Einstein and project RAINBOW
J - How did Reich eventually come to the conclusion that his own theory wasn't compatible with Einstein's?
W - Through his own experimental research in the post-war years. Reich came to the realization that Einstein's unified and general theories had literally banned any systematic analysis of physical nature in exchange for a theory of topology, not even geometry or metrics. But before I try to answer that question, let me get on with my story - and then, maybe at the end, you'll understand better why Reich became convinced that his own theory wasn't compatible with Einstein's field theory after all. Let me get back to their meetings and correspondence - because there is a very important aspect to this matter that no one has noticed. In one of his letters to Einstein (8), Reich reiterates the surprising claims that magnetism and magnetic fields were poorly understood properties of orgone energy, that earth magnetism is not ferromagnetic, that he has magnetized dielectrics in an orgone accumulator - and that orgone fields act transversely to electric fields and in the direction of magnetic fields.
J - That would seem to suggest that there is such a thing as 'magnetic energy', and that orgone would be the same as magnetic energy, just another name for it.
W - Yes, in a way. It's a curious argument - and one that suggests that the magnetic field is an ambient reaction of the orgone to the flux of electric charges.
J - But then magnetic and electric fields would belong to different energy manifestations, no? - the energy of the medium versus the energy of the currents?
W - Yes, and that could be just the kind of parallel relationship required to provide a satisfactory solution to the unified field problem - if, in fact, magnetic fields could be simply a reaction from a medium. Reich told this to Einstein - including the fact that he was working on a theory of the magnetism of dielectrics and, at the same time, claimed some surprising results like their ability to make magnetic compasses spin.
J - Would Infeld and Einstein have dismissed that too - in light of their own work on magnetism?
W - Yes, that's a very curious question, isn't it? Infeld had been helping Einstein since the early '30's in his quest for the unified field solution suggested by the general theory. More than a decade of effort, but little came out of it. Moreover, the Einstein of 1941 was a very different Einstein from the one of 1920 with his gravitational ether ideas, or even from the Einstein of 1930 pursuing the elusive unified field. In 1938, he and Infeld stated something to the effect that all models of the ether had led nowhere, that it was time to forget its name and never mention it again.
J - Anathema! But they were just referring to models of an electromagnetic ether, weren't they?
W - In context, yes, I believe you're right, but the way it was phrased, it had a definitive tone to it. Einstein and Infeld had cast their damnation and had officially given up on the problem of any ether, even a gravitational ether...
J - But why? What made Einstein change his mind?
W - He couldn't, for the life of him, find a way to tie the gravitational field to an energy system, or to successfully unify gravitational and electromagnetic fields. He wanted a topology that reflected energy content and generated both a metric and a geometry - but all he had to work with was the mathematical thought of an abstract topology that pretty much lacked any energy considerations. His formalism was choking him, and he couldn't, no matter which way he turned it, squeeze out of it any tangible relationship relevant to the internal structure of matter. The divide between the quantum-mechanical world of matter and electromagnetism, and the world of the gravitational ether seemed impassable. On considerations of geometry alone, and employing Riemannian curves with five components, he had been led to conclude (10) that the geometry of spacetime 'caused' gravitational fields and these bent light rays.
J - Is this how the US Navy later became interested in his work?
W - In essence, but you cannot yet see the connection. I think that it was in July of '42 when Einstein approached [Dr. Vannevar] Bush because he wanted to participate directly in the war effort. Formally, it wasn't until early '43 that Bush appointed him to be a member of his committee [the OSRD] - the same committee that was also in charge of the scientific-civilian part of a special project that has remained classified to this day. This project originated from work done at the Naval Research Laboratory [NRL], located on the Virginia side of the Potomac, just south of Washington, DC, and across from Alexandria. At the end of '41, the Special Developments Section of the Radio Division in charge of developing countermeasures, had learned that Royal Navy researchers had found a method to bend the German control beams first used in guided bombers, and later on gliding bombs and the V1-flying bombs. At the time, the Radio Division was under Ross Gunn's direction, but 'Doc Taylor' [Albert Hoyt-Taylor] was the Superintendent 'in perpetuity'.
J - Who was responsible for the Section?
W - A very creative fellow by the name of Howard Lorenzen. But between him and 'Doc Taylor', there was Taylor's assistant Lou[is A.] Gebhard[t], previously from Carnegie and Marconi Wireless Company. Until '42, the Section had mainly focused on jamming high-frequency radar, the development of electronic chaff countermeasures and sensitive, high-gain receivers for detection. But Lorenzen, with Gebhard's support, progressively steered the Section to focus on radio countermeasures. The idea was to bend the radar bounces and replace them, successively, with displaced ones, so that the receiver got the wrong location of the target. By mid '42, Taylor wanted to know the field intensities that would be needed to bend the beams sufficiently to generate such a false target image. But it was a bad time for the NRL, for its Director, Admiral [H.G.] Bowen, and for Technical Director Gunn. They'd just lost a major fight with some of the most powerful figures of that period - Carnegie President [V.] Bush, MIT President [K.] Compton, Harvard President [J.] Conant, [F.] Jewett, the President of AT&T Bell Laboratories, and the wealthy [A.L.] Loomis of Tuxedo Park. They lost - and, contrary to the predominant views, this was not simply because the MANHATTAN project went to General [L.] Groves, to the Army Corps of Engineers and not to the Navy. No, they lost in a big way - because MIT's Rad Lab also took over the radar research, which was something that Jewett himself was not too happy with. Bowen and Gunn came out the losers - Gunn's expression was 'we were hosed down'. He described it as a trauma to their psyche that they never forgot. And it cost Bowen his position as NRL Director. However, the new Director, [Rear] Admiral [A. H. van] Keuren, covertly kept Bowen's directives, and kept Bowen himself informed. I guess the Admirals had their own agenda.
J - Was Bowen removed just to pacify Bush?
W - Yes, some held that Bowen remained the covert Director... I don't know. The administrative fights didn't seem to concern us much, but Bowen's departure did. But work kept on going under great pressure. I think it was Taylor who came up with the idea to send Lieutenant Commander [F.L.] Douthit to liaise with Einstein. It might have been von Neumann who gave it to Taylor. Anyway, by June '43, Einstein had become a consultant for the Navy's Bureau of Ordnance in a hush-hush NRL project whose precise purpose was to test whether light could be bent by a man-made artificial gravitational field. The project was called RAINBOW, and the proposal was written by Einstein, von Neumann and Taylor. Gunn, [E.O.] Hulburt, Gebhard[t] and [O.] Veblen also contributed to it. It permitted Einstein to go, once more, over the problems that he'd faced with his unified field theory - but having a practical goal in mind this time - to see whether it would be possible to distort the electromagnetic perception of a ship's location, or even render it entirely invisible, by manipulating the gravitational field of the ship, or around the ship.
J - How was this to be achieved?
W - Nobody knew, that's why Einstein had to write the darn thing and come up with a way to implement it. At first, Einstein told von Neumann and Taylor that he had to think about it. Meanwhile, Taylor discussed the task with the Radio and Radar Divisions - which is when someone suggested that intense electromagnetic fields could interfere with nuclear spin. Someone else added that this could be the basis for spacetime distortion and for creating magnetic and optical camouflage.
J - This was at a meeting?
W - Yes, a meeting of the responsible Section chiefs at the NRL. It might have been Hulburt, the chief of the Heat and Light Division, and the head of the Special Developments, Lorenzen. Hulburt was brought in because the project concerned the optical image of a target, as much as the magnetic and radar images.