Degaussing and Project RAINBOW
J - OK, now I see the connection between Reich, magnetism and Einstein, as well as the origins of field theory and the problems raised by the responses of the vacuum or the properties of space. Tell me about the connection to the military problem concerning the detection of magnetic fields in WWII...
W - All right. To develop effective countermeasures for magnetic proximity fuses, we had to understand not only how to remove the permanent magnetism of a ship once it was built, but also how to remove its induced magnetization at sea - the magnetization induced by its motion and its heading in the magnetic field of the Earth's dynamo. For Reich, these effects upon the ferromagnetic structure of ships were caused by the streams of spinning massfree charges that coursed through matter. By manipulating these fluxes, he thought one could either intensify a magnetic or electromagnetic field, or alternatively, neutralize them. In other words, from the point of view of remote detection, make them go 'dark'.
J - Sort of like producing dark Faraday spaces in a glow discharge?
W - Sort of --
J - ... is it just a matter of destructive interference involving magnetic spins or beam cancellation?
W - No, no; well, in a way, perhaps, but the kind of 'destructive interference' that I'm talking about would be far more fundamental, not a 'plane event', but a 'volume event', if you will. It would be something that would have to be related to those countervortices of Maxwell, or describe similar results. If the interaction was a property of space, maybe topology could get at its abstract logic, but if it were a property of energy, of an unknown form of energy, then all bets would be off. Would the interaction of space with high intensity magnetic fields still be the same? It was one thing to assume that a magnetic field interacted with light directly - but this, of course, could only be phenomenalistic! - but it was another thing altogether to realize that this interaction was mediated by something, by a property of space or a property of massfree energy composing that space - a property which light only indirectly translated for us. Now, a similar problem occurred for unified field approaches - there, it was assumed that light was bent, not rotated, because it interacted with space, with the deformation or surface strain of spacetime. If we consider torsion a lateral strain in pseudo-Euclidean space, then in a spherical system of coordinates we need a torsion tensor for spacetime. This would imply some form of electromagnetic feedback on the gravitational fields themselves. A massfree energy spinor could be such a system, and it might be capable of deforming or distorting any electromagnetic signals employed to detect it.
J - Are you saying that the observations on magnetism that Reich certainly must have related to Einstein, were not relevant to Einstein in 1941, but became relevant when he began working for the Navy in 1943?
W - No. They were relevant all along. Reich's notion of a superimposition of massfree energy giving rise to a spinning massfree energy field that generates self-enclosed envelopes - or multiple spherical surfaces - or to spinning and counterspinning magnetic reactions, was relevant all along. But Einstein had never considered energy that was free from mass. His famous equivalence between energy and matter, E = mc2, was symmetric. There could be no energy without matter. But Reich's model was not symmetric - massfree energy existed 'before' matter, he claimed. It was massfree energy that created matter by superimposition, and was responsible for its gravitational displacements. And this energy was distinct from the energy of the electromagnetic field which, for Reich, was energy 'after' matter. These quasi-ontological and cosmological notions, the 'before' and 'after matter' qualifications, were placed there to remind us that all matter is not just equivalent to energy, but is energy - whereas, not all energy is matter. Topological spacetimes, and the field geometries they called for, were, according to Reich, nothing more than reductionistic descriptions of superimposed massfree energy. Spaces without matter would only exist by the constant superimposition of massfree energy. The question of the metric could not be resolved unless one discovered the intrinsic metrics of massfree energy. Einstein would have to accept that his most fundamental equation had this asymmetry- that all matter is energy but not all energy is matter.
J - Which he never did, of course! You know, I'd studied some of Reich's work, but I had no idea this is what he had to contribute - I guess, like millions of others, I never read him seriously. Still... it looks like, despite Einstein having been read to death --
W - Supposedly!
J - ...he wasn't taken very seriously either - or was he? Either way and from what you're telling me, what an extraordinary series of blunders he made! So, how do we get from the demagnetization of a ship to an experiment that implicates predictions by unified field theories that introduce spacetime torsion?
W - Einstein's connection to the Navy problem came from the questions provoked by the use of the very powerful electromagnetic fields involved in degaussing, from the seemingly unsolvable UFT problems raised by the lack of consideration of the magnetic mass of a 'material point', and from the possibility that there could be a spin to spacetime.
J - All right, first the degaussing story...
W - Yes... Under the direction of [W.] Gerlach (11), German naval research into torpedo and mine fuses successfully developed a murderous magnetic proximity fuse. They had also begun a comprehensive program of countermeasures, which focused on ship degaussing. By early 1940, the [US] Navy's Bureau of Ordnance, with Neumann and Veblen in charge of solving this problem, was working on its own countermeasures, prompted by British reports of the new magnetic German mines. So Francis [Bitter] was sent over from MIT. Remember that America was not yet at war with Germany. As I recall, it was in November of '39 that the first magnetic mine was captured - right in the Thames Estuary - and defused, just as Bowen took charge of the NRL. A secret NBO salvage operation led by [T.T.] Brown brought back the mechanism of another captured magnetic mine and Francis [Bitter] discovered that when the residual magnetism of a ship distorted the local geomagnetic field of the sensor, it activated the magnetic needle of the trigger. Francis and his colleagues started to wonder how much of the ship's residual ferromagnetism was left over from the permanent magnetization induced by the local magnetic field during the ship's construction, and how much was magnetization induced by the motion and heading of the ship once at sea. The Royal Navy was already developing empirical methods to cancel this residual magnetism. So, a joint NBO/NRL mission was formally sent to England, where Bitter, Brown and the other members of the team studied the work being done by the British with boats they called "electric tail sweepers". Electric cables were run on deck and around the outside of the ship to cancel the residual ferromagnetic state, and a large floating cable was trailed behind the ship, connecting two electrodes immersed in sea water.
J - It was a combination of degaussing the sweeper at sea...
W - ...hmm-hmm, by cancelling its induced magnetism...
J - ...and creating a ghost magnetic image of a ship where there was no ship.
W - Yes, the degaussing coils eliminated the magnetic image of the ship and the hydro-ionic currents gave a magnetic image of a ship, and thus a false location. Bitter first saw this method in Liverpool harbor, where the British had developed it. It immediately struck him that one could use much lower currents and much stronger fields if one employed coils, instead of water, as the medium for current conduction. But placing coils behind a ship introduced significant resistance to its speed and imposed a tremendous load on it. To solve the problem, the NRL and the NOL experimented with coils wound around bar magnets weighing tens of tons and over 1 meter in diameter, going from the bow to the stern and protruding or projecting at the front of the ship for many tens of feet. The purpose was to project the intense magnetic field forward, to the bow, not astern, and permit more efficient magnetic mine sweepers. Several variants were built. Bitter also started to think about employing water to cool the coils. With special enclosures, combinations of different winding gauges and the right coil insulation, turbulent cooling permitted very powerful fields.
J - Were the Germans also working along similar lines?
W - Well, part of Gerlach's tenure until 1942, as Director of German naval research, was focused on designing and building degaussing installations for construction yards. The Germans didn't focus on countermeasures at sea. I believe that the Anglo-American project was far more comprehensive. Francis [Bitter] was after a systematic understanding. He wanted to know what caused residual ship magnetism and how magnetic signatures of ships might vary with size, building methods and motion. Permanent magnetization of ships was the result of the assembly process, particularly the riveting steps, the magnetized parts aligning themselves in the direction of the local geomagnetic field - with the magnetic axis along the magnetic meridian. To prevent this magnetization of the ship during construction, the French had developed the deperming technique before the war. During construction, the ship was entirely wrapped with coils. At different building stages, these coils were pulsed at 'resonant' frequencies and high current. If the ship was in the water, the process was carried out with the ship being rotated through a complete circle. The frequencies and currents were largely determined by trial and error, and the process was poorly understood. A depermed ship would still have a residual magnetic field, and its strength depended on several factors. Francis wanted to understand all of them - how deperming always produced a variable, residual signature. Studies of magnetic ship signatures utilizing detector coils placed on the bottom of harbors indicated that the intensity of the stray magnetic field varied from ship to ship, even within the same class.
J - And the orientation of a ship's motion would contribute to this --?
W - Exactly, induced magnetization is the result of the interaction of the ship with the geomagnetic field. That's why getting rid of the residual had to be such an intensive task. A ship moving north will have a north pole induced in its bow and a south pole induced in its stern, and if heading south, the opposite results. The extent of the induced magnetization depends on the strength of the local magnetic field, the heading of the ship, but also the age of the ship, its composition and its speed. The objective of completely degaussing the ship was to eliminate its induced, residual or stray magnetism - to go beyond deperming. This process of cancellation could be quite sophisticated, but complete elimination was a complex, difficult and costly affair, not to say a full-time job. Mine sweeping could deal with the magnetic mines, but a more radical solution was needed to deal with torpedos armed with magnetic detonators. The 1940 German version of these torpedos was very imperfect, as U-47 found out at Scapa Flow. But by '42, the Germans had developed sophisticated magnetic fuses for torpedos, and neutralization of residual and stray magnetism became imperative.
J - So, from what you're telling me, the problem of magnetic countermeasures converged with the problems of controlling enemy guidance beams and electromagnetic camouflages.
W - All in mid '42, when the Germans appeared to be winning the war!
J - ...because of Döenitz's U boats in the Atlantic?
W - Yes, and with [V.] Bush's administrative and hierarchical victory over Bowen, let me tell you, the Navy did not look too sharp. No Siree.
J - OK. But back to the magnetic countermeasures: there were also all sorts of problems with the tail sweeper method - the problem of poor dielectrics for insulating the high-current electricity from the water, the heating of the water, --
W - More like vaporizing, yes - Bitter's turbulent system mostly took care of that. And the NRL Chemical and Light, and Heat, Divisions worked very hard on the dielectric problems - as did [T.T.] Brown himself.
J - And there was also the problem of the current magnitude in producing strong magnetic fields, right?
W - Yes, a problem that the French had resolved - using a solution that Kapitza developed before he left Cambridge [England] to return to the Soviet Union. Bitter was well aware of this, and he had his own ideas about it. The problem was the magnitude of the currents required to produce those 'ghost' signatures. Kapitza had found that if the high frequency coil currents were pulsed within certain parameters, very intense currents could be created, and fast enough that it didn't heat up the coils. The coils still had to be very thick, but using this method Kapitza had succeeded in producing - with air-core secondaries - magnetic fields ten times greater than was possible with iron cores.
J - Do you mean that Kapitza was employing something like a Tesla coil?
W - He'd made the primary an exact function because he had to control the heating. But Francis [Bitter] wanted to go a step further - he wanted to employ active cooling to permit still higher pulsed currents. He thought that one could take advantage of the large water reservoir, the ocean, to cool the emitting coil, and direct the turbulence caused by the ship's movement to do that cooling.