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

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.