I've suggested (& published in 18 journal papers) a new theory called quantised inertia (or MiHsC) that assumes that inertia is caused by relativistic horizons damping quantum fields. It predicts galaxy rotation, cosmic acceleration & the emdrive without any dark stuff or adjustment.
My Plymouth University webpage is here, I've written a book called Physics from the Edge and I'm on twitter as @memcculloch

Friday, 7 July 2017

QI and Emdrive: dc/dt=0.

I've had some complaints that my explanation for the emdrive violates a central tenet of special relativity: that the speed of light cannot change. Well, there were reasons not to be worried so much about that, but as it happens I've just published a paper in EPL that shows that the results I derived in 2016 do not imply a speed of light change in the cavity anyway. The new derivation is based on an insight I had one night when I was walking into the local TESCOs (not too often associated with scientific inspiration, but times change): what quantised inertia says is that more Unruh waves (assumed to cause inertia) can exist at the wide end of the cavity, and this simply shifts the centre of inertial mass of the input microwaves continually towards the wide end of the cavity. The cavity then has to move the opposite way, towards its narrow end. This more simply reproduced the same results I had before, but without the need for a change in light speed, so there is no possibility of relativistic violation.

In this new paper I also investigate what happens when you put a dielectric in the cavity. Dielectrics are insulators, so electrons do not move through them freely, but the electrons can shift slightly. So, like people in unions, who can organise to resist forces from above, the electrons can re-arrange en-masse to create a counter field to resist an applied electric field. Air is a dielectric, so are glass and all plastics. Dielectrics really do reduce the speed of light in a way that is well accepted, and since the frequency of light stays the same, the wavelength of the light has to shorten and this means that the Unruh waves can also be expected to shorten in the dielectric, meaning that more of them fit into the cavity at the end with the dielectric.

So, according to quantised inertia, adding a dielectric to a cavity end is rather like widening that end. If you add a dielectric to the wide end you can expect an enhanced emdrive thrust since it boosts the existing surplus of Unruh waves there. Conversely, if you add a dielectric to the narrow end, it should reduce the thrust since it reduces the effective 'taper'. As you can see in the paper, the best-documented NASA tests all used dielectrics, and considering them in the theory improves the predictions of QI considerably. Unfortunately for the first Shawyer test it worsens the prediction considerably, such that the thrust is now equal but opposite to that observed. The observed and predicted emdrive thrusts are shown in this table:


McCulloch, M.E., 2017. Testing quantised inertia on emdrives with dielectrics. EPL, Vol. 118, 34003. Journal paper, now open access! Full text also here.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Evidence from an early galaxy

The best way to move forward in science is to find specific anomalies, with numbers attached to them, that theories can be tested against, and this morning I'm very grateful to Frank Becker and John Dorman who tweeted to me about an exciting paper just published in Nature. I say it is exciting, but it's hidden behind a paywall. However, from what I can see from other sources the authors (see references below) have managed to look in detail at a very early galaxy, cleverly using gravitational lensing: using a foreground galaxy which bends the light from a galaxy far distant (and way in the past) in such a way that it magnifies the background image. Thus they have inspected an ancient galaxy at a redshift of Z=2.1478, ten billion years ago when the cosmos was only one third its present size. The only other details I have are that it is half the radius of the Milky Way and has a rotation rate at its edge of 350+/-150 km/s (error bars taken from their Fig. 2). They note that this is very odd and unexpected, why is it spinning so fast! Quantised inertia can explain it.

Quantised inertia predicts that there is a minimum acceleration in the cosmos, given by 2c^2/T, where c is the speed of light and T is the co-moving cosmic diameter. In the far distant past, at a redshift of 2.1478 when the universe was about a third the size it is today, T would be a third the size, so the minimum acceleration should have been three times what it is today. So quantised inertia forces ancient galaxies to spin fast. Do the numbers agree then?

To check this at first order all you have to do is say that the acceleration of this ancient galaxy at its edge (where it is slowest) must be above the QI minimum of 2c^2/T and since acceleration is given by v^2/r where r is the radius, we get v^2/r > 2c^2/T and so v=sqrt(2c^2r/T). If we take the very crude estimates in the secondary sources that this galaxy is half the radius of the Milky Way, then QI predicts a speed of v=538+/-75 km/s which agrees with the observed speed (given the error bars). Admittedly I haven't even read the paper yet (as I said, I can't access it for free), but high redshift data is providing great evidence for quantised inertia, because quantised inertia, alone among theories, predicts a specific change in dynamics with cosmic time and it is just now becoming possible with studies like this one, to check this out. I have been trying to publish a paper on this and it has been rejected six times but is now undergoing a more positive review at ApSS. The paper uses six other early galaxies, which also spin fast in agreement with QI. So thank goodness for the finite speed of light since it makes a very useful time portal out of the night sky.

"What seest thou else in the dark backward and abysm of time?" - Shakespeare, The Tempest.

PS: I now have a copy of the paper. Thank you to those kind folks who sent one.


Sune Toft, Johannes Zabl, Johan Richard, Anna Gallazzi, Stefano Zibetti, Moire Prescott, Claudio Grillo, Allison W. S. Man, Nicholas Y. Lee, Carlos Gómez-Guijarro, Mikkel Stockmann, Georgios Magdis, Charles L. Steinhardt. A massive, dead disk galaxy in the early Universe. Nature, 2017; 546 (7659): 510. https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v546/n7659/full/nature22388.html

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Funny Business at the ArXiv

Once, in childhood, I was playing one of my best friends at chess, and on this occasion I won. After a minute my friend reached over and cheekily pushed over my king. Of course, this was only a couple of kids playing a friendly game, and this fellow is still a great friend of mine, but I feel that some parts of physics are acting the same way.

This was brought home to me last month. For the third time, the arXiv, a freely-available central library for physicists, deleted my submission of my peer-reviewed and accepted paper (on quantised inertia and the emdrive). They say it is similar to a previous one I submitted, but it is a significant advance on that paper, otherwise the journal, which is a good one and which published the other one as well, would not have accepted it as a new paper. I've had a long running battle with the physics arXiv (this section of the arxiv has anonymous and therefore unaccountable referees, not good scientific practice). They refused to take any of my published papers between 2013 and 2015, and since 2015 they have shifted them from the section on astrophysics, where I need to post to get the attention of astrophysicists, to the section on general physics (a section for work they perceive as 'fringe') that virtually no-one looks at. This is censorship without a solid stated reason.

Crying 'Fringe' or 'Fake News' is not enough, evidence must always be provided, otherwise it is easy for aggressive people to control events to protect their power or funding streams. The only way to destroy this control is to say: "What is your evidence for that?". I have asked the arXiv for their reason many times, they told me to stop asking. Evidence is the light and I always test against evidence in my papers, whereas physicists working on dark matter, string theory or black holes do not. This is no small matter. It is the difference between science and the fluff they had in the middle ages. I can cite some evidence for this contempt of evidence in the mainstream. David Meritt (see ref below) recently showed that most cosmology books published since 2004 do not mention that dark matter has not been found. They do not now even mention the evidence that they have no evidence.

The frustration is that I have lots of evidence that quantised inertia is the best theory available (I have published 18 papers now). QI simply predicts all galaxy rotations, even at high redshift, the low-l CMB anomaly, cosmic acceleration, the flyby anomalies, the Tajmar effect, the emdrive, and many other things. It combines relativity and quantum mechanics and thereby explains inertial mass for the first time. The only difficulty is getting a fair hearing. Thank goodness for journal peer-review and also Research Gate which has no anonymous censorship. The arXiv can be a great asset for physics and I once loved it, I have accessed many papers there, it is free, but the physics section is now clearly biased in this way. I think it is essential that to ensure decisions are made on a scientific basis, it should at least accept everything that is published in a proper journal. Let proper journal peer reviewers decide, not the anonymous.


Merritt, David, 2017. Cosmology and convention. Studies in History and Philosophy of science, 57, 41-52. https://arxiv.org/abs/1703.02389

Friday, 9 June 2017

Announcing: the New Physics channel

So many television programmes are made about dark matter, black holes and string theory using computers to hide with fancy graphics what they completely lack in solid evidence. I don't have access to fancy graphics but I have made a powerpoint video based on my recent seminar at Exeter University. It explains how quantised inertia predicts galaxies without dark matter, and the emdrive thrusts as well. I hope it is at least clear:

Please do give me constructive feedback on this video, and tell me what you'd like to hear about, and I will try and produce some more of them.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Opinion on the UK Election

Apologies, but I cannot help but write something about the election since I am excited by the possibility that Jeremy Corbyn might get into No. 10. There has been since 1979 a huge increase in inequality in the UK. The Gini coeffient that measures inequality has risen from 0.23 in 1979 (the value egalitarian Norway now has) to about 0.4 now (close to the US) and the UK has become a less kind country with more homeless and foodbanks, where assets that everybody used to own collectively (Royal Mail, NHS) are being sold to the rich.

The only solution is to put someone in No. 10 who will listen to ordinary people and not corporations, and will not sell out. In its empirical wisdom, that is what the British democratic system has produced in the form of Jeremy Corbyn, who has stood by his present democratic socialist views consistently for 40 years.

It is very important in my view that, as Labour now propose, the essentials of life: NHS, railways, utilities, post office are owned in common, as they were after WW2. If not, the processes of the game of monopoly take over, capital concentrates in a few hands, and we will all be dependent on the super-rich for the essentials, and they'll raise the price to the maximum. It is also essential to avoid burdening students with debt, so when they graduate they can chose to work on their dreams, rather than aim to get rich quick to pay off their debt. Labour promise to end tuition fees. This, and the increased equality, should produce a more fulfilled and creative society. Hopefully also the general atmosphere will become less money-driven: for example it is also important that scientists are not judged on the amount of funding they bring in, so they will make decisions based on what is scientifically interesting rather than what brings in easy funding (eg: safe topics or expensive equipment).

President Roosevelt's 1944 GI Bill in the US (free college) and the 1948 Labour victory in the UK when the NHS and welfare state were formed, produced a secure and well-educated generation and it is interesting that the GI Bill in the US was followed by its so-called 'greatest generation' (Moon landings, Dylan, Woodward & Bernstein). In contrast high inequality makes a nation weak since the poor become too poor to create, and the rich hide their money away so the economy shrinks. This is why over the millennia there has been a slow tendency away from rule by the rich (the Tory way) and towards democracy and socialism (Labour). Compare for example Ancient Egypt with modern states.

Two of my favourite parts of Star Trek are in The Voyage Home when Dr McCoy goes from the 23rd century back to the 20th Century and regrows a woman's kidney saying "Kidney dialysis? My God, what is this, the dark ages?", and in First Contact when Picard says there is no money in the future. The future can be better, but more advanced technology is not enough. The social system also needs to advance. Electing Corbyn would be a great step towards that. Please vote Labour.


Star Trek IV: Kidney Dialysis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtllgbUiTt0

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Emdrives and dielectrics

I am giving a seminar tomorrow to the Plymouth Astronomical Society, so here is a summary of the talk which is humbly titled: "How to predict the impossible". The impossible in this case is of course the emdrive, a truncated cone-shaped microwave oven that seems to move very, very slightly towards its narrow end as the microwaves resonate within it. This is causing a lot of incredulity in physics, since humanity has never before encountered a system that is able to move itself in one direction without apparently expelling reaction mass in the other direction. The usual rule is called the conservation of momentum and is a very well tested. The emdrive anomaly was first discovered by Roger Shawyer and has recently been reproduced by others, including NASA's Eagleworks Lab.

For many years I have been proposing a theory called quantised inertia, that states that the property of inertia (that which makes it hard to stop walking into lamp-posts) is caused by relativistic horizons damping the quantum vacuum. When you accelerate in one direction two things happen 1) the waves of the quantum vacuum that you see get shorter (Unruh radiation) and 2) a horizon (like a black hole horizon) appears in the opposite direction that damps those waves. Quantised inertia states that the resulting asymmetry in the quantum vacuum pulls you back against the initial acceleration and so it predicts inertia for the first time, but also predicts a new loss of inertia when accelerations are so low that the Unruh waves get damped symmetrically by the cosmic horizon, so it also predicts galaxy rotation, and its change with time, perfectly without dark matter.

How about the impossible emdrive then? Well, it is an asymmetrical cavity, so the idea is that in the narrow end the microwave photons lose some inertia because the Unruh waves don't fit so well (just like galactic edge stars lose inertia because the Unruh waves they see don't fit well inside the cosmic horizon, and so feel less centrifugal force). As a result the emdrive photons gain inertia every time they shuttle towards the wide end, and to conserve momentum the cavity has to move towards its narrow end. Quantised inertia predicts the emdrive thrust data quite well, as I showed in a previous paper. Further, quantised inertia predicts that if you happen to put a dielectric in the wide end, this will shorten the Unruh waves, so more will fit and the gain of inertia from the narrow to the wide end will be enhanced and the cavity will accelerate more. Considering the dielectrics too, quantised inertia predicts the emdrive thrusts extremely well. The Figure below shows the observed thrust on the y axis and the thrusts predicted by quantised inertia on the x-axis, both without considering the dielectrics (white squares) and considering the dielectrics (black diamonds).

The diagonal line marks perfect theory-data agreement. The effect of the dielectrics can be seen most clearly for the tests marked 'NASA2016' (the four white squares, lower centre) where quantised inertia over-predicted the thrusts (the values ideally should be on the diagonal line) until I noticed that NASA put dielectrics in the narrow end of the cavity, thus inadvertently reducing the thrust. When this is considered in quantised inertia, the white squares shift left to become the black diamonds, close to the diagonal line. It can also be seen for Shawyer1, who put a dielectric in the wide end, thus boosting the thrust (top right). This dielectric dependence is a good confirmation of quantised inertia.

Applications of this are to be found in any form of terrestrial of space transport, and one advantage of the explanation from quantised inertia is that it suggests that dielectrics can be used to enhance the effect, which has been too small to be useful as yet. My latest paper on this is just about to appear in EPL (see the reference below).

To change the subject for a bit, it would be fascinating to go to another star in a human lifetime, but for that you need to travel close to the speed of light so that relativistic time dilation gives you an Einsteinian version of suspended animation. For example, if you accelerate at 9.8 m/s^2 for one year, travel at 90% the speed of light (c) for 10 years and then decelerate for one year at 9.8 m/s^2 you could make the 25 light-year trip to Gliese 667 in 12 years (the duration for those on the ship). Unfortunately, although theoretically possible, engineering gets in the way. To get a habitable normal spaceship to 90% of c you would need more energy than can be produced by our civilisation, or as much fuel as a small planet. The emdrive, though, as quantised inertia suggests, uses 'nothing' as its fuel and nothing is readily available everywhere in space (of course, a power source would need to be included).


McCulloch, M.E., 2017. Testing quantised inertia on emdrives with dielectrics. EPL.. Preprint

Sunday, 30 April 2017

What is an electron?

What is an electron? This is the title of a jem of an article written in Wireless World back in 1979 by Prof Roger C. Jennison (see references). Someone sent me the pdf a year or so ago and I have been dipping into it from time to time, increasingly excited and amazed by it.

Roger Jennison made the fascinating point that electrons look very much like photons locked in a self made trap (somehow). For example, when an electron and a positron collide, they annihilate cleanly and out come two oppositely-polarised photons. Also, if you fire photons of slowly-decreasing wavelength at the vicinity of something like a heavy nucleus, suddenly, when the photon wavelength reaches 2.4x10^-12 metres, out comes a positron and an electron (pair production). Why this particular wavelength? See below!

The obvious conclusion is that electrons are made of photons and Jennison took this further by modelling an electron as a photon trapped in a cavity, as shown in the schematic below.

Imagine the photon bounces around inside (the blue waves) pushing the cavity plates (black lines) outwards, and you charge the plates positively and negatively so they attract electrostatically to balance the outward push. This is now a stable, static system.

Now imagine you push the cavity externally from the left to the right (black arrow). Now the photon that is just bouncing off the left wall (the light blue wave) is given more energy by the wall pushing it, and the super-energetic wave then pushes the right wall, so it moves too. As the photon bounces back (dark blue wave) it has lost energy so it has less energy when it gets back to the left hand wall and so pulls that wall rightwards. Now if you take away the initial push, this process continues so that the cavity continues to move rightwards, and so this predicts inertia: the cavity keeps going at constant speed unless pushed on. Jennison's model predicts a lot of other photon properties as well, for example its half classical spin, and it predicts a new effect: changes in speed occur in discrete jumps and that when you use photons of wavelength 2.4x10^-12m then the size of the jumps is Planck's constant, which may explain why that wavelength is crucial.

The model is not complete however, because it is unclear what the cavity walls are made of. They're not likely to be made of a conductive shell. The new point I'd like to make is that quantised inertia might be able to answer this: the cavity walls might be the relativistic horizons seen by the photon as it orbits. For objects like photons (if they are objects) an acceleration towards a centre causes the creation of a cylindrical relativistic horizon, from the electrons' point of view, rather like a wall outside the orbit. Could this complete Jennison's electron model? This also makes me think of course of the origin of other particles (higher modes?), the emdrive cavity and also ball lightning..


Thanks to Michael C. Fidler who sent me the Jennison paper last year, and to John Dorman and others for online discussions on this matter.


Jennison, R.C., 1979. What is a electron? Wireless World, June (Link to pdf, thanks to Tom Short).