Questionable military research on gauge invariance

December 30, 2009

Checking for new eprints, three papers by P. J. Cote and M. A. Johnson caught my attention: (A) New perspectives on classical electromagnetism (arXiv:0903.4104v2), (B) On the peculiarity of the Coulomb gauge (arXiv:0906.4752v1), (C) Groupthink and the blunder of the gauges (arXiv:0912.2977v1). The main point of these papers seems to be that the exploitation of gauge freedom in electromagnetism is questionable. Specific objections are raised to steps in standard derivations using Lorentz and Coulomb gauges. For example, the title of paper B refers to the non-locality of potentials in the Coulomb gauge and some remarks on the matter quoted from J. D. Jackson’s classic textbook.

The papers themselves border on crankery, which is a bit alarming since the authors are affiliated with the army, but are at least wrong in instructive ways. Electromagnetism is manifestly gauge invariant and there are no genuine causality problems in the Coulomb gauge since the non-local potentials are not physically meaningful quantities in and of themselves. Read the rest of this entry »