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

Sunday 20 July 2014

Backwards Supernova

Einstein's special relativity was a great and very bold insight, and was based on a sceptical philosophy of Ernst Mach's. This philosophy is that abstract concepts like time and space modify so that whatever it is you see of a process, in your reference frame, that is 'real', which means the normal laws of physics have to apply to it. That includes, presumably, the second law of thermodyamics that entropy/disorder must increase.

Now imagine, just for the sake of argument, that you're zooming away from a supernova at more than the speed of light. As you go, you're overtaking the light coming from the supernova, so you'll see the supernova going backwards in time (rather like the introduction to the film Contact, where a spaceship traveling away from the Earth at speeds greater than light relives radio history backwards). A layman might explain this as just being how you see it, but if we accept special relativity (and it has been well tested in this way, by Hafele and Keating, 1974) we have to go further and say that this backwards supernova is 'real' so the laws of physics must apply to it. This is alright for most of the laws of physics since most are easily reversible. For example, you can reverse the velocity of every particle in the supernova and they still obey Newton's laws, but if you see the supernova converging on itself then there is a reduction of entropy in time, since it is approaching a special state. This violates the second law of thermodynamics. So special relativity's insistence on what you see being 'real' forbids faster than light travel if we accept this second law. A related problem is that causality is violated too.

A more famous reason that relativity forbids faster than light travel is that when an object approaches light speed its inertial mass approaches infinity and you can't push it any faster so it has constant speed. However, MiHsC challenges this because at a constant velocity the Unruh waves that MiHsC assumes cause inertia would become larger than the Hubble scale and vanish, so the inertial mass would dissipate in a new way. This means, if you do the maths, that MiHsC predicts that a tiny minimum acceleration remains, even at the speed of light, meaning that this barrier can be broken.

The problem I have now is that, if this is true, how can I reconcile MiHsC and its tentative faster than light possibility, with the supernova problem and the violation of causality I mentioned above?

Quote by Werner Heisenberg: "How fortunate we have found a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress!"

Saturday 12 July 2014

Proxima Centauri: a test in our cosmic backyard?

I recently looked into the Alpha Centauri system in preparation for a talk I went to see on it. This system is also called Rigil Kent, a great name for a superhero, and is the closest stellar system to us (only 4.37 light years away) with two stars, A and B, similar to the Sun which form a tight binary system orbiting every 79 years, and a third called Proxima Centauri which is much further out and far smaller in size. The interesting thing for me is that little Proxima is so far out (13,000 AUs) that its acceleration with respect to the other two is in the regime where MiHsC should apply (of order 10^-10 m/s^2).

MiHsC says that a body with such a low acceleration relative to nearby matter (stars A and B) will lose some of its inertial mass in a new way, and this means it will be more easily bent gravitationally into a bound orbit even by a lower than expected central mass. This is exactly how MiHsC predicts bound galaxy rotation without dark matter (McCulloch, 2012) and it also predicts that Proxima should be bound gravitationally to A and B even though their masses should appear to be too small to bind it.

From my limited reading of papers so far, this seems to be the case. Proxima moves through space with stars A and B so it looks like it's bound to them, but Matthews and Gilmore (1993) found that according to Newton's laws Proxima should not be bound. To fix this problem they suggested increasing the mass of A and B to hold Promixa in to the system. Of course, this sounds just like the dark matter fix used to allow galaxies to remain bound without changing Newton's laws. The great thing for me about this Centauri mismatch is that dark matter cannot be used to explain it, since dark matter has to stay spread out on these small scales if it hopes to explain the galaxy rotation problem.

To prove MiHsC I've been looking for a problem for which it is the only possible solution: a crucial experiment. I might have found one in our cosmic backyard.


Matthews and Gilmore, 1993. MNRAS, 261, L5

Wertheimer and Laughlin, 2006. Are Proxima and Alpha Centauri Gravitationally Bound? Astron. J., 132, 1995-1997. http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0607401

Tuesday 1 July 2014

New book

I've written a book about inertia and MiHsC, titled: 'Physics from the Edge: a new cosmological model for inertia'. It's being published :) by World Scientific, and is advertised online here.