I've suggested (& published in 21 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

Monday, 25 June 2018

Does QI Predict The Woodward Effect?

James Woodward in the US has been boldly experimenting with capacitors which appear to show thrust since the 1990s. I was recently reading about one of them, and to me it looks very much like the emdrive. Also, as I will show tentatively below, the thrust from it can be predicted quite well by quantised inertia, in a far simpler way to Woodward's own explanation which mis-predicts the thrust by several orders of magnitude (ie: I admire his experiments, but I do not accept his theory).

Woodward's thrusters or Mach Effect Thrusters (see Mahood, 1999, Tajmar, 2017) typically look like the image below. An AC current is input into a capacitor (the vertical black lines) making an EM field. There is a dielectric in between (yellow) or sometimes to the side, which is a piezo-electric material (PZT) that vibrates when the EM field is applied. The setup is asymmetric because there is a heavy reaction mass (plate), here shown on the left.

Quantised inertia predicts that this contraption should move towards the end with the large brass plate (just as it is observed to do) just as the emdrive moves towards its narrow end, because in both cases Unruh waves are more damped at the end with the massive plate, so photons of the em field will always gain mass on going towards the wide end or the end with less metal, and so, to conserve momentum, the thruster itself must thrust left. The above also looks similar to the horizon drive.

So, let's get a bit more quantitative. A simplified version of the QI thrust formula is

F=(PQL/c) x ((1/w1)-(1/w2))

where F is the thrust towards the end with the massive plate, P is the power input, Q is the quality factor, L is the length and w1 and w2 are the 'widths' of the cavity at the two ends (which affects the amount of Unruh-damping). Now, how can we model exactly the damping of the Unruh waves by the two end caps' thickness? I cannot yet do it in detail, but one way to do it, to predict the maximum thrust obtainable would be to assume that the thin brass cap on the right does not damp the Unruh waves, so the photon can see the cosmos and w2 = the Hubble scale. The other end, being thicker, does damp the Unruh waves so the width (w1) there is roughly the distance between the centre of the dielectric and the middle of the brass end plate. The particular experiment I will look at is Mahood (1999) for which L=0.025m and P=145 W. To estimate Q, I have had to use the dissipation constant of 2% given for another thruster in a report by March and Palfreyman (2006). So Q=2pi x 100%/2% = 314. The thrust toward the large plate end is then predicted (in a very crude way) by QI to be

F = (145 x 314 x 0.025 / 3x10^8) x (1/0.025 - 1/huge)

F = 15x10^-5 N

The observed thrust was 5x10^-5 N (Mahood, 1999) so the prediction by QI is not bad, and far better than Woodward's model which was several orders of magnitude out (according to Mahood, 1999). As expected from the assumptions, the QI prediction overestimates the thrust. This is obviously a very crude calculation, which is why I'm spouting it here, and not in a journal yet, but it is interesting that QI predicts this Mach Effect Thruster, and also of course the emdrive, galaxy rotation, cosmic acceleration...etc. The thruster may allow a new way to test QI, and could be an example of the horizon drive. I do need to look at the other thrusters because I believe some of them were not asymmetric, and build up a more statistically-significant results list for comparison with the predictions of QI.


Mahood, Thomas L. (February 1999). "Propellantless propulsion: Recent experimental results exploiting transient mass modification". AIP Conference Proceedings. Space Technology and Applications International Forum-STAIF 2000, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 458. American Institute of Physics. pp. 1014–1020. Link

Tajmar,M., 2017. Mach-effect thruster model. Acta Astronautica, 141, 8-16.

March, P. and A. Palfreyman, 2006. The Woodward effect: math modelling & continued experimental verifications at 2 to 4 MHz. CP813, STAIF-2006.


Simon Derricutt said...

Mike - the Mahood paper is behind a paywall. Is there any arXiv paper or other free version available?

Achieving a fairly-close prediction with QI looks good. Is it possible that the thick brass doesn't shield Unruh waves that well? AFAICT it's only going to be a Black Hole that will totally shield Unruh waves, after all.

The Mach effect does seem to be extremely small for any reasonable power level. Could be better with higher Q, but piezo-ceramics are pretty lossy. Since coils have too high an inductance to run well at high frequencies, though, then producing sufficient vibration to get the effect any other way seems to be out.

Just a suggestion, but it may be worth thinking about a better way to utilise QI for a drive system. Because of the discussions here, I'm working on a drive idea that doesn't depend on QI in order to work, but it seems there should be better ways as well.

Jimmy Johnson said...


There is no pay wall for the Mahood paper. Just click on the "LINK" keyword and the paper appears.

Jimmy Johnson

Mumrah said...

Hi Mike, do you think https://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1820/ could actually be the fly-by anomoly? We don't often see things in hyperbolic orbits of the Sun.

Simon Derricutt said...

Jimmy - thanks, looks like Mike updated the link.

mikenyc said...

Dr. McCulloch: One particular criticism of your work has been that it remains very incomplete. For instance, in this case and in the case of your thoughts on the emdrive and cold fusion, you seem to suggest that conducting walls act to form a boundary for Unruh waves. How? Have you made that argument formal anywhere?

Unknown said...

A lovely potential lab sized demonstration I could imagine you displaying in a TED talk or one of those physics demonstrations for kids we used to go to at, is it the Royal society building? Like certain classical early electrics demonstrations. Would be great to see you show n tell with an actual physical device infront of you, a bit small probably, there'll be a way to bundle loads of them together to make a big thing with a force observable with the naked eye... A big bundle of wires set to a backdrop of a spiral galaxy and an accelerating expanding universe picture with a big red cross through it, I can kind of see it in my minds eye, like a 19th century royal society demonstration of new physics, physical, empirical, visual, touchable, feelable. Glad I found you again, Stanley Kosovan (banned from twitter now, good, a horrible party their having in there)

Unknown said...

Jim Woodward has sent out a critique of quantized inertia to those on his email distribution list. I was wondering if you could respond to his points:

"A comment on wrong ideas in physics (in particular) seems warranted given recent developments. Long ago I encountered a scheme to explain gravity that had some superficial allure. That the inverse square nature of the interaction could be accounted for by a "shadow" mechanism. Space is allegedly permeated by a "sea" of high energy particles that are slightly attenuated on passage through matter (that is, neutrino-like stuff), and the three dimensional shadow cast by such attenuation would result in an effective attractive force between two objects with inverse square dependence. When examined with care, of course, this scheme doesn't work. I mentioned this scheme to my Dad when I first encountered it, now many years ago. He just laughed and explained that wrong ideas, once conceived, never die, they just fade away for a while. How long? Just long enough for people to forget the reasons why the idea in question was abandoned. Then someone comes along and resuscitates it. That is, about 20 to 30 years later. Not long after our conversation (from my present perspective anyway) I ran across the originator of the shadow gravity idea (in my doctoral research): a Genevan scientist named Georges Louis LeSage, who cooked it up in the 1790s.

Another gravity related scheme has joined LeSage's "ultramondaine" particles. The proposition that inertia -- a gravitational effect in general relativity (the correct theory of gravity) -- is caused by the appearance of electromagnetic waves in the "quantum vacuum" in accelerating reference frames, and that it is the action of these waves on "matter" that causes the inertial reaction forces of Newton's 3rd law; first proposed in the mid 1990s. The current incarnation of this speculation is so-called "quantized inertia". Like it's precursor, it is wrong. The reason why it is wrong is that electromagnetism does not couple universally to "matter", aka energy and other stuff, all of which has inertia. The electromagnetic field couple only to electric charges and currents thereof. This coupling leads immediately to a situation that shows that inertia cannot be explained as electromagnetism in disguise: the inertial masses of the proton and neutron. ...continued below

Unknown said...


The force law that governs the interaction of electromagnetic fields and their sources (electric charge and currents) is called the Lorentz force law. It has a simple form:

F = eE + (e/c)v X B

where e is the electric charge being acted upon by the force F, E is the electric field strength, v the velocity of the charge in the specified frame of reference, and B is the magnetic induction. And yes, I'm using Gaussian units. Us old duffers get to do that. In the case of an electromagnetic wave impinging on a proton or neutron, the so-called "Einstein-Hopff" approximation is used to compute F. It consists of two steps. First, the action of the electric field is considered, that is, eE. This produces an acceleration of the charge normal to the direction of the wave, and through it the charge acquires a (periodic) velocity proportional to eE. The second step consists of substituting the value for v from the action of the electric field into the second term in the Lorentz force, the magnetic term. This produces the result that,

Fmag ~ (e2/c)E X B

E X B produces a force in the direction of propagation of the wave. And since the charge e is squared, the direction of the force is the same for both positive and negative charges (the feature of the electromagnetic interaction that makes is so tempting in schemes to explain inertia and gravity).

Armed with knowledge of the Lorentz force law, we ask, if an electromagnetic wave responsible for inertia acts on a proton and a neutron, what effective inertial mass(es) does it produce? We note that the proton and neutron are made of quarks. The proton has two "up" quarks, each with a fractional electronic charge of + 2/3, and one "down" quark with - 1/3 electronic charge for a total charge of + 1. The neutron has one up quark and two down quarks for a total charge of 0. We next consider a proton and neutron subjected to the same acceleration, which for convenience we specify as magnitude 1. Newton's second law tells us that F = ma, or m = F/a. And since we are taking a = 1, m = F ~ e2. e2 for the proton is (2/3)2 + (2/3)2 + (1/3)2 = 9/9 [= 1]. In the case of the neutron we have (2/3)2 + (1/3)2 + (1/3)2 = 6/9. It follows immediately by substitution into m = F ~ e2 that the inertial mass of the neutron is only 6/9ths [2/3rds] of the mass of the proton. This is obviously wrong as the masses of the proton and neutron are measured to be almost exactly the same.

There is no even remotely plausible weasel way out of this argument. It falsifies ALL explanations that invoke electromagnetic fields [waves] to explain gravity and/or inertia. When someone tries to sell you on such a scheme, definitely do NOT invest. Smile and change the subject."

Mike McCulloch said...

Unknown: Thank you for telling me about Woodward's secret email. His criticism was based on his apparent belief that QI is electromagnetic. Well, it isn't. #QI makes motion from just quantum jitter (Unruh radiation) made non-uniform by relativity (horizons). All you need are the quantum uncertainty principle and special relativity. No EM at all! Maybe you can ask him to read my papers, especially this one: https://arxiv.org/abs/1610.06787 which explains the concept.

Mike McCulloch said...

Unknown: I would also point out that QI also does a far better job of predicting the Woodward effect than the GR-based theory of Woodward, which is orders of magnitudes out. I am writing a paper on that for EPL. I should also point out that GR that he bases his theory on is a failed theory - it has failed to predict the rotation of every galaxy ever seen. A 0% record. Nevertheless, I admire Woodward still, for his experiments.

Marco Parigi said...

Hi Mike,

I know that you managed to derive the mass of an electron from QI, as a trapped photon as it were. Is there a path to explain quarks in a similar way, or protons/neutron? I know you had some good ideas regarding the proton radius anomaly, and I guess in some form, looking at subatomic particles in a quantum/relativistic combined sense should be a good way forward. Charge, as modelled by Woodward in his email, should actually be a derivative effect of the Quantum/relativistic physics of charged particles. In his attack he is taking it as electromagnetism is being invoked to explain gravity. Whereas, QI is using QM and Relativity as modifying the inertial properties of mass only. The only aspect that this breaks the assumptions of GR, is the *fixed* duality of an accelerating frame of reference and gravity. QI just makes this duality a derived effect only true outside of extreme low and extreme high accelerating frames of reference. Woodward appears to made a straw man out of the argument- That's for sure.

Zephir said...

/* His criticism was based on his apparent belief that QI is electromagnetic. Well, it isn't. #QI makes motion from just quantum jitter (Unruh radiation) made non-uniform by relativity (horizons). */

I don't think that Woodward capacitors work by Mach effect. But I think, they work with some abstract information horizons neither. Instead of it, the charged capacitors contain Dirac electrons which interact with vacuum fluctuations.

BTW The QI can never work once the Unruh radiation gets involved because Unruh radiation is luminal. I can still see the common points of Mach drive theory with QI, but I think, both you both Woodward are a bit confused. I enjoyed your comparison of mainstream science to church but please don't fall into trap of noncritical thinking (just because some formal regression seem to support your belief) too.

Mike McCulloch said...

Zephir: The present mainstream fashion is to drift comfortably in a self-made la la land, but I still follow the old scientific method. So, here it is: Woodward's theory is complex and it does not predict the thrusts. It is a factor of 1000 out in some cases. Therefore Woodward's theory is wrong. QI is very simple and predicts the thrusts quite well, so it has a chance of being right and it is at least useful (predictive). If other hypotheses want to be judged, debate is over-rated in this: they have to predict the data simply and without arbitrariness. That's all.

Antonio Javier M. Martinez said...

Mike, in 1997 I saw the woodard´s work.

I took a sheet of paper, a pencil, and in half the sheet, wrote in hand, just with clasical physics, I got that if you violate momentum conservation, then, you can find an observer that 'see' a gain in energy, and, at the same time, other observer that 'see' lost of energy.

I wrote him (with the old netscape email) and he answered my, stating that I took not on acount the momentum and mass of all universe..............

Mike, I have lost years of experiments with no positive results.

Believe me, I WOULD like it is true, !!! I have put months of work and money from myself to test it ¡¡

When I could see an experiment, well set-up, that give right trust, and see it by my eyes (Not on TV, not on youtuve, not on science, not on nature), I will believe it.

I am sorry for being so rude Mike, but months and months of experiments, and papers and papers of 'proofs ' that really never happened, got their rest on my.

Still, some months ago, I listened that the chinnese have tested it and got right results, for their cosmic ships (Small truster).

¿I am so stupid to believe that if Chinnese have tested it, and got OK result, should them publice it?.

O Mike, be carefull.

Best Regards from Madrid, Spain.