I've suggested (& published in 21 journal papers) a new theory called quantised inertia (or MiHsC) that assumes that inertia is caused by relativistic horizons damping quantum fields. It predicts galaxy rotation, cosmic acceleration & the emdrive without any dark stuff or adjustment. My Plymouth University webpage is here, I've written a book called Physics from the Edge and I'm on twitter as @memcculloch

Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Light Speed Limit & the Soyuz Express

The further you look away from the Earth, or, it is assumed, away from anywhere, the faster other galaxies appear to recede. This is the well-known Hubble expansion and it is seen in the increasing redshift of distant stars: their light is Doppler-stretched until at the Hubble distance they exceed the speed of light relative to us and dissapear from view, like ambulances travelling away faster than the speed of sound would be silent to us. This is one of the reasons the night sky is dark, and seems initially to be a problem since faster than light travel is supposed to be verboten. This paradox is usually avoided by saying that space itself is expanding. This seems to me to be a fudge, relying on an invisible entity (space). How do you determine experimentally whether space itself is expanding or the stars are moving apart?

MiHsC provides the beginnings of a different view on this. If you modify the inertial mass using both Special Relativity (SR) and MiHsC you get a formula for accelerationa, a, like this: a = F/m*(1-v^2/c^2) + 2c^2/Theta. The first term says that if v=c, no matter what force F you apply you won't get an acceleration from that term. This is why SR precludes crossing the light barrier. However, the new second term from MiHsC says that whatever SR says, there is always a residual minimum acceleration, even when v=c. This is incredibly small: 6.7x10^-10 m/s^2, an acceleration that would produce the speed of light over the age of the universe. A more directly encouraging thing is that it is close to the observed cosmic acceleration.

I submitted a paper on this superlight speculation a couple of years ago to the 100 Year Starship Symposium and another short one a year later to JBIS and haven't heard back from the reviewers yet. Maybe this is because these are a different kind of paper from the ones I normally submit. I tend to only submit papers when I have some experimental data to back the ideas up. With these superlight papers the best I can do so far is say: MiHsC works here and here, and if you extrapolate to the speed of light it predicts a residual acceleration that is close to the cosmic acceleration. This is not an unambiguous test, and the spectre of causality looms large in this area. Anyway, the closest I've got to publishing this so far is a discussion of 'minimum accelerations' in this paper (published in EPL, 90, 29001).

By the way, well done to the Russians. they've just launched a 6 hour fast-track Soyuz to the ISS. I think the Russians have a good attitude to space that could be summarised as: "To the stars, by just doing it."

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