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Lately I've been reading a little bit (mostly here and on Wikipedia) about exotic matter, particularly matter with a negative mass. This question appears to be the original question on the site of the likelihood (or lack there of) of the existence of negative mass. It appears that the current consensus is that based on the lack of observational support, as well as expected properties that seem to not play nicely with our current understanding of the universe, it's extremely unlikely that such matter exists.

My question is more nuanced than the one that I linked to above, and hopefully distinct. What is the motivation for negative mass particles as a concept? Are there any predictions of GR, QM, or any of the attempts to unify them that would seem to point to their existence? Because there is no observational support for negative mass, I'm curious if there is a theoretical framework that predicts/suggests its existence, or if the idea is simply the result of playing around with known physical laws, just to see what mathematical oddities pop up.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wormholes will collapse before light can get from one end to the other, unless they are propped open by something pretty exotic. Wouldn't it be nice if something pretty exotic existed? But no, nothing points to this. $\endgroup$ – mmesser314 Mar 12 '15 at 4:41
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Mostly it's to throw physics at the wall and see what sticks.

You see, there are several important energy conditions in GR. These energy conditions allow you to derive several important theorems, see here for a list.

Many of these theorems are about the topology and causal structure of spacetime. For example, assuming the averaged null energy condition allows you to rule out traversable wormholes -- which is highly desirable if you want to get rid of time machines! A very common and very cute argument goes like this: any positive energy density bends light like a convergent lens. But a wormhole does the opposite: it must, because of its topology, act as a divergent lens. So there has to be a negative energy density somewhere.

The problem, however, is that there are known physical configurations that violate some of these conditions. A famous example are squeezed vacuum states where energy fluctuations may be positive or negative. Another is the Casimir effect, where there is a constant negative energy density in the region between the plates. The problem of negative energies in squeezed vacuum states may be dealt with by observing that certain "quantum inequalities" are obeyed. They allow for short lived concentrations of energy density as long as the energy you "borrowed" is paid back later, with interest. For the Casimir effect it doesn't quite work, but the magnitude of the energy density you get is very small -- it comes with a coefficient of $\pi^2\over720$.

Both of these are quantum, but there are classical examples as well. A scalar field non-minimally coupled to gravity can produce such violations. Being classical, there is no quantum inequality to constrain it. This example is the most serious because it violates all the energy conditions mentioned above. The existence of the Casimir effect and squeezed vacuum states quickly convinced people that the pointwise conditions cannot hold and must be replaced by their "averaged" counterparts. This fixes the squeezed vacuum problem, and there are indications it fixes the Casimir effect too. But it doesn't work for the non minimally coupled scalar field example, which, while speculative, doesn't seem a priori ruled out.

That's the main crux of the issue: negative masses don't seem to be ruled out, and by all accounts they should be. If they were, we'd be able to prove that all sorts of nasty things like traversable wormholes and warp drives are impossible. Conversely, if negative masses are in fact possible, we must understand how to ensure causality holds in a universe where it's possible to make time machines.

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Newton's inverse square law of gravitation is similar to Coulomb's law for static electric forces. It is natural therefore to ask if there are negative masses like negative charges. The difference here would be that same charges repel whereas same masses attract. Thus one would expect that negative masses repel resulting in them being expelling each other- perhaps to the edge of universe forming a shell and perhaps it is these who are providing the attraction/acceleration forces needed to create an expanding universe. I do not think that energy can be negative, as energy has to do with the square velocity and this is presumably positive always. Things are either moving and have energy as a result or not.

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  • $\begingroup$ Downvote-- energy can be and often is negative, as in a bound state. $\endgroup$ – zeldredge Mar 13 '15 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ Energy has to do with the square of the velocity, so that it can't be negative.. I think this is clear and can't be disputed. Because energy is a scalar, it can be treated like so.. Number are originally positive.. like the number of pencils, sheep etc..are always positive.. We still can say we have -3 pencils and we interpret this to mean we need to supply 3 pencils. This does not make pencils negative.. the same with kinetic energy.. it it is moving then it has energy regardless of the direction. hope this clears things. $\endgroup$ – Riad Mar 21 '18 at 14:31

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