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

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Breaking the speed of light limit?

Special relativity says that as you accelerate, say, a spaceship, towards the speed of light its inertial mass increases so it gets harder to push it any faster. At the speed of light its inertial mass is infinite so you can't increase its speed at all. Hence relativity predicts a speed of light speed limit. However, MiHsC makes a slight correction to this. The wavelength of the Unruh radiation that causes inertia in MiHsC lengthens as the acceleration reduces which means that, for the spaceship case above, as the speed levels off and acceleration tends to zero near the speed of light, the Unruh waves making up its inertia exceed the Hubble-scale and cannot be observed. This means, using the philosophy of Mach that special relativity itself was based on, these waves should dissapear, and the spaceship's inertial mass should reduce. Indeed, putting MiHsC and relativity together (in a very preliminary way) you can show that there remains a residual relativity-proof acceleration of 2*(speed of light)^2/(Hubble scale) even at the speed of light: this is the minimum acceleration allowed by MiHsC. Interestingly this is close to the cosmic acceleration that has recently been observed and is usually explained in an ad hoc manner by dark energy.

For such a claim of course, far more direct evidence needs to be found. There are ways in which observations of quantum systems demand non-locality and superluminal information transfer (Bell's inequalities), but my favourite possibility at the moment involves the more direct evidence of galactic jets. Looking at the movement of blobs of light within the jets streaming out along the spin axes of galactic cores and quasars, and knowing the distance of these objects, it is possible to show that these blobs appear to move faster than light (eg: Porcas, 1983, Biretta, 1999). Before we get too excited, Martin Rees (1966) showed that light-emitting objects moving at sublight speeds can appear to travel faster than light if they are moving at a small angle to our line of sight. However, that being so, one would expect the jets that show faster than light speeds to all be apparently 'shorter' since they should be pointing towards us, but it has been shown that they are not shorter on average than all the other ones, which implies that they are not on average close to our line of sight. A particular case is M87 (Biretta et al., 1999). The blobs of light in its jet are moving at six times the speed of light. To explain this away as the Rees effect one would need this jet to be within 20 degrees of our line of sight, but an analysis suggests that this angle is 44-64 degrees, and to get it within 20 degrees would 'present several problems' (Biretta et al., 1999).

I know this is a horrifically complex area to get into, and causality will have to be thought about too which means that thinking about it is rather like taking an axe to the floor one is standing on, but I do think this is important, doubly so since I'm one of the few arguing that FTL (Faster Than Light) is possible. I've had some problems publishing anything on this. I've submitted papers, and I gave a talk on MiHsC and FTL at the 100 Year Starship Symposium in Orlando in 2011, and my talk was filmed and was supposed to be made available. Nothing happened, and nothing happened to the paper I sent to them either, so I'm very glad to finally have a chance to publish something on FTL in my book.


Biretta, J.A., et al., 1999. Hubble space telescope observations of superluminal motion in the M87 jet. The Astrophysical Journal, 520, 2, 621-626. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1999ApJ...520..621B

Porcas, R., 1983. Superluminal motion - astronomers still puzzled. Nature, 302, 753-754. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1983Natur.302..753P

Rees, M.J., 1966. Appearance of relativistically expanding radio sources. Nature, 211, 468-470.

McCulloch, M.E., 2014. Physics from the Edge: a new cosmological model for inertia. World Scientific Publishing.


qraal said...

Have been pondering this one myself. How do you imagine they manage to crack lightspeed though?

Geoff said...

Would the Unruh waves in front of the direction of travel not be Doppler blueshifted to high energy and those behind redshifted, providing an asymptotic barrier preserving the lightspeed limit?

Mike McCulloch said...

I'm assuming that the Unruh radiation is emitted (just like Hawking radiation from a black hole) by a Rindler horizon that is moving in the same reference frame as the accelerated object, hence no Doppler shift.

Ted Rippert said...

Old thread, but just found this via the link in the Star Trek convention post.

It seems to me that both the Dark Matter acceleration (of all of spacetime) and your MiHsC theories lead to the same residual acceleration of a near light speed object, and both rely on General Relativity to allow spacetime to expand with the accelerating matter so that special relativity is not violated (special relativity being an approximate solution to GR for small, flat regions of spacetime). The only difference is that in the Dark Matter model, matter is being "taken along for the ride" as dark matter causes the expansion, and in MiHsC, spacetime is expanding because of the minimum acceleration of matter.

Of course, in the rest frame of the object, there is no problem with further acceleration. It's only in certain Lorentz shifted observer frames that the objects acceleration would appear to be limited.

I like the MiHsC explanation better due to my distaste for the ad-hoc nature of "dark" thingies that make astrophysicists think that they don't have to solve problems with their theories. The MiHsC theory needs work, but is at least trying to be a complete theory, not a glorified fitting function.

Mike McCulloch said...

Ted. Your comment makes clear one advantage of MiHsC: that the thing accelerating only needs to be the thing 'seen' to be, ie: matter. Whereas with dark energy you have to say that space itself is expanding and matter takes a ride, but space is not a measurable thing so this is unfalsifiable. Generally, MiHsC involves 'observables' which is a great advantage to a theory (relativity & QM came from a focus on observables, an principle started by Mach).