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

Friday, 26 August 2016

Dragonfly 44: a fudge too far.

Yesterday, a few people online kindly sent me the news that a galaxy called Dragonfly 44 has been found apparently containing 99.99% of the so-called 'dark matter' (see reference). Many, for example Sean Carroll, said that this supports the dark matter hypothesis. However, in reality it worsens the outlook for dark matter, which has to be added in different ad hoc amounts to each galaxy, in huge amounts to this one, and so it further supports MiHsC which works for all galaxies without any arbitrary tuning needed...

For each separate galaxy they find, the darkmatterists have to add dark matter in different amounts, 90% for the Milky Way, 99% for dwarf satellite galaxies, 99.99% for this one. This number is arbitrary, they chose it incestuously to make general relativity work for the data, and it has no reason behind it except to save GR. That means that the dark matter hypothesis is not only not falsifiable (you can look for dark matter for ever), it is also not predictive. Given the visible light distribution, dark matter cannot predict the velocity of stars. So dark matter is a bit like Peeves at Hogwarts: useless, but you can't get rid of him.

In contrast MoND and quantised inertia / MiHsC are both predictive. Given the visible mass M (it's best to base theories on visible stuff) MoND says the stellar velocity is v=(GMa0)^1/4 (a0 is a fitting parameter) and MiHsC says v=(2GMc^2/Hubblescale)^1/4 (no fitting parameter, and a slighly higher velocity, see equation below) and both predict the velocity dispersion of Dragonfly 44 within the uncertainty and without the need for any dark matter.

The important advantage of MiHsC over MoND is that MiHsC has no adjustability, at all! MoND was an inspiration for me, but it is not a theory, it is an empirical formula that happens to fit galaxy rotation if you 'tune' the adjustable parameter a0 against the data, so it is not surprising that it fits the data, because it has been fitted to it. The parameter a0 has no 'physical reason'. MoND is a bit like an engineering formula with its tune-able a0. In contrast MiHsC has been derived from first principles, says the velocity has to be one value with no tuning possible, and every parameter in the MiHsC formula below is known from observation and is there for a good physical reason, so it is remarkable that it works on all galaxies including Dragonfly 44:

In this way MiHsC resembles special relativity in that there is no arbitrariness about it, no input numbers, but it will need input from better mathematicians than me to properly describe higher order effects due to the interaction of quantum waves with relativistic horizons or cavities.

A loose analogy to this crisis in astrophysics would be holding a competition to see who can make a shoe to fit a foot they've only seen from a distance (like a theory that must predict galaxy rotation from observed quantities to be useful). Shoemaker 1 comes with his shoe, says 'It fits', but you see nothing. 'It's invisible!' he says (GR and dark matter). Shoemaker 2 comes with a shoe that has an adjustable strap and he adjusts the strap to fit it (MoND). This is better. Then shoemaker 3 comes with one unadjustable shoe, and it fits (MiHsC). Obviously, the third shoemaker is the best one.

I cannot emphasise enough the difference between tunable theories like dark matter, and to a lesser extent MoND, and a non-tunable theory like MiHsC. Only a non-tunable theory gives a real understanding of the physics.

References

van Dokkum, P., 2016. A High Stellar Velocity Dispersion and ~100 Globular Clusters for the Ultra Diffuse Galaxy Dragonfly 44. http://arxiv.org/abs/1606.06291

McCulloch, M.E., 2012. Testing quantised inertia on galactic scales. Astrophys. & Sp.Sci., 342 (2), 575-578. http://arxiv.org/abs/1207.7007

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Emperor's Naked!

Karl Popper made a statements that should by engraved above the entrance to every proud physics department:

"A theory can never be proven, but it can be falsified, meaning that it can and should be scrutinized by decisive experiments. If the outcome of an experiment contradicts the theory, one should refrain from ad hoc manoeuvres that evade the contradiction merely by making it less falsifiable."

In 1915 Einstein finished general relativity and this theory has been successful in regimes where the acceleration is high (such is in the inner Solar system and close-orbiting binary stars. Then in 1933 (by Fritz Zwicky) and in 1980 (by Vera Rubin) it was found that galaxies were orbiting so fast at their low-acceleration edges that, if they had any decency at all, they should explode centrifugally. Yet they don't: they generally persist in sensible bound/round shapes.

This means that most of the observed cosmos, the bit with a low acceleration, does not agree with general relativity. The theory has been hugely falsified, but tell that to a mainstream physicist at a conference (I have done) and you'll be pigeon-holed in a category somewhere below holocaust denier and they'll walk away in disgust. Speaking objectively, given GR's failure with 90% of the data, you can either claim that general relativity is wrong, and invent a new theory (for example I have suggested MiHsC, which reduces the outward centrifugal force in galaxies) or you can claim that there is a huge amount of invisible matter holding the galaxy together by gravity: dark matter.

There are several reasons why it is obvious that the problem is a failure of theory and not due to dark matter:

1) The galactic problems always start at a radius where the acceleration goes below about 10^-10 m/s^2 which is also the cosmic acceleration, so it is obviously linked (in a way that MiHsC explains simply).

2) Globular clusters and wide binary stars, which are far too small to have any dark matter, also show the same anomaly, starting at the same critical acceleration.

3) Many other well known anomalies, eg: cosmic acceleration, the low-l CMB anomaly, the flyby anomaly, the Pioneer anomaly, Tajmar's spinning disc results, the emdrive and the proton radius puzzle are all consistent with the galactic rotation anomaly if you look within the framework of MiHsC.

4) Dark matter is just a mess. It needs huge amount of new matter to be added in an ad hoc way and it also needs new physics to keep it spread out in a galactic halo.

5) There is no evidence for dark matter even after 40 years of very expensive looking.

6) Philosophically: dark matter defends a theory (GR) that failed to predict galaxy rotation properly, by inventing an ad hoc manoeuvre that makes it less falsifiable (see Popper's warning above). If a theory uses an ad hoc fix that is, even worse: as vague as a bad politician's promises, then beware!

As a result of these points I'm amazed that the rest of physics is spending most of its money (each dark matter detector is on the order of $100 million dollars) to defend general relativity by looking for dark matter and almost no-one is challenging the theory. I agree the dark matter option should have been looked at, a null result, like Michelson and Morley's is useful, but it must be in proportion to other options. Instead dark matter is tacitly assumed in journal papers and magazines articles, and there are even dark matter conferences which are inherently unscientific, since they pre-assume the solution they're looking for!

As Popper suggested, instead of trying to defend the status quo, it has always been more effective to attack the prevailing theory. It is easy to attack general relativity since the counter-evidence is already plentiful (see above), so why don't they?

After ten tears of fighting it, I think the obsession with dark matter is like the age-old story of the Emperor's new clothes. People are told that only the cleverest can see the clothes (dark matter), so everyone of course says that they can see them when the Emperor goes on walkabout awarding post-doc positions, but eventually some idiot comes along and says 'Ho Ho The Emperor's Naked!' and the spell is broken. Well, I'm willing to be the idiot, and I have suggested MiHsC, and, although I say it myself, MiHsC is far more successful than GR, absolutely beautiful and simple in form, joins quantum mechanics and special relativity for the first time, and offers a new way to get energy and propulsion (by learning to put horizons in the zero point field). Since we're talking about invisible fashions, it seems appropriate to quote Coco Chanel:

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Honey, I Shrunk the Proton!

Standard physics is having an increasingly embarrassing time. It failed to predict the galaxy rotation problem, then cosmic acceleration, both just about the biggest anomalies you could imagine, representing 96% of the whole cosmos. These embarrassments have been hidden under the carpet with the fudges of dark matter and dark energy (whereas MiHsC predicts the embarrassments). There have been other anomalies too: the low-l CMB anomaly, the alignment of quasars, the spacecraft flyby anomaly, the Tajmar effect, the emdrive (all of which MiHsC predicts), but these anomalies have mostly been ignored by the mainstream who are focusing on the internal consistency of a standard model ever more at odds with nature (Rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic). However, now comes an anomaly (the proton radius puzzle) that is so central to the standard model that it will be impossible for them to ignore.

The proton radius is well predicted by the standard model as 0.88x10^-15m and has been measured as such for many years. You can measure it by bouncing electrons off the hydrogen nucleus (a proton) or by firing lasers at electrons orbiting the nucleus in their circular train tracks (to use the simplified Bohr model) and seeing how far they jump between tracks, a jump that depends on the proton charge radius because of the Lamb shift (an effect of the quantum vacuum).

In 2010 a group at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland decided to see what would happen if they made a hydrogen atom, replacing the electron with its overweight twin the muon (identical to the electron, except 200 times heavier). The advantage of using a heavier muon was that it orbits much closer to the proton thus allowing a more accurate result when they track the maths back to predict the proton radius. To their surprise the muon jumped a bit more than expected between its orbital levels and the equations leading back to the proton radius implied it was 0.84x10^-15m: 4% smaller than before (this was confirmed in 2013 and 2016, see Pohl et al. below). This is an anomaly seven times larger than the uncertainty in the original proton radius measurement (a so-called 7 sigma anomaly), so it constitutes a significant discovery.

The trouble, or rather the opportunity, here is that there is nothing in the standard model to allow for a proton to shrink in the close presence of a muon. Cue MiHsC? I'm now reveling in the summer research period and I've just submitted two theoretical papers on MiHsC, one of them predicting the electron mass and showing that tight orbits can release mass-energy in a new way, accounting for gravity for example. It is interesting that this proton radius anomaly is wrapped up in the Lamb shift, a quantum vacuum effect. MiHsC is also a quantum vacuum effect.

References:

Accessible report about it by John Timmer, Ars Technica: Report

 A more technical arxiv summary: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1502.05314v1.pdf

Latest paper by Pohl et al., 2016. Science.  http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6300/669