I've suggested (& published in 15 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 & the emdrive 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

Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Four Horsemen (film)


I have just seen 'The Four Horseman' a documentary by Ross Ashcroft and it is a brilliant look at the present global inequality and finance problem. Near the end it also suggests a solution (see the link below). I'm not an economist, but I like trying to understand things, and also problem solving, so here's what I understood of the film, with a few idiosyncratic bits added, not directly mentioned in the film:

First the problem. In the 1970s the post world war consensus started to erode and Anglo-Saxon governments gave up the gold standard (money backed by gold) and adopted fiat currency which allowed them to print money from nothing. Then the repeal of the Glass-Steagal act in 1999 suddenly meant that banks could gamble with savers' money again, as before 1929. All this has allowed the development of a parasitic banking elite who have become rich enough to lobby governments to syphon the taxes of the relatively poor towards them. This was seen in 2008 when tax money was used to cover banks' gambling losses, and is seen now in austerity where community-owned assets that people can't do without, like the UK's National Health Service or Royal Mail, are being broken and sold off cheap to the rich to provide constant income for them. It can also be seen in the west's 'help' for developing countries as a way to transfer wealth from the poor taxpayers in the west to rich interests working there.

The money printed from nothing by governments goes to these banks first. This means they can buy things cheaply, and by the time the money filters down to everyone else it buys much less since the money has caused inflation. Ordinary people eventually find they can't buy what they need and this worsens until violence is their only hope. It is also pointed out in the film, somewhat heartbreakingly, that the bankers have realised that ordinary people are honest, so they are encouraging them to get into debt. For example encouraging house buyers in the 1980s, and students now, to provide a constant income stream for the banks.

The solutions suggested by the film, include: 1) going back to the gold standard because gold is real, it is outside the control of politicians and therefore banks, and the supply grows slowly so would cause stability in prices, 2) cancel debt as done in 1947 in Germany (and savings too, to balance it), 3) instead of taxing what we produce (income tax), tax what people consume or own, a global wealth tax as suggested by Thomas Piketty in his new book. This is fairer and would help to level the playing field. 4) allow workers to own a stake in their factories to motivate them, and limit salary differences to, say, 6:1, as suggested by Plato, to put all of society in the same boat and therefore able to empathise with each other.

Forgive my incomplete summary, but the film is brilliant and free on youtube here.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Against dark matter: not even wrong.


During Galileo's time, people still believed in an ancient model of Aristotle's, who said that heavier objects fall faster than light ones. Some of Galileo's contemporaries apparently confirmed this using experiments (how that happened I don't know!), but a young Galileo noticed during a storm that bigger and smaller hailstones fell to the ground at the same time. When he pointed this out, his contemporaries said that Aristotle must still be right and that therefore the bigger hailstones must have started from higher up. This could have been true, but the clue, with hindsight, to this kind of intellectual laziness is the ad hoc way they had to set up the hypothesis. They had to place the hailstones' formation heights at exactly the right level so they would fall together. In other words, this model was not predictive because they had to 'fine tune' it by hand to get things right, and the setup was different in each case, depending on the size of the bigger and smaller hailstones. Galileo had a more elegant model that said all the hailstones fall at the same speed, which was right but unfortunately, did him very little good in his lifetime, and it took the bloody-minded obstinacy of Isaac Newton, who also lived in a freer environment, to mathematically ram this idea into the mainstream.

Four hundred years later, there's a similar problem. The standard theory of gravity: general relativity, was devised before galaxies were even known about. It has performed well on the Solar system scale (Gravity Probe B) and at other high accelerations (binary stars), but physicists are now applying it to galaxies which are ten orders of magnitude bigger than the Solar system and have accelerations at their edges ten orders of magnitude smaller. No theory has ever survived a translation over ten orders of magnitude of scale: when they tried in the 19th Century to apply normal mechanics to tiny atoms (a ten order of magnitude scale difference) it didn't work at all. Max Planck had to invent the bizarre quantum mechanics. Sure enough, on applying general relativity to huge galaxies, massive problems have appeared. The mainstream theorists have responded, without showing the imagination of Max Planck, by adding huge amounts of an invisible kind of new matter (dark matter) to the galaxies in just such a way (in an halo around them) that for each case general relativity agrees with the  observed rotation, but as for the case of the hailstones in the 15th Century, this hypothesis of dark matter is not predictive. The theorists are 'tuning' the observations of mass to make general relativity fit the observed rotations, and differently in each case. The only reason this hypothesis has survived without any detection of dark matter after 40 years of looking, and billions of pounds of funding, is a kind of group-think that would not be out of place in a religion.

How can this intellectual logjam be broken? History has shown that it is not enough to invent an more elegant alternative (as I have done with MiHsC). The only way to counter such an intellectual blockage is to find an anomaly for which the old theory has to be modified in such a Byzantine and embarrassing manner that it looses its credibility. In this case, the problem of globular clusters could do the trick, eg, see this blog entry.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Bringing MiHsC down to Earth


MiHsC has been developed mostly by looking at anomalies in space. The great advantage of space being that things are simpler there and the fundamental rules are more easily seen. Nevertheless, to convince other people, astronomical anomalies are not ideal. For example, I have shown that MiHsC predicts galaxy rotation without dark matter and without any 'tuning', unlike dark matter or MoND which do need tuning (see McCulloch, 2012). The 'theoretical inevitability' of MiHsC is a great advantage, but is not enough to persuade others to drop beloved theories. What is needed is an experiment in which I can show some control over the anomalous effect (hopefully) and thereby demonstrate MiHsC conclusively. Here is my best try so far at such an experiment:

Start with a disc made of a material with good tensile strength that can withstand cold, attached by an axle to a motor. Enclose the disc in a metal box, which ideally should be a cryostat (very cold) to suppress thermal accelerations. Suspend a test mass outside the box, but above the rim of the disc, where the mutual disc-mass acceleration should be maximum, and monitor its weight. Allow things to settle down thermally, then spin the disc very fast. There should be no 'normal' coupling between the disc and test mass, but there will suddenly be a large mutual acceleration between the test mass and the disc, the very long Unruh waves the test mass saw initially will shorten, and so a greater proportion of them will be 'allowed' by the Hubble-scale Casimir effect of MiHsC and so MiHsC predicts that the test mass will gain inertial mass. This means the test mass will become less sensitive to gravity, and this will show up as an apparent loss of weight. You may notice the similarity with the controversial Podkletnov experiment of course, though with the (I hope) advantage of MiHsC, I have simplified/redesigned it a little to accentuate the predicted anomaly.

To be specific, MiHsC predicts, for a disc 5cm in radius and at the latitude of Plymouth (latitude is important because of an initial acceleration only with respect to the fixed stars) that for spin rates of 3000 rpm, 100,000 rpm and 1,000,000 rpm the test mass will lose 0.0016%, 1.76% and 100% of its weight.

Reference

McCulloch M.E., 2012. Testing quantised inertia on galactic scales. Astrophysics and Space Science, 342, 575. link

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Gravity from uncertainty (almost!)


Heisenberg's uncertainty principle applies for all quantum (tiny) particles: their momentum uncertainty (dp) times their position uncertainty (dx) equals hbar (Planck's constant). This means, that if you measure their position with light, then you lose information about their momentum because the light gives them a random kick, and the more you use short wavelength high energy light to pinpoint their position, the more of a random kick they get, so the less you know their momentum.

I recently published a paper applying this at the Solar system scale, where it is not supposed to apply, by looking at the orbit of two planets of mass M and m. If you couple each Planck mass in mass M with each one in mass m and calculate the total uncertainty for all the mutual interactions between each possible pair, you get dp*dx = a big summation*hbar. The dx is the separation between M and m (the orbital radius, r). If you use the formulae: E=pc and dE=F*dx (again dx=r) you get F = constant*Mm/r^2 which has the form of Newton's gravity law (see eq. 8 in the paper below). This is nice because it has been derived from quantum mechanics which is only supposed to work for tiny quantum objects and is not supposed to be on speaking terms with gravity. One way to think about it is that as an orbital system loses position uncertainty (an orbit becomes tighter) it must gain momentum uncertainty (it orbits faster).

I published the paper last year (see reference below) but the last step falls short. The 'gravitational constant' I derived (the constant G) was  hc/mp^2 (eq. 8). If there was an independent way to measure the Planck mass (mp) then I could claim to have derived Newton's gravity law, but the Planck mass is found by comparing the gravitational potential energy of two Planck masses with separation r with the energy of a photon of the same energy with a wavelength r which makes the final part of my derivation (the step from eq. 8 to eq. 9) circular. Nevertheless, the part leading up to eq. 8 is a valid and interesting approach and I'd like to build on it. The idea has been published in the journal below, and a pdf of the first two pages (the important bit) is freely available to all. So if you want to see an intriguing idea which produces the 'form' of Newton's gravity law from quantum mechanics, here it is. If you can think of a new way to get from eq 8 to eq 9, all the better!

McCulloch, M.E., 2013. Gravity from the uncertainty principle. Astrophysics and Space Science, 349, 2, 957-959. link