The Creative Science Centre

Investigating Achillean Relativity - more details (ca. 1997)

Note: for the latest work by Neill Jones download his PDF article: more details


Soon after I first meet Neill Jones he enthused about a project he had been working on in his own time based on Relativity Theory. He had spent many months (years) developing his own ideas and had written up the core of his findings in manuscript form. The theory was quite advanced and so he knew that he needed help and advice from other experts in the field. He sent copies of his manuscript to over ten reserchers/professors in the field of relativity throughout the UK and Europe. As far as I am aware he only had one reply from all this work. The reply was from a researcher who appologised that he did not have the time to comment on Neill's letter or manuscript.

Both Neill and I studied physics at university and both of us were particularly interested in relativity. As often happens in science (or in fact in any detailed study made over a long time) its hard for someone to take in months, or perhaps years, of work in a few days. Also on a technical matter my own learning of relativity theory, at Surrey University, was based mainly on 'four vectors' while Neill used a 'tensor notation' throughout his theory. Consiquently I must say that I found it hard to feel familiar and confident with many of the details of the mathematics and arguments that Neill explained to me in his theory. Although my understanding of Neills theory was sparse I did however understand the consiquences of the predictions of his theory. From this we based an experiment to test his theory.


I will try to explain a prediction of Neills theory from the following example:
From fundemental physics we know that if an electron moves into a region of an electric field it will experience a force that will accelerate it. The electric field (ie. volts per meter) is given as the rate of change of the potential (volts) with respect to distance. Whether the potential is changing from 1000 to 1001 volts or from 0 to 1 volt, over the region of the field, is not important because it is the change in potential that consitutes the electric field and in this case the change is the same value.

In Neills theory however his calculations suggested that there would be a second force on the electron additional to that of the electric field and that this would be significant only for very high potentials (ie. V~1,000,000 volts which is why he thought it had not been detected before). Neill predicted that there should be a very small but perhaps detectible effect for potentals of around 1000V, perhaps a change in force of 0.01 %.

Standard theory:
(Force proportional to electric feild)
F ~ A(dV/dx)
Achillean Relativity:
(Force proportional to electric field
and proportional to magnitude of potential)
F ~ A(dV/dx) + B.V

(where A and B are constants, dV/dx is the electric field and V the potential)

Those that are interested might like to look at the following paper written way back in 1959,

Significance of Electromagnetic Potentials in the Quantum Theory
Y. Aharonov and D. Bohm, The Physical Review, August 1959, Vol. 115, No.3, p.485-491.


A current is a flow of electrons. If an electron feels a force due in an electric feild then it is resonable to assume that a current will also be affected because it is made up of electrons. According to Neills theory, an electron will feel a force due to the electric fieid and also an additional force due to the value of the potential. If we assume for the basis of this argument that there might be a linear relationship between the overall effect on a single electron and the overall effect on a group of electrons (ie. a current) then it is reasonable to assume that a current might be effected to the same degree as a free electron - at least to 'first order'. I was interested in helping Neill develop an experiment to test his theory as this is where my skills and interests are. As a result I was more interested in thinking about the experimental problems rather than the deeper aspects of the theory but I was worried a bit about the idea of a potential having some absolute meaning (rather than just with respect to some arbitary value - say Earth potental) which his theory seemed to suggest. Anyway I was delighted that the CSC could help in this rather exciting venture.


If an electron feels an additional force due to the magnitude of the potental then a current should also be effected and we should be able to measure this effect using sensitive electronics. According to his theory we devised a simple, but very sensitive piece of appartus to test the prediction. The experiment consisted of measuring very presisely the current flowing within a simple circuit 'immersed' within
i) a high voltage potential and
ii) 'zero' potential and comparing the two results.

The experiment consisted of the following :
1) we set up a simple current loop consisting of a battery, resistor and LED in series (9V PP3 Duracell). This simple circuit was mounted in a metal cylinder to screen it from outside electric fields. The light from the LED was passed out of the cylinder by an optical fibre (wires were not used as they might introduce electric fields from outside).
The light o/p from the LED gives an indication of the current flowing in the circuit.

2) the other end of the fibre was fed into a sensitive light detector that would convert the light into a voltage. This voltage was then amplified and compared to a precision reference and any changes in voltage (ie. LED light o/p from the screened circuit) could be measured with precsion and great sensitivity.

3) with the appartus set up and running we would calibrate to see if it was sensitive enough to detect Neills predicted current change.

4) run the apparatus with a) the screened cylinder at Earth potential and then at b) 1000 V wrt Earth.
Neill predicted that there should be a very small but detectible effect according to his theory for this potenial (1000V) - perhaps a change of 0.01 % in the LED current

5) a chart recorder was used to measure voltages through out the experiment.


Before running the experiment the appartus was calibrated. Two main calibrations were needed

i) the current v light o/p from the LED was established

ii) the appartus was tested to see if it was sensitive and stable enough to measure the 0.01 % effect predicted.

The first test was done by measuring the LED current with a digital meter and the light o/p was measured using the detector (which used a photo diode as transducer and was basicaly linear). Doing this we were able to find a range of currents were the light o/p was proprtional to current (ie. the linear part of the current v light o/p curve). A suitable resistor was chosen so that the LED worked within this range. This was important if we were to extrapolate information from the LED o/p. On the basis of these measurements a resistor value of 1500 ohms was chosen (for 9V PP3 Duracell).

The second calibration was acheived as follows:
The LED circuit was set up un-screened and the detector adjusted (set so that the o/p was about half way between zero and maximum voltage o/p - a few volts) so that any changes occured in a region within the maximum dynamic range of the electronics). Neill had calculated that the effect on the LED current would be very small, perhaps a change of 0.01 % in the LED current. The LED circuit consisted of a 1500 ohm resistor in series with a 9V battery and an ultra-bright LED. To simulate this sort of change in LED current a 15M ohm resistor was placed across the 1500 ohm resistor (ie. in parellel) to a give a 0.01 % change in curent:

change in current through 1500 ohm resistor by placing 15,000,000 ohm in parallel =

1500/15000000 x 100/1 = 0.01 % change in current (ie 1 part in 10,000)

To our great surprise and delight the chart recorder clearly showed the desired change (a change of about 1mV on a 1V o/p). The appartus appeared to be working very well and quite capable of measuring tiny changes in the LED current via the optical fibre. (Note: the short term (~1 sec) stability which was neeeded for this experiment, was very good but the long term stability was probably quite poor).


The appartus was then set up and allowed to settle down for several hours (electronics often takes this time to attain thermal stability - a point that is well worth noting when building sensitive intruments). The light o/p from the LED was observed to fall very slowly as one might expect due to the slight running down of the battery. The screened cylider was earthed and the detector o/p set up as before. The cylinder was then connected to 1000V from an HT generator. The cylinder was alternatly connected to 0 (Earth) then 1000V every couple of seconds, so that a change in the o/p (if any) could be easly noted against the slow drift of the battery running down and also to give the cylinder adiquate time to charge and discharge.


No observable change in LED (brightness) current was observed for potentail changes of 0V to 1000V or from 1000V to 0V.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN ? At first glance it appears that the experiment has proven Neills theory was wrong. But one has to go into the theory a little deeper in order to show that this is actually so. It is extremly easy to miss out constants and factors in these sort of calculations and these can change the predicted values of effects by any number of 10's, 100's or 1000's if not accounted for. It is easy to make mistakes in course work where all the formulas have been derived before, but when creating ones own ideas one is 'out on your own' - mistakes are inevitable. So we need to go back and check the calculations and ensure that no factors have been ignored or overlooked.


After the simple LED current loop experiment had been made we thought about a number of other ideas that might be worth trying. Neill was worried that his theory might not apply to electrons within a material and that some solid state effect might be coming into play. To takle this problem we experimented for a little while with using a thermionic valve. In this type of device the electrons travel through a vacuum, their path and density being determined and modified by voltages on grids and electrodes within the triode. We felt that as the electrons within this device were 'free' rather than in the solid state (as in a wire or LED etc.) it might be a better place in wich to look for his predicted effect. Although we made a prototype experiment we unfortunatly could not make the electron emisson very stable - the results however appeared to be the same as with the simple LED, resistor and battery circuit.


Although the experiment showed that we could not detect the predicted effect, the experiment was by no means a failure. Before the experiment Neill had had very little help from researchers in the field and joining up with The Creative Science Centre allowed him to think about ways of really testing his theory. Also because of the Centre's connections Neill was able to talk in detail to Prof. William McCrea (these have been recorded and are in the CSC audio tape archives) and Prof. Danko Bosanac, both internationaly recognised experts in the field who actively encouraged Neill and inspired him. I would like to thank Neill for letting me get involved in his theory and for the great time we both had working together with this common cause. There was a real sense of excitment when the calibration was completed (one midnight in the lab !) and nail bitting times during the first test runs. We would also like to thank Dr Bernd Eggen who was computer-on-line live from Exeter university during the experiments and for his usual good nature and inspiration throughout the experiments.

To Neill: dont give up - keep on with it !!

The pictures show Neill Jones working on the cylindrical Faraday screen needed for the experiment. Also shown is the calibration chart recorder trace which clearly shows the change in o/p for a change in current of about 1 part in 10,000 (see text).

Page last update: 21st. April 1999
Contents are copyright Creative Science Centre, University of Sussex.


Dr Jonathan Hare, The University of Sussex
Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 9QJ

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