I've suggested (& published in 15 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

Thursday, 23 March 2017

New Evidence at High Redshift

One of the unique and testable predictions of MiHsC / quantised inertia is that the dynamics of galaxies should depend on the size of the observable universe. This is because it predicts a cosmic minimum allowed acceleration of 2c^2/Cosmicscale. Why is this? Well, the Unruh waves seen by an object and that (in QI) cause its inertial mass, lengthen as the object's acceleration reduces and you can't have an acceleration that gives you Unruh waves that are too big to resonate in the cosmos. So if you imagine running the cosmos backwards, as the cosmic scale shrinks, more Unruh waves would be disallowed (as in the narrow end of the emdrive), inertial mass goes down, centrifugal forces decrease and so galaxies need faster rotation to be dynamically balanced. Therefore, QI predicts that in the past galaxies should have been forced to spin faster (everything else being equal).

Many people online alerted me to a paper that has just been published in Nature (Genzel et al., 2017) that supports this prediction. The paper looked at six massive galaxies so far away from us that we are looking at them many billions of years ago when the observable universe was much less than its present size, and, sure enough, they spin faster! To compare QI with the data, I have plotted the preliminary graph below.

It shows along the x axis the observed acceleration of these ancient galaxies, determined from Doppler measurements of their stars' orbital speed (a=v^2/r) and along the y axis the minimum acceleration predicted by quantised inertia (a=2c^2/cosmicscale). The QI vs observation comparison for the six galaxies is shown by the black squares and the numbers next to them show the redshift of each galaxy. The redshift (denoted Z) is a measurement of distance. Erwin Hubble found that the further away galaxies are from us, the faster they are receding from us, and so their light is stretched in a Doppler sense and is redshifted. So redshift is proportional to distance. The redshifts of the galaxies in this study ranged from Z=0.854, bottom left in the plot, at which the cosmos was 54% its present size to Z = 2.383, centre right, for which the cosmos was pretty cramped at 30% its present size (the formula for the size of the cosmos at redshift Z is SizeThen=SizeNow/(1+Z).

Quantised inertia predicts clearly that the acceleration increases with redshift, just as observed. The diagonal line shows where the points should lie if agreement was exact. Although the points are slightly above the line this is not a huge worry since the data is so uncertain. The uncertainty in the observed acceleration is probably something like 40% (looking at the scatter plots in Genzel et al. I've assumed a 20% error in the velocities they measured, and a=v^2/r). I have not plotted error bars yet because it'll take time to work out properly what they are. The two highest redshift galaxies are obviously quite aberrant, and this shows that the data is not yet good enough to be conclusive.

So in a preliminary way, and error-bars pending, the graph shows that QI predicts the newly-observed increase in galaxy rotation in the distant past. Given the uncertainties, more data is urgently needed to confirm this. As far as I know, quantised inertia is the only theory that predicted this observed behaviour.


Genzel et al., 2017. Nature, 543, 397–401 (16 March 2017) http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v543/n7645/abs/nature21685.html

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


Once upon a long time ago there was a land called Plutophysia and it was ruled by General R. Tivity. The General, in his salad days, had developed quite a reputation for predicting the weather, and indeed for some phenomena he had skill. When he had said "Today it will rain!" it always did. When he said "Go to the beach" everyone went.

Then one day a strange apparition appeared: a vast swirling column of wind and dust which knocked down a grain silo. The country folk came to the General and described the phenomenon. The General, with perfect confidence said
"Ah yes. It is caused by an invisible wind God: a Chindi!"
and he directed his scientists to look for these wind Gods. Egon, the lead scientist scratched his head, and then other parts of his body, as he tried to think. Nothing occurred to him. Eventually, some leaders of industry came to him and said
"We have a machine that can detect wind Gods, but it is very expensive".
"Never mind!" said Egon "I have the General's ear!"
"Having his purse would be better.." said the industrialists.
"The two are connected" said Egon and sure enough before long there was a fine industry building machines to detect the Wind Gods. This went on for some time, because invisible wind Gods are difficult to detect.

After several decades of waiting, the folk of Plutophysia became fed up since many farms had been torn apart by the phenomena. They were also tired of hearing the words 'wind God', and the scientists and industrialists were getting so fat that they had to carry them around in wheelbarrows. One day an unimpressive scruff from The Shire was brought in to see the old General and said
"General, I can predict these swirls of wind! They are caused by heating of air near the ground which rises".
The General said "What is this idiot babbling about? What are heat and air?".
But the scruff insisted
"I can predict they all occur at the hottest times. I have the data to prove it! Furthermore we can make flying machines based on this idea and move away to a better place..".
The General said "Enough!" and looked to his industrial advisors and top scientists.
"What say you to this young miscreant?".
They conferred "We would say sire that he is a dangerous lunatic and it would be best to lock him away from the general public lest your reputation for weather prediction be called into question."
The General decided quickly.
"Quite right. Guards! Put him in jail. Oh, and burn that data will you? Nasty profit-less stuff to have lying around".

Some wise people complained at this insult to free speech and scientific inquiry. Most eventually forgot about it so as not to lose their jobs in the wind-God detector machine factories. Some did not forget and also ended up in gaol. So Plutophysia spent all its money on the machines and was ruined. In the end all that was left was a huge ring of machines surrounding the broken farms, and a few old codgers living by the shattered remains of a prison, but building an air balloon..

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Horizon Drive 1.0

Horizons are a prediction of general relativity. The first theoretical example was the idea of a black hole in which the gravity is so strong that light and therefore information cannot escape. So the black holes are surrounded by an event horizon, a boundary between what can be seen and what can't: the inside. This horizon not been seen directly, but the matter spiraling in towards the horizon emits heat due to friction (the accretion disc) and emits radiation, and that has been seen. Another kind of horizon occurs at the edge of the cosmos, since beyond that edge stars are moving away from us at a speed faster than light and so information from them cannot get to us: a cosmic horizon.

Lest you think that horizons are difficult to get to, I can assure you that there's no need to take part in a kamikaze mission into a black hole or to travel to the cosmic edge. Horizons are everywhere. If you accelerate to the right, then information from far to the left, limited to the speed of light, can't catch up with you, so a so-called Rindler horizon forms to your left. You can make your own horizon, at home, just by moving your hand. Quantised inertia comes from assuming that this horizon damps the zero point field, making it non-uniform and pulling your hand back against its initial acceleration. Quantum mechanics (zpf) and relativity (horizons) co-operate here to make quantised inertia which predicts inertial mass and, by the way, the 96% of the cosmos that standard physics cannot (see the orange bit in the pie chart below: an unsubtle way to make the point, but mainstream physics ignores this).

A common feature of all these horizons is that they attract. Black holes do by definition, though the evidence for them is not direct. The cosmic horizon also attracts everything towards it. Evidence for that was found by Riess and Perlmutter (1999): the famous cosmic acceleration (quantised inertia shows why). The Rindler horizon pulls you back against any acceleration and in this way, quantised inertia predicts inertial mass.

So, the obvious "spread-mankind-thru-the-galaxy" question is, can we make synthetic horizons wherever we want and make spaceships move without fuel? I think so. The first evidence I can mention to back this up is the Casimir effect, which was first demonstrated practically in 1997 by Lamoreaux. Two parallel metal plates act as horizons, damping the zero point field (zpf) between them so there's less zpf pushing out and more zpf outside pushing them together. Energy and movement from what was supposed to be 'nothing'. In my opinion the emdrive is the second example. My evidence for that is that quantised inertia predicts it by assuming that the metal walls of the cavity damp the zero point field more at its narrow end, so the cavity moves that way, almost as if it is moving down a hill. Quantised inertia (QI, MiHsC) predicts the observed thrusts well.

It is important to note that you can't use any old cavity here. If you want to change the inertial mass, or move, an object, then the metal shape you use must be of a size that damps the wavelength of the Unruh waves that the object will see. The higher the acceleration, the shorter the waves. In the emdrive the photons are accelerating so fast that the Unruh waves they see are of similar size to the cavity. If you put a snail in there, or indeed anything travelling at sub-light speed, they'll see Unruh waves far longer than the cavity and there'll be no effect on their inertia or motion. Most accelerations we know about 'see' Unruh waves light years long (associated with horizons light-years away) so to make a horizon drive you need to have a part of the engine hyper-accelerated (the acceleration core, see circle on the right, in the schematic below) and a metal structure to damp Unruh waves asymmetrically. This 'damper' is the structure on the left and it could be fractal, as shown, to damp Unruh waves across a greater range of accelerations. The core is predicted by QI to move left:

The emdrive does this with photons resonating back and forth, but there are many other possible ways to make a hyper-accelerated core: spinning discs, photons in fibre-optic loops (LEMdrive), plasmons propagating round sharp corners, electron jumps at superconducting transitions (Podkletnov, Poher), even sonoluminescence. Practical physicists will know of many more possibilities. You then just need an asymmetrical metal structure of the right size to damp the Unruh field and the core will move anomalously.

Quantised inertia predicts a entirely new field of horizon engineering. Ultimately it may provide technology like the space-time engineering used to build The Way in Greg Bear's brilliant novel Eon. Nature in my view is not made of old-fashioned waves and particles, but of information and horizons and the evidence is pilling up that this is true (see my papers).


McCulloch, M.E., 2013. Inertia from an asymmetric Casimir effect. EPL, 101, 59001 (see discussion). https://arxiv.org/abs/1302.2775

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Strings, loops and quantised inertia

I've just read an interesting, but ultimately unsatisfying article in New Scientist about string theory and loop quantum gravity and how these two theories might agree with each other. This agreement may be a great mathematical achievement, but it is only that, because neither theory is testable.

I have blogged about string theory before (here). It imagines every particle in nature is made of a string (in 11-dimensions) and the waves on the string determine the properties of the particle. I admire its ambition, since it tries to explain all the particles, including the graviton, the particle assumed to be responsible for gravity, and tries to be a theory of everything, but it is really a theory of nothing, since it has so many variations you can pick whatever version agrees with what you are looking at, and it makes no specific testable predictions. The one sort-of prediction made, supersymmetry, has now been falsified by the LHC (see here).

Loop quantum gravity is the other popular theory and it is simpler and bolder. A great simplification of Einstein was that he made space-time dependent on the mass within it. A bit like making the stage one of the actors in a play. He did this because space-time is something you cannot directly see anyway, so it's fair game for tweaking and this process means that general relativity is neatly 'background independent': the background space-time is determined by the mass. Loop quantum gravity continues this simplification by saying that spacetime is quantised and so, as in commercial airflight, there is a minimum distance you can travel. Loop quantum gravity is neat but has not yet made a good testable prediction. In the article they claim bouncing black holes might be a test, and there are a lot of 'may's and 'might's, but this is not the same as a controllable lab test: how can you be sure you are seeing a bouncing black hole from afar and not a million other possibilities?

Neither of these theories address the huge observations anomalies we can see including anomalous galaxy rotation and cosmic acceleration which are crying out for attention. Both theories focus on the big bang and distant black holes, as if they are afraid of a more down-to-Earth test. Common sense says we need to learn to fix the bathroom tap (eg: galaxy rotation, flybys, emdrive) before we tackle the plumbing on Pluto (eg: the big bang and black holes).

There is a theory that in some sense looks a bit like both these, but it has not come from a theoretical approach. It has come from paying attention to the anomalous observations that the mainstream ignore. This theory is MiHsC/quantised inertia/horizon mechanics (three names, take your pick!). In this theory, incomplete as yet, particle properties (inertial mass) depend on whether the Unruh waves they can see fit inside horizons. This is similar to string theory's waves on strings, but without needing to invent new waves and seven new dimensions! Quantised inertia also has the background independence of loop quantum gravity in that the behaviour of masses determines their space: an observer's acceleration creates horizons that determine what space is for that observer and that leads back to mass. Plus quantised inertia has no lack of tests, predicting galaxy rotation, its redshift dependence and cosmic acceleration perfectly and simply.

In summary, the New Scientist article is interesting and informative, but far too theoretical, as is all of mainstream physics. Too much theory is a mistake: history shows that new physics always comes from thinking about new observations, because the cosmos' imagination is far better than man's.


Cartright, J., 2017. When loops become strings. New Scientist, 11th March 2017. 

Monday, 27 February 2017

The Range of Quantised Inertia

I've just finished teaching my Space Exploration module at the University of Plymouth. The useful thing about teaching is that it renews knowledge and helps one to view the subject as a whole. Of course, I gave a research lecture on quantised inertia (QI) and made a useful new summary plot for it, just to show the range of anomalies or phenomena in physics that can be explained and predicted by quantised inertia, and not by standard physics. The plot below shows on the x axis the scale of the phenomenon (in a qualitative manner), from the sub-atomic proton radius anomaly on the left to the oddities at the cosmic scale on the right. The y axis shows the accelerations within the phenomena from the infinitesimal cosmic accelerations at the bottom to the emdrive full of resonating microwaves at the top. The text boxes show all the anomalies QI predicts. I have published all these agreements, apart from Proxima Centauri & the proton radius anomaly, in mainstream journals. This is not to say I can confirm all these anomalies, and some of my analyses are incomplete (eg: for the flybys), but taken together they build a very strong empirical argument for quantised inertia. What other coherent theory can do all this? None.

Poor old standard physics does not predict any of these phenomena without inventing arbitrary exotic matter and arbitrary new physics to go with it: like the awful dark matter hypothesis which has now been falsified, for example by this paper. The anomalies in the plot are not a small problem either: they represent 96% of the cosmos! QI needs only a relatively small, if fundamental, tweak to standard physics to predict them all. All you have to do is allow the horizons made by relativity to 'damp' the quantum vacuum, making inertial mass as a side product. This is very satisfying and goes some way to reuniting the bifurcation in physics produced by Einstein when he sent the subject off onto the contradictory quantum and relativistic trajectories. Most physicists prefer to add bits to existing physics rather than tweak the equations that already exist, but QI tweaks those equations very very slightly, and in a way that does not violate any data, and, as the plot shows, it predicts a lot more that way.


To see how quantised inertia explains these phenomena, follow these links to the published papers /preprints::

Emdrive, Tajmar effect, Pioneer anomaly, Flyby anomaly, dwarf galaxy rotation, galaxy/cluster rotation, cosmic acceleration, low-l CMB anomaly.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Data's the Thing

Actors have a saying "The play's the thing", ie: the play comes before the ego. Similarly scientist's should say: "The data's the thing". History and common sense back up the importance of data. Scientific progress has never involved playing it safe and fudging 96% of the cosmos with invisible dark stuff to preserve egos or the status quo. Progress has always come from looking at controversial new data, and thinking anew.

Quantised inertia is the result of pondering new data from the cosmic scale to the atomic, and I have had empirical success at various scales (cosmic scale, galactic scale and Solar system scale), but the lab scale is particularly useful because a desktop experiment can be easily controlled and reproduced. This is why the emdrive has caused such a furore: it is forcing people (well, some!) to question familiar physics for the first time in nearly a century. Not bad for a little copper cone. I do not discount the possibility it might still be wrong, but those who claim it is wrong have to say what it otherwise is, and not just say "it's wrong" as if they have God's phone number.

In all this it is important to keep focused on the data so here is a table of all the emdrive results so far. We have to be cautious because some of these results have been published with varying degree of peer-review (shown in bold) and some have not. I have also included a new result from 'monomorphic' on the NSF forum, so there are now 11 data points, seven of them published in conferences and one (NASA2016) in a mainstream journal.

The table gives a identifier for the experiment on the left in chronological order from top-bottom. The second column shows the thrust observed in milli-Newtons (mN). The third column shows the thrust predicted by quantised inertia (MiHsC) including the effect of dielectrics (which reduce the speed of light in the cavity). I submitted a paper on this dielectric version of quantised inertia to EPL about a month ago so I should have the reviewers' comments soon. The new 11th data point from monomorphic is shown at the bottom. His power input was 1 Watt, his Q value was 8100 and his cavity had no dielectric and was 0.24m long, and had wide and small end of diameter 0.299m and 0.178m respectively (according to his NSF posts, please correct me if I am wrong). The thrust he measured was 13 microN and quantised inertia predicts 14 microN.

Given all the data surely you have to agree that quantised inertia predicts pretty well for a theory that can not be adjusted and is still an approximation. It ideally needs a computer model, like COMSOL, to do it justice, because my usual technique of scribbling maths on bits of paper is unable to capture em-modes and their complex interaction with horizons.

It would be useful to compare the predictability of quantised inertia with that of the other emdrive theories by looking at some ratio of how accurately they predict the data, over the number of arbitrary parameters they need to do it, but I have not seen any comparison plots showing observations and calculations from the other theories (I may have missed them). If the Plymouth-Emdrive workshop gets off the ground, I will make sure it is empirical. Ernest Hemingway once said: "If a writer stops observing, then they are finished". I think the same thing goes for physicists.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

My response to the Forbes article

A few days ago an article appeared in Forbes magazine directly criticising me and quantised inertia. I understand that after working for decades on dark matter, many find quantised inertia difficult to accept. I do hope to persuade them slowly, but a debate should be based on empirical evidence and this article did not present any. It also misexplained quantised inertia, and vaguely attacked my attitude, so I need to answer it.

For example, the article accuses me of not addressing criticism, but all the comments I have received from the mainstream say I am violating a theory that only predicts 4% of the cosmos (in some sense). What exam can you pass with a mark of 4%? What matters to me is whether I am violating empirical data. No-one has shown that. It is true that I need to show how quantised inertia might fit together with general relativity, but that is a far lower priority than comparison with data, and to compare QI with GR some communication between me and general relativists needs to begin, but it has been cut off, and not by me. I haven't been accepted at a physics conference since 2012 and most physicists have refused my attempts to engage by email.

The article claims I am on some sort of mad slide into pseudoscience, but if you look at the facts: in every one of my 17 published papers I have tested quantised inertia against real data, and it worked without adjustment. In contrast there has never been any direct evidence for the dark matter the mainstream believe in, and the hypothesis is nothing but adjustment. So you have to conclude that it is the dark matterists who have been on the slide into pseudoscience for decades and the only reason they haven't noticed is they are all happily going down together, so self-correction has become impossible.

The article claims that Unruh radiation is so small it is incapable of generating an inertial force, but the author has not understood my papers: I have shown quite simply that when it is made non-uniform in space by relativistic horizons, Unruh radiation does produce the right amount of force. Please see this paper: preprint and a later one where Dr Jaume Gine corrected an error I made to give better results: journal.

The emdrive thrust (which QI predicts) is not "within the noise" as the article claims. The NASA emdrive paper went through five reviewers before being published. Of course, they and all of us may have missed some mundane effect we don't know about yet, but to suggest that all five reviewers do not know noise when they see it is implausible. Noise does not usually pass peer review.

The article says “How strongly verified [mainstream] theories are”. I have received such comments from many reviewers, especially recently, and I can never understand how this can be said with a straight face: mainstream theories predict only 4% of what we see. If that is 'strongly verified' than those words must be in a different language.

The article claims “This hodge-podge is misapplied”. How easy it is to say something like that, but what data proves it is misapplied? It is not enough just to say it and hope that people won't bother to think. Words must be supported by data, but there is no supporting empirical evidence anywhere in the article.

The article says QI “Overturns basic/established physics”. Well, I realise the difficulty of doing it, and do not take it lightly, but it is absolutely fine to modify fundamental physics so long as experiments are still satisfied, and they are. Quantised inertia has only a tiny effect in normal regimes, but it changes things in very low acceleration regimes, which is exactly where normal physics fails. It allows us to predict not 4% of nature, but much closer to all of it, offering an explanation for anomalies at low accelerations such as galaxy rotation and cosmic acceleration. Basic physics is self-contradictory anyway. We know its two halves (GR and quantum mechanics) do not fit together either formally, or causally with Bell test experiments. Quantised inertia allows us to fit it together a little more since the whole point of it is that relativity and quantum mechanics work together to make inertia.

Towards the end, the article bizarrely seems to accuse quantised inertia of being too successful, since it explains so much. First of all, since when is empirical success a crime? That is taking scepticism too far, and that does no-one any good. Also, the reason QI fits these anomalies, as well as the standard data, is because I designed it after looking at new data with an open mind. In my opinion, and I think history shows, that is exactly the right way to advance science and it is what the dark matterists have forgotten.

Quantised inertia is far from complete. It is an approximation to a full theory that I do not have yet. I need the help of other physicists and their great skills to look for the phenomena it predicts (see here) and flesh out the theory. The problem I have is the excruciating one of trying to persuade extremely well-educated and driven people, that I have no desire to antagonise at all, that they are wrong in this one matter, and enlisting their help (which I need) at the same time! If they wanted evidence for my lunacy then they could cite my hopeless optimism in this social respect.

My crucial point remains empirical: quantised inertia agrees with the data more simply than MoND or dark matter (see here for example). There is no way to get away from that fact. They can claim I'm a lunatic with delusions of gradeur (maybe I am, it is not for me to say) but after it all the mass of data that support quantised inertia will not go away, and in the end it will save all of us.


The Forbes aticle:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/briankoberlein/2017/02/15/quantized-inertia-dark-matter-the-emdrive-and-how-to-do-science-wrong/#29792c8617f9