I've suggested (& published in 21 journal papers) a new theory called quantised inertia (or MiHsC) that assumes that inertia is caused by horizons damping quantum fields. It predicts galaxy rotation & lab thrusts without any dark stuff or adjustment. My University webpage is here, I've written a book called Physics from the Edge and I'm on twitter as @memcculloch. Most of my content is at patreon now: here

Saturday 28 September 2013

Anomalies at low acceleration

Here is a summary of most of the anomalies that have helped me in formulating and testing MiHsC. Although I do pay serious attention to all of them, I am not saying necessarily that all of them are correct, but I think taken together they do point the way to new physics. This new physics shows up at low accelerations (and so is unlikely to be seen in particle accelerators, where high accelerations are the rule). They are, in order of scale from the cosmic scale downwards:

The low-l cosmic microwave background (CMB) anomaly. This is radiation coming from all parts of the sky and the Planck satellite has shown that its variability on the largest scales is significantly lower than it should be. MiHsC predicts this: its Hubble-scale Casimir effect predicts that larger waves (ie: patterns) are suppressed because they don't fit within the Hubble scale (paper submitted).

It has been shown that the expansion of the cosmos is accelerating at a rate of about c^2/Theta where c is the speed of light and Theta is the Hubble diameter. Dark energy has been arbitrarily invented to explain this, but this acceleration is close to the minimum acceleration predicted by MiHsC, since any object with a lower acceleration would have its inertia made from Unruh waves longer than the Hubble-scale, and they would be unobservable (Mach's principle says they would not exist), so the object loses inertia and accelerates again (see paper).

Stars in galaxies orbit so fast that inertial forces should rip the galaxies apart. This does not seem to happen, so dark matter is added arbitrarily to hold them in, but it has been neither detected nor explained. MoND predicts this anomalous rotation, but needs a fitting parameter to do it, and doesn't work for galaxy clusters. MiHsC predicts the observed galaxy rotation and the behaviour of galaxy clusters without dark matter and without adjustable parameters by reducing the inertial mass of the low acceleration stars at the galaxies' edge (see paper).

Globular clusters within galaxies also show aberrant rotation when their internal accelerations fall below 2x10^-10 m/s^2. This cannot be explained by dark matter since it must be uniform at these scales to fit galaxy rotation. It can't be explained by MoND either since this depends on the total acceleration of the system, which is still large for these systems. MiHsC can potentially explain it (I haven't calculated this yet) since inertia in MiHsC depends on internal (local) accelerations.

The Pioneer 10 and 11 probes show an unexplained acceleration towards the Sun of about 8.7x10^-10 m/s^2. This has been modelled mundanely as a thermal recoil caused by radiation from the RTGs bouncing off the spacecrafts' radio dish, but this explanation needs a model with over 2000 finite elements and two adjustable parameters, whose details have not been published. The scope for errors is huge there. MiHsC predicts this acceleration far more simply as a loss of inertial mass that causes the spacecraft to respond more to the attraction of the Sun (see paper).

Spacecraft occasionally use the Earth in gravity assists and their flyby trajectories are carefully monitored. When they approach at a low latitude and leave at a high latitude they seem to gain an anomalous few mm/s in speed. MiHsC predicts something similar that is the right order of magnitude (see paper, but note I should have used the geocentric speeds for the spacecraft so the predictions of the anomalies are likely to be smaller). For tomorrow's Juno flyby (on 9th Oct, 2013) MiHsC predicts an anomalous 0.75 mm/s speed up.

Martin Tajmar and coworkers put rings of various materials in a cryostat (low thermal accelerations), spun the rings and found that accelerometers not in frictional contact with the rings followed their rotation, by a ratio of 3x10^-8 for clockwise rotations and half that for anticlockwise rotations. MiHsC predicts this behaviour exactly, since the sudden acceleration of the ring increases the inertia of the accelerometer and to conserve momentum it has to move with the ring. MiHsC even predicts the parity violation as being due to the rotation of the Earth with respect to the fixed stars (see paper).

Podkletnov and coworkers put a superconducting disc in a cryostat (low thermal acceleration), levitated it, and applied high frequency magnetic fields to make it vibrate (an acceleration of about 10^5 m/s^2). They detected a 0.06 percent weight loss in objects over the disc (more if the disc was rotated). MiHsC predicts that the sudden acceleration of the disc increases the inertia of the objects above, and makes them less sensitive to gravity: it predicts half the weight loss seen (see paper).

The fundamental phenomenon of inertia. This tendency of objects to keep going at constant speed has never been explained, and only a tiny part (0.1 percent) of it is explained by the Higgs field. I have shown that inertia can be explained (eg: the Planck mass to within 26 percent) by an 'asymmetric Casimir effect': when an object accelerates, say to the right, a Rindler horizon forms to its left and suppresses the Unruh radiation on that side causing a net force backwards against its acceleration. This is the first time inertia has been explained mechanistically, and without any adjustable parameters (see paper). It is the modification of this basic inertia by MiHsC (by the Hubble horizon) that predicts galaxy rotation & cosmic acceleration without dark matter or dark energy.

There are other anomalous observations or experiments that intrigue me but are not conclusive yet, the anisotropy of the CMB, the Bullet cluster, intergalactic alignments, galactic jets, pulsar jets, the Allais effect, extreme spin experiments, the variation of decay rates with Solar rotation, extreme energy cosmic rays, the peculiarity of the neutrino... If you know of any others, please let me know.

Saturday 21 September 2013

The best science is anomaly-driven

There's been a lot of talk recently about complex mathematical ideas such as the amplituhedron. The nonlocal aspect of this is interesting, but the fact that this geometrical shape is simple is misleading, since the mathematics itself is still complex and it has no physical justification (it reminds me of Kepler's erroneous Platonic solid model of the Solar system). Also, it uses supersymmetry, whose predictions have not been seen. This kind of thing is very common in modern physics (I remember also Weinstein's 14 dimensional maths) and although supersymmetry looks like it is being finally tested, many of these ideas are presented without making any testable new predictions about nature and rely solely on their agreement with the standard models.

To be fair, few anomalies from the standard model have been seen in particle accelerators, it seems that physics is successful so far at predicting things in the narrow regime that we call 'high' energy and high acceleration. The huge anomalies in physics are at low accelerations, for example for spacecraft in deep space (maybe), objects in cryostats (low thermal acceleration), for stars at the edges of galaxies (the galaxy rotation problem) and the acceleration of distant supernovae (cosmic acceleration). Dark matter and dark energy have been devised to explain these, but these hypotheses are arbitrary and unpredictive. For example, given the light distribution of a galaxy you cannot predict the motion of its stars with dark matter. You have to first assume that general relativity (GR) is right and then work out the dark mass distribution that makes GR agree with the velocity you see. You have not predicted the velocity, you have used the velocity and the assumption that GR is right, to predict the dark mass distribution, and you can't test your result since you can't detect dark matter! So dark matter is unpredictive and untestable. Safe from disproof, but completely useless.

The problem, as always, is that old theories are respected more than new data. There is no reason for this: quantum mechanics and general relativity are incompatible with each other, so they are demonstrably not the final word, and yet they are extrapolated from the scale of our experience (Solar system scale) to scales at least 10 orders or magnitude upwards to galaxies and the cosmos. The last time that happened was when classical physics, designed for the human scale, was extrapolated ten orders of magnitude down to the atomic scale but didn't work, so the strange ideas of quantum mechanics had to be invented. In the modern case our theories don't work when extrapolated up to these huge scales or low accelerations, and arbitrary patches are applied.

What is desperately needed for progress in physics is a more liberal attitude to strange new results. These are controversial at the moment and they should not be! Publish a paper with the word "Podkletnov" in it and you'll will seriously damage your career. This is against the spirit of science. The experiment may have been wrong, but it passed peer-review and it may be nature telling us something very new (as I argue here, and I am about to submit another paper on this). An honest study of controversial anomalies has always been the best way to new science (there is the danger of being wrong too).

Examples of anomaly-driven science are first class: Galileo saw the moons of Jupiter orbiting and believed Copernicus' model of the Solar system, Newton split up white light with a prism, and was surprised when he couldn't split coloured light, the early Einstein was puzzled by the photoelectric effect and the anomalous Michelson-Morley experiment which failed to detect the aether. Darwin saw dissimilar finches on seperate Galapagos islands and wondered why.

This is why I do not trust hypotheses like the amplituhedron, string theory et al., that utilise hugely complicated maths and agree nicely with standard models, but say nothing new and testable about nature. Give me a solid anomaly anyday!

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Computers undermine Occam's Razor

There is a principle in science called Occam’s Razor that states that when two models successfully predict the data, the simplest one is usually right.

I'm going to argue here that computers are not conducive to simplicity. They are, as Douglas Adams said, incredibly stupid and have to be told how to do things in great detail, but they are capable of being stupid millions of times faster than humans. Their ability to simulate incredibly complex systems like the climate system or spiral galaxies is potentially a huge benefit, but the disadvantage is that computers make it possible to get the right answer with incredibly complex and possibly wrong assumptions. Computers then are the opposite to Occam's razor: Occam's hair transplant.

For example, galaxies are observed to spin far too fast to be held in by their visible matter, according to standard theories of dynamics. This is a puzzle, but computers have enabled astrophysicists to calculate exactly what distribution of invisible (dark) matter would be needed to make general relativity and the observations agree. They then produce a beautiful fit and claim a success for general relativity and dark matter. One might as well attribute galaxy rotation to invisible swimming angels, or the spatula of God, since these are just as predictable and well observed as dark matter (ie: not!).

In my view, computers have enabled people to manipulate the "observations" in a complex way to support an esteemed theory, and that is the opposite of science.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Testing MiHsC with extreme spins.

I recently saw a fascinating article on BBC science news about researchers at St Andrews University who have suspended a microsphere on a laser beam in a vacuum and used the polarised laser light and lack of friction to spin the microsphere up to 600 million rpm (the article is here, & the paper was published in Nature Communications).

I've been looking for a way to test MiHsC and have been wondering about spinning discs, but this is a far better method since the accelerations can be larger and the effect of MiHsC is then more detectable. Using the same calculations that I used to predict the Tajmar effect here and the Podkletnov effect here, I predict that when you spin a sphere of radius 2.2x10^-6 m at more than 195 million rpm the increase of inertial mass from MiHsC should be enough to get it to move upwards against gravity.

In the BBC article (in the analysis side text) it says that at about 600 million rpm the microsphere mysteriously 'dissapeared'. Interesting, but first it is necessary to check whether this dissapearence was due to the microsphere exploding under centrifugal forces or doing something else that physics already predicts. I've emailed the people in St Andrews, so hopefully they can have a closer look.