The following is a Letter to the Editor of Electronics and Power, the members' monthly journal of the I.E.E. by H. Aspden published at p. 84, February 1971.

'Signals from the Future?'

Commentary: This letter, dated November 21, 1970, was the author's reaction, as a Fellow of the Institution, to some comments made by Fred Hoyle, a cosmologist invited to deliver the Kelvin Lecture at the I.E.E.

Dear Sir: - F. Hoyle, in his 1970 Kelvin Lecture, surprised us by speaking of signals from the future. It is of interest to note that, from relativistic formulations, Dirac showed in 1938 that the radiation of energy by the accelerated electron led to this same conclusion. The equations showed that electron acceleration was possible when there was no incident field, and, as Dirac put it, 'the electron seems to know about the pulse before it arrives'; Hoyle's signals?

To make sense of this discovery, Dirac wrote: 'In this way a signal can be sent from A to B faster than light. This is a fundamental departure from the ordinary ideas of relativity and is to be interpreted by saying that it is possible for a signal to be transmitted faster than light through the interior of the electron'. Dirac also notes that 'mathematically, the electron has no sharp boundary and must be considered as extending to infinity'. His conclusion was 'that the interior of the electron is a region of failure of some of the elementary properties of 'space-time'.

I believe that the puzzle just presented is enough to confound any member of our Institution. It is, however, made worse by Dirac's reliance on the 1915 result of Schott, who showed that, when an electron moves in an electric field, all the absorbed field energy is converted into kinetic energy and 'none is radiated'. Thus, to supply a source of energy to sustain radiation, Schott invented what he, and later Dirac, termed 'acceleration energy'. Schott said: 'its existence is a direct coinsequence of a mechanical theory of the aether'. Now, according to Herrera, in a paper published recently, such energy, now termed 'Schott energy', is important because, apparently, if it is neglected the particle radiates more than its initial energy.

Therefore it seems that the future is telling us to revive the aether and to reject Einstein's relativity. Or perhaps it will soon be realised that we have merely to say that an electron does not radiate energy at all, but that it is occasionally a catalytic agent in quantum-energy exchanges between atoms and whatever it is that provides the backcloth to our material world.

Yours faithfully, H. ASPDEN

Appended to the Letter were three references:
1. Dirac, P A M: 'Classical theory of radiating electrons', Proc. Roy. Soc., 1938 [A, 167] pp. 148-149.
2. Herrera, J C: 'Relativistic motion in a constant field and the Schott energy', Nuovo Cimento, 1970, [B 70] pp. 12-20.
3. Schott, G A: 'On the notation of the Lorentz electron', Phil. Mag., 1915, [29] pp. 49-62.

Readers of these Web pages may understand from this that I was, as an aside from my management duties in IBM in those years of the 1960s and 1970s, doing my best to show where physicists were going adrift in their notions of how energy gets from A to B in the four-space world of Relativity. Maybe I should have added to the above Letter a reference to my own earlier contribution on this subject as published by the I.E.E. in 1958. See [1958a]. However, whatever the strength of our case, as professional engineers who can understand electrical science, those of us who are not sitting in the chairs filled by professors of physics, are not heeded on such fundamental questions of common interest, especially if we dare to suggest that the Einstein doctrine is false!