Deprecating Photomagnetism

Deprecating Photomagnetism

Mary Somerville introduced Photomagnetism to British science in 1826.

In the year 1813, Professor Morichini of Rome discovered that steel, exposed to the violet rays of the solar spectrum becomes magnetic.

On the Magnetizing Power of the More Refrangible Solar Rays
Mary Somerville – 1826
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London


Over the next few years experimentation revealed magnetite [aka loadstone] could almost double its magnetic strength if its north pole was exposed to strong sunlight for 24 hours.

Professor Barlocci found that an armed natural loadstone, which could carry l.5 Roman pounds, had its power nearly doubled by twenty-four hours’ exposure to the strong light of the sun.

M. Zantedeschi found that an artificial horse-shoe loadstone, which carried 13.5 oz., carried 3.5 more by three days’ exposure, and at last supported 31 oz., by continuing it in the sun’s light.

He found, that while the strength increased in oxidated magnets, it diminished in those which were not oxidated, the diminution becoming insensible when the loadstone was highly polished.

He now concentrated the solar rays upon the loadstone by means of a lens; and he found that, both in oxidated and polished magnets, they acquire strength when their north pole is exposed to the sun’s rays, and lose strength when the south pole is exposed.

A Treatise on Optics – David Brewster – 1838

These discoveries generated a renewed interest in Geomagnetism as the scientific community realised magnetite could be responsible for Earth’s surface magnetism.

The Earth’s magnetic field strength was measured by Carl Friedrich Gauss in 1835 and has been repeatedly measured since then, showing a relative decay of about 10% over the last 150 years.

Basalt – the iron-rich, volcanic rock making up the ocean floor – contains a strongly magnetic mineral (magnetite) and can locally distort compass readings.

The distortion was recognized by Icelandic mariners as early as the late 18th century.

Magnetite is a mineral, one of the three common naturally occurring iron oxides (chemical formula Fe3O4) and a member of the spinel group.

Magnetite is the most magnetic of all the naturally occurring minerals on Earth.

Naturally magnetized pieces of magnetite, called lodestone, will attract small pieces of iron, and this was how ancient people first noticed the property of magnetism.

Small grains of magnetite occur in almost all igneous and metamorphic rocks.

Magnetic Field at Earth's Surface

Launched in November 2013 by the European Space Agency (ESA), the three-satellite Swarm constellation is providing new insights into the workings of Earth’s global magnetic field.

The underlying logic was very straightforward especially as magnetite is “one of the three common naturally occurring iron oxides” that is found in basalt and “almost all igneous and metamorphic rocks”.

Abundance of Iron in Earth's Crust

However, because loadstone acquires magnetic strength when its north pole is exposed to strong sunlight this new wave of thought in Geomagnetism implied the Earth’s South Magnetic Pole [which is a magnetic north pole] had once been exposed to strong sunlight for an extended period.

Earth's Magnetic Field

Schematic illustration of Earth’s magnetic field.
Credit: Peter Reid, The University of Edinburgh

All magnets have two poles, where the lines of magnetic flux enter and emerge.

By analogy with the Earth’s magnetic field, these are called the magnet’s “north” and “south” poles.

The convention in early compasses was to call the end of the needle pointing to the Earth’s North Magnetic Pole the “north pole” (or “north-seeking pole”) and the other end the “south pole” (the names are often abbreviated to “N” and “S”).

Because opposite poles attract, this definition means that the Earth’s North Magnetic Pole is actually a magnetic south pole and the Earth’s South Magnetic Pole is a magnetic north pole.

The direction of magnetic field lines are defined to emerge from the magnet’s north pole and enter the magnet’s south pole.

In other words, Photomagnetism suggested the Earth once had an Axial Tilt of [say] somewhere between 45° and 90° that exposed the South Pole to strong sunlight.

This revolutionary train of thought was not deemed extraordinary by the scientific community in the first half of the 19th century because they were accustomed to reading about the discovery of old trees and woods in Greenland.

Fossil Plants from Disco
The collection contains fourteen species from this island; six are from Ujararsusuk, and twelve from Kudliset, four are common to both localities, viz. Aspidium Meyeri, Sequoia
Couttsiae, Platanis Gillelmae and Magnolia Inglefieldi

The plane and the Sequoia are the commonest trees at both places.

Plane leaves of various sizes and of great beauty have been found (cf. Plate XLVII. & XLVIII.), and prove to us that two species of this tree occurred in the Miocene deposits of North Greenland.

Both of them have been found at Atanekerdluk, but only one (P. Guillelmae, Gopp.) occurred at Disco.

The Sequoia exhibits not only long twigs in a good state of preservation, but also the cones (Plate XLI. & XLII.).

It appears therefore that at the Miocene epoch the woods of this part of Disco Island were chiefly composed of planes and Sequoias.

Fossil Flora of North Greenland

1818, June 19th.
Sergeant Martin and my servant [John Smith] have been on a shooting excursion for twenty-four hours, but have seen no other land birds than Ptarmigan and Snow Buntings.

They have brought with them from a hill near the middle of the island, several pieces of a curious specimen, apparently the trunk of a fir tree, fossilized.

Fossil Flora of North Greenland - Stratum

Contributions to the Fossil Flora of North Greenland being a Description of the Plants Collected by Mr. Edward Whymper during the Summer of 1867
E Whymper and O Heer – 1869

The discovery of “erect as it grew” tree trunks in Greenland led scientists to conclude they were “face to face with a problem whose solution in all probability must be attempted, and, we doubt not, completed by the astronomer.”

When we come to examine the arctic flora of the Upper Miocene period, we find that North Greenland and the entire polar regions at that period enjoyed a condition of climate as warm as that of England at the present day.

“We know,” says Sir Charles Lyell, “that Greenland was not always covered with snow and ice; for when we examine the tertiary strata of Disco Island, we discover there a multitude of fossil plants, which demonstrate that, like many other parts of the arctic regions, it formerly enjoyed a mild and genial climate.”

A steep hill rises, he says, on the coast to a height of 1080 feet, and at this level the fossil plants are found.

Large quantities of wood in a fossilized or carbonized condition lie about.

Captain Inglefield observed one trunk thicker than a man’s body standing upright.

The leaves, however, are the most important portion of the deposit, and give a most valuable insight into the nature of the vegetation which formed this primaeval forest.

In regard to those fossilized plants, he concludes that they cannot have been drifted from any great distance.

They must have grown on the spot where they are found ; and they prove, without a doubt, that North Greenland, in the Miocene epoch, had a climate much warmer than its present one.

He states that it is quite impossible that the trees found at Atanekerdluk could ever have flourished there if the temperature were not far higher than at present.

The difference must have been at least 29° F.

Nor were the trees found here all at the extreme northern limit of their growth: for in the Miocene flora of Spitzbergen, lat. 78° N., we find the beech, plane, hazel, and some other species identical with those from Greenland.

And we may conclude, he thinks, that the firs and poplars which we meet at Atanekerdluk and Bell Sound, Spitzbergen, must have reached up to the North Pole if land existed there in the Tertiary period.

“These conclusions,” says Professor Heer, “are only links in the grand chain of evidence obtained from the examination of the Miocene flora of the whole of Europe.

They prove to us that we could not by any re-arrangement of the relative positions of land and water produce for the northern hemisphere a climate which would explain the phenomena in a satisfactory manner.

We must,” he continues, “admit that we are face to face with a problem whose solution in all probability must be attempted, and, we doubt not, completed by the astronomer.”

A trunk of a tree was discovered erect as it grew, by Captain Sir E. Belcher on the 12th of September, 1853, to the north of a narrow strait which opens into Wellington Sound, lat. 75° 32′ N., long. 92° W.

The trunk was dug up and brought to England and examined by Dr. Hooker, who pronounced it to be a species of white spruce, Pinus (Abies) alba.

The remains of an ancient forest was discovered by Captain M’Clure in Banks’ Land, in lat. 74° 48′, extending along a range of hills varying from 350 to 500 feet above the sea, and from half a mile to upwards, inland.

He found a great accumulation of fossil trees as well as fragments not fossilized lying over the whole extent of the land.

“This remarkable phenomenon,” says Captain M’Clure, “opens a vast field for conjecture, and the imagination becomes bewildered in trying to realize that period of the world’s history where the absence of ice and a milder climate allowed forest trees to grow in a region where now the ground-willow and dwarf-birch have to struggle for existence.”

Trunks of trees, some of them 3 feet in circumference, have been found in Prince Patrick’s Island and Melville Island on the spot in which they grew.

This place is perhaps at present the coldest spot in the northern hemisphere.

On the Change in the Obliquity of the Ecliptic:
Its Influence on the Climate of the Polar Regions, and the Level of the Sea
James Croll – 1867 – Geological Society of Glasgow


Mummified stump of a Metasequoia (dawn redwood) tree
Geodetic Hills of Axel Heiberg Island

The belief that astronomy would provide a solution to these mysteries was founded upon logic and partially upon the work of Isaac Newton who though “periodic divine intervention was necessary to guarantee the stability of the solar system.”

Sir Isaac Newton had published his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687 in which he gave a derivation of Kepler’s laws, which describe the motion of the planets, from his laws of motion and his law of universal gravitation.

However, though Newton had privately developed the methods of calculus, all his published work used cumbersome geometric reasoning, unsuitable to account for the more subtle higher-order effects of interactions between the planets.

Newton himself had doubted the possibility of a mathematical solution to the whole, even concluding that periodic divine intervention was necessary to guarantee the stability of the solar system.

However, placing any faith in mainstream astronomy was [and is still] totally misguided because astronomy was one of the first academic disciplines to be overwhelmed by unenlightened cult of Uniformitarianism [aka Gradualism] in the 19th century.

Uniformitarianism is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe.

It has included the gradualistic concept that “the present is the key to the past” and is functioning at the same rates

Gradualism, from Latin gradus (“step”), is a hypothesis, a theory or a tenet assuming that change comes about gradually or that variation is gradual in nature.

Similar concepts are: uniformitarianism, incrementalism and reformism.

Inveigling Uniformitarianism into astronomy was pioneered by Pierre-Simon Laplace who dedicated his scientific life to removing instability [and “divine intervention”] from astronomy.

Dispensing with the hypothesis of divine intervention would be a major activity of Laplace’s scientific life.

One of Laplace’s greatest contribution to Uniformitarianism was published in 1825 [which coincidentally was the year before Mary Somerville’s work on Photomagnetism was published] when he decreed that the Earth’s Axial Tilt [aka Obliquity of the Ecliptic] was limited to a range of 3º 7’ 30” about the mean value.

In the fifth volume of Méchanique Céleste [1825] Laplace provided a refinement that limited the Formula for the Obliquity of the Ecliptic to a range of 3º 7’ 30”.

The total range of the variation of the Obliquity of the Ecliptic was calculated by Laplace, in 1825, to be limited to 3º 7’ 30”, or 1º 33’ 45” on each side of the mean value.

The Obliquity of the Ecliptic – George F. Dodwell

Laplace’s pioneering work was based upon the art of the mathematical approximation [aka perturbation theory aka fudging] which increasingly corrupted mainstream science after 1825.

Perturbation theory comprises mathematical methods for finding an approximate solution to a problem, by starting from the exact solution of a related problem.

Lagrange and Laplace were the first to advance the view that the constants which describe the motion of a planet around the Sun are “perturbed” , as it were, by the motion of other planets and vary as a function of time; hence the name “perturbation theory”.

Thus, through the magic of mathematics, Laplace [ultimately] thwarted the association of Photomagnetism with Geomagnetism and [ultimately] eradicated catastrophic changes in the Earth’s Axial Tilt from mainstream science [with the willing connivance of academia].

The second foot to fall was in 1830 when Uniformitarianism went on the offensive and attacked Photomagnetism [and its associations with Geomagnetism].

The observations of Mrs Somerville, (published in this Journal, No. viii. p. 328,) tended to confirm the magnetic influence of the violet rays.

This action, discovered by M. Morichini at Rome, and described by him a long time ago, had been called in question by the natural philosophers of France, Germany, and Italy.

Yet the favourable result to which Mrs Somerville had arrived, seemed to have so completely dissipated these uncertainties, that, upon that discovery, various theories have been started respecting the magnetism of the earth and its annual and diurnal variation.

From this analysis of our researches we think we are justly entitled to reject totally a discovery which, for seventeen years, has at different times disturbed science.

On the Magnetic Influence of the Solar Rays – MM. P. Riess and L. Moser
Edinburgh Journal of Science – Volume 2 (New Series) – 1830

From 1830 to 1833 Charles Lyell’s multi-volume Principles of Geology was published.

The work’s subtitle was “An attempt to explain the former changes of the Earth’s surface by reference to causes now in operation”.

He drew his explanations from field studies conducted directly before he went to work on the founding geology text, and developed Hutton’s idea that the earth was shaped entirely by slow-moving forces still in operation today, acting over a very long period of time.

The terms uniformitarianism for this idea, and catastrophism for the opposing viewpoint, were coined by William Whewell in a review of Lyell’s book.

Principles of Geology was the most influential geological work in the middle of the 19th century.

Thereafter, it was primarily a matter of time and patience for Uniformitarianism as natural wastage [aka retirement and death aka natural selection] inevitably purged any remaining dissidents [aka scientists who openly followed the Scientific Method] from academia.

Thus, by 1867, the scientific debate regarding climate change [for example] was [and still is] confined to the very narrow limits imposed upon Axial Tilt by Laplace.

There is still another cause which, I feel convinced, must to a very considerable extent have affected climate during past geological ages.

I refer to the change in the Obliquity of the Ecliptic.

This cause has long engaged the attention of geologists and physicists; and the conclusion generally arrived at, like that which had been arrived at in regard to excentricity, is that no great effect can be attributed to it.

It was found by Laplace that the obliquity of the ecliptic will oscillate to the extent of 1° 22′ 34″ on each side of 23″ 28′, the obliquity in the year 1801.

When the obliquity was at a maximum, the poles would therefore be receiving 19 rays for every 18 they are receiving at present.

On the Change in the Obliquity of the Ecliptic:
Its Influence on the Climate of the Polar Regions, and the Level of the Sea
James Croll – 1867 – Geological Society of Glasgow

Even conjecture regarding Axial Tilt was limited to “3° or 4° on each side of a mean state.”

We have assumed 1° 22′ 34″ greater than the present obliquity as the maximum.

But this limit assigned by Laplace does not hold true for all time past.

And Sir John Herschel thinks that when millions of years are taken into account, the obliquity may even amount to 3° or 4° on each side of a mean state.

On the Change in the Obliquity of the Ecliptic:
Its Influence on the Climate of the Polar Regions, and the Level of the Sea
James Croll – 1867 – Geological Society of Glasgow

And by 1889 Photomagnetism was long forgotten and “regarded as impossible”.

Several experiments in the early part of the present century tried to magnetise iron and steel by the action of light, but I do not know of any recent attempts in this direction, and of late years the thing has been generally regarded as impossible.

On an Effect of Light upon Magnetism
Shelford Bidwell – 1889 – Proceedings of the Royal Society

Ironically, the 200 year crusade of Uniformitarianism to rid academia of God and Monarchy has turned full circle because these functions are now vested in academia.

In 1789, on the eve of the French Revolution, accompanied by Erasmus Darwin and later by Jean Baptiste Lamarck and Simon LaPlace, the Scottish liberal geologist, James Hutton, published his Theory of the Earth, in which he attempted to demonstrate that Nature was not governed by a divine monarch but by fixed geological laws of volcanic uplift and erosive weathering.

Hutton’s friend, Adam Smith, was at the same time arguing in favor of a laissez-faire economic policy, in which paternal monarchical power was again eliminated in favor of a free-ranging liberalism.

George Grinnell
The Origins of Modern Geological Theory

The Academic Monarchy currently controls mainstream science via patronage and Peer Review whilst the High Priests of Academia indoctrinate and control the masses with their unenlightened Settled Science belief system which equates Catastrophism with heresy.

Heresy is any provocative belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs.

A heretic is a proponent of such claims or beliefs.

Immanuel Velikovsky is an example of a recent scientific exoheretic; he did not have appropriate scientific credentials or did not publish in scientific journals.

While the details of his work are in scientific disrepute, the concept of catastrophic change (extinction event and punctuated equilibrium) has gained acceptance in recent decades.

In 1961 Dwight D. Eisenhower thought “public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite”.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly.

A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields.

In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research.

Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.

For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite.

Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

Perhaps Dwight D. Eisenhower should have been more worried about academia [and its “scientific technological elite”] becoming the captive of Government because when Government controls education, academia and the Settled Science belief system there is no longer any separation between church and state.

For centuries, monarchs ruled by the idea of divine right.

Sometimes this began to be used by a monarch to support the notion that the king ruled both his own kingdom and Church within its boundaries, a theory known as caesaropapism.

On the other side was the Catholic doctrine that the Pope, as the Vicar of Christ on earth, should have the ultimate authority over the Church, and indirectly over the state.

Moreover, throughout the Middle Ages the Pope claimed the right to depose the Catholic kings of Western Europe and tried to exercise it, sometimes successfully (see the investiture controversy, below), sometimes not, such as was the case with Henry VIII of England and Henry III of Navarre.

In the West the issue of the separation of church and state during the medieval period centered on monarchs who ruled in the secular sphere but encroached on the Church’s rule of the spiritual sphere.

This unresolved contradiction in ultimate control of the Church led to power struggles and crises of leadership, notably in the Investiture Controversy, which was resolved in the Concordat of Worms in 1122.

By this concordat, the Emperor renounced the right to invest ecclesiastics with ring and crosier, the symbols of their spiritual power, and guaranteed election by the canons of cathedral or abbey and free consecration.

Therefore, is best to become acquainted with “the new boss” who is the “same as the old boss” except instead of ruling by Divine Right they rule by Divine Settled Science.

Gallery | This entry was posted in Astrophysics, Catastrophism, Earth, Geomagnetism, Greenland, History, Magnetism, Science, Solar System, Uniformitarianism. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Deprecating Photomagnetism

  1. Pingback: The Magnetic Personality of Violet | MalagaBay

  2. Pingback: Philip Callahan: Paramagnetism | MalagaBay

  3. andrewfitts says:

    Great article…the hidden story of the development of the Religion of Settled Science

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s