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, 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).

References

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..

Acknowledgements

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.

References

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

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Quantised Inertia from Fundamentals

The uncertainty principle of Heisenberg is usually written as dp.dx~hbar and it says that the uncertainty in momentum of a quantum object (dp) times its uncertainty in position (dx) is always a constant (hbar). If a quantum object knows well where it is (dx=small), then it loses the ability to know its speed (dp=big). Conversely, if it knows its speed very well (dp=small), it'll be lost in space (dx=big). This relation from quantum mechanics, and special relativity also, are two clues that physics is due to be reworked around the concept of information. This is what quantised inertia does, joining these two pillars of physics (QM and relativity) on the large scale.

Imagine a red mass (see diagram, top part, red circle). Suddenly you put another mass on the left of it (the black circle). The uncertainty of position of the red mass is shown by the black quadrilateral around it. The red mass can see a large amount of empty space up, down and rightwards (forgetting directions perpendicular to the page for now) so its uncertainty in position (dx) is large in those directions because it cannot position itself well in empty space. However, it can see less far into space to the left because the other mass blocks its view, so its uncertainty of position that way (dx) is lower. The quadrilateral represents dx in each direction. It is skewed outwards to the up, down and right where dx is large, and skewed in to the left where dx is small. Therefore, according to Heisenberg, the quadrilateral showing the uncertainty in momentum has to be the opposite: skewed out to the left and skewed in for the other directions (see the blue envelope). Since momentum involves speed, this predicts that it is statistically or quantum mechanically more likely that the object will move to the left. In a formal derivation I have shown this not only looks like gravity but predicts it (see reference below).


Now, as the red object approaches the black one (see lower panel) its uncertainty in position (dx) to the left gets ever smaller, so dp must increase and the red object must accelerate. "Aha!" Says the other great fundamental pillar of physics: relativity, "I now become relevant!". Since the red object is now accelerating away from the space to the right, information from far to the right cannot get to old Red, and a horizon forms (the black line) beyond which is unknowable space for Red. This Rindler horizon is like the black mass. It blocks Red's view and so Red's uncertainty in position to the right reduces (dx, see the black quadrilateral contract from the right) and so the uncertainty in momentum to the right increases (see the blue quadrilateral now extends further to the right). Red now has a chance of moving both left and right and this has the effect of cancelling some of its initial acceleration towards the black mass. This looks like inertia, and indeed it predicts quantised inertia (see reference below).

In this way, you can derive something that looks like quantised inertia (if you consider also the cosmic horizon) and gravity, just by allowing quantum mechanics and relativity to mix at large scales. The whole package could be called horizon mechanics. The word 'horizon' from relativity, the 'mechanics' from the quantum side. As a happy side effect, quantised inertia or horizon mechanics solves a lot of problems in physics that you may have heard of: it explains cosmic acceleration, predicts galaxy rotation without dark matter, and its redshift dependence, and predicts the emdrive. These successes should not be sneezed at, representing 96% of the cosmos, and with the emdrive practically offering a new kind of propulsion. Oddly enough, for a theory intended to replace general relativity, the behaviour I have just described looks quite tensor-ish..

References

McCulloch, M.E., 2016. Quantised inertia from relativity & the uncertainty principle, EPL, 115, 69001. ResearchGate preprintarXiv preprint

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Easter Thank Yous

Rather than criticising theorists that in my opinion are doing things wrong, which is negative, exhausting and would take far too long :) it is more positive to thank those that I admire and who have inspired me in some technical way. I started this list a while ago and neglected to publish it. I have recently added to it, so here it is:

First of all: John Anderson, the co-discoverer of various spacecraft anomalies and more recently periodic variations in big G, without which I would have had far fewer anomalies to get me interested. I love his style because he publishes carefully analysed anomalous data and honestly points out that 'this is unexplained'. This is rare, and is a gift for a data-driven theorist like me.

Although the influence is not direct, I cannot not mention Stephen Fulling, Paul Davies, Bill Unruh and Stephen Hawking (with help from Zeldovitch, Starobinksy & Bekenstein). The discoverers of Hawking-Unruh radiation, without whom Quantised Inertia (QI) / MiHsC would not be possible.

Haisch, Rueda and Puthoff who in 1994 proposed the first model (stochastic electrodynamics) for how inertial mass might be caused by the zero point field (paper), a model that thrilled me when I first read it on a long train journey, like a chink of light would thrill someone lost in a cave. Later I decided it was the way to go, but wrong (it needs a arbitrary cutoff) and this inspired me towards QI/MiHsC and an asymmetric Casimir effect (aCe) which needs no cut-off. I am thrilled and honoured to now be in email contact with Hal Puthoff.

Mordehai Milgrom, who first suggested that physical laws might be wrong at low acceleration and invented MoND in 1983. Milgrom also speculated on a link between MoND and Unruh radiation but wasn't specific, and then discounted the possibility in 1999 saying Unruh radiation was isotropic so could not generate a force. Although MoND is a huge step up from dark matter, it is not as good as MiHsC because it lacks a specific model and needs a number to be input by hand (QI/MiHsC predicts this number by itself). However, Milgrom's papers on MoND were an inspiration to me, and he also kindly commented on (politely disagreed with) my first paper on MiHsC when I sent a draft to him.

Martin Tajmar who has the rare mix of being open-minded enough to test new anomalies while also being professional about it, and he brings much needed respectability to anomalous experiments. Also, like me, he is lucky enough to be married to a South Korean.

Scarpa et al. (2007) who wrote a brilliant paper on globular clusters (published at the first crisis in cosmology conference) that provided the first empirical evidence I was aware of that dark matter, which I didn't believe anyway, was wrong. The data also shows that QI/MiHsC, which depends on local accelerations, and not MoND which depends on external ones, was the answer.

Stacy McGaugh, who I met at my first astrophysics conference on 'Alternative Gravities' in Edinburgh in 2006, and who was the only one at the workshop who seemed to consider MiHsC seriously. He has been kind enough to send me stellar data from time to time, and I hope he will actually cite me someday! He has recently also co-published important results that falsify dark matter.

Jaume Gine, with whom I published the first collaborative paper on QI/MiHsC in 2016. This joint-paper was submitted to so many journals over a couple of years that I'm grateful for both his input and perseverence. The first paper on QI/MiHsC by another person solo was also recently published by Keith Pickering, and takes a refreshingly modified approach (here). Also, Prof Jose Perez-Diaz, who came to see me last year for a few months, and I enjoyed our many discussions. He is now trying to detect QI/MiHsC using a LEMdrive arrangement.

John Dorman who wrote the first, and incisively entertaining, review of my book, a review that struck truer to home than may be apparent from outside, since I sometimes feel just like a boxer in the ring. I now have it blue-tacked on my study wall. He has been especially quick to understand the central importance of horizons and suggested a new name for the theory: 'horizon mechanics'. This name could be used in future if and when gravity is incorporated, since 'mechanics' implies a complete system.

Finally to go back in time again: I submitted my first paper on MiHsC to the prestigious journal MNRAS in 2006, and fully expected to be rejected since I'd never submitted on astrophysics before (only ocean physics up till then). The reviewer said they "didn't exactly believe MiHsC, but it was more plausible than many alternatives which had been published", so they let it pass, to my great joy. The reviewer was also amused by my use of the word 'forecast' instead of 'prediction' (I worked at the Met Office at the time). If this first paper had been rejected I may have given up.

These are only some of the inspiring folk and someday I'll make a complete list. Thanks to all. Happy Easter!

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.

References

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

Plutophysia

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).

References

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