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

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Cultural Inertia

I can't understand how physicists can be content with such poor explanations of nature as dark matter and dark energy. Of course, there are some examples from history where new mass was implied: one student yesterday pointed out to me that Mendeleev's periodic table predicted elements that were then seen later, which is a good example, but in the successful cases like Mendeleev's, or the discovery of Neptune, it was a small bit of extra mass that was needed to fill the gap in a mostly complete structure, interpolation, in the case of dark matter and dark energy physicists are saying they understand 4% of the cosmos and are now extrapolating 96% of it. The reason I think is cultural inertia, which always has been very strong.

One example of cultural inertia was the ancient Greek Aristotle's belief that the Moon was perfectly round. Nearly 2000 years later in 1609 Galileo made a telescope (which had just been invented by Hans Lippershey) and looked at the Moon and saw jagged mountains on it! I can imagine his joy at this discovery, since he was curious and also a bit of a Socratian gadfly but his contemporaries said 'No, the Moon is perfectly round just as the great Aristotle said'. 'How so?', said Galileo. They replied 'It is surrounded by an invisible crystalline layer that is a perfect sphere'. 'Go on, pull the other leg!' said Galileo 'No, really!' they said. I can imagine Galileo's frustration at having his observations countered by a theory that was so ridiculous it was not falsifiable - how can you disprove an invisible layer around the Moon? He could only resort to ridicule and replied 'If you can imagine an invisible layer, then I say there are mountains in the invisible layer 10 times bigger than the ones I can see through my telescope'.

In modern times, old theories die hard just the same: general relativity (GR) was suggested by Einstein in 1915, and even in 1940 he knew it was not the final word (see Feynman, 1985, page 80), since he had a genuine desire to know. It is true that GR has been tested successfully at the high accelerations in our inner Solar system (of order 1 m/s^2), but it has not been tested at the very low accelerations in galaxies (of order 10^-10 m/s^2) that Einstein never imagined, but we have now seen. I wrote in a previous blog that 'no theory has ever survived an extrapolation over ten orders of magnitude' and I think this is vague but probably mostly true, and, surprise surprise, at the edges of galaxies where accelerations are ten orders of magnitude lower, GR fails, and ten times as much mass as can be seen must be added to fix it. Guess what? This mass is invisible. In this case though, there a way to disprove dark matter, and that is that tiny globular clusters behave anomalously just like huge galaxies, but dark matter can't be use to fix them because to be smooth enough to work on galactic scales they can't also work on those small scales. See my blog here.

Alternatively one can modify physics in such a way that it doesn't mess up well-observed high acceleration behaviour, but also fits the new low acceleration data. This is what I have done with MiHsC (see a summary here) which fixes things without needing any invisible stuff, and in fact MiHsC is based on the philosophy that 'if you can't observe it in principle, then it doesn't exist', which was the same kind of Machian approach that led Einstein to relativity.

Cultural inertia is very strong and keeps the majority comfortable, but I think, every hundred years or so, even theoretical physicists are entitled to a bit of excitement.


Feynman, R.P., 1985. Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman, 1985. Vintage books.

McCulloch, M.E., 2014. Physics from the Edge, World Scientific. Book


Czeko said...

I hope your finding will be proven and accepted right by the scientific community soon. It is always refreshing to see new idea emerging. Fun to see you're talking about cultural inertia and MiHsC at the same time. :)

Unknown said...

Science advances one funeral at a time, as the saying goes. Careers are often based on the status gleaned from early hypotheses, and ego is invested. No one gives up easily when status and ego are at stake.

Mike McCulloch said...

Thanks Czeko.

Mike McCulloch said...

djolds: Yes, probably true. Funny story: when I first thought of MiHsC I was seriously worried someone might publish b4 me. I needn't have worried: 10 years, 10 papers and a book later I'm still trying to persuade people..

qraal said...

As much as I am interested in your ideas, Mike, it's a bit limiting to say "if you can't see it, then it doesn't exist". There's plenty we can't see, yet we have good reasons to think exist - neutrinos, for example. We can detect them, but they're inherently "unseeable" and prior to direct detection experiments they were only known by anomalous energy and momentum deficits in particle physics. To have mangled physics to accomodate an attitude that the "unseeable" doesn't exist would've been asinine.

A better approach is to say "If we can't see it now, it might mean we need better glasses." Theoretically speaking.

Mike McCulloch said...

Thanks for your comment, but that's not what I mean at all. The fault lies in me being flippant. What I mean is: 'If we can't see it in principle then it doesn't exist'. It's not whether we as 21st century humans can see it or not, but more whether logic allows it to be seen. This kind of idea has a long pedigree & led Einstein to relativity.

qraal said...

On that I think I can agree. I have a certain theoretical interest in dark matter being, at least partly, neutrinos of some stripe or other. But they can't be the only thing going on in "dark mass".