While there are no known analytic solutions for force-free magnetic fields in toroidal coordinates, with a reasonable boundary condition it is possible to find a solution for the surface field and, with a restriction on the form of the field, to the interior of the torus as well. Published in Physics of Plasmas (vol. 30, Issue 5); online 17 May 2023.

It has been argued since 1948, when it was experimentally demonstrated, that the Casimir effect— where two non-charged conducting plates have a weak but measurable force on each other dependent on the inverse fourth power of the distance between them — shows the reality of vacuum zero-point fluctuations. This “proof” of the reality of vacuum fluctuations has been repeated in many quantum field theory books and papers subsequent to 1948. The attractive force is generally ascribed to the difference in zero-point energy of the electromagnetic field between the plates and the vacuum external to them. As is well known, zero-point vacuum fluctuations are incompatible with relativistic physics and are at the root of the “cosmological constant” problem. Most texts on quantum mechanics and quantum field theory eliminate the vacuum energy by normal ordering or some other mechanism. These issues are explored in this paper and it is pointed out that a means to resolve them already exists.

Modern developments in nonequilibrium thermodynamics have significant implications for the origins of life. The reasons for this are closely related to a generalized version of the second law of thermodynamics recently found for entropy production during irreversible evolution of a given system such as self-replicating RNA. This paper is intended to serve as an introduction to these developments.

To Appear in the Canadian Journal of Physics. DOI: 10.1139/cjp-2020-0013

Problems with the conceptual foundations of quantum mechanics date back to attempts by Max Born, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, as well as many others in the 1920s to continue to employ the classical concept of a particle in the context of the quantum world. The experimental observations at the time and the assumption that the classical concept of a particle was to be preserved have led to an enormous literature on the foundations of quantum mechanics and a great deal of confusion then and now among non-physicists and students in any field that involves quantum theory. It is the historical approach to the teaching of quantum mechanics that is at the root of the problem.

Spacetime is the arena within which quantum mechanical phenomena take place. For this reason, several Appendices are devoted to the nature of spacetime as well as to topics that can help us understand it such as vacuum fluctuations, the Unruh effect and Hawking radiation.

Because of the success of quantum mechanical calculations, those who wish to understand the foundations of the theory are often given the apocryphal advice, “just ignore the issue and calculate”. It is hoped that this book will help dispel some of the dismay, frustration, and confusion among those who refuse to take to heart this admonition.

The equations describing the two-dimensional vortices first described by Chaplygin in 1899 and 1903 are shown to have solutions of higher order that differ from a simple dipole. It is also shown that for these higher-order vortices a very small asymmetry dramatically changes the topology of the stream function. These vortices could be important for understanding the phenomenon of atmospheric blocking.

Variation in total solar irradiance is thought to have little effect on the Earth’s surface temperature because of the thermal time constant—the characteristic response time of the Earth’s global surface temperature to changes in forcing. This time constant is large enough to smooth annual variations but not necessarily variations having a longer period such as those due to solar inertial motion; the magnitude of these surface temperature variations is estimated.

Modern developments in nonequilibrium thermodynamics have significant implications for the origins of life. The reasons for this are closely related to a generalized version of the second law of thermodynamics recently found for entropy production during irreversible evolution of a given system such as self-replicating RNA. This paper is intended to serve as an introduction to these developments.

Dark matter, first postulated by Jacobus Kapteyn in 1922 and later by Fritz Zwicky in 1933, has remained an enigma ever since proof of its existence was confirmed in 1970 by Vera Rubin and Kent Ford by plotting the rotation curve for the Andromeda galaxy. Here, some concepts from string theory and topological change in quantum cosmology are used to formulate a new model for dark matter. The density profiles of dark matter halos are often modeled as an approximate solution to the Lane-Emden equation. Using the model proposed here for dark matter, coupled with previous work showing that the approximate solution to the Lane-Emden equation can be an exact solution of the Einstein-Maxwell equations, provides a new insight into the possible nature of dark matter.

Dolphin cognitive capabilities have been explored by investigating their neural anatomy, their social behavior in the wild, and by analysis of their complex vocalizations used for communication and environmental perception. After a brief introduction to dolphin hearing, sounds, and neurophysiology, and an even briefer discussion of sound propagation in the ocean, an analysis is given of some representative vocalizations. It is also shown that Mathematica offers a tool for easily synthesizing dolphin-like sounds that could be as basis for constructing a pidgin type language for human-dolphin communication.

It has been suggested that the north-polar hexagon found on Saturn is an unusual Rossby wave. If this is to be the case, one must not only explain how a Rossby wave can be hexagonal in shape, albeit with curved corners, but also why it is hexagonal rather than in the form of some other polygon. It is likely that a spectrum of Rossby waves with different amplitudes and wavelengths resulting from the velocity profile of the hexagonal jet is responsible for its shape.