Electricity has been a challenge for scientists to explain and harness for millennia. Find out how none of that deters Ken Wheeler from inventing his own, completely inaccurate misconception of how electrical charge and current work.
Science defines electricity as a series of physical phenomena related to electric charge and how that charge affects matter. People have experienced electricity from time immemorial.
The ancient Egyptians often came across electric fish in the Nile. People have known that rubbing cat fur and amber together causes static cling since the dawn of civilization.
In fact, the word “electricity” comes from the Greek word ἤλεκτρον or elektron, which means amber. Of course, when most of us think of the word “electron,” we’re thinking of the elementary particle with the same name.
Electric Charge Comes from Subatomic Particles
Electric charge comes from subatomic particles like the electron and the proton. Scientists call the electron charge “negative” and the proton charge “positive,” although that’s just a convention. The important thing is that they’re opposites.
Physicists call the movement of electric charge through matter “electric current.” Current usually consists of electrons, but sometimes it can be a flow of other charged particles.
Electrons can flow through some substances called conductors like copper or gold. They can’t flow through other substances called insulators, like glass. Substances like silicon fall in between conducting and insulating, and we call them semiconductors.
Ken Wheeler Doesn’t Believe Electrons Exist
Ken Wheeler doesn’t like any of these ideas one bit. The reason he gives is that they involve belief in electrons, which he claims don’t exist.
The Angry Photographer insists that electricity is “the ether in a state of dynamic polarization.” According to him, “the motions and strains of the ether give rise to electrification.”
In his document entitled Fields the creator of Theoria Apophasis tells us that “The two components of the electric field are the magnetic & the dielectric. Electricity is a compound cyclic field modality composed of both components of the primordial conjugate fields.”
Electric Charge Produces Electric Fields, Not Polarized Ether
The truth is that electric charge produces electric fields. As we’ve seen, charge is either positive or negative.
When electric charge flows through matter, we call that an electric current. Electric current consists of moving electrons or other charged particles, and it also generates a magnetic field around the conductor.
As explained under Field Theory – Why Ken’s Wrong, back in 1887, Michelson and Morley found that the ether doesn’t exist. Something that isn’t there can’t become polarized.
“Field Modality of Dielectricity and Magnetism”
The YouTuber behind Theoria Apophasis also claims that electricity is “the consubstantial field modality of dielectricity and magnetism.” By “field modality,” he’s referring to his own idiosyncratic definition of a “field” as an “ether perturbation modality.”
Since the ether doesn’t exist, there’s no way for it to undergo a disturbance or perturbation. By “modality” Ken Wheeler means various forms of the same phenomenon, like ice, water and steam but again, something that doesn’t exist also can’t have modalities.
There’s no question that the electricity we depend on comes from the negatively charged, elementary particles we call electrons. J.J. Thomson discovered electrons in the same year as Michelson and Morley’s experiment. He was studying cathode rays – the rays that drive old-school TV picture tubes, for example.
Thompson Discovered Electrons Had Both Charge and Mass
Thomson found that these rays weren’t waves, atoms, or molecules. Instead, they were unique particles, that he called electrons, with both a charge and a mass. This discovery won him the Nobel Prize.
Scientists have confirmed Thomson’s discovery in many ways over the century that’s passed since then. Niels Bohr explained how electrons reside within atoms in 1913, and in 1916, Gilbert Newton Lewis explained how chemical bonds result from atoms sharing electrons.
In 2008, scientists at the Lund University Faculty of Engineering in Sweden captured an electron on film for the first time, as shown in the featured image above. The electron was riding on a light wave after having been pulled away from an atom, confirming the photoelectric effect discovered by Einstein in 1905, for which he too won the Nobel Prize.
Likens Charge Carrying Particles to a “Clown Car”
Ken Wheeler dismisses the concept of a charge carrying particle out of hand. He likens it to a “clown car” because, in his mind, it’s absurd to think of a particle carrying a charge the way a vehicle carries a payload.
As always, the Angry Photographer is wrong. Scientists don’t say that electrons “carry” a charge unless they are speaking loosely.
An electron’s negative charge is an inherent property. Electrons don’t carry cargo the way the Theoria Apophasis host hauls his hoard of gadgets to his cabin. Electrons are negatively charged by definition.
Tries to Refute Electrons Due to Wireless Power Induction
Ken Wheeler tries to refute the existence of electrons by pointing to wireless power induction. This technology has become commonplace for charging electric toothbrushes, smartphones, and watches, as well as for electric stoves.
Wireless power induction takes advantage of electric fields and the fact that a positive plate attracts electrons. Engineers create wireless power induction using coils of wire to generate a magnetic field.
The transmitter, or charger, uses the flow of electrons from an external power source like a wall socket. It combines its electrical field with the magnetic field, producing what scientists call an electromagnetic field.
Magnetic and Electromagnetic Fields Consist of Electrons
All three types of field consist of electrons. The electromagnetic field pushes on other electrons inside the receiving device. The receiving device channels the flow of electrons to an electrical load, such as a battery charger inside it.
So, wireless power induction proves the existence of electrons rather than refuting it. When confronted on this point, the Angry Photographer insists that scientists still can’t explain how wireless power induction works in a vacuum.
If induction couldn’t work in a vaccum, old-fashioned vacuum tubes wouldn’t work, and nobody would have invented any electronic devices. Electrons flow through a vacuum inside the tube from a cathode to a positively charged electrical plate.
Electrons Can Freely Travel Through Vacuums
It’s a proven scientific fact that electrons can freely flow through vacuums as part of electromagnetic fields. Electrical engineers apply this principle every day.
The creator of Theoria Apophasis also appeals to AC power generators to argue that electrons don’t exist. He insists that it’s impossible to “convert water flow into power,” and that “there’s no direct conversion from water, or wind, or hydroelectric, into power.”
As always, Ken Wheeler is wrong. By definition, “an electrical generator converts motive power, such as a river flow, into electrical power for use in an external circuit.”
Electric Generators Convert Motive Power into Electricity
Power stations use a rotating turbine to force a powerful electromagnet in its rotor core to turn on its axis. The rotation drives the the poles of the magnet past stationary, closed loops of conductive wire.
This relative movement between a circuit and the poles of a magnetic field create an alternating electromagnetic field. The electromagnetic field pushes on the electrons in the wire loops, just like in the wireless power induction described above. The wire loops connect to an electrical load, which causes the electrons to flow and, voila, we have an alternating electric current.
So, the Angry Photographer’s objections notwithstanding, electrical generators do indeed convert water flow, or other mechanical energy like wind or steam, via a turbine into electric power. They accomplish this using the negatively charged particles we call electrons, without which the process would be impossible and we’d all be freezing in the dark.
Nothing to Do with Science or Engineering
There’s a reason Ken Wheeler refuses to accept that electric current is the flow of electrons through a conductive material. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with science or engineering.
The Angry Photographer has latched onto the distinction between two metaphysical schools of thought in the ancient world. He views this distinction through a black and white, good versus evil lens.
The YouTuber behind Theoria Apophasis sides with Plato, who was an idealist, against Epicurus, who was a materialist. By sheer coincidence, Plato believed in the ether while Epicurus believed in atoms.
Sides with Platonists Because They Believed in Afterlife
Kentucky Ken is on Team Plato because Plato believed in the afterlife and Epicurus didn’t. His fear of death drives him to demonize any philosophy that denies the existence of an immortal human soul. By Ken Wheeler’s logic, atomists like Epicurus disagreed with Plato, therefore atomists were irredeemably evil and couldn’t be right about anything.
None of this remotely relates to modern science. No competent physicist or electrical engineer denies the existence of electrons in favour of the long discredited notion of the ether.
It’s beyond ironic that, despite his obsession with electronic gadgets and generating his own power off the electrical grid, Ken Wheeler is completely in the dark about the fundamentals of electricity. There’s not a particle of truth to any of his peculiar notions about electric charge and current.
Electricity and Electrons Explained Logically
Definitions of Nature and Its Phenomena with a Primer on Cosmology and Ontology
Lectures on Electromagnetic Theory
A Brief History of the Development of Classical Electrodynamics
Field Theory – Why Ken’s Wrong
Solar Panels – Why Ken’s Wrong
Magnetism – Why Ken’s Wrong