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 & some observed lab thrusts 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

Monday, 12 August 2013

Inertia fails at light speed?

Icarus Interstellar are organising a Starship Conference in Dallas this week (15-18th August) focusing on possible ways to travel to the stars and I wish them the best: one challenge to the status quo is more valuable to progress than a thousand confirmations. Since I can't be there (and I wish I could), I thought I would summarise what MiHsC has to say on the difficult subject of faster than light travel.

According to special relativity, as the velocity of an object approaches the speed of light its inertial mass approaches infinity and so you cannot put in enough energy to produce any acceleration: the object now has an infinite tendency to keep going at the same speed. If true, this means that c is a cosmic speed limit and, since even getting close to c would take huge amounts of energy, it would take decades to travel to the nearest habitable stars.

MiHsC, if experimentally confirmed, offers a new model of inertia and challenges this picture. If you imagine a spacecraft with a powerful enough engine that it can get close to the speed of light. Eventually, if only special relativity was true, it would maintain a constant speed somewhat less than c determined by the power of its engine. However, MiHsC does not allow objects to have constant speeds, because then the Unruh waves seen by the object would be greater than the Hubble scale (Theta) and unobservable in principle (using Ernest Mach’s suggestion that if things cannot be observed in principle, then they do not exist). Therefore MiHsC predicts there always has to be a minimum acceleration of 2c^2/Theta = 6.9x10^-10 m/s^2 in nature. So, even as relativity boosts the inertial mass towards infinity, the Unruh waves making up that inertia start to disappear. This predicted minimum acceleration agrees with the observed cosmic acceleration.

To be fair, this minimum acceleration is not particularly fast: it would cause an increase in speed from zero to 60 mph in 8500 years, or from zero to the speed of light in the lifetime of the universe (something that is intriguing in itself), but the interesting parameter is the Theta (the Hubble scale =2.7x10^26m) in the denominator of 2c^2/Theta. This is the huge number that makes the MiHsC acceleration so small. It represents the event horizon at the Hubble-scale. What if we could produce a local event horizon, reduce Theta, and boost this relativity-proof MiHsC acceleration..?


Magnon said...

From what I can see, the observable universe for a spacecraft travelling at the speed of light should be all arrayed in front of the observer.

There should be infinite inertia in terms of stopping, but zero in terms of positive acceleration.

Magnon said...

I checked to see that you have a cosmological theory based on a rotating universe.

I note that there is evidence that galactic spin is estimated to be asymmetrical:
"In a study of over 15,000 galaxies by Michael Longo and co-investigators at the University of Michigan, the researchers report that spiral galaxies preferential spin clockwise or counter clockwise depending what hemisphere of the sky they are in."

If the galactic spin varies from positive to negative in a normal distribution, there should be a large number with spin which was insufficient to prevent galactic collapse. These should exist as black holes.

Magnon said...

One form of dark matter?

Mike McCulloch said...

I don't assume a rotating universe (I try to assume as little as possible), but what you said about Longo's data is very interesting to me because MiHsC predicts a different behaviour if two galaxies r spinning together or spinning oppositely.. I'm not sure what your last question was? Please clarify.