Chapter 13 - Inertial Mass from Stochastic Electrodynamics

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 Notes by David A Roffman on Chapter 13 of


Chapter by Jean-Luc Cambier,
Senior Research Scientist, Propulsion Directorate - Aerophysics Branch
U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, Edwards Air force Base, Edwards, California


    Chapter 13 focuses on inertial mass, that is, an object’s tendency to resist a change in velocity.  The resistance means that a force must be applied, and that the inertial mass is the constant of proportionality.  There may be a relation here to the Mach principle (all matter in the universe in connected, if extended to that point).  Some believe that mass is the result of the interaction of quantum background fields.  If this is true, then by manipulating the background, we can change mass.  While the relation of matter to mass is still not understood, reducing mass would allow higher acceleration for a given force, thus making fast as light travel more feasible.  The proponents of this idea in Chapter 13 initially list Haisch, Rueda, and Puthoff (HRP).  This chapter probes the idea of stochastic electrodynamics (SED) in relation to other physics.  But as we follow the flow of the chapter, we find criticism of SED and Haisch and Rueda.  Question: Does this mean that Dr. Puthoff withdrew his support of Haisch and Rueda?

    SED is the theory of the interaction of point-like charges that are particles with fluctuating electromagnetic fields in a vacuum (zero-point fields - ZPF).  The vacuum force doesn’t exert any force on the inertial frame (this is key, as inertial frames cannot be subject to forces and accelerations). 

      Of note is the equivalence principle.  It follows that any freefalling lab that is small enough (so gravity at the top and botton are the same) is an intertial refrence frame.  I mention this to clarify what is meant by intertial refrence frame.  Even though there is a gravitational field, inside the free falling lab objects do not accelerate relative to the floor of the lab.

       The main goal of HRP was to bring the Einstein and Hopf results down to non-inertial frames, as well as to obtain another retarding force equivalent to acceleration.  While it may appear that mass originates from ZPF 100%, there are still many problems.

     HRP proposed an extension of the classical oscillator model, with an oscillating electromagnetic field (with radiation reaction).  They consider ZPF to be composed of many frequencies; all the way up to the Planck frequency 1.8 x 1043rad/s.  In my view the Planck quantites are really not as important as people make them to be.  They are all found by simply taking the fundamental constants and performing algebriac operations on them.  It is simple dimmensional analysis.  There could be a number of any arbitrary size in front of the Planck lenght, mass, frequency, etc.  Force is caused by dephasing between the oscillating velocity and the oscillating magnetic field.  Radiative dampening is nonexistent in this model.  There is no natural cutoff for frequencies.  There is no way to compute mass in an inertial frame (the model is designed for non-inertial frames).  Inertial mass can only be computed when a frame accelerates when oscillated.  It is hard to believe how a parton (sub-atomic particle) can lose energy when subjected to intense high frequency induced by ZPF.

    There are more problems with this model, as either a rest mass that is too high and unphysical, or an ad hoc particle must be introduced to match observations (if so, then the model does nothing).  Negative mass was considered, but this is too unconventional.  The book Chapter 13 next mentions only Haisch and Rueda (HR).  They changed the model, but not with too much success.  Their results contradicted Boyer (who worked on the same problem).  A note here is that Sunahata is a major proponent of ZPF.

    Quantum field theory is where matter and fields are described at the quantum level.  ZPF is tenement of this theory.  The rules and diagrams will be copied verbatim.  There are an infinite number of such diagrams.

   There are differences between SED and quantum electrodynamics (QED).  They are competing, and the latter is mainstream physics (and more accurate) and relativistic.  SED is based upon assumptions, and odd math.  While both rely on the concept of bare parameters, the radiative correction of QED leads to an additive term and SED has the multiplication of a term.  QED has logarithmic divergences, while SED maintains severe quadratic divergences.  Corrections in QED yield require renormalization of the rest mass, while SED requires acceleration for it to be correct. 

    An important concept in this area is Unruh-Davies equation (for temperature).  Acceleration equals heat at a very slow pace (2.5 x 1020m/s2 to produce 1 K).  Of note is that temperature classically is proportional to the velocity  squared of particles, and hence doesn't depend on acceleration.  Despite the arguments made by SED, QED seems to be a better theory, as it is more complete, and has extremely accurate results.  SED needs to be refined.  It is quite possible that with corrections, SED will disappear, and become QED.  Granted, SED may see some results that QED cannot, we cannot be sure.  SED must also be computable, and not make ad hoc decisions.  While SED will remain a “radical” theory, it could have applications to plasma physics.