The core of MiHsC / quantised inertia / horizon mechanics*, is the idea that the property known for centuries as inertia is caused by an asymmetry in Unruh radiation (an asymmetric Casimir effect). I have already discussed the evidence for Unruh radiation itself here (Fulling-Davies-Unruh radiation), but many people have asked how can a process based on the zero point field, so weak in the Casimir effect, could have such a large effect on matter that it produces inertia. How can it be?

Well, it can be! This can be shown with simple maths and the schematic below. The black circle is a Planck mass. Let us say that for some reason it is accelerating to the left (purple arrow), so a combination of quantum mechanics and relativity says that it sees a warm bath of Unruh radiation (orange colour). Relativity then says that information from far to the right (from the black zone) is limited to the speed of light and so cannot reach the mass, so this is its 'unknowable space'. A Rindler horizon forms to separate that space from the known space. Now as far as the mass is concerned, there is no space beyond the horizon and waves need space to wiggle in. So this horizon damps the Unruh waves on the right, creating a colder Unruh bath there (blue area). The gradient in the Unruh radiation means that more thermal energy bangs into the Planck mass from the left than from the right and so it is pushed back against its initial acceleration. Another way to think about this is that energy is now extractable from the difference in (virtual) heat.

Maths helps us to be specific. The wavelength (L) of the Unruh radiation seen by a mass of acceleration 'a' is

L = 8c^2/a

The c is the speed of light, a huge number, so that the c^2 in the numerator makes the Unruh wavelength usually very long. A sperm whale falling in Earth's gravity would see Unruh waves a lightyear long, but probably wouldn't last long enough (a year) to measure one passing by. The energy in the Unruh field on the left is then

E1 = hc/L = hca/8c^2 = ha/8c

The energy in the Unruh field on the right is

E2=0

Using normal physics, the force on the mass is the energy gradient from left to right across the diameter of the mass

F = dE/dx = ((E1-E2)/d = ((ha/8c)-(0))/d

F = ha/8cd

This looks suspiciously like Newton's second law: F=ma, and suggests that m=h/8cd

For a Planck mass d is the Planck length so the predicted mass is m=1.7x10^-8 kg. The accepted Planck mass is 2.2x10^-8 kg. In other words, at least in this case of the Planck mass, the Unruh effect is strong enough to produce inertia. It predicts the accepted numbers quite well even in this simple analysis which leaves out a lot of detail. As I said in my 2013 paper on this (see below): to make this process work for larger particles, you can't just put in a larger diameter d. You have to add up the effect of each Planck mass.

References

McCulloch, M.E., 2013. Inertia from an asymmetric Casimir effect.

*EPL*, 101, 59001. Preprint

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Horizon mechanics* = A new name suggested to me by J.M. Dorman.