Curated by RSF Research Staff
“Negative mass” created at Washington State University
Washington State University physicists have created a fluid with negative mass, which is exactly what it sounds like. Push it, and unlike every physical object in the world we know, it doesn’t accelerate in the direction it was pushed. It accelerates backwards.
Negative mass, or more specifically negative energy, is needed to shape the geometry of spacetime in the unique ways needed for engineered wormholes and warp drives. While the standard model of particle physics says that the bare mass of the electron is an infinite negative mass, we only see such consequences in things like dark energy, where the infinite negative energy of the Dirac sea or some kind of Casimir-like force may be driving the accelerating expansion of space.
The new research is exciting because it demonstrates how effective negative masses can be obtained via hydrodynamics. If we think of spacetime as a kind of superfluid, then we can imagine how engineering the spacetime metric following fluid dynamic principles may produce apparent negative energy effects, which would in theory enable things like the Alcubierre superluminal warp drive and opening wormholes.
This remarkable new finding will provide a significant analogous Earth-based system to study astrophysical phenomena, ranging from the fluid dynamics of space that generate dark energy effects, to the event horizons of black holes. This will help us to better understand the event horizon, black hole dynamics, and how it interacts with and couples to the quantum vacuum.