Did anyone ever heard about this?I've never seen any serious physicist talk about "mass fluctuations".

Here is the man in his own words: http://www.intalek.com/Index/Projects/Research/woodward1.pdf

And what about this guy: http://aetherwavetheory.blogspot.com/

He claims his theory can explain virtually every unsolved problem in contemporary physics.

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    $\begingroup$ He claims his theory can explain virtually every unsolved problem in contemporary physics ... that's generally a hint that you might be dealing with gibberish. $\endgroup$ – user346 Feb 19 '11 at 8:12

No, this paper has nothing to do with serious physics. It has two steps

  • Mach's principle
  • bizarre derivation of varying rest masses while accelerating, based on the previous point

The first point is less problematic - Mach's principle has been inspiring even for Albert Einstein when he was looking for general relativity. However, it turned out that Mach's principle is simply wrong and it hasn't become a part of modern physics.

Nevertheless, it's the second step that is much more problematic. Mach's principle couldn't be able to imply conclusions about varying rest masses even if this principle were right. The paper makes no sense and whenever the predictions - which don't really follow from the starting assumptions - were treated seriously and tested, they weren't confirmed experimentally. To make it more amusing, the discoverer proposed the hypothetical effect as motors for spaceships - the kind of context where it shouldn't be hard to see that this is probably not serious research.

To make thing even worse, the blog you mentioned is one by Zephir, a Czech "independent researcher" who is well-known to all physics bloggers in the world, and you don't really want to pay any attention to this stuff.

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    $\begingroup$ Please tell me when it turned out that Mach principle is wrong? And how this "wrongness" is manifested? $\endgroup$ – Anixx Feb 19 '11 at 11:11
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    $\begingroup$ See my answer under the very same question Gordon reasked here: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/5483/… $\endgroup$ – Luboš Motl Feb 20 '11 at 8:50
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    $\begingroup$ @LubošMotl: It's uncharitable to say Mach's principle is wrong--- one can give it interpretations where it is true and not completely trivial. One should be charitable in these cases, because a principle is refined once you have theory, so that the wrong formulations are thrown away, and the right formulations kept. We don't say the uncertainty principle is wrong because of later refinements by nondemolition measurements. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Mar 20 '12 at 4:18

The basic theoretical mechanism of mass fluctuation has never AFAIK been professionally critiqued such as to disprove its validity.

The main issues with The Woodward Effect, both theoretical and experimental, are discussed here. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/spacedrives/ You are welcome to join.

There exist no positive experimental results that have been widely replicated; indeed, all experiments independently performed outside Woodward's own lab have yielded null, or questionable results. The Database section at the above site is in the process of cataloging these (there are many more as yet unlisted).

The implication of the existence of mass fluctuation means that it's possible to build a locally over-unity device, although globally conservation is theorised to obtain via the proposed Wheeler-Feynman transactional mechanism. The local over-unity property can be appreciated by noting that a device operating at constant power consumes energy linearly with time, yet, for a (theoretically predicted) constant thrust from such a device, constant acceleration would obtain, and thus the kinetic energy produced would be quadratic with time. Thus after some characteristic time T, more energy is continuously available than was input (seen only locally).


Yes, it is serious physics because it is being thoroughly examined at prestigious research institutions.

I'm not an expert, but there's about as much evidence of the Woodward effect as there is for string theory's accuracy. The experiments done to test the Woodward effect have detected mass fluctuations, just not on the scale predicted by Woodward. Lubos Motl is a string theorist so his answer could be a little biased, no offense to Lubos.

Paul March and Andrew Palfreyman detected mass-fluctuations via unidirectional force that was significantly LARGER than what Woodward's math predicts!

Tajmar et al. also found possible mass fluctuations in their experiment at the Austrian Research Centers.

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    $\begingroup$ The fact that something is researched by people with university positions doesn't make it worthwhile. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Mar 20 '12 at 4:19
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    $\begingroup$ Unbeknownst to me at the time, there was a large amount of EMI (electromagnetic interference) which was able to influence the measuring apparatus, and therefore in hindsight Paul March's result would need to be replicated to assign it good credibility. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Palfreyman Dec 9 '12 at 17:18

we compare/measure masses one against other masses.
If such effect eventually exist, apply to all masses rendering impossible the measure of any variation of mass.
Only measures of unexplained varying speeds, for instance, can detect such effect.
the conclusion is that such effect is not present.
I see no way to invalidate the Mach principle.


protected by Qmechanic Jun 3 '13 at 21:09

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