I've suggested (& published in 21 journal papers) a new theory called quantised inertia (or MiHsC) that assumes that inertia is caused by horizons damping quantum fields. It predicts galaxy rotation & lab thrusts without any dark stuff or adjustment. My University webpage is here, I've written a book called Physics from the Edge and I'm on twitter as @memcculloch. Most of my content is at patreon now: here

Tuesday 31 December 2013

An unambiguous spin test.

MiHsC (quantised inertia) gives an explanation for the galaxy rotation problem and cosmic acceleration, but other proposals like dark matter are flexible enough that they can also explain these observations. What is needed is a controlled laboratory experiment that can test MiHsC with no ambiguity.

The consequence of MiHsC is that if any object accelerates, then the inertial mass of all nearby objects increases slightly. One experiment that involved a huge change in acceleration was that of Podkletnov et al. (1992). They cooled a super-conducting disc (so there was little thermal acceleration) and then suddenly rotated and vibrated it (high acceleration). Sure enough, nearby objects appeared to lose weight, just as if they had gained a bit of inertia and were less sensitive to gravity (specifically objects above the disc). In some ways this is a good test of MiHsC since the change in acceleration is so large that the MiHsC effect is more easily detectable. The disadvantage is that this experiment is hard to reproduce since the half-superconducting disc is difficult to make.

Another experiment was done by Tajmar et al. (2009) who noted nearby horizontal (not vertical) acceleration anomalies in laser gyroscopes close to a spinning supercooled Teflon ring. This anomaly is exactly predicted by MiHsC, but the disadvantage of this experiment is that the disc accelerations are small so the effects are difficult to detect and reproduce, and the accelerometers (laser gyroscopes) needed are more complex than simply measuring weight.

A better experiment would include a bit of both and would go as follows: 1) cool a Teflon disc down to 5K in a cryostat (Teflon survives low temperatures), 2) suspend a test mass (say 30g) over the disc's edge (to get maximum mutual acceleration) from a pivoted cross bar, and suspend another mass from the other end onto a precision balance (with milligram sensitivity), 3) spin the disc as fast as possible and monitor the weight of the test mass. MiHsC predicts that for a disc with a radius of 5 cm and spun at, for example, 10,000 rpm and 30,000 rpm, the test mass will gain inertial mass and appear to lose 0.017% (5.1 mg) and 0.16% (48 mg) of its weight respectively (see eq. 11 of McCulloch, 2011). Maybe in 2014 a test can be done.. Happy New Year!

McCulloch, M.E., 2011. The Tajmar effect from quantised inertia. EPL, 95, 39002. Preprint

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Jumping flash drives?

I'm always looking for simpler experiments to test MiHsC. It seems every few months I find a simpler one, so maybe I should just wait till I find one simple enough to do with Lego :) Anyway, one I have recently noticed was by Kish (2007). He took flash drives, weighed them to milligram accuracy and noticed that whenever they were written to, or erased, they lost a bit of weight (about 0.001%) for a short time.

First the caution: what could be happening is that the flash drive is getting hot and moving the air nearby by convection, or water is evaporating from it. Kish (2007) thought not, because the effect did not depend on humidity, or decay with time in the right way. A better experiment would use a vacuum to eliminate these possibilities.

Second the wonder: this could be due to MiHsC. Whenever flash drives are used, the electrons in them are hugely accelerated (flash drives write to memory in one go rather than bit by bit) and you may remember that in MiHsC, whenever there is an acceleration, the inertial mass of everything close by increases slightly. This means that the flash drives, when used, should gain inertial mass by MiHsC and become slightly less sensitive to gravity, ie: they will appear to lose weight, as observed.

This is a simple experiment to do, requiring only flash drives and precision balances, and ideally a vacuum. Without the vacuum it could be done at home. Also unlike the superconductor experiments I've been discussing, the motion of electrons in flash drives should be calculable, and so it should be possible to make a prediction of the weight loss with MiHsC (see McCulloch, 2011) and then test it.

I intend to try this experiment at home (vacuumless) during 2014, but I thought I would mention it here so if anyone out there has the equipment, skill and enthusiasm, you could try it too (the more the merrier). I'd love to see your results: especially estimates of the electron acceleration and a measurement of the drive's weight loss, if any.


Kish, L.B., 2007. Gravitational mass of information. Fluct. Noise Letters, Vol. 7, No. 4, C51-C68 (see section 3, experiments). Preprint

McCulloch, M.E., 2011. Physics Procedia, Vol. 20, 134-139. Preprint , Paper

Friday 29 November 2013

Tweaking mass

In the past, the 'high level' properties of inertial mass and gravitational mass have not been well understood, but properties like this are always caused at a deeper level, and if you can understand and access that deeper level it gives you a handle to control them.

MiHsC shows that if you assume that inertia is due to Unruh radiation (subject to a Hubble-scale Casimir effect) you can predict anomalies observed in low acceleration environments (eg: galaxy rotation, cosmic acceleration). So there is evidence for MiHsC and since it points at Unruh radiation as a cause it could give us a handle on mass: a way to control it via something we know about: radiation. Admittedly, Unruh radiation is different from the usual stuff, but it can be made by mutual accelerations.

To put this in a practical context: at the equator, the gravitational force pulling, say, an elephant, down is about 365 times stronger than the centrifugal (inertial) force pushing it up. If MiHsC is right, it predicts that if we could fire enough extra Unruh radiation at the elephant to increase its inertial mass 365-fold, it should then lift off. (it may also move sideways against the Earth's spin to conserve momentum).

The first indications of this may have been seen in Podkletnov's experiment where he accelerated (in his case, spun) a disc and saw a weight loss in objects suspended above it. A few more Unruh waves and maybe the rocket era would be over.

The best way to convince others is with simple repeatable experiments, and one such experiment was recently pointed out to me by J. Tippett (he'd seen it described by Modanese in the book referenced below, see page 13). In the experiment a cold superconductor was levitated above a magnet and heated through its transition temperature. During the transition, 'transient weight losses' were seen in objects above the setup (in only 10% of the cases, so the phenomenon is not fully repeatable yet).

This experiment interests me because it fits roughly with MiHsC: the sudden loss of superconductivity would suddenly 'freeze' (ie: accelerate) electrons and transiently increase the mutual electron - object accelerations (a consistent result would need a uniform heating of the superconductor). The problem is: what is the electron acceleration in a superconductor? This is not well understood, and would need to be known to test MiHsC, but this experiment, at least, is easy to repeat, and the more repeats the better.


Modanese, G., and G.A. Robertson (eds), 2013. Gravity-Superconductor Interactions: theory and experiment.

Modanese G., Schnurer, J., 2001. Possible quantum gravity effects in a charged Bose condensate under variable e.m. field. Phys. Essays, 14: 94-105 (see part 4: experiment).

Thursday 21 November 2013

Evidence against dark matter

Galaxies spin so fast that the matter we can see lit up should be unable to hold them in by gravity and they should explode. Oddly they don't, so astronomers have speculated that dark (invisible) matter exists in the galaxies to hold them in with an extra gravitational force. This hypothesis has become entrenched in the astrophysics community to the exclusion of all other hypotheses despite a lack of evidence after decades of searching. This is perhaps because of its infinite flexibility which makes it difficult to disprove, so here I'd like to discuss some evidence against dark matter.

Dark matter usually only needs to be added to the edges of galaxies since in their centres they behave normally. Sanders and McGaugh (2002) pointed out that the radius at which galaxies start to spin too fast for their own good, and to need dark matter, is not a set distance, but it always occurs where the rotational acceleration drops below 1.2*10^-10 m/s^2: a very low acceleration called 'a0': a regime not previous encountered by our experiments. This is difficult to explain by dark matter - you'd have to invent a kind of matter that suddenly appears when accelerations are below this value.

Since dark matter is needed only at the galactic edge, its supporters need to have some new physics that keeps it smooth and diffuse. Brilliantly poking a hole in that, Scarpa et al. (2006) looked at globular clusters which are small dense congregations of stars within the galaxy, a bit like clumps of mistletoe in an oak tree. They found that whenever the 'internal' acceleration of these clusters drops below 1.2*10^-10 m/s^2 (a0 again) they spin far too fast to be stable, just like the full-sized galaxies, but in these globular clusters this anomaly cannot be explained by dark matter, since to work for galaxies dark matter must be smooth on these smaller scales.

An empirical hypothesis suggested by Mordehai Milgrom to explain galaxy rotation is called MoND (Modified Newtonian Dynamics). MoND doesn't have a physical model, but says that when total accelerations are below the critical acceleration a0 then either the gravitational mass of stars goes up, or their inertial mass goes down (in MoND you can choose either). MoND explains disc galaxies well, but it cannot explain these globular clusters because, as Scarpa et al. say: the external gravity field due to the Milky Way acting on these clusters is above a0 so MoND behaviour should not appear.

MiHsC has a better chance of explaining these clusters because in MiHsC the inertia of a star depends on the mutual accelerations between the star and all other stars, but the closer stars in the cluster have more weight in the calculation, so the crucial factor determining behaviour will be the internal accelerations, as observed. I need now to work out how to model these clusters with MiHsC. For modelling galaxies with MiHsC, see the paper: McCulloch (2012), or a brief summary.

An even better crucial test (simpler to model) would be to use the smallest globular clusters of all: wide binaries. Some binary stars with wide orbits have accelerations below a0, and they also seem to show anomalous behaviour (see Hernandez et al., 2011) but the data is noisy and not yet conclusive. Note: an even better test is the Alpha Centauri system.


Sanders. R.H., and S.S. McGaugh, 2002. Modified Newtonian Dynamics as an alternative to dark matter. Ann. Rev. Astro. and Astrop., 40, 263. Preprint. http://arxiv.org/astro-ph/0204521

Scarpa, R., G. Marconi, R. Gilmozzi, 2006. Globular clusters as a test for gravity in the weak acceleration regime. Proceedings of the 1st crisis in cosmology conference. Am. Inst. Phys Proceedings series, Vol. 822. Preprint. http://arxiv.org/astro-ph/0601581

McCulloch, M.E., 2012. Testing quantised inertia on galactic scales. Astrophysics and Space Science, Vol. 342, No. 2, 575-578. Preprint. http://arxiv.org/abs/1207.7007

Hernandez, X., M.A. Jimenez and C. Allen, 2011. Wide binaries as a critical test of classical gravity. Euro. Phys. J. C., 72, 1884. Preprint. http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.1873

Wednesday 13 November 2013

The cosmos is mostly anomalous

I love the films of Woody Allen and one of the best quotes from Annie Hall is "That's one thing about intellectuals. They prove that you can be absolutely brilliant, and have no idea what's going on.".

This brings me to some comments from Hawking in the guardian today in which he says that the discovery of the Higgs boson is dissapointing because it reconfirms standard physics, and he ends asking us to look at the stars instead of our feet. Very inspiring, but although I love astronomy and long for humans to conquer space, I think that looking feetwards occasionally is a good thing: to make sure you're standing on a firm foundation and to learn a little humility.

It is true that standard particle physics happily found the Higgs, but particle physics reminds me of a specialised racing car. It works very well on a racetrack (or CERN), but drive it anywhere else and its shortcomings will be obvious. My point is that if Hawking wants some anomalies, he does not have far to look. The part of the cosmos we can predict with the standard model is about 4% of it. The other 96% of the universe is an anomaly (intriguingly correlated with low accelerations, and perhaps explained by MiHsC), but the racing drivers, with a myriad of fudges and fixes, have convinced themselves that the whole world is a racetrack and the mountains, bogs and ice cream vans you might think you see from time to time are just different kinds of circuit.

In the article Hawking also discusses the bets he has made. His bet against the discovery of the Higgs was a brave one, and firmly in the empirical traditions of science, but he also talks about his famous bet on whether 'information is lost in black holes'. What bothers me is that apparently this bet has been settled against him and he has given a baseball encyclopedia to John Preskill who apparently 'won'. I'm sure this 'decision' makes the theorists happy that they know what is going on, but it is complete hubris since the matter is untestable.

It is a shame Hawking didn't give Preskill a general encyclopedia since they could have looked up the middle ages and found out how much like their kind of thinking, the thinking was back then. In the middle ages intellectuals used to decide things with logic, starting from the bible and Aristotle, which made up their model of the world. What Hawking and his peers, all 'brilliant' intellectuals, are doing with the resolution of the black hole information paradox is deciding what the world is like, based on the standard model of physics, without any sort of experimental test. Is information lost in black holes? They say now that it is, based on the standard model, but no-one can observe a black hole well enough to find out, since they are annoyingly invisible, and to rely solely on a theory that only predicts 4% of the universe, is a good example of one of those times when they should have had a quick look at their feet. A more scientific investigation of information, involving an experiment, was attempted here.

This theory-only attitude bothers me since it is a backwards step from the 400 years of empirical science we have enjoyed since Francis Bacon, Galileo and Newton decided that the books were wrong and they asked nature using experiment instead. It is also interesting that just at the time that an elite of financiers are trying to escape into their own dream world, so again are the theoretical physicists. It is as if our civilisation is a coffee gone cold, and a skin is forming on top. It needs some heat and a stir!

Science, at bottom, is really anti-intellectual. It always distrusts pure reason, and demands the production of objective fact. H.L. Mencken, Minority Report.

The guardian article is here.

Friday 8 November 2013

Gravity from uncertainty

My latest paper 'Gravity from the uncertainty principle' has just been published :) by the journal Astrophysics & Space Science. The paper is here (try the 'look inside' option).

The idea is as follows and was inspired partly by a course I teach at Plymouth on the mathematics of GPS positioning. I treat the size of the orbit of an object as an uncertainty in the position of each of its Planck masses (the dx from Heisenberg's uncertainty principle: dx.dp = hbar). So as an orbit shrinks in size, the uncertainty in position decreases, so the uncertainty in momentum (dp) must increase to compensate and this means that the uncertainty in the force must increase. When I sum this effect for all the possible interactions between the Planck masses in the two objects, Newton's gravity law appears.

This derivation of classical gravity from a principle of quantum mechanics, which takes just one page of maths, is interesting given that gravity and quantum mechanics have been thought to be incompatible. This model also suggests that only whole Planck masses gravitate, so as a test I've suggested that space dust should mostly be less than a Planck mass since only the larger dust would be gravitationally captured by larger masses.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Accepted but not arxived

I have prepared a blog about my exciting new paper, which was accepted by a good journal last Monday (28/10/2013) and in which I derive Newton's gravity law from quantum mechanics (the uncertainty principle) but I can't post it yet since I submitted the paper to the arxiv a week ago and they are still 'holding' it, which is frustrating since it was accepted by a good journal over a week ago.

I do think the arxiv is a great benefit to science since they make papers available to everyone, and new ideas often come from outsiders who can't afford journal subscriptions, so I don't want to critise them too much, but I do think there is a problem here. In 2011 I submitted a paper attempting to explain the Podkletnov experiment with MiHsC and since then the arxiv have held (delayed by a few days) all my peer-reviewed and accepted papers (I only send papers after they are accepted by journals) and they have forbidden me to post outside the general physics category that few people seem to read (though I think general physics is a good place for me actually, since I'm trying to deal with the whole thing).

My paper on the Podkletnov experiment should not have spooked them. Science should always pay attention to the observations, particularly anomalies, and disregard popular opinion (Nullius in verba is the motto of the Royal Society. It means "Take no-one's word for it"). It is true that the Podkletnov experiment may be wrong, but there is also a chance it is not and is telling us something new and interesting about nature and we will never develop new physics if we suppress discussion of the experiments that disagree with the current one.

In summary: I don't think it should be the role of the arxiv to hold up papers that have already been accepted by a proper journal. It is a preprint archive, to allow authors to post their accepted papers quickly before they appear in final form at the journal. At this rate my paper could appear online at the journal before it's released on the arxiv (PS: it did, the arxiv have held it up for 5 weeks now, PPS: a year later they are still holding it).

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Can inertia be modified electromagnetically?

The first assumption of MiHsC is that inertia is caused by Unruh radiation (the second is that this radiation is subject to a Hubble-scale Casimir effect). Unruh radiation is like the Hawking radiation from the event horizon of a black hole, but Unruh's variety comes from a Rindler horizon that forms behind an accelerated object.

It has been assumed that we have no separate control over inertia, but if inertia is due to Unruh radiation (as implied by the agreement of MiHsC with data in low acceleration regimes) then we can control inertia, since we can manipulate radiation. There is a problem in that the wavelength (l) of Unruh radiation is given roughly by l=8c^2/a, where c is the speed of light and 'a' is the acceleration. For the sort of accelerations that happen on Earth (9.8 m/s^2) the Unruh wavelength is 7*10^16 meters. This is about ten light years! Rather outside our capability as yet.

However, what if we could accelerate something so fast that the Unruh radiation it sees is short enough that we can interfere with it? At CERN they fire particles around a 1 km radius ring at 0.9 times the speed of light so the acceleration (v^2/r) is 7.3*10^13 m/s^2 and the Unruh radiation the particle sees would have a wavelength of only 9.7 km. These are long radio waves, within our technology, and this may bring inertial mass within our reach. There is a caveat, because of special relativity you would have to fire EM radiation of wavelength 22 km at the particle so that in its reference frame they would be 9.7 km long, but the idea is that the radiation would interfere with the particle's inertial mass and so its trajectory would change anomalously. I proposed this experiment in this paper (see the last section before the conclusion).

Another way to get big accelerations is to use NEMS (Nano-Electro-Mechanical Systems) which are tiny pendulums that can accelerate at 10^11 m/s^2 (NEMS were pointed out to me by D. Iannuzzi). Another way is to get electrons to propagate over the extremely curved surface of a gold nanotip, as in the experiment of Beversluis et al. (2003) to give accelerations of 10^22 m/s^2 (see references below). This case is very interesting since Beversluis et al saw anomalous radiation coming off these nanotips and Smolyaninov showed it was in the right wavelength range to be Unruh radiation (this is possibly the first observation of Unruh radiation?).

Anyway, if MiHsC is right, and inertia is due to Unruh radiation, it gives us a way to modify inertia electromagnetically and (if momentum is conserved) it would allow us to move things around in a new way.


Beversluis, M.R., A. Bouhelier and L. Novotny, 2003. Continuum generation from single gold nanostructures through near-field mediated intraband transitions. Physical Review B, 68, 115433.

McCulloch, M.E., 2010. Minimum accelerations from quantised inertia. EPL, 90, 29001 (see the last section: a suggested practical test). arxiv preprint

Smolyaninov, I.I., 2008. Physics Letters A, 372, 7043-7045. arxiv preprint

Saturday 28 September 2013

Anomalies at low acceleration

Here is a summary of most of the anomalies that have helped me in formulating and testing MiHsC. Although I do pay serious attention to all of them, I am not saying necessarily that all of them are correct, but I think taken together they do point the way to new physics. This new physics shows up at low accelerations (and so is unlikely to be seen in particle accelerators, where high accelerations are the rule). They are, in order of scale from the cosmic scale downwards:

The low-l cosmic microwave background (CMB) anomaly. This is radiation coming from all parts of the sky and the Planck satellite has shown that its variability on the largest scales is significantly lower than it should be. MiHsC predicts this: its Hubble-scale Casimir effect predicts that larger waves (ie: patterns) are suppressed because they don't fit within the Hubble scale (paper submitted).

It has been shown that the expansion of the cosmos is accelerating at a rate of about c^2/Theta where c is the speed of light and Theta is the Hubble diameter. Dark energy has been arbitrarily invented to explain this, but this acceleration is close to the minimum acceleration predicted by MiHsC, since any object with a lower acceleration would have its inertia made from Unruh waves longer than the Hubble-scale, and they would be unobservable (Mach's principle says they would not exist), so the object loses inertia and accelerates again (see paper).

Stars in galaxies orbit so fast that inertial forces should rip the galaxies apart. This does not seem to happen, so dark matter is added arbitrarily to hold them in, but it has been neither detected nor explained. MoND predicts this anomalous rotation, but needs a fitting parameter to do it, and doesn't work for galaxy clusters. MiHsC predicts the observed galaxy rotation and the behaviour of galaxy clusters without dark matter and without adjustable parameters by reducing the inertial mass of the low acceleration stars at the galaxies' edge (see paper).

Globular clusters within galaxies also show aberrant rotation when their internal accelerations fall below 2x10^-10 m/s^2. This cannot be explained by dark matter since it must be uniform at these scales to fit galaxy rotation. It can't be explained by MoND either since this depends on the total acceleration of the system, which is still large for these systems. MiHsC can potentially explain it (I haven't calculated this yet) since inertia in MiHsC depends on internal (local) accelerations.

The Pioneer 10 and 11 probes show an unexplained acceleration towards the Sun of about 8.7x10^-10 m/s^2. This has been modelled mundanely as a thermal recoil caused by radiation from the RTGs bouncing off the spacecrafts' radio dish, but this explanation needs a model with over 2000 finite elements and two adjustable parameters, whose details have not been published. The scope for errors is huge there. MiHsC predicts this acceleration far more simply as a loss of inertial mass that causes the spacecraft to respond more to the attraction of the Sun (see paper).

Spacecraft occasionally use the Earth in gravity assists and their flyby trajectories are carefully monitored. When they approach at a low latitude and leave at a high latitude they seem to gain an anomalous few mm/s in speed. MiHsC predicts something similar that is the right order of magnitude (see paper, but note I should have used the geocentric speeds for the spacecraft so the predictions of the anomalies are likely to be smaller). For tomorrow's Juno flyby (on 9th Oct, 2013) MiHsC predicts an anomalous 0.75 mm/s speed up.

Martin Tajmar and coworkers put rings of various materials in a cryostat (low thermal accelerations), spun the rings and found that accelerometers not in frictional contact with the rings followed their rotation, by a ratio of 3x10^-8 for clockwise rotations and half that for anticlockwise rotations. MiHsC predicts this behaviour exactly, since the sudden acceleration of the ring increases the inertia of the accelerometer and to conserve momentum it has to move with the ring. MiHsC even predicts the parity violation as being due to the rotation of the Earth with respect to the fixed stars (see paper).

Podkletnov and coworkers put a superconducting disc in a cryostat (low thermal acceleration), levitated it, and applied high frequency magnetic fields to make it vibrate (an acceleration of about 10^5 m/s^2). They detected a 0.06 percent weight loss in objects over the disc (more if the disc was rotated). MiHsC predicts that the sudden acceleration of the disc increases the inertia of the objects above, and makes them less sensitive to gravity: it predicts half the weight loss seen (see paper).

The fundamental phenomenon of inertia. This tendency of objects to keep going at constant speed has never been explained, and only a tiny part (0.1 percent) of it is explained by the Higgs field. I have shown that inertia can be explained (eg: the Planck mass to within 26 percent) by an 'asymmetric Casimir effect': when an object accelerates, say to the right, a Rindler horizon forms to its left and suppresses the Unruh radiation on that side causing a net force backwards against its acceleration. This is the first time inertia has been explained mechanistically, and without any adjustable parameters (see paper). It is the modification of this basic inertia by MiHsC (by the Hubble horizon) that predicts galaxy rotation & cosmic acceleration without dark matter or dark energy.

There are other anomalous observations or experiments that intrigue me but are not conclusive yet, the anisotropy of the CMB, the Bullet cluster, intergalactic alignments, galactic jets, pulsar jets, the Allais effect, extreme spin experiments, the variation of decay rates with Solar rotation, extreme energy cosmic rays, the peculiarity of the neutrino... If you know of any others, please let me know.

Saturday 21 September 2013

The best science is anomaly-driven

There's been a lot of talk recently about complex mathematical ideas such as the amplituhedron. The nonlocal aspect of this is interesting, but the fact that this geometrical shape is simple is misleading, since the mathematics itself is still complex and it has no physical justification (it reminds me of Kepler's erroneous Platonic solid model of the Solar system). Also, it uses supersymmetry, whose predictions have not been seen. This kind of thing is very common in modern physics (I remember also Weinstein's 14 dimensional maths) and although supersymmetry looks like it is being finally tested, many of these ideas are presented without making any testable new predictions about nature and rely solely on their agreement with the standard models.

To be fair, few anomalies from the standard model have been seen in particle accelerators, it seems that physics is successful so far at predicting things in the narrow regime that we call 'high' energy and high acceleration. The huge anomalies in physics are at low accelerations, for example for spacecraft in deep space (maybe), objects in cryostats (low thermal acceleration), for stars at the edges of galaxies (the galaxy rotation problem) and the acceleration of distant supernovae (cosmic acceleration). Dark matter and dark energy have been devised to explain these, but these hypotheses are arbitrary and unpredictive. For example, given the light distribution of a galaxy you cannot predict the motion of its stars with dark matter. You have to first assume that general relativity (GR) is right and then work out the dark mass distribution that makes GR agree with the velocity you see. You have not predicted the velocity, you have used the velocity and the assumption that GR is right, to predict the dark mass distribution, and you can't test your result since you can't detect dark matter! So dark matter is unpredictive and untestable. Safe from disproof, but completely useless.

The problem, as always, is that old theories are respected more than new data. There is no reason for this: quantum mechanics and general relativity are incompatible with each other, so they are demonstrably not the final word, and yet they are extrapolated from the scale of our experience (Solar system scale) to scales at least 10 orders or magnitude upwards to galaxies and the cosmos. The last time that happened was when classical physics, designed for the human scale, was extrapolated ten orders of magnitude down to the atomic scale but didn't work, so the strange ideas of quantum mechanics had to be invented. In the modern case our theories don't work when extrapolated up to these huge scales or low accelerations, and arbitrary patches are applied.

What is desperately needed for progress in physics is a more liberal attitude to strange new results. These are controversial at the moment and they should not be! Publish a paper with the word "Podkletnov" in it and you'll will seriously damage your career. This is against the spirit of science. The experiment may have been wrong, but it passed peer-review and it may be nature telling us something very new (as I argue here, and I am about to submit another paper on this). An honest study of controversial anomalies has always been the best way to new science (there is the danger of being wrong too).

Examples of anomaly-driven science are first class: Galileo saw the moons of Jupiter orbiting and believed Copernicus' model of the Solar system, Newton split up white light with a prism, and was surprised when he couldn't split coloured light, the early Einstein was puzzled by the photoelectric effect and the anomalous Michelson-Morley experiment which failed to detect the aether. Darwin saw dissimilar finches on seperate Galapagos islands and wondered why.

This is why I do not trust hypotheses like the amplituhedron, string theory et al., that utilise hugely complicated maths and agree nicely with standard models, but say nothing new and testable about nature. Give me a solid anomaly anyday!

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Computers undermine Occam's Razor

There is a principle in science called Occam’s Razor that states that when two models successfully predict the data, the simplest one is usually right.

I'm going to argue here that computers are not conducive to simplicity. They are, as Douglas Adams said, incredibly stupid and have to be told how to do things in great detail, but they are capable of being stupid millions of times faster than humans. Their ability to simulate incredibly complex systems like the climate system or spiral galaxies is potentially a huge benefit, but the disadvantage is that computers make it possible to get the right answer with incredibly complex and possibly wrong assumptions. Computers then are the opposite to Occam's razor: Occam's hair transplant.

For example, galaxies are observed to spin far too fast to be held in by their visible matter, according to standard theories of dynamics. This is a puzzle, but computers have enabled astrophysicists to calculate exactly what distribution of invisible (dark) matter would be needed to make general relativity and the observations agree. They then produce a beautiful fit and claim a success for general relativity and dark matter. One might as well attribute galaxy rotation to invisible swimming angels, or the spatula of God, since these are just as predictable and well observed as dark matter (ie: not!).

In my view, computers have enabled people to manipulate the "observations" in a complex way to support an esteemed theory, and that is the opposite of science.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Testing MiHsC with extreme spins.

I recently saw a fascinating article on BBC science news about researchers at St Andrews University who have suspended a microsphere on a laser beam in a vacuum and used the polarised laser light and lack of friction to spin the microsphere up to 600 million rpm (the article is here, & the paper was published in Nature Communications).

I've been looking for a way to test MiHsC and have been wondering about spinning discs, but this is a far better method since the accelerations can be larger and the effect of MiHsC is then more detectable. Using the same calculations that I used to predict the Tajmar effect here and the Podkletnov effect here, I predict that when you spin a sphere of radius 2.2x10^-6 m at more than 195 million rpm the increase of inertial mass from MiHsC should be enough to get it to move upwards against gravity.

In the BBC article (in the analysis side text) it says that at about 600 million rpm the microsphere mysteriously 'dissapeared'. Interesting, but first it is necessary to check whether this dissapearence was due to the microsphere exploding under centrifugal forces or doing something else that physics already predicts. I've emailed the people in St Andrews, so hopefully they can have a closer look.

Monday 12 August 2013

Inertia fails at light speed?

Icarus Interstellar are organising a Starship Conference in Dallas this week (15-18th August) focusing on possible ways to travel to the stars and I wish them the best: one challenge to the status quo is more valuable to progress than a thousand confirmations. Since I can't be there (and I wish I could), I thought I would summarise what MiHsC has to say on the difficult subject of faster than light travel.

According to special relativity, as the velocity of an object approaches the speed of light its inertial mass approaches infinity and so you cannot put in enough energy to produce any acceleration: the object now has an infinite tendency to keep going at the same speed. If true, this means that c is a cosmic speed limit and, since even getting close to c would take huge amounts of energy, it would take decades to travel to the nearest habitable stars.

MiHsC, if experimentally confirmed, offers a new model of inertia and challenges this picture. If you imagine a spacecraft with a powerful enough engine that it can get close to the speed of light. Eventually, if only special relativity was true, it would maintain a constant speed somewhat less than c determined by the power of its engine. However, MiHsC does not allow objects to have constant speeds, because then the Unruh waves seen by the object would be greater than the Hubble scale (Theta) and unobservable in principle (using Ernest Mach’s suggestion that if things cannot be observed in principle, then they do not exist). Therefore MiHsC predicts there always has to be a minimum acceleration of 2c^2/Theta = 6.9x10^-10 m/s^2 in nature. So, even as relativity boosts the inertial mass towards infinity, the Unruh waves making up that inertia start to disappear. This predicted minimum acceleration agrees with the observed cosmic acceleration.

To be fair, this minimum acceleration is not particularly fast: it would cause an increase in speed from zero to 60 mph in 8500 years, or from zero to the speed of light in the lifetime of the universe (something that is intriguing in itself), but the interesting parameter is the Theta (the Hubble scale =2.7x10^26m) in the denominator of 2c^2/Theta. This is the huge number that makes the MiHsC acceleration so small. It represents the event horizon at the Hubble-scale. What if we could produce a local event horizon, reduce Theta, and boost this relativity-proof MiHsC acceleration..?

Friday 26 July 2013

An asymmetric Casimir Effect

Until recently with MiHsC I had assumed that the Hubble-scale Casimir effect modifies standard inertia, and I hadn't specified a model for standard inertia. Recently I proposed such a model as follows. When you accelerate an object (the white circle in the diagram below) to the right, then beyond a certain distance to its left information can never catch up to it, so a Rindler horizon forms (see the shaded line) which is similar to the Hubble horizon in that it is a boundary to what can be known by the object. MiHsC proposes that the Unruh waves seen by an object as it accelerates have to fit exactly within the Hubble horizon. So this rule should also apply to the Rindler horizon on its left.
This produces an asymmetric Casimir effect since the Unruh waves to the right of the object are almost all allowed since the Hubble horizon is so far away that even very long waves fit, but the Unruh waves on the left will be fewer because only ones that fit into the much closer Rindler horizon are allowed. This creates a asymmetry in the Unruh radiation hitting the object and pushes it back to the left, against its acceleration. This is a new model for standard inertia.

I summed up all these forces in the paper below, and made a factor of two error in part of it, but if you correct the error* (in Eq. 4 change the first 4 to an 8) then the predicted inertial mass of a particle with a radius of one Planck length (lp) is (pi^2*h)/(48*c*lp) = 2.75x10^-8 kg which is 26% greater than the Planck mass of 2.176x10^-8 kg.

*=this error was kindly pointed out to me by J. Gine.


McCulloch, M.E., 2013. Inertia from an asymmetric Casimir effect. EPL, 101, 59001.
arXiv preprint: 1302.2775

Saturday 20 July 2013

Towards an Experimental Test

The Podkletnov (1992), Tajmar (2009) and Poher (2011) experiments all have a common theme that is consistent with MiHsC: in all three a sudden acceleration of masses in the vicinity of an object, causes that object to accelerate unexpectedly. In the Podkletnov case, the sudden vibrational acceleration of a superconducting disc caused a test mass to be less sensitive to the Earth's gravity, and lose weight, as if it has gained inertial mass (for the vibrational case only, MiHsC predicts 50% of this apparent weight loss). In the case of Tajmar, the sudden rotational acceleration of a metal ring caused an accelerometer near the ring to very slightly move with the ring, as if it had gained inertial mass and had then to move with the ring to conserve the momentum of the system (MiHsC predicts this case exactly, see McCulloch, 2011). In Poher's experiment, electrons were accelerated to huge speeds in a superconductor and then rapidly decelerated as they hit a non-superconducting layer. This caused a 'jump' in a nearby shielded accelerometer.

As far as the data allows, MiHsC is consistent with all three experiments, since it suggests that when an object suddenly sees nearby accelerations, the Unruh waves that are assumed to cause its inertial mass become shorter, and more of them fit within the Hubble scale, so the inertial mass increases in a new way, and to conserve momentum, anomalous motions occur. The Podkletnov and Poher experiments generate huge electron accelerations which allows the easier detection of the anomalous motion, but the problem is that the accelerations involved cannot be accurately quantified. For example, in the Poher experiment the electron acceleration is said to be "greater than 10^15 ms^-2" but cannot be pinned down to a specific acceleration that I can plug into MiHsC to test it. In contrast, the Tajmar experiment produces acceleration from a ring rotation so it is quantifiable, but the acceleration is tiny (2.5 ms^-2) so the anomalous motion is difficult to detect above noise.

The best way to easily and unambiguously test MiHsC would be to reproduce the huge accelerations of Podkletnov and Poher but make them quantifiable as in the Tajmar experiment. Any practical suggestions would be welcome!


Podkletnov, E.E. and R. Nieminen, 1992. A possibility of gravitational shielding by bulk YBa2Cu3O7-x superconductor, Physica C, 203: 441-444.

Poher, C., and D. Poher, 2011. Physical phenomena observed during strong electric discharges into layered Y123 superconducting device at 77K.

Tajmar, M., F. Plesescu, B. Seifert, 2009. Anomalous fiber optic gyroscope signals observed above spinning rings at low temperature, J. Phys. Conf. Ser, 150, 032101.

McCulloch, M.E., 2011. The Tajmar effect from quantised inertia. EPL, 95, 39002. http://arxiv.org/abs/1106.3266

Saturday 13 July 2013

Zombie physics

It is obvious to me that a recasting of physics is needed. This can be seen conceptually by saying that quantum mechanics is incompatible with general relativity, so one of them, at least, is wrong. On the observational side, anomalies are piling up, and some of them, like the anomalous dynamics of globular clusters, cannot hope to be explained by dark matter. Yet, there is still a huge stigma in physics against alternative theories. If you like, the ecosystem has too little diversity to be healthy. It seems that physicists today confronted with a fascinating anomaly will do anything: propose invisible matter or dimensions, rather than changing the core of Einstein's theories. This is even stranger since Einstein himself believed physics was incomplete & riddled with inconsistency.

I have a humourous analogy, to cheer me up on bad days, that some mainstream physicists are doing 'zombie physics'. The definition of a zombie: "a hypnotized person bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli." This is rather unfair, but I do think there is an important point here. Many career-minded physicists have been hypnotized by peer pressure, and are scared of thinking for themselves, being labelled as cranks & damaging their careers. This is making physics dull and sterile, & holding back human progress.

As a first solution I would like to propose a conference, that harks back to the Solvay conferences of the earlier 20th century, when physicists were bold and creative. This FreePhysics conference would invite the creators of new theories, but only if they agree to apply the theories to real anomalies. The theories could then all be objectively ranked depending on 1) their agreement with all the data, 2) simplicity and 3) self-consistency. I suspect it would be a noisy affair! Anyone want to second this?

Great things are done more through courage than through wisdom - German/English saying.

Saturday 6 July 2013

The web can set us free

The way a democracy is supposed to work is that we vote for the politicians we trust to make decisions for us, so we don't have to walk around all day agonising over whether tax money should be spent on roads or plumbing and we can think about more interesting and creative things instead. I would like to argue, as many are now also doing, that democracy does not exist in most of the western world and we have governments (in the UK of both main parties) who are not making decisions to benefit the people who voted for them, but to benefit big business. I'm sure others are better qualified to prove this, but I see the problem too and this blog is all I can do about it right now. What convinced me, among other things, are the following:

1: Iraq. I took part in a couple of huge, noble but futile marches in London against the Iraq war. The UK and US invaded Iraq anyway. I don't think there is much doubt that this war was crooked & financially driven. There are myriad reasons connected with oil & finance, eg: in 2000 Iraq converted its oil transactions from the dollar to the Euro. After the invasion they were moved back to the dollar. Transactions in its currency give the US financial leverage. Iran is also now trying to move from the dollar to the Euro.

2: NHS. The UK's National Health Service (NHS) was set up by an exhausted, bankrupt but egalitarian UK in 1948 and the government then promised to support 'all' from the cradle to the grave funded by taxes. This promise of support was diminished in 2012 by the HSC Act and of UK politicians voting on this Act 25% of them had shares in private medical companies (see Marcus Chown's twitter feed). This is so much of a scandal that people should be screaming about it, but the media have not mentioned it. The NHS is arguably the noblest thing any government has done for its people. Ill health is usually a case of bad luck and the NHS represents the great idea that someone should not have to be destroyed financially because of bad luck. Now, the UK government have started a process by which private companies will profit from our bad luck (lucrative, as there's a lot of it about) and also profit from the infrastructure that our taxes have set up. They will start small, but it could be the thin end of a huge wedge and eventually sickness could mean bankrupcy too. It is not inevitable yet, and some are fighting to stop it (eg: the National Health Action party).

3: NSA. It was bravely revealed by Edward Snowden that the UK & US governments have been spying on all governments and all peoples around the world (the US, against their own people & Constitution). The military, financial and other advantages this gives are obvious. What is also revealing is that a few days later Western European countries grounded a Bolivian plane because they thought the man who told them they were being spied on was about to overfly them. This shows they are more concerned about the opinion of the US than the privacy of their own people. Only Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua (& Russia, with a caveat) have had the courage to take action to support Snowden.

In the UK, the government is benefitting from an old fashioned illusion that the law abiding public is supposed to do what the government says. Not so: the government is supposed to do what the people say and they are not. Voting for a different party might fix the NHS (Labour has promised to repeal the HSC Act..) but it does not solve the overall problem because there are politicians in all the main parties connected to big business (I'm sure there are clean ones too).

It seems to me that we need to change the system so that politicians & the media cannot be influenced disproportionately by big business, make a law that politicians must have a 'normal' job before becoming MPs so they know the real world, strengthen journalists and protect free speech about all topics (what is not discussed openly eventually explodes as violence) and bring in direct democracy, as in Switzerland.

The internet (where spying can work both ways) is helping us to do this already. Assange's Wikileaks has shown us what governments are doing with our taxes and Twitter has enabled ordinary Turks, Egyptians and Brazilians to co-ordinate and challenge entreched powers in a way that unions once did. If we protect the web, it could free all of us in the way Gutenberg's printing eventually freed people from the absolute control of Kings and Popes (this freedom started the scientific revolution) but it will require a peaceful, but emphatic, persistence that the plutocracy must end.

The www, wikileaks, twitter, Assange, Greenwald, Snowden and Manning, and others like them are the keys to this societal shift. If they are supported then our civilisation will be truly enhanced. If they are silenced we will have lost this chance.

"The world is what we make of it" (Carl Sagan, Contact).

Friday 28 June 2013

Summary of MiHsC papers

Here are some concise explanations of all the papers I've written on MiHsC so far, to show MiHsC's development over the years. I've presented the papers, warts and all, in order of their publication year:

2007. I assumed that inertial mass was caused by Unruh radiation, and subject to a Hubble-scale Casimir effect so that some Unruh waves are disallowed because they don't fit within the Hubble scale. This leads to a new loss of inertia for low accelerations. I applied this model (called MiHsC) to the trajectories of the Pioneer spacecraft and showed that the loss of inertia leads to an extra Sunward acceleration equal to the Pioneer anomaly. I remember the delighful comments of the reviewer of this paper who was amused by my use of the word 'forecast' instead of prediction (I worked at the UK Meteorological Office at the time) and said something like: 'I don't quite believe his solution, but it's more plausible than others that have been published, so..' Subsequent work by Turyshev et al. (2011) has proposed that the Pioneer anomaly could be due to an anisotropic radiation of heat, but the model they use is complex & there is no decay in the anomaly with time to back a thermal model. MNRAS, 376, 338-342.

2008a. The flyby anomalies are anomalous changes of a few mm/s in the speed of spacecraft flying by the Earth. In this paper I tried to model them by saying that when the craft pass through a zone where the net acceleration is low they lose inertial mass by MiHsC and speed up by momentum conservation. I spent the better part of a year modelling trajectories in my spare time, and it did not work because I did not yet consider mutual accelerations. However, here, I also suggested controlling inertia by bending Unruh waves using metamaterials. J.Br.Interplanet.Soc. 61: 373-378, 2008.

2008b. This paper was inspired by observations of Anderson et al (2008) that showed that the flyby anomaly was large when the spacecraft came towards the Earth at the Equator and left at the pole. When I downloaded the paper it upset me because I couldn't explain it, but then I realised with joy that I could model it using MiHsC if I considered the 'mutual' accelerations between masses, since the mutual acceleration between a spacecraft and masses in the spinning Earth is lower closer to the spin axis. MiHsC then predicts the craft's inertia is lower near the pole and to conserve momentum the craft speeds up. This models the flyby anomalies fairly well without adjustable parameters, but not perfectly. MNRAS-letters, 389(1), L57-60, 2008.

2010a. In this paper I applied MiHsC to the observations of Tajmar et al. (2006) who noticed an unexplained acceleration of accelerometers close to rotating rings. I took the idea of mutual accelerations further and considered the inertial mass of the accelerometer to be dependent (via MiHsC) on not only its acceleration with respect to the spinning ring but to the fixed stars too (with a nod to Ernest Mach). The idea was sound but I messed up the maths. I realised my error the night before I was due to give an important talk on it in Berne! I had to write another paper to correct it (see 2011a).

2010b. This was a more detailed look at the prediction by MiHsC that since Unruh waves lengthen as accelerations reduce, and because the Unruh waves cannot in principle be observed if they are greater than the Hubble scale, there must then be a minimum acceleration allowed in nature. I showed that this is close to the observed cosmic acceleration that is usually attributed to arbitrary 'dark energy'. MiHsC also predicts the observed minimum mass for disc galaxies seen by McGaugh et al (2009). In this paper I also suggested modifying the inertial mass of an object by interfering with Unruh radiation using EM radiation. EPL, 90, 29001.

2011a. I corrected my mathematical mistake (in 2010a) and MiHsC worked well but didn't fit one of Tajmar's results. When I emailed Tajmar he told me that particular result was due to a wrong stepper motor, so I was ecstatic. The prediction of MiHsC is that when the ring accelerates the accelerometer gains inertial mass and has to move with the ring to conserve the overall momentum of the system. MiHsC predicts the results very well, even the asymmetry between the clockwise & anticlockwise rotations of the ring. This paper and 2010a won "Best of Year" awards from the EPL journal. EPL, 95, 39002

2011b. This was my attempt to explain the weight loss seen by Podkletnov when he vibrated and span a superconducting disc below various test masses. MiHsC provided a possible explanation, but not a complete one and I couldn't go further because I had no way to know what the accelerations/vibrations of the disc were when it was spun. This paper on a controversial experiment led to me being consigned to gen-ph on the arxiv and led to a couple of critical letters being sent to my university faculty, but then great joy as the head of my School wrote an email supporting my academic freedom. Physics Procedia, 20, 134-139

2012. I must have submitted nearly six different papers several times each over four years trying to model a disc galaxy with MiHsC with different methods. With each rejection I tried again and my method became simpler till eventually, there was nothing for the reviewers to reject it on :) MiHsC predicts the rotation speeds of dwarf, disc and galaxy clusters within the errors bars without any adjustable parameters and most crucially: without dark matter. I have yet to model a galaxy in detail though. Ap&SS, 342, 2, 575-578

2013. In all the papers above I used a Hubble-scale Casimir effect to model 'deviations' from standard inertia, and just assumed standard inertia. In this paper I proposed that standard inertia is due to a Rindler-scale Casimir effect. As an object accelerates, say, to the right, a Rindler horizon forms to its left since information further away can never catch up. A Rindler-scale Casimir effect then suppresses Unruh waves on the left, so that the object feels more Unruh radiation pressure from the right. This pressure pushes it back against its acceleration: an elegant model for inertia that needs no adjustable parameters. This model also represents a new way of thinking about motion & energy in terms of horizons & information. EPL, 101, 59001.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Inertia here from masses there

The problem with astrophysical observations is that more than one theory can often fit the data and one can't change the experimental conditions to discriminate between them. Controllable experiments are preferable and one that I read about was the Tajmar experiment (Tajmar, 2009). In this experiment a ring made of various materials was put into a cryostat and cooled to 5 Kelvin. Laser gyroscopes to detect local accelerations were placed within a few cm of the ring but isolated from frictional contact. The ring was then rotated. The surprise was that the gyros accelerated very slightly in the same direction as the ring. The ratio between the acceleration of the ring and that of the gyros was 3±1.2x10^-8 for clockwise rotations of the ring, and half that for anticlockwise rotations (Tajmar, 2009). There is no explanation from standard physics for this 'dragging' effect, nor for the parity violation.

After a lot of thought and calculation, I found that these observations can be simply & exactly explained by MiHsC (see McCulloch, 2011) as follows. When the cryostat cools, the local mutual thermal accelerations decrease, so the only acceleration seen by the gyroscopes is that due to the fixed stars because they are fixed to the spinning Earth. This is a very small acceleration, so the Unruh waves the gyro sees are long and many are disallowed by MiHsC's Hubble-scale Casimir effect and the gyroscopes’ inertial mass decreases. When the ring is suddenly spun, this is a new large mutual acceleration, so now short Unruh waves are seen by the gyro, a greater proportion of them are allowed by the Hubble-scale Casimir effect so the inertial mass of the gyroscopes increases. To conserve the momentum of the combined gyro and ring system, the gyroscope has to move with the ring (momentum is mass*velocity, so if the mass of one component (the gyro) increases then the mutual velocity has to decrease). This predicts the observations exactly. MiHsC even predicts the parity asymmetry since when the ring moves clockwise, the gyros also move that way (by a third of the Earth’s rotation rate) so the apparent spin of the fixed stars is reduced by a third, and this increases the anomaly by the right amount. For anticlockwise rotations the opposite happens and the anomaly decreases. MiHsC predicts a coupling ratio of 2.67±0.24*10^-8 for clockwise rotations and 1.34±0.12*10^-8 for anticlockwise ones, in agreement with the observations. Unfortunately, Tajmar’s experiment has not been reproduced in another lab, but it is fairly clear that a reproduction of this experiment would be useful.

Specifically, MiHsC predicts that doing the experiment in the southern hemisphere should invert the parity asymmetry: the anticlockwise rotations should then have the larger effect. An attempt to reproduce one of Tajmar’s earlier experiments was made in New Zealand (Graham et al., 2008), but apparently the gyros were not sensitive enough so the results were inconclusive (there is some debate about that).

As I discussed in a previous blog (Beyond the Pail: Mach's Principle, July 2012) this particular prediction of MiHsC fits nicely with Mach's suggestion that "Inertia here is due to masses out there", ie the fixed stars.


Graham R.D., R.B.Hurst, R.J. Thirkettle, C.H. Rowe, P.H. Butler, 2008. Physica C, 468: 383.

Tajmar, M., F. Plesescu and B. Seifert, 2009. J. Phys. Conf. Ser., 150, 032101. Preprint.

McCulloch, M.E., 2011. The Tajmar effect from quantised inertia. EPL, 95, 39002. Preprint.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Space Darwinism

This will be a crucial century in human history, because a Moon or Mars base is likely to exist by 2030 or so and the first culture(s) to make it off the planet in self-sufficient amounts will get a head start and so will likely dominate the rest of human history in an even more extreme way than European cultures now dominate in the Americas.

Which cultures will it be? The lead contenders so far are the Chinese, the Russians and the US. The Russians are the smaller country by population, but are consistently capable, and have a kind of destiny about them - it was Tsiolkovski who started it all. The American record is unsurpassed (eg: the Moon landing) and one should never underestimate their talent for inventing, and importing, new and quicker ways to do things - and then throwing them away in the short term rush for monetary or political gain. The Chinese are coming from behind, but for much of human history they were the most advanced culture, and their traditions have provided them with a huge, talented, population. They are now arguably ahead of the US because they have an active manned program. The technologically-gifted Japanese, the clever Indians and Europe with its great tradition of logic & science are also contenders. The more the merrier..

As is usual with life, the cultures that reproduce (ie: set up a self-sufficient colony off planet, that has the potential to grow) will be the ones that push outwards into deep space and will eventually dominate history. I would not like to even predict which cultures these should be. Nature, in its wisdom, will decide in a Darwinian way. The ones with the most desire and capability for space travel will also be the best ones to take humans (or whatever we become) across the galaxy more quickly.

There is a deep imperative in all life to grow and spread. Look at nature and the huge effort all life makes to reproduce. A stay-at-home mentality, stagnation and extinction would be a huge waste of millenia of human struggle & history. We should add our unique voice, whatever its accent, to whatever is going on out there.

Saturday 1 June 2013

A New Angle on Galactic Jets & FTL

Will Faster Than Light (FTL) travel ever be possible? Ultimately good observations, and not theory, will decide this, but, as I discussed in a previous blog, MiHsC suggests that the usual speed of light limit of relativity is flawed because it implies a constant speed, and therefore Unruh waves larger than the Hubble scale which are not observable.

If this is true, then where in nature might MiHsC act to accelerate something past the speed of light? One way to accelerate something with MiHsC is to move it towards the spin axis of another body. The object then sees lower mutual accelerations, loses inertial mass, and momentum conservation speeds it up anomalously. This prediction fits the flyby anomalies fairly well (McCulloch, 2008, see references below). MiHsC also predicts that the flyby anomaly can be much greater for larger, slowly rotating objects. Could the anomaly be so large that MiHsC accelerates something past the speed of light in this way?

Galaxies are pretty big objects and phenomena called galactic axial jets (jets shooting out along their spin axes) have been known for years. Biretta et al. (1999) looked at a particularly interesting one in M87. They looked at recognisable ‘knots’ of light within the jet, and found that they were moving at 6 times the speed of light (6c). It is important to note that Rees (1966) showed that the apparent speed of a relativistic object moving at an angle close to the line of sight (ie: jetting towards us) can appear to be superluminal, but that this is an optical illusion. There is a simple formula to calculate the ‘real’ speed from the apparent one and the angle. According to Biretta et al (1999) the most likely angle of the M87 jet to our line of sight is 64.5 degrees, and they said that because of the observed shape of the knots “placing the jet within 20 degrees of the line of sight presents several challenges”. If we assume the best guess angle of 64.5 degrees then the implied (real) velocity is still 3.7c (the apparent one is 6c). To get the implied velocity down below the speed of light you would have to assume an angle of less than 20 degrees, which they say is unrealistic.

There are more cases like this and, in a more statistically significant study presented at the Superluminal Workshop at Jodrell Bank Observatory in 1983, and mentioned in Porcas (1983), Schilizzi showed that the galactic jets with faster than light speeds did not extend from their galaxies any less than the sublight jets did. This suggests, if they're the same length, that the FTL jets are not close to our line of sight, and that their superluminal speeds might be real. However, this raises huge theoretical problems with causality, and of course there is the possibility that something is amiss with the jet observations, but I do believe that observations, and not old textbooks, will show the way.

Introduction to MiHsC


Biretta, J.A., W.B. Sparks, F. Macchetto, 1999. Hubble space telescope observations of superluminal motion in the M87 jet. Astrophysical Journal, 520, 621-626. Free pdf

McCulloch, M.E., 2008. Modelling the flyby anomalies using a modification of inertia. Mon. Not. Royal. Astro. Soc., Letters, 389 (1), L57-60. Free pdf

Porcas, Richard (1983). "Superluminal motions: Astronomers still puzzled". Nature 302 (5911): 753. doi:10.1038/302753a0

Rees, M., 1966. Appearance of relativistically expanding radio sources. Nature, 211, 5048.

Monday 27 May 2013

The Podkletnov Effect

One of the most controversial subjects to talk about in physics is the "apparent gravity shielding" experiment done by Podkletnov, but I've talked on this blog about the importance of scientists boldly seeking anomalous data, and disregarding the theoretical mainstream, and I agree with Isaac Asimov who suggested that the cue for discovery in science is not "Eureka! I have it!", but "That's strange..". It seems recently that "That's strange.." is always interpreted as "That's dubious..". It is right that scientists should be sceptical, but pure scepticism is a sterile state. Podkletnov's paper was published in a good journal: Physica C, and it may disagree with standard theory, but in science experimental data comes before theory. Of course, the experiment could be wrong, and it doesn't help that it has not been reproduced in another lab (which it must be to be accepted) but this does not mean that Podkletnov's results are not reproduceable, the published accounts of the attempts made so far say that they were not able to reproduce the experimental conditions.

The experiment was done by Podkletnov and his team in Finland (see Podkletnov, 1992, 1997). They had a half-superconducting disc with a radius of 13.5 cm. They cooled it down to 70 Kelvin (-203oC) in a cryostat, so that the upper part only was superconducting and then levitated it using a magnetic field. They then applied an AC magnetic field of high frequency (MHz) which accelerated the disc. A team member was smoking when he shouldn't have been and they noticed that the smoke was rising over the cryostat. After investigation, they noticed that when the disc was accelerating due to the AC field, but not spinning, objects above the disc lost 0.05%-0.06% of their weight. When they spun the disc at 5000 rpm they noticed a larger weight loss of 0.6-2%. The greatest weight loss occured when they slowed the disc to 3000-3300 rpm and it visibly vibrated. The effect was independent of the test mass’s composition and was not due to moving air since it persisted when the test mass was encased in glass. It was not magnetic because it remained when a metal screen was placed between the disc and the masses.

I've been cautiously fascinated by this experiment for years. I think it's important when thinking about physics not to try to "Play Mathematical Games" or "Guess the Mind of God" as many theoretical physicists do, but instead to think within the context of real experiments, and to get new physics they have to be anomalous ones. I eventually found that MiHsC predicts something like the behaviour seen by Podkletnov. Consider an object suspended above the disc. When you cool its environment, nearby accelerations reduce, the Unruh waves it sees lengthen, more are disallowed by MiHsC's Hubble-scale Casimir effect and its inertia drops. Then the AC magnetic field accelerates the disc, so the Unruh waves seen by the object become shorter, fewer are disallowed and its inertia increases. This means it becomes less responsive to gravity: an apparent loss of weight. MiHsC predicts a weight loss of 0.03% which is not far from that seen (see McCulloch, 2011, note: I made a factor of two error in the published version, the arxiv version is alright).

When the disc was spun, further vibrations occurred and these are not quantifiable in the same way, or at least I don't know how to do it, so it is unclear so far whether MiHsC could predict the larger weight losses or not. Another thing that bothers me is that the column of weight loss seen by Podkletnov seemed to extend upwards indefinately. Was he forming and firing Unruh waves upwards??

I think this experiment is worth redoing. There is a chance that it is saying that something is going on that is a bit like MiHsC and I would love to have more published results to think about.


Podkletnov, E.E, and R. Nieminen, 1992. A possibility of gravitational shielding by bulk YBa2Cu3O7-x superconductor. Physica C, 203, 441-444.

Podkletnov, E.E., 1997. Weak gravitational shielding properties of composite bulk YBa2Cu3O7-x superconductor below 70K under e.m. field. http://arxiv.org/abs/cond-mat/9701074

McCulloch, M.E., 2011. Can the Podkletnov effect be explained by quantised inertia? Physics Procedia, 20, 134-139. http://arxiv.org/abs/1108.3488

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Cosmic acceleration: no need for dark energy.

The Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield recently made a brilliant musical video of David Bowie's Space Oddity on the International Space Station. The imagine of his guitar drifting lazily down the central spine of the station gave a nice demonstration of Newton's first law: the one that says that objects travel at constant velocity unless something pushes them. As I've discussed in a previous blog, MiHsC has a slightly different prediction, that nicely does away with the need for dark energy.

Imagine that one of Chris' fellow astronauts launches his guitar into deep space. According to MiHsC, as he launches it, its high acceleration relative to nearby matter means that the guitar sees Unruh radiation with a short wavelength, but as it moves into deep space, away from the gravity of the Sun, it's acceleration becomes tiny and the Unruh waves it sees become longer. Eventually, out beyond Pluto they lengthen to the Hubble scale (Theta), and when they exceed this scale they can never be observed. So following Mach (who said that what you cannot see in principle does not exist) the Unruh waves dissapear in a puff of logic (or an exchange between information and energy). This is also a bit like the notes on a guitar: there is a lowest note with a wavelength that is twice the length of the strings. So MiHsC predicts that in deep space the guitar's inertial mass fails. This makes it easier for the guitar to be accelerated again even by the gravity of the distant Sun, so it accelerates, the Unruh waves shorten, the guitar gets its inertia back, so its acceleration slows, it looses inertia .. and so on.

There is a competition here between the inertial failure caused by MiHsC's Hubble-scale Casimir effect and the inertia regained after the lower inertia causes renewed acceleration. MiHsC predicts that a balance exists between these two effects (and balances are the things that last) at a tiny acceleration of 2c^2/Theta = 6.7x10^-10 m/s^2. This acceleration is so small it would produce a speed change from zero to 60 miles per hour in 8500 years, or from zero to the speed of light in 13 billion years (the supposed age of the universe).. The point is that this minimum cosmic acceleration predicted by MiHsC is close to the recently observed cosmic acceleration, the one that is usually attributed ad hoc to dark energy. MiHsC predicts it far more elegantly from a simple philosophy (see the paper below for more details).

McCulloch, M.E., 2010. Minimum accelerations from quantised inertia. EPL, 90, 29001. Preprint: http://arxiv.org/abs/1004.3303

Thursday 9 May 2013

Entropy and Surface Area

An important part of science, a fun part, is following up interesting observations in the hope that something will come of it. One great paper I enjoyed reading was full of observations like this. It was by A. Unzicker (arxiv:gr-qc/0702009v6) and he gives a theory-independent overview of observations regarding gravity.

One observation he mentioned is either a meaningless coincidence, which it could be, or means something interesting. The idea is that if you approximate the area of galaxies by 2*pi*r^2, where r is the galactic radius, take r as 10,000 pc and assume, realistically, that there are 1.25*10^11 galaxies in the Hubble volume (Hubble Space Telescope, 1999). You then get a total area of 7*10^52 m^2 (with a big error bar). This is close to the surface area of the Hubble volume, which is 4*pi*R^2 = 2.3*10^53 m^2 (another big error bar) where R is the Hubble radius. He says this is an astonishing coincidence of the present epoch, since galaxies are not thought to change in size (p15). It sounds somewhat similar to the holographic principle too, in that the entropy or disorder in the universe (which I take to be proportional to the surface area between matter and empty space) is determined by the surface area of the bounding surface.

MiHsC agrees with this sort of picture, though I haven't modelled it in this context yet. In MiHsC the inertial mass increases as the Hubble volume expands. This means that stars at the edge of galaxies should progressively, as cosmic time goes on, have more inertial mass and be less willing to be bent into orbit by gravity, so galaxies should expand with time to follow the expansion of the Hubble volume (I don't know yet what the exact dependence would be). If it is linear, then no matter what epoch you're in, the equivalence between galactic surface areas and the Hubble surface area would be true: it is then no coincidence.

Monday 6 May 2013

Courage from below, humility from on high.

I saw Julian Assange's 2012 Christmas balcony speech and he said two things that resonated with me: "Civilisations are only as good as their ideas, and good ideas do not come when journalists and academics are timid". Assange represents a fork in the road of our culture. Can we maintain a new freedom of information for the masses, a new Gutenberg revolution, and raise our culture to a higher level? Or not?

In comparison we physicists have it easy: when you try to determine the truth about the universe, it doesn't get mad. However, there is something that physicists should be willing to do that is a little scary: make testable predictions. The scary part is the possibility of being wrong. Many modern theories do not make testable predictions and they remind me of the futile debates in the dark ages about whether God was in three parts or one. We had learned by the time of Galileo and Newton that, although testing theories is an excruciating process, theories based on old books rather than experiments are useless. Recently this has been forgotten by some theorists.

What is called for in physics, and politics too, is intellectual courage from people low down in the hierarchy and, especially, a little humility from those at the top (it has always been so). It's time the authorities admitted that they do not know what they think they know, and allowed the facts to be discussed by all in a freer manner. We will all gain from this.

The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
T.S. Eliot

Monday 29 April 2013

Against dark matter: globular clusters

One of the best 'sign-post' papers I ever read, which convinced me which way to go, was by Scarpa et al. (2006) (see reference below). There have been more conclusive ones published since, but this was the one I happened to read first.

To make dark matter fit general relativity to the oberved galaxy rotations you have to assume that it stays spread out in a halo around the galaxy, and therefore does not have structure on small scales. Scarpa et al. looked at globular clusters which are small areas within the Milky Way, where the stars are arranged slightly more densely than in surrounding areas. They found that the globular clusters behaved like little galaxies: whenever their internal accelerations dropped below a critical acceleration, a0, their dynamics became non-Newtonian. Their crucial point was that you can't use dark matter to explain the anomalous dynamics of tiny globular clusters since to fit it to galaxies you've already specified it must spread out: you can't have it both ways.

Scarpa et al. also pointed out that the external acceleration on the globular clusters due to the galaxy was larger than a0, but the anomalous behaviour still occured when the internal accelerations dropped below a0. I'm happy to say that this points away from MoND, and towards MiHsC which relies on the mutual accelerations of nearby matter.

I still have this glorious paper and I wrote on my copy: “Brilliant stuff! Tells me which way to go :)”. It seems to have been ignored by most of the astrophysical community, but it shows that the dark matter idea is unworkable.

Scarpa, R., G. Marconi and R. Gilmozzi, 2006. Globular clusters as a test for gravity in the weak acceleration regime. Arxiv: 0601581v1.

McCulloch, M.E., 2012. Testing quantised inertia (MiHsC) on galactic scales. A&SS, 342, 575. Arxiv: 1207.7007.

Friday 19 April 2013

Beyond the new horizon

In 1935, Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen published a paper in which they imagined a photon which emits an electron and positron which zoom off in opposite directions as two entangled particles. Quantum mechanics says they do not have definite spin. If you then measure the spin of one of them when they are far apart, and it happens to be spin up, then the other particle must be spin down. Since the two particles suddenly have these definite spins, information must have travelled instantaneously between them over a potentially huge distance: violating special relativity. This unnerved Einstein because he, by then, supported the idea of "local realism". Local means that information cannot travel faster than light and realism says that the Moon is there even when you can't see it. The young Einstein did not agree with realism. His special relativity came from saying "if you can't observe it, it doesn't exist", quantum mechanics relies on this too, but the later Einstein and others argued that the required spin information is always there hidden inside the entangled particles (as a hidden, dark, variable) and is only revealed upon measurement.

However, in a 1964 paper John Bell identified a measurable experimental difference that would occur depending on whether local realism (the hidden variable) was true or not. If you measure the spin of the two particles at random angles, then if you happen to measure them parallel you will get anticorrelated results, and you measure perpendicularly you will get no correlation, but at intermediate angles, if local realism was true there would be a linear dependence of correlation on the angle, if not there would be a cosine dependence. In the 1970s and 1980s Freedman and Clauser and Alain Aspect and others measured this, and found a cosine dependence. So it looks like the common sense thing: local realism, does not work. It is true that all of the experiments that have been done so far have had loopholes in them that might allow them to still be explained by local realism, but they have all had different loopholes, and so you would need a different version of local realism to explain each case, which seems unlikely. A loophole-less experiment would be conclusive, but may not be possible.

As Heisenberg always said "How fortunate that we have found a paradox. Now we have some chance of making progress!". These experiments support a philosophy that has always seemed to work, and was used by Berkeley, Mach and the younger Einstein, that if things can't be seen "in principle" then you have to assume they do not exist. I also like this philosophy. In my recent paper (EPL, 101, 59001, arxiv preprint: 1302.2775) I argued that the inertial mass of an object is caused by Unruh radiation and that, for example, when an object accelerates to the right, a Rindler horizon forms to its left because objects behind the horizon can never hope to catch up so their information is lost to the object. This means (to simplify) that Unruh waves longer than the distance to this new Rindler horizon can never be seen by the object and therefore, with this philosophy, don't exist as far as it is concerned. As a result of this, there is less Unruh radiation to the left of the object, less radiation pressure on it from the left and this produces a net force towards the left that opposes the acceleration. This works neatly as an model for inertia (see 1302.2775). All this relies on the principle that if something cannot be seen in principle, it dissapears, or: undergoes total existence failure (a amusingly over-complicated term used by Douglas Adams).

Einstein once said to Abraham Pais (who did not believe in realism): "Do you really think that the Moon doesn't exist when you are not looking at it?". My answer would be that it is there if you don't look, but if it is impossible for you to look (a fundamental horizon gets between you) then it would not be there, or more importantly: its effects would not be. I think that this can be tested, more on this later..


Einstein, A.; Podolsky, B.; and Rosen, N., 1935. Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete. Phys. Rev., 47, 777-780.

Bell, J.S., 1964. Physics 1, 195-200.

McCulloch, M.E., 2013. Inertia from an asymmetric Casimir effect. EPL, 101, 59001. http://arxiv.org/abs/1302.2775

Thursday 4 April 2013

Against Dark Matter - If the shoe fits..

Well done to the people behind the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) on the Space Station that has just reported some results. It is always good to collect data in new regimes. Whatever they find, they will find something new. They do not seem to have anything significant to say about where their extra positrons are coming from though.

The AMS was designed to search for dark matter: a terrible theory in my view, because it is not falsifiable and it looks to me like an attempt to support a theory (general relativity), that was devised before we knew about galaxy rotations, by adding invisible matter ad hoc to galaxies to force the galactic mass and rotation data to fit general relativity (dark matter is so flexible that you can fit many models to the data). There was a similar argument in Galileo's time. Aristotle had said heavier objects fall faster, but Galileo noticed in a hailstorm that big and small hailstones fell together and later on he showed, using balls and inclined planes, why this must be. His contemporaries, to play safe and support Aristotle, said "Aha! The big ones must have fallen from a greater height". This could have been right, but the clue was in the ad hoc way they had to set up the initial height of the various sizes of hail: there was no reason for it. There is also no reason why dark matter should be in a diffuse halo around a galaxy.

If dark matter is too vague to be falsified, all one can do is suggest less arbitrary alternatives.

Milgrom's empirical MoND (Modified Newtonian Dynamics) is a little less arbitrary. MoNDians suggest that we tweak either gravity or inertia at low accelerations (so there are two varieties). They do not have a specific mechanism in mind, but at least they have less wriggle room than dark matter. MoND has a formula (well, a few choices), but it does still have one fitting parameter: a0. By varying a0 MoND can be made to fit galaxy rotation curves very well, but is a bit off with clusters.

Then there is MiHsC, which has a very specific physical model of inertia. MiHsC predicts galaxy rotations and galaxy cluster dynamics within the uncertainty in the observations, with comparable accuracy to MoND, and without any adjustable parameters at all, see: http://arxiv.org/abs/1207.7007 (Journal: Astro. & Space Sci., 342, 2, 575-578). See also the figure in my blog entry here.

An analogy: You go into a shoe shop. The owner proudly produces his revered Einstein Shoe (nice curves, no sock needed). He measures your foot, concludes with regret that your foot is too big for the shoe and suggests chopping most of your foot off. That's the dark matter way. A MoND shoe would fit with some adjustment at the cobblers. A MiHsC shoe would fit with no adjustments, but it's an unknown brand..