The Angry Photographer arbitrarily decrees without evidence that extragalactic jets arise from the massive black holes at the centres of galaxies. He claims that the jets “must necessitatively be ab-extra spontaneous generation of the hydrogen.”
Of course, this is impossible. Readers will realize that one of the basic principles of our Universe is the conservation of energy. Although we can convert energy into matter and vice versa, there’s no way for a black hole to generate matter such as hydrogen gas spontaneously.
The YouTuber behind Theoria Apophasis attributes his supposed spontaneous matter generation to the fact that black holes lie at “the gyromagnetic axis of the plane of inertia of the centre of that galaxy or of the supermassive black hole.”
Neither Black Holes Nor Galaxies Are Magnetic
The problem with this “explanation” is that neither black holes nor galaxies are magnetic phenomena. As explained in more detail under Gravity -Why Ken’s Wrong, both result from gravity, a separate force from magnetism.
Although Ken Wheeler tries to take all the credit for his notions about magnetism, they’re essentially the brainchild of Eric Dollard’s misguided Electric Universe movement. He shares three objections with them.
He doesn’t want to believe in photons or electrons. He doesn’t want to believe that the speed of light is constant. Above all, he clings to the notion of the ether like an insecure child to a security blanket.
Some Other Pseudoscientific Jargon for the Ether
The YouTuber behind Theoria Apophasis has some other pseudoscientific jargon for the ether. He also calls it “counter space” and the “dielectric.” These are terms Ken Wheeler has lifted from Dollard, who fell into such disrepute that he found himself living out of his car.
In Ken Wheeler’s mind, everything is a disturbance (perturbation) of the ether/counter space/dielectric in various forms (modalities). Ice, water and steam are all the same thing, and so are gravity, magnetism and electricity. They’re just “incommensurate”(the same only different).
Of course, nature is under no obligation to make sense to the Angry Photographer. The best explanation we have that covers all of the evidence is that there is no ether, that both photons and electrons exist, and that the speed of light is constant in every frame of reference.
If All You Have is the Ether, Everything Looks Like a Magnet
There’s a tragic aspect to Ken Wheeler’s obsession with magnetism. His self-published book on the subject runs 622 pages. He claims it took him twenty years to write and he’s uploaded multiple editions.
Ken Wheeler is fond of saying, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” In his case, it’s more apt to say, “If all you have is the ether, everything looks like a magnet.”
All the time, labour, and expense that the Angry Photographer has devoted to his book on magnetism have been for nothing. His entire body of work on magnetism is empirically unsound and logically invalid.
Scientists Refuse to Give His Quackery a Forum
His work hasn’t come to the attention of many scientists. Most of the few who have noticed it haven’t had the patience to debunk it, and refuse to give his quackery a forum.
There’s one notable exception. He’s the British physicist and YouTuber mentioned above, who uses the handle AB science. He specializes in magnetism.
Along with the above link, he’s created a complete series of videos in response to Ken Wheeler’s unsubstantiated claims about magnetism. He debunks all of the Theoria Apophasis originator’s odd misconceptions about electromagnetism and physics in general.
AB Science Points Out Misuse of Language
Beyond that, AB science also points to the character flaws necessary to generate the Angry Photographer’s nonsensical books and videos on the topic.
One of the most helpful contributions AB science makes is to point out Ken Wheeler’s misuse of words and language. The Angry Photographer invents meaningless jargon and misuses the few genuine scientific terms on which he relies.
Portrait of a Pitiable, Insecure Man
In the end, AB science leaves us with a portrait of a pitiable, insecure man. Ken Wheeler’s ideas are laughable, but his motivations inspire a sad kind of fellow-feeling.
We’re all vulnerable to this kind of motivated reasoning. Without the discipline of the scientific method, any of us could fall into the same trap as Ken Wheeler.
“There but for fortune go you and go I.”Phil Ochs