On Thu, Oct 06, 2005 at 08:08:13PM -0400, Jesse Mazer wrote:
> This idea looks like it's pretty similar to LeSage's "pushing gravity" 
> theory--there's an article on it at 
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LeSage_gravity which points out fatal flaws in 
> the the idea. It's also discussed in the second chapter of Richard 
> Feynman's "The Character of Physical Law", I'll quote the relevant section 
> here:


Very interesting. I had heard of this theory a couple of decades ago,
but never new who originated it. Interestingly, something similar is
being revived by Rueda and Haisch. see arXiv:gr-qc/0504061. I quote a
recent New Scientist article on the topic:

"WHERE mass comes from is one of the deepest mysteries of nature. Now a
controversial theory suggests that mass comes from the interaction of
matter with the quantum vacuum that pervades the universe.

"The theory was previously used to explain inertial mass - the property
of matter that resists acceleration - but it has been extended to
gravitational mass, which is the property of matter that feels the tug
of gravity.

"For decades, mainstream opinion has held that something called the
Higgs field gives matter its mass, mediated by a particle called the
Higgs boson. But no one has yet seen the Higgs boson, despite
considerable time and money spent looking for it in particle

"In the 1990s, Alfonso Rueda of California State University in Long
Beach and Bernard Haisch, who was then at the California Institute for
Physics and Astrophysics in Scotts Valley and is now with ManyOne
Networks, suggested that a very different kind of field known as the
quantum vacuum might be responsible for mass. This field, which is
predicted by quantum theory, is the lowest energy state of space-time
and is made of residual electromagnetic vibrations at every point in
the universe. It is also called a zero-point field and is thought to
manifest itself as a sea of virtual photons that continually pop into
and out of existence.  ?If particles are at rest, then the net effect
of this jiggling is zero, but an accelerating particle would
experience a net force?

"Rueda and Haisch argued that charged matter particles such as
electrons and quarks are unceasingly jiggled around by the zero-point
field. If they are at rest, or travelling at a constant speed with
respect to the field, then the net effect of all this jiggling is
zero: there is no force acting on the particle. But if a particle is
accelerating, their calculations in 1994 showed that it would
encounter more photons from the quantum vacuum in front than behind it
(see Diagram). This would result in a net force pushing against the
particle, giving rise to its inertial mass (Physical Review A, vol 49,
p 678).

But this work only explained one type of mass. Now the researchers say
that the same process can explain gravitational mass. Imagine a
massive body that warps the fabric of space-time around it. The object
would also warp the zero-point field such that a particle in its
vicinity would encounter more photons on the side away from the object
than on the nearer side. This would result in a net force towards the
massive object, so the particle would feel the tug of gravity. This
would be its gravitational mass, or weight (Annalen der Physik, vol
14, p 479).  ?If they could come up with a prediction, people would
take notice. We're all looking for something we can measure?

"Rueda and Haisch say this demonstrates the equivalence of inertial
and gravitational mass - something that Einstein argued for in his
theory of general relativity. "In place of having the particle
accelerate through the zero-point field, you have the zero-point field
accelerating past the particle," says Haisch. "So the generation of
weight is the same as the generation of inertial mass."

"The idea is far from winning wide acceptance. To begin with, there's a
conundrum about the zero-point field that needs to be solved. The
total energy contained in the field is staggeringly large - enough to
warp space-time and make the universe collapse in a
heartbeat. Obviously this is not happening. Also, the pair's work can
only account for the mass of charged particles.

"Nobel laureate Sheldon Glashow of Boston University is
dismissive. "This stuff, as Wolfgang Pauli would say, is not even
wrong," he says. But physicist Paul Wesson of Stanford University in
California says Rueda and Haisch's unorthodox approach shows promise,
though he adds that the theory needs to be backed up by experimental
evidence. "If Haisch [and Rueda] could come up with a concrete
prediction, then that would make people sit up and take notice," he
says. "We're all looking for something we can measure."

Journal reference: Annalen der Physik (vol 14, p 479)

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