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7ANOTHER APPROACH TO THE CAUSE OF INERTIA
Gregory V. Meholic*
Hermosa Beach, California, 90254
Greg.V.Meholic@aero.org
ABSTRACT
There have been a number of theoretical and experimental attempts to identify the source of inertia and/or produce mass fluctuations in order to develop an approach to spacecraft mass attenuation for the purpose of interstellar flight. At present, there are three leading explanations for how inertia is generated by matter. One is that it results from quantumscale electromagnetic fluctuations in the zeropoint field, another claims that it is a unique property of all mass energy that remains independent of the environment, and the last is based on the attractive force from distant matter in the universe. A fourth explanation is given here submitting that inertia is caused by the time lag effects of the spacetime medium to react to a moving gravitational source (mass). In short, when a body changes its state of motion, the local spacetime has a delayed reaction in which it fills in the gravity well where the body was a moment before and simultaneously provides a resistive force ahead. The combined effect is that the body experiences a pull in the direction opposite motion, feeling the force we call inertia. This idea also has some interesting implications on the nature of spacetime, string theory, gravity waves and the existence of gravitons. Inertia mitigation techniques based on these concepts are also proposed for highvelocity space travel.
INTRODUCTION
Long ago, Isaac Newton accurately observed that every mass in the universe has a resistance to changes in its motion. In conjunction with his 2nd and 3rd Laws of Motion, he quantified this mysterious resistance force as a fundamental behavior of mass and an inherent characteristic of any system involving moving objects that change direction or velocity. Inertia, as it has come to be called, has been around ever since the dawn of the universe and is a key contributor in the dynamics of moving objects. But why does it happen and where does it come from?
Modern theories in astrophysics and quantum physics have allowed new approaches to answer these and many other questions inconceivable in earlier times. The sudden interest in inertia stems primarily from the advanced space propulsion physics communities where topics like mass fluctuations and gravitons are discussed in order to pave the way towards developing highlyenergetic propulsion systems. The idea is that if the source of inertia can be found, ways to mitigate or reduce it might then be developed so that the extraordinary spacecraft accelerations generated by these advanced engines would not compromise crew welfare or spacecraft integrity.
Although the current thoughts on the source of inertia cover a number of possible arenas, a new one emerges from the work presented here. A caveat must be introduced stating that the following concepts are
* Aerospace Engineer, AIAA Senior Member
Copyright 2002 by Gregory V. Meholic. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. with permission.
speculative in nature, but are founded upon modern, scientific observations and discoveries to support them in a consistent manner. Because of their early stage of development, they have yet to yield the mathematics and experiments necessary to validate them (despite the supporting evidence) and simply suggest a different way of looking at what science already knows. The purpose of this review is to put forth these ideas so that they get properly assessed of their potential contribution to the search for this mysterious force.
Along with summarizing the current ideas behind the source of inertia, this paper will bring a new concept to light that explains the phenomena in familiar terms. Following some basic definitions, the proposed source of inertia will be described as well as some interesting characteristics of spacetime. The new ideas also have applications in other disciplines such as particle physics, quantum mechanics and string theory, where gravity waves and gravitons will be addressed. Approaches to mitigating or circumventing inertia for space travel will be discussed followed by recommendations for future research.
Current Concepts
At present, there are three leading avenues of thought regarding the source of inertia. Each is only summarized here but are explained in more detail by Woodward1. The first is that inertia may simply be a unique property of mass energy formed by exotic particle interactions when motion is imparted to a mass system. Second, inertia could be the result of quantumscale electromagnetic fluctuations in the zeropoint field (ZPF) possibly from the influence of gravitons, the as yet undiscovered forcecarrying particles of gravity. And third, inertia may be an effect of the gravitational forces from distant matter in the universe acting on all matter at the same time. Although Woodward explains the likelihood of each as a possible source1, there seem to be two categories into which current ideas for inertia can fall: either it is a unique property of mass or some sort of particlefield interaction. Although these genres are being actively researched (mathematically and empirically1,3,8) in an attempt to conclusively identify which one is more correct, there is a third category not covered by the current concepts which may yield compelling results.
Instead of being a property of mass or particle interactions, inertia could be the natural response of spacetime to a moving gravitational source completely independent of particles, energy fields or the ZPF. Is this to say that gravity and inertia are the same type of force? The simple yet confusing answer is that they are not so much the same as they are intimately related  one is the resultant effect of the other. According to the work presented here, gravity can exist without inertia but inertia can not exist without gravity. To better understand what this means, though, let us start with the basics by looking at what gravity is and how it is created as theorized by an alternative definition of spacetime.
SPACETIME AND GRAVITY:
THE TRISPACE BASICS
In order for the forthcoming approach of inertia to make sense, an expanded definition of spacetime according to Meholic2 needs to be postulated. Figure 1 shows the trispace model of the universe where two realms of space are separated by what can be called spacetime. The two, coexisting, primary spaces are governed by radically different sets of physical laws (one sublight and the other superlight2), but independently permit the existence of real, positive mass and electromagnetic (EM) energies such as waves
and particles. Spacetime, on the other hand, is the
Fig. 1. Segment of TriSpace universe
fundamental, universal medium that supports the existence and temporal progression of these energies, and behaves, for the most part, as a semipermeable barrier between the two spaces. Although certain varieties of energy can theoretically be transmitted through spacetime from one space to the other, mass energy can exist in only one space at a given location. This isnt just a simple way of satisfying the no two masses can exist at the same point at the same time issue, but is a result of the makeup of spacetime and how different types of energy change its topography.
From the trispace perspective, the spacetime medium is composed of strings, superstrings, loops and strands of quantum energies that are all meshed together in a cosmic fabric per se. This infinite sea of strings surrounds every mass in the universe and fills every point in between. The dynamics within its depths and how these imperceptible entities combine to form various species of energy is well beyond the scope of this paper, but is of great interest to string theorists and is, in some ways, explained by trispace. The endless realm of spacetime is in constant motion and is the foundation for every known physical process and phenomena mankind has observed thus far.
As mentioned earlier, spacetime keeps the two adjacent spaces separated and filters energies passing from one side to the other. Having spacetime act as a membrane, or brane for short, between two universes has recently been theorized4. One concept that differentiates the trispace view from stringbased cosmology, however, is that spacetime, for all of its infinite vastness, is proposed to have a true thickness instead of an infinite thinness. This thickness is often described as the zeropoint field (ZPF) or quantum vacuum. Despite the concept of multifaceted universes existing within the ultrathin brane that could contain as many as 11 dimensions or more4,5, trispace boils them down to four: two dimensions of size, one of time and one of depth into the thickness of spacetime. Another distinguishing, trispace concept is that, because of its thickness, spacetime exhibits properties that are surprisingly simple and familiar enough to explain many mysterious details about the small fraction of the universe science has observed. The measurable depth of the thickness mentioned above has yet to be determined, but the sensitivity of spacetime to perturbations implies that it is indeed quite thin. The depictions in the figures to follow are, therefore, certainly not to scale, but are adequate cartoons to convey the ideas.
A wellknown example of spacetime dynamics is how it changes in the presence of mass. We call it gravity. To help visualize what is happening, spacetime has often been represented as a twodimensional plane whose curves and warps can be classically characterized according to Minkowskis and Einsteins equations. Mass energy perturbs spacetime such that it sits at the center of a dent (Figure 2). All other masses in the same space will have a tendency to fall in towards the dent if caught in the curvature, thus experiencing the attractive force of gravity. But even this universallyaccepted view, albeit undeniably true and undisputed, opens up new avenues regarding the fundamental behavior and characteristics of spacetime. The trispace view, for instance, permits the supposition that spacetime has quasifluidic properties. Those related to both gravity and inertia will be discussed accordingly.
EMBED PBrush
Fig. 2. Spacetime gravity dent created by mass
Before gravity can be further explored, an important concept to address is that spacetime also has what could be called a surface on which all forms of EM radiation and energies reside (Figure 1). It is created at the defined boundary between mass energy and the spacetime medium, supporting the wellknown claim that mass is a different phase of energy. As with sound, the speed at which EM moves along the surface is governed by the overall density of the medium, in this case, the combination of the permittivity and permeability of free space, which together define the speed of light. On the surface, space and time, mass and energy are indistinguishable from one another. The surface has a natural tendency to remain flat and unperturbed, supporting the recent observations that the universe is indeed flat, not curved as early modern physicists had originally thought6. Because spacetime is extremely sensitive to disturbances, however, the level of flatness is greatest only at extraordinary distances, such as those between stars and galaxies. This ideal reference flatness represents undisturbed spacetime and is the condition to which all spacetime perturbations resolve to achieve.
When enough energy collects to form mass, the surface deviates from its reference flatness in a curvature that determines how other local masses or energies will interact (Figure 3). The degree and direction of the distortion creates what we know as gravity, which can be measured in this model as the slope of the spacetime surface with respect to the reference flatness. Science currently knows that it is an attractive force acting upon every mass in the universe dependent on mass, distance and the gravitational constant, G, which is essentially a measure of how spacetime is curved by the presence of mass energy. The curvature is sometimes referred to as a gravity well and is thought to radiate energy in the form of a gravitational field. It is the weakest of the four fundamental forces, being easily overpowered by the two nuclear forces and the electromagnetic force. In contrast to the other three forces, however, gravity acts over the largest distance, holding earth in orbit about the sun and binding superclusters of galaxies together. The equations that characterize gravity are sufficiently different from those of the other forces to prevent a theory (or equation) that unites them all. And while the other forces can be quantified by both a distinct wave equation and a carrier particle, those for gravity have been the most challenging to identify.
Fig. 3. Gravity force (gradient) as determined by the slope of the spacetime surface
Gravitys uniqueness becomes apparent with the trispace view of nature. If we look at the active realm for each fundamental force, the definition of the spacetime surface proposes that the nuclear and electromagnetic forces occur on the surface making them distinctly identifiable through mathematics and observation of their carrier particles. Gravity, however, acts on both the surface and the underlying spacetime medium. This is perhaps one reason why certain gravityrelated particles remain undiscovered and why the equations describing gravity are slightly different from those of the other forces. This view can also explain, in part, why experiments in mass attenuation and antigravity sometimes yield dubious and inconclusive results the EM effects, elusive particles and mathematics used for such work are, quite literally, only scratching the surface.
The trispace view of gravity departs from the conventional wisdom by suggesting that not only does mass distort spacetime, but it also displaces it resulting in a stronger, more concentrated form of gravity. This suggests that two types of gravity are created by mass, hereafter referred to as primary and secondary. Perhaps the best way to describe them is by visualizing a simple example using a loaf of fresh bread. If one places their hand on the loaf and pushes down, the surrounding bread perturbs inwards towards the hand even at some distance away. The slope of the surface represents the everpresent, wellcharacterized, relatively weak, gravitational field described earlier, or the reaction of spacetime to a mass presence. Now if the hand pushing the bread is taken away, a defined imprint is left behind showing local displacement of the bread from the hand itself. The hand print penetrates much deeper into the loaf and only becomes visible when the hand is removed. In other words, the primary gravity well is created by spacetime being displaced by a mass. It is almost never observed directly, however, because the source mass is often still in it. The secondary gravity well is the result of that displacement and yields the shallow, inward curvature to produce the more familiar form of gravity. As we will see, both effects play fundamental roles in explaining the force of inertia.
WHERE DOES INERTIA COME FROM?
If these new, trispace interpretations of spacetime and gravity are combined with the unchallenged laws of classical, Newtonian motion, a novel concept of inertia emerges. Inertia is a direct result of both the distortion and displacement of spacetime by an accelerating mass. This can be best illustrated through a simple, real life scenario. Imagine a speed boat sitting stationary on a calm lake. The lake represents spacetime and the boat represents a massive body. The buoyant hull of the boat creates an obvious displacement of both the lake surface and the water beneath. If the boat is now forced to move from rest, it must change its position and velocity with respect to time. Everyone who has been on a motor boat can attest that the front of the boat rises out of the water during acceleration. This upward motion is because the water ahead of the hull can not displace itself equal to the mass of the boat at the rate at which the boat is moving forward. At the same time, the water behind the hull can not fill the void the boat just created by moving forward. The result is that the accelerating boat is always trying to climb out of the hole it made in the water a fraction of a second before.
So how does this example explain the mystical source of inertia? When an object accelerates from equilibrium, its mass energy partially leaves the primary gravitic displacement it creates in spacetime. Remember that the primary imprint has a strong gravitational influence due to its steep surface slope from the contour of the mass. Once the mass has moved, spacetime can not displace fast enough ahead of it and can not replace fast enough behind it, and so the mass leaves a partial, residual, primary gravity well in its wake. Just as in the boat example, an accelerating mass is trying to climb out of its own primary gravity, which it feels as a strong tendency, or force, to remain where it just came from. At the same time the mass leaves its well, however, the spacetime ahead is forcibly displaced to accommodate the mass, offering an impedance that equally contributes to the tendency for the mass to remain where its just was. In short, the strong primary gravity, combined with the time lag of spacetime to react to a moving mass is felt as inertia, or, in other words, the combined effect of trying to actively displace the spacetime ahead and passively replace it from behind.
This new theory can be called the spacetime displacement of inertia which, if valid, suggests some interesting characteristics about motion, mass and gravity. An important reminder when reviewing the upcoming discussion of inertial mechanics is that gravity force is proportional to the slope of the spacetime surface from reference flatness. Because of this, the primary gravity well from a mass sharply displaces the spacetime surface and is, therefore, much stronger than the secondary effect.
Some definitions and conventions need to be established about mass and weight prior to talking about inertial mechanics. Mass is the form of energy that makes matter what it is (hence E=mc2) and it only has weight when referenced to an external gravity field (hence F=ma). Every mass has its own gravitational field, but two masses are required to determine weight: one whose weight is in question and the other to provide a reference gravity field. The common convention is that mass creates gravity. In special cases, observing the latter is the only way to determine how much mass exists; therefore, any process that results in changing the gravitic influence of a mass can be interpreted as changing the mass itself.
INERTIAL MECHANICS BASED ON
QUASIFLUIDIC SPACETIME
Basic Acceleration
The simplest way to explain how this new concept of inertia works is to examine the basic acceleration of a mass, M, from rest to steadystate velocity as shown in Figure 4. This example will demonstrate the fundamental inertial mechanics of spacetime and intuitively suggest its familiar semifluidic properties. Afterwards, some other interesting observations implied from these characteristics will be addressed.
Figure 4a shows a system at rest (t=0 reference) with the mass securely in its primary well and the secondary distortion being created as a result. When an accelerating force, F, is applied, the mass repositions itself with some velocity, v, at t>0 as shown in Figure 4b. Notice that the mass moves up and slightly out of its primary gravity well (changing its position relative to the spacetime surface) and creates a smaller distortion in its new position. Because the distortion is smaller, the Fig. 4. Basic acceleration according to the spacetime displacement of inertia
spacetime medium ahead of M exhibits a definable resistance to motion and displacement similar in nature to fluid viscosity coupled with surface tension effects. This causes spacetime to push back on the mass in the opposite direction of motion, but with lesser magnitude than F. This further implies that if viscous and surface tension characteristics are present, a densitylike trait may exist as well for both the supporting medium and the surface. Since the mass in Figure 4b is now partially uncoupled from its primary gravity well, the strong, rearward gravitic pull towards the well combines with the resistive force of the spacetime ahead and acts on the mass opposite the direction of force. The mass feels inertia.
Spacetime energy density is the density of the region of spacetime underneath the surface where, according to trispace, the zeropoint field exists. Its essentially a measure of quantum string density and is the root of spacetimes elasticity. But since most natural (and observable) forms of energy exist along the surface, this property is difficult to quantify and can only be measured by its influence on motion, as we will soon see. Surface energy density, however, describes the energy concentration seen only on the surface and is often slightly higher in the immediate vicinity of mass energy, acting like a meniscus, of sorts, that connects the spacetime surface to the mass body. Surface density is mainly dependent on the characteristics around the mass (i.e. permittivity and permeability, which may change throughout the observable universe12) and the energies (or strings) passing through the region. These densities have a profound, combined effect of the motion of masses and will mentioned again is discussions to follow.
Figure 4c shows the system about halfway through the acceleration process. M keeps moving through space as the transition to steadystate velocity continues, but the spacetime in the primary well begins to recover to its preferred flat state. Concurrently, the local spacetime around the mass starts to give in and displace to form a new primary well. Lets go back to the hand in the loaf of bread for a moment. At the instant the hand is removed after pushing the bread, the bread starts to recover its shape immediately, but at a much slower rate than that at which it was deformed. Spacetime follows the same process of recovery while simultaneously adapting to the mass energy in a new location. This demonstrates there may be a reaction time, or time lag, for spacetime to adjust to a change in state dependent on the elasticity of the underlying thickness as well as its other semifluidic properties.
Another interesting event happens at this stage as well. The combination of forward spacetime displacement and rearward recovery slightly broaden the total gravity well created by the mass, indicating that the mass appears to have increased now that its moving. Sound familiar? This is just the beginning of Einsteins wellknown principle of relativistic mass increase with velocity. More on that later.
Figure 4d shows the end state of the system when the object finally reaches its steadystate velocity. M has created a new primary well and the previous one has fully recovered, nearly reflecting the original reference state. But if spacetime has all of these quasifluidic characteristics that are known to normally resist motion, why doesnt it exude similar retarding forces on a mass at constant velocity? The answer lies in its spongelike, elastic recovery to return to its undisturbed state, part of which can again be visualized by the speedboat example. If a boat moving at constant speed suddenly throttles back, the hull returns to a flatter plane with respect to the surface of the lake and the forward velocity quickly drops as a result of fluidic effects on the hull. Shortly after this transition, though, the water that was continuously trying to fill the void behind the boat finally catches up and creates a surge that shoves the boat forward. Spacetime reacts the same way in that once the acceleration of the mass stops, the contour of the trailing primary gravity well begins to recover to flatness and creates a similar surge on the mass from behind. The elasticity of spacetime acts like a spring force on the mass which is precisely equal to the force necessary to displace the spacetime ahead, and thus constant velocity is achieved.
Spacetime and Mass Effects on Inertia
So what does the force that makes you sink back into your car seat as you speed up depend on? Anyone who has experienced that sensation can make a pretty good guess even from basic physics, but the magnitude of inertia felt by an accelerating mass depends on three things:
1) Local Spacetime Energy Density. To address this item, let us establish the current, physical constants of our local region of the universe as a reference, and present a given mass as depicted in Figure 3. Comparatively, a spacetime of higher energy density (Figure 5a) will yield a weaker secondary gravitational effect, but will be more resistant to displacement when the mass tries to relocate, exhibiting a less elastic, more viscous quality. Since the time lag to adjust to deformation is longer, the mass will endure the resulting retarding force for a longer time. Conversely, spacetime of lesser energy density (Figure 5b) will yield a stronger gravity effect, but is less viscous and quicker to displace, thus lessening the time lag and the resistive force on the mass. What this boils down to is that a reference mass in a reference region of spacetime will appear to weigh less (at steadystate) and experience a greater magnitude of inertia for a given applied force when in a spacetime region of higher density. The exact opposite is true for regions of lesser density spacetime.
Fig. 5. High (a) and low (b) spacetime energy density
2) Energy of Applied Force. This item addresses the force that contributes only to acceleration and not to that which maintains steadystate motion. From the previous discussions, the main idea behind the spacetime displacement of inertia is that an accelerating object is trying to climb out of its primary gravity well. The magnitude and duration of the force applied to the mass will determine how far it gets, and thus how much inertia it feels. There are two extremes that bound the effect of force on inertia. The smallest effect is when the force is so small and its duration so long that the spacetime around the mass has ample time to react to the change in mass position. In this case, the mass feels its minimum inertia and could even be said to be moving at steadystate. The largest effect, on the other hand, is when the force is so large and its duration so short that the object is forced completely out of its primary gravity well and onto its secondary distortion in a single instant. Here, spacetime essentially sees a mass instantaneously created in one spot and removed in another. This case illustrates an interesting idea about the weight of accelerating masses that will be discussed later. In short, the strength and duration of the applied force are directly proportional to the inertia generated.
3) Influence of Mass Size on Spacetime. This item covers how a mass perturbs the spacetime continuum. As with the force, there are two extremes to quantify the effect. The first is that the mass is of sufficient size and energy to distort the continuum through its entire thickness, just as in Figure 3. Spacetime is displaced and distorted resulting in gravitational effects felt even in the adjacent space. This happens with the most commonly observed form of mass energy ranging from complex molecules to galaxies. These entities create the two gravity sources necessary for inertia to exist, and thus experience it when accelerated.
But when the size of the mass falls below the threshold at which the spacetime thickness does not perturb, the surface tension becomes dominant over the displacement effects. This leads to the second extreme where the mass is so small that it seems to float, so to speak, on the spacetime surface without displacing the medium beneath (Figure 6). Entities here include atoms, subatomic particles and the shortlived carrier particles of the nuclear and EM forces. In this regime, the surface energy density supports a majority of the mass energy, while the medium below evenly (and quasielastically) distributes the remainder throughout the local region in a fieldlike geometry. Since these energies only have to skim along the surface, they arent subject to the strong, displacementinduced resistive effects felt by their larger cousins and can traverse through space at significant fractions of the speed of light, c. But because they are so small, they are closer in scale to the fundamental strings and quantum loops that make them up, as well as those on the surface. This is the realm where mass, space, time
Fig. 6. Small mass spacetime distortion
and energy are intimately connected and where classical Newtonian physics gets replaced with quantum electrodynamics and string theory. Because the mass energies here dont even break the surface of spacetime, they dont create a primary well and, in turn, dont feel inertia like larger objects. They still produce a secondary distortion, similar in construct to those of larger masses, but it represents a different form of gravity influenced mainly by the quantum interactions below the surface. In short, these entities do not experience inertia in the same we do, if at all, and are, therefore, governed by unique equations of motion and laws of physics.
These three factors essentially determine how spacetime will react to a mass acted upon by a force. Let us now explore some of the other intriguing propositions based on these new ideas.
Weight Fluctuation and Maximum Acceleration
Figure 4b shows that as a mass climbs out of its primary gravity well, the acceleration force pushes it onto the spacetime surface ahead where it creates an imprint of lesser depth just before the underlying medium starts to displace. Since the mass of an object is a function the local secondary distortion slope of the spacetime surface, this implies that object weighs less during acceleration. Although this weight fluctuation is extremely small, research in Woodward1 tends to indirectly support this idea.
An interesting question arises out of the weight fluctuation claim: If an object weighs less during a change in velocity, can an acceleration force exist of just the right magnitude and duration to pull the mass completely out if its primary well such that it is has no gravity (weight) whatsoever? In order for that to happen according to the mechanics of spacetime as discussed here (Figure 7), the material form of mass energy in the starting location would essentially cease to exist at the precise moment it was accelerated. The energy would
Fig. 7. Maximum acceleration condition
completely uncouple from spacetime with no guarantee of reappearing on the surface (unless under the influence of some unique, quantum interaction); however, remnants of the original energy would remain within the spacetime thickness and may possibly become mass in the adjacent space. Such extraordinary acceleration would prohibit the generation of inertia because the object would be instantly free of its original primary well. But another relevant question arises when dealing with such tremendous force energies: what will an acceleration of this magnitude do to the fundamental forces binding the mass from within? It may cause instantaneous loss of energy cohesion and the mass may disperse into the strings of spacetime, or it may have no effect at all, showing that the fundamental forces can sufficiently bind a mass body even during large, local spacetime disturbances. Finding this maximum acceleration would undoubtedly be a daunting task, but may have promise given the current capabilities of particle accelerators.
The Speed of Gravity and Gravity Waves
There is a fair amount of controversy over the speed at which gravity acts upon objects. Some believe that it acts instantaneously and others believe that it acts at the speed of light7. To make these claims, however, both camps treat gravity as if it behaves similar to EM fields or radiation, which often bears confusing or conflicting mathematical results. If gravity has a propagation speed, disturbances in gravity fields could move through space lending valuable insight into the detection of the long soughtafter gravity waves.
The views of spacetime here, however, demonstrate that gravity can not be treated like the other fundamental forces. Gravity is simply the byproduct of mass energy disturbing spacetime. It can be represented as a radiation field, but two masses are required in order to represent gravity as a vector force. The masses experiencing this force are just following the curvature of spacetime towards one another.
The answer to the speed question is that gravity acts as a force between bodies instantaneously, but has some finite velocity when reacting to a single mass. For example, two massive bodies held apart experience a quantifiable, gravitational attractive force between them. If the separation distance is changed, the force between them will change immediately. This is a function of spacetimes elastic characteristic as the secondary distortions begin to readjust and recover from the new mass locations. But for each mass individually, there is a finite time for the primary gravity well to recover due to the inertia force felt during motion. This illustrates the viscous characteristic of spacetime dependant on the local density as discussed before. The work here suggests that the speed at which spacetime reacts to a moving mass must be different from that of light since c is dictated only by surface characteristics. Because masses affect the entire continuum as well as the surface, though, the speed is finite, but as yet unknown.
Because of the reaction time it takes for spacetime to fill voids and displace from moving masses, it appears to have the characteristics of a critically or overdamped medium such that the radiative energy left over from a perturbation will be quickly absorbed. This prevents propagation of disturbances over long distances and is one possible reason why the long sought after and theorized gravity waves9,10 have yet to be observed. But the damping effect is also a function of spacetime energy density. Less dense regions will have less damping and may permit propagation of disturbances to some distance. In such cases, even if enough wave energy were to survive absorption by spacetime and radiate, it would be quickly consumed once it encounters regions of higher density, such as around a mass. If this is true, then even black holes, whose tremendous gravity forces are among the strongest in the universe, will not produce gravity waves of sufficient energy to escape the ultrahigh spacetime density in their region.
Gravitons
Gravitons are classically thought of as forcecarriers of gravity that exist in the mathematics of quantum electrodynamics where every force has its respective transmission particle. Although theorized to exist everywhere gravity and mass do, they seem to be more often addressed during discussions of inertia. But if inertia is an aftereffect of spacetime distortions, where would these entities enter the picture and could they really have an influence on the environment?
One possible scenario where gravitons could play a role is during acceleration just as the separation begins between a mass and its primary gravity well, as depicted in Figure 8. They could be formed in the vacated spacetime region just behind the mass the instant the mass changes position. Once formed, they may provide an extra tug backwards, in addition to the original gravity well, that makes the combination of the two appear much stronger than gravity alone. But even if these particles are created, what could they be?
Fig. 8. Formation of gravitons during acceleration
Since mass energy is part of spacetime, and spacetime is composed of strings and superstrings, accelerating a mass out of a steadystate condition is like removing a price tag sticker from a piece of clothing (for all practical purposes). Although this may seem quite parochial, the analogy is surprisingly valid. When the sticker is removed, strands of material weakly attached to the parent fabric come along with the sticker. They eventually stretch and break, sending fragments in all directions. In the same way, when the motion of a mass is initiated, the strings on the spacetime surface at the mass interface get stretched; their elastic quality providing a tug on the mass in the direction opposite to motion. Because they can only stretch so far as the mass keeps moving, they snap and recoil in all sorts of ways that sometimes create small bundles or loops. These rogue strands of quantum spacetime can become gravitons4. Unlike the sticker analogy, however, gravitons can be easily absorbed back into the surrounding spacetime surface in the same way a drop of dye falls into a puddle of clear water. At first, the graviton gets assimilated rather quickly since its made of the stuff as spacetime, but there may be a residence time per se before the graviton energy untangles and diffuses into the spacetime medium. As mentioned earlier, searching for such particles and energies along the spacetime surface may not be the right place to look they may be hiding just below the surface inside the makeup of spacetime itself.
Inertial Effects on Special Relativity
An earlier discussion briefly mentioned that the overall gravity signature of a mass broadens during acceleration (Figure 4c). This larger gravity well makes the mass appear heavier when, in fact, it remains the same, lending credence to Einsteins relativistic mass increase at velocities approaching the speed of light, c. Let us now summarize how inertia affects the mechanics of special relativity with respect to this principle.
A mass moving at some velocity well below that of light can be depicted as in Figure 4d showing that there is no appreciable effect on the spacetime in the local region of the mass. As the velocity gets closer to c, the spacetime ahead begins to pile up, producing a steeper and deeper primary well. Behind the mass, the recovery surge that usually establishes the constant velocity of the mass after acceleration (and inertia) can no longer keep up and begins to lag behind, further broadening the secondary gravitic distortion. The combined effect is reflected as an apparent, relativistic mass increase at velocities close to the speed of light as shown in Figure 9. If the mass tries to accelerate, it must climb up a much steeper primary well, thus requiring more energy to achieve the same magnitude of acceleration than at a slower speed. Once the speed gets very close to c, the slope and depth of the primary well become insurmountable and the trailing secondary distortion reaches far behind, giving the impression that the mass approaches infinity.
Fig. 9. Relativistic mass increase and spacetime at v ~ c
What essentially happens is that a standing wave is established in spacetime around the mass as velocity increases. At small fractions of c, the effects of the wave are negligible. As its amplitude grows proportional to velocity, though, both the gradient and densities of the spacetime surface ahead changes adversely, yielding a deeper gravity well. Accelerating an object to c will transmit all of the acceleration energy ahead to the natural critical damping trait of spacetime, causing the wave to grow in strength instead of dispersing as radiation. Eventually, the mass becomes trapped in its own primary well, which is seen from an observer as infinitely deep, and there is no physical way to accelerate out of it (in accordance with Einsteins predictions).
Steadystate conditions at relativistic speeds also change dramatically. The recovery surge of spacetime that keeps the velocity constant at slower speeds can no longer keep up with the mass at high speeds. To maintain velocity, the mass must use brute force and push against the everincreasing, elastic resistance of the spacetime ahead, suggesting that a constant, applied force is necessary to keep an object moving at velocities close to c. Although we well understand that something will move through empty space at a constant velocity for all eternity (under ideal conditions), the arguments here suggest that this may not be the case for massive bodies at relativistic speeds. Unfortunately, this is something science has yet to observe, and thus can not presently be validated.
Small masses, those which only distort the spacetime surface, are a different matter altogether. They are significantly closer in scale to the fundamental strings and entities that compose spacetime and, as discussed earlier, do not have a primary gravity well to contend with while in motion. But they also succumb to the relativistic mass increase at high velocities and, at the right conditions of velocity, mass, and energy, begin to penetrate the spacetime surface and disseminate their energy into different forms. Because these packets of energy, whether in mass form or not, are now amongst the very constituents of spacetime that determine the speed of light, they do not require any additional energy input to maintain their velocity, especially since the increased surface energy density effects that normally retard motion become transparent to bodies at this scale.
These are just some of the highlights on the effects of mass and velocity according to the trispace view of special relativity and inertia. Other relativity effects can be addressed as well, but their complexity extends beyond the scope of this paper.
MITIGATING INERTIA FOR SPACE TRAVEL
Before exploring ways to mitigate inertia, lets quickly recap what has been discussed. Inertia is the force an object feels when it tries to climb out its own gravity. It is generated from a combined effect when the spacetime ahead of a moving mass resists displacement and when the spacetime behind it lags in filling in the hole. This process happens to all masses of sufficient energy that affect the entire thickness of spacetime and is an elementary characteristic of Newtonian mechanics. In order for future space propulsion systems to achieve their true potential on a manned vessel, the force of inertia must be somehow overcome or circumvented so that the crew can survive the journey. But how does one mitigate a fundamental forces of motion? Here are three possible ways.
1) Primary Gravity Relocation. This process changes the spacetime around the vehicle with a form of speciallyconditioned EM radiation similar to that suggested by Froning11. This radiation would be projected in the flight path ahead to displace spacetime before the mass of the vehicle arrives, and also could be projected rearward to pull in the spacetime behind the vehicle, increasing the rate at which its primary gravity well recovers. The distribution of this radiation would affect spacetime as in Figure 10 and artificially relocates the vehicles primary gravity well ahead of the mass during acceleration. If done correctly, the vehicle would feel no inertia because the spacetime has already been properly perturbed in the new location.
Fig. 10. Primary gravity relocation with EM fields
What needs to be explored for this technique are the characteristics associated with the form of radiation that can manipulate spacetime, the impacts of such radiation on the vehicle mass and the feedback effects on the vehicle. If the spacetime displacement resistance can be transmitted back to the vehicle through the radiation field, then this method may not work. But if the resistance energy can be dispersed into spacetime or dissipated, then this scheme may hold promise, even as a primary propulsion system.
2) Mass Reduction. Instead of trying to circumvent the creation of inertia, perhaps reducing its effects is all thats necessary. Experiments exploring this process have produced some compelling results1,8, although their reliability and repeatability are often issues of concern. The goal is to fool spacetime into thinking the vehicles mass is less, thereby reducing the inertial effects. This process involves increasing the local surface energy density such that the total energy density through the thickness redistributes. When the surface density increases, the spacetime density decreases to compensate and thus provides a lesser displacement resistance for a given acceleration.
3) Instantaneous Maximum Acceleration. A scenario was discussed earlier where a mass is accelerated so fast that it becomes weightless, and by doing so, would experience no inertia. What needs to be explored for this process is the state of the mass energy that uncouples from spacetime and the probability that it will reassemble as it was before. There was also mention that the mass energy could experience quantum effects as a result of the uncoupling that allow it to pass right through spacetime and into the adjacent space. Meholic proposes that the adjacent space has superluminal characteristics permitting travel at fasterthanlight speeds2. So if acceleration of this magnitude is possible, it may pave the way into a new realm of the universe.
CONCLUSION
The trispace view of the universe suggests a fourth explanation for the source of inertia. Based on the characteristics of spacetime and gravity according to the suppositions discussed, spacetime may exhibit some familiar, quasifluidic properties that are easily influenced by the motion (or presence) of mass energy. Gravity, in turn, also exhibits some unique qualities that are slightly different than those of the other fundamental forces. Large masses create two gravity wells that both affect spacetime through its entire thickness, but small masses only perturb the surface where EM radiation and the speed of light are supported. The merger of these concepts gives rise to the spacetime displacement of inertia where a mass experiences a pull opposite the direction of motion when its forced to leave its primary gravity well. This inertia force is the combined effect of the time lag of spacetime to fill in the trailing well and the resistance to displacement ahead. Because of the reaction time it takes for spacetime to displace and recover from moving masses, it behaves as a critically or overdamped medium such the energy from any perturbations will be quickly absorbed, preventing propagation of disturbances over long distances. Some additional implications arising from these concepts are that:
Inertia can not exist without gravity.
Spacetime has both a surface and a thickness (commonly called the zeropoint field, or ZPF).
Spacetime is made of strings, superstrings and other quantum entities.
Accelerating objects weigh less than when at rest.
Gravitons are formed only during acceleration.
To explore these issues, some experimental approaches are given below that could verify the concepts discussed in this work, several of which alone would validate at least some of the claims made. They are:
Determine if the quasifluidic characteristics of spacetime exist and quantify their sensitivities.
Measure the time lag of spacetime, if it exists, as it reacts to changes in topography.
Determine if accelerating objects really are lighter.
If the latter is true, evaluate the conditions of a maximum acceleration force where the mass becomes weightless.
Verify or refute the existence of gravity waves.
Verify or refute the existence of gravitons.
Explore the mechanics of special relativity, string theory, and quantum physics to lend mathematical credence and/or support to these ideas.
As was stated at the beginning, these ideas are highly speculative in nature, but are rooted in modern scientific theories and observations. The mathematical and experimental approaches to explore them may not yet exist and there are indeed many other equally important topics on inertia and its mechanics that were not discussed. Although mostly conjecture, these views provide an intriguing and novel view of the universe consistent with what we observe. If even some of the suggestions here can be validated, a new era of space science may develop that could pave the way to human interstellar travel.
REFERENCES
Woodward, J., Mahood, T., and March, P., Rapid Spacetime Transport and Machian Mass Fluctuations: Theory and Experiment, AIAA Paper 20013907, 37th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, July 811, 2001.
Meholic, G., Beyond the Light Barrier: A Concept for Superluminal Travel, AIAA Paper 983410, 34th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, Cleveland, Ohio, July 1315, 1998.
Brandenburg, J., and Kline, J., Application of the GEM Theory of GravityElectromagnetism Unification to the Problem of Controlled Gravity: Theory and Experiment, Research Support Instruments, Lanham, Maryland. No date available.
Johnson, G., Physicists Finally Find A Way to Test Superstring Theory, The New York Times, April 4, 2000.
Preuss, P., Unseen Dimensions Could Explain Weakness of Gravity, UniSci (electronic website: http://unisci.com/stories/20003/0718001.htm), July 18, 2000.
Musser, G., Boomerang Effect, Scientific American, Issue 700, July, 2000.
Carlip, S., Wiener, M., and Landis, G., Does Gravity Travel at the Speed of Light, Usenet Physics FAQ (electronic website: HYPERLINK "http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/index.html" http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/index.html), February 24, 2002.
Tajmar, M., de Matos, C., Induction and Amplification of NonNewtonian Gravitational Fields, AIAA Paper 20013911, 37th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, July 811, 2001.
Weiss, P., Catch a Wave: Sensing Ripples in the Spacetime Sea from Gravitys Juggernauts, Science News, Vol. 157, No. 2, January 8, 2000.
Unknown, Ripples in Spacetime, University of Illinois website: HYPERLINK "http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Cyberia/ NumRel/" http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Cyberia/ NumRel/GravWaves.html, 1995.
Froning, Jr., H. D., Barrett, T., and Hathaway, G., Experiments Involving Specially Conditioned EM Radiation, Gravitation and Matter, AIAA Paper 983138, 34th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, Cleveland Ohio, July 1315, 1998.
Christie, M., Laws of Nature May Change as Universe Ages, Reuters, Yahoo Science News (electronic website: HYPERLINK "http://www.yahoo.com" http://www.yahoo.com), August 16, 2001.
AIAA 20024096
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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
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