Fringe theories that are still interesting.

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Fringe theories that are still interesting.

Postby hyksos on December 1st, 2018, 3:54 am 

I will be placing some interesting, albeit fringey, physics theories here. I will extend this thread with more topics whenever I encounter ones that match this template.

Widom–Larsen theory

These are researchers who place palladium cathodes in water, invoke electrolysis, but notice that there is "excess heat" that cannot be accounted for by any chemical reaction known to science. Various speculations started to emerge in the 1980s that the excess heat was produced by nuclear reactions in the metal surface. By 1989 the Fleischman and Pons debacle single-handedly turned the phrase "cold fusion" into a crackpot yellow flag. This research was barred from major unis and institutes until a revival in 2014. "Cold fusion" has been suspiciously replaced by the acronym LENR. Recent experiments add lasers to the water tanks, and suppose that the "excess heat" derives from electron-proton capture.

https://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/scientists-in-the-us-and-japan-get-serious-about-lowenergy-nuclear-reactions
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Re: Fringe theories that are still interesting.

Postby hyksos on December 1st, 2018, 4:20 am 

Sonofusion
A tank of acetone ("nail polish remover") containing dissolved hydrogen can be subjected to ultrasound. Small bubbles in the tank will collapse and give off very short flashes of light. So-called sonoluminescence. Spectral analysis reveals the temperature of these flashes to be somewhere between 10 thousand K, or possibly 1 million K.

Rusi Taleyarkhan (of Purdue) started running around claiming that the collapsing bubbles were fusing hydrogen, within a vessel that sits on a desk at room temperature to boot. From 2003 to 2008, Taleyarkhan's claims caused a flurry of activity, and caught the eyes of the Oak Ridge National Labs, the Department of Energy, and even the US Office of Naval Research. In 2008, Taleyarkhan was fired from professorships for research misconduct and academic misconduct. The flurry continued however, when the National Science Foundation still awarded him a grant to continue research on acetone fusion reactors. But even that research resulted in a debacle of its own, and Taleyarkhan is now on a federal black list.
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Re: Fringe theories that are still interesting.

Postby hyksos on December 1st, 2018, 4:38 am 

Superfluid Vacuum

Interferometer experiments in the 19th century were not consistent with the idea that light waves propagate through a stationary background aether. For a few decades, physicists supposed that the earth was somehow "dragging" the aether along with it. That was canon until Einstein and Hendrik Lorentz found an aether-free theory of electromagnetism.

Imagine if you will, that a stationary aether does still exist. But instead of being a classical medium, endow the aether with special quantum properties. In particular, at all points in space, allow the momentum of the aeather to take on a superposition of all directions. After a few chalkboards of mathematics, we recover Lorentz Invariance. Michelson-Morley results are still intact, while there is also a luminiferous aether hanging in a stationary background.

This little exercise at first seems flatly bonkers -- however this exact procedure was done by Paul Dirac in the 1950s. He published a paper on it very early in that decade.

Dirac's weird aether paper sat on a shelf for decades collecting dust, until it was discovered by three physicists in 1975. In a string of papers published in the following years, these physicists performed Dirac's method on General Relativity, in such a way that spacetime itself is considered a stationary aether. By 1978, this weird physics was given a name : Superfluid Vacuum Theory.

I presented the above material to a popular physics chatroom, and the room went dead silent. The silence was local mods feverishly googling the topic before making any comments towards it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superfluid_vacuum_theory
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Re: Fringe theories that are still interesting.

Postby bangstrom on December 1st, 2018, 6:52 am 

Einstein did away the ether theory with his special relativity but some say he restored the ether with general relativity by replacing the ether with spacetime and gravitational frame dragging. So what is the difference between the ether and spacetime?

The big difference is that the ether is thought to be able to blow photons around like so many leaves while spacetime is thought to have a negligible effect.

The MMx was designed to to look for changes in photon speeds as they went with-and-against the ether wind and they consistently got a null result. Einstein interpreted this evidence that light is always observed to have a constant speed.

Another possibility found in some modern theories is that light is a direct exchange of energy from one electron to another rather a particle traveling through space with an observable speed as it carries energy from signal to receiver. If photons particles do not exist in the space between a signal and sink, then the MMx was an inadequate tool for looking for an ether and, instead of finding that the ether does not exist, they found that photon particles do not exist.
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Re: Fringe theories that are still interesting.

Postby hyksos on December 1st, 2018, 6:27 pm 

The MMx was designed to to look for changes in photon speeds as they went with-and-against the ether wind and they consistently got a null result. Einstein interpreted this evidence that light is always observed to have a constant speed

Small correction. At the time, canonical physics said light was a wave. MMx predated the Planck postulate by 13 years. Any references to "corpuscles of light" appear 18 years after MMx.

but some say he restored the ether with general relativity by replacing the ether with spacetime and gravitational frame dragging

Advocates of superfluid vacuum theory definitely say this.
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