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

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Three cheers for peer review


James Lovelock has just written a short essay (see link below) complaining that peer review is a self-imposed inquisition which stifles freedom. I do not agree with this.

It is true that peer review is a hugely ego-bruising thing. For example, when Einstein was first subjected to it late in life he was so offended he withdrew his paper. However, one great thing about it is that editors generally ensure a scientific procedure is followed, so if you present an unconventional idea, but show that it agrees with the data, as I always try to do, then reviewers may doubt the idea, but given the agreement with the data, as scientists, they have to pass it. This does not always happen, I've had baseless rejections, but generally the scientific method is still around and doing good in the world. It provides an accountable scientific process that lets evidence-based ideas through. So I would argue that, recently, peer review has saved me and MiHsC from oblivion. It is unlikely to work as well for Lovelock's GAIA hypothesis because, although it is fascinating and I think likely to be true at least in part, it is less clearly supported by data.

In contrast to peer review, the preprint arxiv (which has been a great service to open publishing) has for some reason become more conservative in ways that are hidden and unaccountable. One example is that in 2012 the arxiv started to delay and then refuse my published papers for reasons that were not given. A process whereby decisions are made behind closed doors is not a scientific one and can easily be driven by dogma. This is why I support peer review. It is stern, but fair: the criteria are scientific (fact-based) and openly stated.

A very british analogy would be queuing in a shop. If there's a clear queue of people, then this is fair: the rules are clear, as for peer review. If people are just milling around then it's the dominant or loud people who get served first. The arxiv has chosen the latter model.

http://hixgrid.de/pg/blog/read/4375/james-lovelock-writes-about-the-way-science-is-done-now-

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The modern aeolipile


In the 1st century AD, Hero of Alexandria (or maybe Ctesibius three centuries earlier) invented the aeolipile, which was a hollow ball, full of water, centred on an axle, and it had two outlets twisted like a lawn sprinkler. When he heated the ball, the water inside produced steam, shot out of the pipes and rotated the ball. This is a steam engine producing kinetic energy (motion) from thermodynamics, in the Roman empire! Why was this not pursued to produce an industrial revolution in ancient Rome instead of having to wait nearly 1600 years later for Thomas Savery and the mines of England? The explanation often given is that the Romans had access to unlimited numbers of slaves, so they had no need for newfangled machines, they could get slaves to do the work for them. In other words, instead of using cleverness and being efficient, people often stick to the same paradigm if they can use brute force.

I think the same thing is happening in modern physics. When faced with an inability of Einstein's old theory of general relativity (which demonstrably works well at high accelerations) to model the observed rotation at the edge of galaxies (an extremely low acceleration regime) physicists have been able to use the amazing processing power of modern computers to predict the three-dimensional distribution of invisible (dark) matter needed to make general relativity fit the observed rotation, but they haven't found any dark matter. They are using the brute force of the computer to adjust the data in a complex way to fix the discrepancy, instead of thinking a little differently, just as the Romans used thousands of slaves rather than think a little about the potential of the aeolipile. The problem with the Romans was they let slaves do their work for them, and the problem with modern physics is physicists are letting computers do their thinking for them.

Is there a modern aeolipile: seed of a possible new revolution? Yes, I would say it is the Casimir effect which produces kinetic energy from the zero point field, and MiHsC is the theory that is trying to build from that.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Alternative view of MiHsC

Geoff Robbins, with his blog Artificial Philosophy, has taken the time to understand and write an informed and well-balanced report on MiHsC. It's fascinating, to me, to see a different viewpoint, and I accept his conclusions that MiHsC is as yet a mathematical sketch (on my artistic side I've always been fond of pencil-sketching & cartoons). He also makes the point that MiHsC is not an entire reboot of physics but, of course, builds on and extends the structure that already exists (into the newly explored low acceleration regime). His report can be found here, finished off nicely with a clip of the 'external inertial dampener' scene from Abrams' 2009 Star Trek. Thanks Geoff.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Free at the point of need.


I've just read a Guardian article about GPs (General Practitioners: Doctors) in the UK who are due to vote on the 22nd May in York on whether to charge people for visits: a terrible idea that violates the core philosophy of the UK's National Health Service (NHS). The NHS was formed in 1948 by a UK that was bankrupt, but they had just been through a terrible war and had suffered together so there was a feeling of solidarity so they decreed that everyone should be provided with a safely net, healthcare 'free at the point of need'. This means that all are entitled to it whether rich or poor. Illness is a misfortune and it is right that we should pay taxes and set up a safety net for everyone. This is a brilliant system that has worked very well for 66 years.

The problem is that since 1980, corporations have become more powerful than people in the UK, and have seen that such a nationwide safely net is not profitable for them and have lobbied the UK government to deliberately damage the NHS. Private health companies prefer a model under which people will have to pay them, to live. We already have to pay for gas and electricity, but some people can do without these. They wish to charge us for our life, which we cannot do without. So, for the benefit of these companies, in which they have shares, the government are starving the NHS of funds. The latest manifestation of this is the proposal that GPs should charge £25 pounds for people to visit them. It attacks the principle of the NHS 'free at the point of use' at the very core.

The motive for MPs is that many of them have shares and even positions in private health companies - this is public knowledge. It is also clear that it is the government and not the global crisis. In 2010, two years after the financial crisis, and well into the demographic ageing of the population, the NHS was 1.5 billion in surplus under Labour. Now, after four years of the conservative - libdem coalition it is in trouble. It is directly to do with this government.

What would be the effect of this GP charging? It would produce a situation like dentistry in the UK. People who have to be a little careful with money, the working and middle classes, the 99%, may have a minor medical problem. At the moment, just like the rich, they can get help, and a potentially fatal condition will be resolved well. Under a charging regime though, many of them would delay going to their GP to save money, like many people avoid the dentist, and therefore potential fatal or debilitating diseases will go unnoticed and be treated too late. In other words, as in Victorian times, it would produce a healthy rich elite and an unhealthy underclass. There will be another effect too. If the principle of 'free at the point of need' is destroyed, private companies would be able to charge for other services. Eventually we would have the American system, which is, frankly, so much a disaster, despite Obama recent extension, that one wonders why the Americans put up with it.

I have seen far too much over the last 20 years to doubt that a robbery of 63 million honest people in the UK, by a few rich people with their hands on government, is going ahead, and I believe most educated people in the UK also realise this, but are unsure what to do, since the attacks are coming too often, and combination is slow and difficult. I hope the GPs decide against this proposal, doctors, thank goodness, are compassionate as well as skilled, but if it passes then so too may the fair country I was born into. A country is the people and the system they make for themselves. The world beating system our grandfathers built out of adversity in 1948 is being destroyed by a few rich criminals for profit.

A 38 degrees petition against GP charging is here.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

MiHsC experiment: cold or not?


Over the past few years I have been liaising with someone in the US who is now setting up an experiment to test MiHsC. The plan is to spin a motor at 1 million rpm near to a shielded sensitive balance and see if the increased local acceleration of the disc increases the inertial mass of the test mass on the balance and reduces its sensitivity to the Earth's gravity as predicted by MiHsC. This would appear as a anomalous loss of weight. MiHsC effects appear when the local accelerations change, and to make sure they do, I assumed in some of my previous papers that it was necessary to cool things down first and eliminate the large thermal accelerations (eg: McCulloch, 2011) so that when you accelerate something like a disc the measurable 'change' in acceleration causes observable phenomenon.

Having said that, the first experiment is going to be done warm because cryostats are expensive, and also I'm not 100 percent sure about the cooling. It's puzzling. For example the experiment of Tajmar et al. (2009), where they accelerated a ring and saw anomalous accelerations (that MiHsC predicts well) needed temperatures below 15 Kelvin. The experiment of Podkletnov (MiHsC predicts the part of it that can be quantified) needed temperatures below 70 Kelvin. On the other hand, when MiHsC works to predict galaxy rotation (very well) it is responding to the different large-scale orbital acceleration of stars, ignoring that fact that they are all spinning and have huge thermal accelerations. There was also the experiment of Hayasaka (1997) who dropped a (room temperature) gyroscope and found it fell more slowly, in line with MiHsC, when it was spinning. Admittedly this last experiment could have been wrong, and it only worked for right rotations which is another puzzle that I've been rolling my eyes at, but it's best for sanity to only think about one impossibility at a time!

The best thing to do when unsure about things is to simply ask nature for directions and that is what we are going to do with this experiment.

References:

Hayasaka, H., H. Tanaka and T. Hashida,1997. Spec. in Science and Tech., 20, 173-181.
McCulloch, M.E., 2011. The Tajmar effect from quantised inertia. EPL, 95, 39002.
Podkletnov, E.E., R. Nieminen, 1992.   Physica C, 203, 441-444.
Tajmar, M., F. Plesescu, and B. Seifert, 2009.  J. Phys. Conf. Ser., 150, 032101.