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No. 41: Sep-Oct 1985

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All Things Appear To Those Who Accelerate

We have said some nasty things about WIMPS (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles). But perhaps the existence of WIMPS is only a matter of one's private trajectory in the cosmos! Recently, theorists fiddling with the possible consequences of quantum mechanics came up with some shockers:

1. An accelerating observer can detect particles that a stationary observer will swear do not exist; 2. An accelerating reflecting surface (theoretically) creates a flux of particles that stream away from its surface; and 3. An accelerating mirror can carry away negative energy!

After cogitating on such discoveries, Paul Davies wondered, "Might it even be that the apparently solid matter of the Universe around us is only the consequence of our particular motion?" Par-ticles of matter, in this theoretical scheme, would be only chimeras of our individual motions.

(Davies, Paul; "Do Particles Really Exist?" New Scientist, p. 40, May 2, 1985.)

Comment. Omar Khayyam practically predicted this curious state of affairs when he wrote: "We are no other than a moving row/Of magic shadow-shapes that come and go."

From Science Frontiers #41, SEP-OCT 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss