Today, I gave a telephone interview to a very nice young man for the print version of Welt der Wunder about black holes - apparently a topic of fatal attraction. To my amazement, it turned out, he was born the same day as I, in the city where my parents still live (and no, Lubos, I am not a schizophrenic hermaphrodite - at least not that I know).
Puzzled by the guy knowing my birthday, I googled my name - and I was surprised to find (besides my birthday in the google-cache) this article about my recent work on Anti-Gravitation
which gives a very accurate brief summary of the idea:
"Electric charges can be positive or negative. Opposite electric charges attract each other; like charges repel. Gravity, on the other hand, seems to be always attractive -- all masses move toward each other. Apparently all matter has a positive gravitational charge, and like gravitational charges attract. If there was such a thing as negative mass, it would behave in the opposite way and push away all ordinary matter, a prospect that most physicists find repulsive -- except for Sabine Hossenfelder. "
So, for those of you who always want to know more, here is the story about anti-gravitation that is not in the paper:
Briefly after I finished high school and started studying at Frankfurt University, I moved to the Bockenheim, where the old campus was located. Unfortunately, I made a wrong move and ended up lying in bed the next two weeks. Whenever I turned my head, several nerves between my head and toes went up in sudden fireworks. Essentially, I stared at the ceiling for two weeks, wishing I had some anti-gravitational device to lift my furniture.
Besides shouting at my boyfriend and eating too much chocolate, I started wondering why there are no negative "charges" in general relativity. At this time, I was blissfully unaware of several reasons why this would not be possible, the most pressing one being the stability of the vacuum, others you find addressed in the Anti-Gravitation FAQs.
I am afraid, I annoyed my roommate with my anti-gravitation theories for quite a while. And I was stubbornly insisting I did not understand his concerns why this would not make sense.
(Anti-gravitation was not the only 'theory' I kept discussing with him. At some point we named them SH's Incredible Theories - SHIT. )
Then I got distracted from the anti-gravitation for the next years. Well - I had to write a diploma thesis, and make my PhD.
But the topic kept coming back whenever I had some free time. Just that the time was never enough to make it publishable. My last summer was very frustrating in many regards, I was absolutely certain my research would never go anywhere, and I would be unemployed by next year. While I was conference hopping in Europe, I wrote together what conclusions I had so far about the anti-gravitation. And I put it on the arxiv, praying it would be enough, hoping that someone might find it sufficiently interesting to finish what I wasn't able to finish.
The reactions on the paper were: none.
Though the first version of the paper was crowded with typos, it turned out to be a very useful basis to annoy other people by handing them a copy, and asking for objections. There were far less objections than I was prepared to discuss. And those that came were easily to answer. The most common reaction was: "uhm. interesting. uhm. why don't you talk to. uhm... [someone else]."
The most reasonable discussion I had for a long time was with one of my ex-boyfriends (credits go to Andi). Who is not even a physicist, but who understood far more of the idea, and the problems, than several over-educated brains before him.
Meanwhile, the guy who I shared the apartment with when I had my back problems, and who I had bugged several years with my anti-gravitational obsession, got a postdoc position at Perimeter Institute. During a phone conversation last October, anti-gravitation slipped in (again), and after listening very politely to my lengthy explanations, he said "uhm. interesting. uhm. why don't you talk to. uhm, Lee."
I thought, great idea, much better some guy at PI thinks I am nuts than the people I have to talk to every day. So I sent my paper to Lee. I am not sure whether he actually read it. But the conversations I had with him, and several others, since that time where encouraging enough for me to answer several depressing referee reports, and to send the paper to PLB, after it was rejected by PRD.
The revised version which was accepted for publication last month, is considerably improved, and I am enormously grateful for all the discussions I had with the two Stefans, Jim, Lee, Petr and (in the early days...) with Marcus. Unfortunately, the version in PLB is extremely shortened. I have been told repeatedly that the content is indeed much clearer now, after several revisions and shortenings, than in the first version. Though that might be true, imo the latest version suffers from a severe lack of applications. Needless to say, there is work to be done.
I am still not completely convinced whether there is some point I have been missing all the time, but I guess I will never find out unless I keep on discussing the idea. The ansatz has several problems that I know of -- probably I am the one most familiar with all of them -- and every second day I get stuck in a dead end. The other days though, everything makes perfect sense.
I am still waiting for objections.
Note added: see also the discussion in the PhysicsForums.