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 29 November 2015

Dark Matter Jumps the Shark

Mainstream theoretical physics needs to take a long hard look at itself. I've just read an article about Lisa Randall's new suggestion that dark matter killed the dinosaurs and after collapsing in a tangled heap of laughter I realised that this perfectly captures the attitude of mainstream theoretical physics: the extrapolation of untested and possibly untestable hypotheses into a regime where you are unlikely ever to be proven wrong, like the interior of black holes, the first millisecond after the big bang or the age of the dinosaurs. It is the physics of the unimaginative and cowardly.

Dark matter is like a universal plaster for any anomaly. For galaxies stick the invisible stuff freely onto your equations in a halo. For the flyby anomalies put it in a thin disc, for the dinosaurs it is a layer (I refuse to look at the details, like I refuse to read up on ghostology). There's a useful idea called Russell's teapot (pointed out to me by DaKangaroo on twitter). Bertrand Russell said that if someone claims there's a teapot orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter the onus is on them to prove it, certainly before expecting people to believe anything else deduced from it (By the way, I'm not saying dark matter can't exist at all in some minor form, just not as it is taken by the mainstream as a panacea for all their problems).

In contrast to dark matter's arbitrary flexibility, MiHsC is unadjustable. This means that, unlike the dark side, I can't cheat. MiHsC only predicts one possibility, and yet that possibility correctly models the observed anomalies I've tried it on: galaxy rotation, cosmic acceleration, the orbit of Proxima Centauri, the spin of extreme dwarf galaxy Triangulum II, the Pioneer and flyby anomaly, the Tajmar experiments and the emdrive. Meanwhile the mainstream is messing around with the insides of black holes, the early universe and the dinosaurs, confident no-one can disprove them.

But there is hope. In the fifth season of the TV series Happy Days ratings were falling so that the writers wrote in a scene where Fonzie jumped over a shark on skis. Ever since then a useful phrase has entered the English language: to 'Jump the Shark' meaning to use shock tactics to retain dying interest. There's now a similar term 'Nuke the Fridge' based on Indiana Jones 4. With Randall's dinosaur demise the dark matter bandwagon has just jumped the shark, so things may now get interesting.


Charles Munn said...

Such a clever title & enjoyable take, I posted pic's of it on fb & Twitter!

ZeroIsEverything said...

"The dark matter bandwagon has just jumped the shark" - bon appetit!

coldsponger said...

Yes the distributions of dark matter are arbitrary and built from models derived from visible matter motion. It does seem pretty well, arbitrary, and my Feynman and Popper mental models are certainly annoyed.

but gravitational lensing appears to agree with the arbitrary distributions of dark matter the models come up with. I'd consider that a semi-independent confirmation of the dark matter conjecture.

Unless your theory can also result in grav lensing. Or we can come up with several examples where the distribution of dark matter derived from grav lensing disagrees with distributions derived from visible matter motion.

ZeroIsEverything said...


In the case of Triangulum II, I think that the observed and much too high orbital speeds logically imply, that if it were possible to measure the gravitational lensing effect, one would come to realize that there is a whole lot of 'dark matter' missing. Reductio ad absurdum - one counter-example is sufficient to disprove the whole theory..

Mike McCulloch said...

Coldsponger: As far as I know gravitational lensing can't be an independent test of dark matter, since the DM distribution predicted from stellar motions and the DM predicted from lensing should agree anyway, both being based on GR & the EP. I'm not sure what you mean by semi-independent?

MiHsC does predict a lensing effect if you assume that it applies also to photon inertia. As evidence for that: I have recently and quite successfully modelled the new emdrive results by applying MiHsC to photons (see my publications on the emdrive).

Roy Lofquist said...

Oh how I long for the halcyon days of my youth. Things were so much simpler then. There was one simple scalar value, the cosmological constant, that explained everything. Now there are vast libraries of esoteric speculations invoking a veritable zoo of mysterious unicorn like thingies. I guess theoretical physicists have to eat too.

Mike McCulloch said...

Roy: In the past 50 yrs we've seen further into space than ever before, and none of it agrees with the old theories (hence the complex dark matter and other fudges). MiHsC would simplify things, but a lot of august careers are riding on the fudges.

Roy Lofquist said...


It was about 60 years ago that I failed miserably trying to make my first telescope. "Amateur Telescope Making" made it sound so easy. But then, everything looks easy to a teenager. That was about the time I first read Gamow's "One, Two, Three, Infinity". That book, and the "Big Bang" theory, made me uneasy for many years.

Yes, we have seen much further into space but I believe "through a glass darkly". For a number of reasons I think that Fred Hoyle had it right. I would elucidate but I'k going to read your book first then get back to you.


Mike McCulloch said...

Dear Roy: As you'll see from my book, MiHsC predicts a similar cosmology to Fred Hoyle's steady state theory: mass increasing with time, albeit with a hotter early phase.