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Mass and gravity originating from the quantum vacuum

  1. Sep 16, 2010 #1
    Following are some fascinating ideas (to me anyway) on the origin of mass and gravity from the quantum vacuum....have these ideas been dissected here in the forums before?? A superficial search did not turn up anything. Comments/criticisms??? Other threads??

    Tentative outline of a research program on the nature of mass originating in the quantum vacuum

    http://www.calphysics.org/mass.html (also at this site is a nice summary of "Origin of the de Broglie wavelength"

    The zero-point fluctuations of the electromagnetic quantum vacuum may be approximated as a continuous flow of energy: randomly-phased plane-waves in the representation of stochastic electrodynamics (SED). Since the flow of radiation is on average the same in all directions, there is no net flux of energy or momentum as perceived by an observer in an inertial frame. However an accelerating observer will experience an asymmetry. Acceleration through the quantum vacuum results in the appearance of an electromagnetic effect -- a cousin of the well-known Unruh-Davies radiation -- whose strength is proportional to acceleration.

    [STATUS: SED theory well developed since 1960s. See Rueda & Haisch (1998) papers on the Poynting vector of the zero-point fluctuations on the Scientific Articles page. See also SLAC physicist Pisin Chen's proposed experiment to measure Unruh-Davies radiation using an ultra-high-intensity laser (Chen and Tajima, Phys. Rev. Lett., 83, 256, 1999).]

    (2) REST MASS: E=mc2
    A fundamental particle may be an intrinsically massless thing of some sort (string? spacetime deformation or singularity?) which continuously interacts with the quantum vacuum. Buffeted by the zero-point fluctuations of the electromagnetic quantum vacuum, a particle exhibits Brownian-like motion which Schroedinger named "zitterbewegung" (quivering motion). A tiny bit of the quantum vacuum energy is diverted into the kinetic energy of this zitterbewegung. We suggest that this is the origin of E=mc2 for a particle. If true, there would be no physically distinct mc2. The physically real thing would be only the energy, E, associated with the zitterbewegung of the particle. In this view there is no need for any magic, mysterious conversion of mass into energy and vice versa. One could think of a particle as a localized concentration of zero-point energy which gravitates and resists acceleration for the reasons given below... no traditional "mass" needed.
    [STATUS: Zitterbewegung and its connection to the zero-point fluctuations is well-developed. See for example the monograph by de la Pena and Cetto: "The Quantum Dice" (Kluwer 1996). The E=mc2 interpretation needs development. See H. E. Puthoff, Phys. Rev. A, 39, 2333, 1989.]

    Consistent with (2), inertial mass may also not be a physically real, innate property of matter. What we traditionally (since Newton's Principia) think of as inertial mass would in reality be a resistance of the quantum vacuum to acceleration. The fundamental particles (quarks and electrons) in an accelerating object interact with the electromagnetic quantum vacuum, whereby a drag force is generated that is proportional to acceleration. This could be the origin of F=ma. We refer to this as the quantum vacuum inertia hypothesis.
    [STATUS: Well developed hypothesis. See numerous papers on Scientific Articles page.]

    As a consequence of (2) the greater the number of fundamental particles in a given volume of space, the greater the energy deficit of the electromagnetic quantum vacuum (since more of it is diverted into zitterbewegung). This may create an asymmetry in the energy-momentum flow of the zero-point fluctuations (in the SED representation). In other words a Newtonian gravitational field or a general relativistic curvature of spacetime produced by mass may in actuality be manifestations of a quantum vacuum energy asymmetry.
    [STATUS: Tentative hypothesis. Need to reconcile this in detail with general relativistic spacetime curvature produced by mass-energy. See also a recent attempt to develop the polarizable vacuum gravitation perspective.]

    A particle at a fixed distance above a gravitating body such as a planet, will experience a downward force as a consequence of (4). This would be the origin of the force which we traditionally have called weight.
    [STATUS: See Gravity and the Quantum Vacuum Inertia Hypothesis, Rueda & Haisch, Annalen der Physik, 2005.]

    Inertial mass and gravitational mass may be identical because they have an identical source process. Acceleration through the quantum vacuum and being held stationary in a gravitional field in which the electromagnetic quantum vacuum, being radiation, falls past on curved geodesics are, after all, identical processes.
    [STATUS: See Gravity and the Quantum Vacuum Inertia Hypothesis, Rueda & Haisch, Annalen der Physik, 2005.]
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2010 #2


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    Here is a nice backgrounder as why perhaps not to take this too seriously just yet...


    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  4. Sep 17, 2010 #3
    Who would have thought back in the 1920's a patent clerk, denigrated by some of his professors, (called a "lazy dog" by one) who was unable to obtain a teaching position would shortly thereafter revolutionize science?

    I find the idea of vacuum energy powering mass and gravity interesting because so far as I have been able to tell, all mainstream science MAY have connected to vacuum energy so far is possibly powering the big bang, maybe cosmic expansion, maybe creating virtual particles, and maybe Unruh effect. So on the surface the above ideas hardly seem as crazy as psace and time being variable....so I'm simply wondering if these ideas have any theoretical basis, any mathematical underpinninggs, any experimental evidence.

    For example:
    doesn't sound outrageous, well no more so than the Unruh effect which is itself hard to believe at first, but may be pure idle speculation or a well studied and so far viable new insight....
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2010
  5. Sep 17, 2010 #4
    This is wrong on so many levels. First of all, please forget about Einstein already, ok? It happened once 100 years ago, it's not the rule, it's the exception. And also Einstein didn't revolutionize physics because he was a poor little clerk. People didn't say hey, who would've thought back in the 1820's a miller, who only spent one year in school, would come up with a pretty neat thing? Einstein revolutionized physics because his theory was right.

    As for this theory, what about QED? Is QED wrong? Did we miss something, if it's somehow capable of generating mass/gravity? QED is very low energy, we computed everything humanly imaginable about QED, it's all correct, nothing unaccounted for.
    All these theories relating EM with gravity/mass strike me as the work of someone who never got past 10th grade physics.

    And what about GR? Can he get black holes in his theory? Can he compute the BH entropy?

    This sounds like some sort of Brownian stuff which creates everything. Ok, fine. Why should gravity waves move at the speed of light? If they don't, well, funny you brought Einstein as an example..
  6. Sep 18, 2010 #5
    funny rant....but not humorous...

    clearly it isn't right....

    From Kip Thorne:
    "It is remarkable that Einstein was led, not by experiment, but by philosophical and aesthetic
    arguments, to reject the incorporation of gravity into special relativity [Eqs. (24.2)
    and (24.3) above], and insist instead on describing gravity by curved spacetime. Only after
    the full formulation of his general relativity did experiments begin to confirm that he
    was right and that the advocates of special-relativistic gravity were wrong, and only more
    than 50 years after general relativity was formulated did the experimental evidence become
    extensive and strong. For detailed discussions see, e.g., Will (1981, 1986), and Part 9 of
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2010
  7. Sep 21, 2010 #6
    I've been casually looking around trying to find out what is known about vacuum energy...zero point energy...and it seems like "not much". I've skimmed a dozen or so books from mainstream authors....Brian Greene, Lee Smolin, Kaku,etc and haven't found much insight yet....

    Wikipedia seems to point out a number of theoretical obstacles/inconsistencies here:

    Seems like even dark energy and the cosmological constant relationship the vacuum energy is a bit uncertain.

    And here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stochastic_Electrodynamics

    Wiki has the following on researchers mentioned in my original post:

    When I first read the site information in the original post above, I wondered if any of the ideas could be related to string theory.....what is the origin of energy for string vibrations??
    anybody have a reference for such a theory???
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2010
  8. Sep 21, 2010 #7
    Penrose: nothing clear cut and unambiguous...

    Roger Penrose in THE ROAD TO REALITY discusses vacuum polarization and its apparent effect in reducing the measured charge of an electron....to a "dressed" value....and then goes on to discuss that the "actual bare charge" is calculated to be infinite...then goes into several pages about renormalization and "philosophical" differences among various physicsts...all this is around 26.9, in my edition pages 676-679....anyway as I read his comments, he also is reflecting lots of ambiguity here about vacuum calculations and effects.

    So the theoretical effects of vacuum energy on electron charge appear uncertain....

    For those interested, Feynman graphs for virtual particle interactions are discussed over a few subsequent pages by Penrose and also mentioned in the Wikipedia references in my previous post....
  9. Sep 21, 2010 #8
    What does that have to do with the origin of mass? The renormalization of the bare charge of the electron has been perfectly understood for several decades and has been computed exactly to an impressive accuracy.
  10. Sep 22, 2010 #9
    Perhaps to you, but as I read Penrose, the theoretical underpinnings for such vacuum calculations are NOT agreed upon by all. [Renormalization is perhaps a TRICK????] But maybe I misinterpret what Penrose writes. I provide the source so others can decide for themselves.

    I referenced the Penrose discussion because I believed it to illustrate general theoretical differences among experts about vacuum energy calculations...if one or more aspects are not well understood or if there are theoretical differences, that's relevant I think to guys trying to develop mass.momentum and so forth from that vacuum ...

    For example, the cosmological constant, and more recently dark energy, appear to be aspects of the vacuum that are not uniformly understood....hence it seems to a novice like me that all the hipper dipper in my original post (#1) would be up against some formidable theoretical ambiguties....Alternatively, if those ideas from Post #1 were based on agreed upon calculational results, they might well provide insights or hints on aspects of vacuum energy not currently understood.

    If Bill Unruh and John Baez don't think Haisch and Rueda's calculations are correct it would seem their potentially neat concepts are not firmly founded so far....
    so I pretty much answered my own question....
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2010
  11. Sep 23, 2010 #10
    Due to Haisch and Puthoff the vacuum consists of virtual particles-antiparticles.
    This vacuum energy has its relativistic mass which explains the Dark Matter effect. In a strong acceleration (close to Black Hole, colision in accelerators) the virtual pair is divided and the real particle and antiparticle with their mass are created.

    It doesn't agrees with General Relativity because there is an empty space with its changing metric. Quantum gravity suggests not empty space. I think GR describes the effects but doesn't explain the cause.
    If quantum gravity is due to Haisch theory ?
  12. Sep 23, 2010 #11
    Why doesn't it surprise me that both Haisch and Puthoff also worked on paranormal stuff...
  13. Sep 24, 2010 #12
    What a kind of the paranormal ?
    Could you show a link ?
    It would be important for a context.
  14. Sep 24, 2010 #13
    That's what I read on wikipedia. Apparently one is also interested in UFO's and the other is a scientologist.
  15. Sep 27, 2010 #14
    negru: YOU are apparently out of the liberal/world government 'mainstream' (pun intended):

    UN 'to appoint space ambassador to greet alien visitors'

    A space ambassador could be appointed by the United Nations to act as the first point of contact for aliens trying to communicate with Earth.


    However, one commentator pointed out the UN would be an inapprpriate location for aliens to seek "intelligent life" here on plant earth.
  16. Oct 6, 2010 #15
    I ignore if I am wellcome anywhere on that forum. Let me tell my feeling concerning this thread. If I understand the spirit of the discussion here you say that researching mass and gravity originating from the quantum vacuum is like to make science fiction or a too sensible item (not for amateurs): Do I understand correctly?
  17. Oct 6, 2010 #16
    Can't say I read any of the papers, but here's my guiding principle: if someone finds a trivial and primitive solution to a deep problem, it's pretty likely wrong, so I personally wouldn't bother with it. But that's just me.

    Does this mean I could be potentially missing out on a revolutionary theory, that uses only sticks and basic calculus to solve all the mysteries of the universe? Maybe, but if all the methods and mathematics used were available to einstein, dirac, feynman, hilbert, witten, etc, and all of them missed it, I'm fine with that company.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2010
  18. Oct 7, 2010 #17
    Einstein, Feinmann, Witten, Wheeler did search for a deeper cause of the gravity and mass. They thought it has to do with a quantum information but how to confirm it ?
    How it is possible that we transform an energy into the electron-positron pair ?
    Is it possible without an encoded information of the physics laws and constants ? Is that information in the energy or in the space encoded ?
  19. Oct 7, 2010 #18
    I agree with your guiding principle. But one should also say that a great number of the actual tools were not available to Einstein, Dirac... That means: the mathematical situation was always simplest before their intervention than after! In comparison we have actually to learn and manage quite more complicated tools than Einstein had to do and was unable to work with.
    That perhaps also means: basic, pragmatic and rationalistic ideas are the first necessary ingredients to deveop a new theory. If the mathematical tools to develop these ideas further exist, then its ok!
  20. Oct 13, 2010 #19
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