Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Theory Of Mass

Technology Review has a review of the mass question and presents a possible new theory.
The equivalence principle is one of the more fascinating ideas in modern science. It asserts that gravitational mass and inertial mass are identical. Einstein put it like this: the gravitational force we experience on Earth is identical to the force we would experience were we sitting in a spaceship accelerating at 1g. Newton might have said that the m in F=ma is the same as the ms in F=Gm1m2/r^2.

This seems eminently sensible. And yet it is no more than an assertion. Sure, we can measure the equivalence with ever increasing accuracy but there is nothing to stop us thinking that at some point the relationship will break down. Indeed several modifications to relativity predict that it will.

One important question is what quantum mechanics has to say on the matter. But physicists have so far been unable to use quantum theory as a lever to tease apart the behaviour of inertial and gravitational mass.

All that changes today with the extraordinary work of Endre Kajari at the University of Ulm in Germany and a few buddies. They show how it is possible to create situations in the quantum world in which the effects of inertial and gravitational mass must be different. In fact, they show that these differences can be arbitrarily large.

Their thinking begins by pointing out the important distinction between kinematics, which is concerned purely with motion not how it arises, and dynamics which focuses on the origin of motion. In the classical world, this has no bearing on the effects of inertial and gravitational mass.
There is way more. Go and read it all.

The Inertia Question

This blog is dedicated to getting research done and reporting the results on the questions posed in Chapter 28 of Book 2 of The Feynman Lectures on Physics.

The title of that Chapter is Electromagnetic Mass. And what do you know? There is a wiki page called Electromagnetic Mass.

Those questions are over 100 years old. They are still open. I'd like to close them as best as we can. If the theories of some physicists are correct it should be possible to develop a reaction force without expending mass (rockets). That would make high speed space travel very economical. If enough force could be generated we might even be able to lift off from earth without rockets. Now wouldn't that be nice?

And suppose several different experiments are tried and results are obtained and the results are null? We will have learned something very important and may thus have to revise our conception of the universe or at least fine tune it.

I am soliciting Researchers, Research Proposals, Papers, Funding reports, Funding sources, Parts Donations, "Industry" Gossip (No ad homs - save those for the comments. I have certain minimal standards to uphold, although particularly vile comments will be deleted if I find them. My judgment on the matter is final. So if you post a really nasty comment that you particularly enjoy. Save a copy.), Schematics (use the Tiny CAD software if you want to share the data), etc.

Besides my research goals what are my monetary goals? My guess is that each experiment would cost on the order of $300,000 per year for parts, labor, lab space, etc. I think about 5 experiments with different designs would answer the general question. Then we have an engineering review if the outcome is positive and come up with a road map for further development.

I'd like to further say that I want to see any patents obtained from this research to be available for a reasonable licensing fee. Radio really took off when RCA was formed as a patent combine. Remember the first rule of business: Don't Scare Off The Customers.

And one final thing - if you know of any useful pdfs please leave a url in the comments or send me an e-mail. I want to add resources like that to the sidebar.