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 26 August 2014

Breaking the speed of light limit?

Special relativity says that as you accelerate, say, a spaceship, towards the speed of light its inertial mass increases so it gets harder to push it any faster. At the speed of light its inertial mass is infinite so you can't increase its speed at all. Hence relativity predicts a speed of light speed limit. However, MiHsC makes a slight correction to this. The wavelength of the Unruh radiation that causes inertia in MiHsC lengthens as the acceleration reduces which means that, for the spaceship case above, as the speed levels off and acceleration tends to zero near the speed of light, the Unruh waves making up its inertia exceed the Hubble-scale and cannot be observed. This means, using the philosophy of Mach that special relativity itself was based on, these waves should dissapear, and the spaceship's inertial mass should reduce. Indeed, putting MiHsC and relativity together (in a very preliminary way) you can show that there remains a residual relativity-proof acceleration of 2*(speed of light)^2/(Hubble scale) even at the speed of light: this is the minimum acceleration allowed by MiHsC. Interestingly this is close to the cosmic acceleration that has recently been observed and is usually explained in an ad hoc manner by dark energy.

For such a claim of course, far more direct evidence needs to be found. There are ways in which observations of quantum systems demand non-locality and superluminal information transfer (Bell's inequalities), but my favourite possibility at the moment involves the more direct evidence of galactic jets. Looking at the movement of blobs of light within the jets streaming out along the spin axes of galactic cores and quasars, and knowing the distance of these objects, it is possible to show that these blobs appear to move faster than light (eg: Porcas, 1983, Biretta, 1999). Before we get too excited, Martin Rees (1966) showed that light-emitting objects moving at sublight speeds can appear to travel faster than light if they are moving at a small angle to our line of sight. However, that being so, one would expect the jets that show faster than light speeds to all be apparently 'shorter' since they should be pointing towards us, but it has been shown that they are not shorter on average than all the other ones, which implies that they are not on average close to our line of sight. A particular case is M87 (Biretta et al., 1999). The blobs of light in its jet are moving at six times the speed of light. To explain this away as the Rees effect one would need this jet to be within 20 degrees of our line of sight, but an analysis suggests that this angle is 44-64 degrees, and to get it within 20 degrees would 'present several problems' (Biretta et al., 1999).

I know this is a horrifically complex area to get into, and causality will have to be thought about too which means that thinking about it is rather like taking an axe to the floor one is standing on, but I do think this is important, doubly so since I'm one of the few arguing that FTL (Faster Than Light) is possible. I've had some problems publishing anything on this. I've submitted papers, and I gave a talk on MiHsC and FTL at the 100 Year Starship Symposium in Orlando in 2011, and my talk was filmed and was supposed to be made available. Nothing happened, and nothing happened to the paper I sent to them either, so I'm very glad to finally have a chance to publish something on FTL in my book.


Biretta, J.A., et al., 1999. Hubble space telescope observations of superluminal motion in the M87 jet. The Astrophysical Journal, 520, 2, 621-626. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1999ApJ...520..621B

Porcas, R., 1983. Superluminal motion - astronomers still puzzled. Nature, 302, 753-754. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1983Natur.302..753P

Rees, M.J., 1966. Appearance of relativistically expanding radio sources. Nature, 211, 468-470.

McCulloch, M.E., 2014. Physics from the Edge: a new cosmological model for inertia. World Scientific Publishing.

Sunday 17 August 2014

Shawyer's EmDrive

I remember an article in New Scientist a few years ago that discussed something called the EmDrive. This article was criticised at the time by some theoretical physicists, but they couldn't explain the actual anomaly found by Roger Shawyer, an aerospace engineer. He used an asymmetric radio frequency resonant cavity (cone shaped) and pumped a few hundred Watts of microwaves in (just like an asymmetric microwave oven). The cavity then accelerated slightly in the direction of its narrow end, in blatant violation of the conservation of momentum. Shawyer claims this result is predicted by special relativity, while most theorists say a violation of momentum conservation just can't be, but the anomaly itself now seems more solid because it has been reproduced by the Chinese (Juan et al., 2012) and recently by NASA (Brady et al., 2014). The experiment hasn't been done in a vacuum yet, but the abrupt termination of the anomaly when the power is switched off, has been taken as a preliminary demonstration that it is not due to movements of air, but this needs further testing.

This is exactly the sort of naughty violation of momentum conservation that one would expect from MiHsC. It is possible in MiHsC because what is conserved is not mass-energy but Energy-Mass-Information (EMI) and so you can extract energy in a new way, from apparently nothing, by inserting an information horizon into the zero point field. In papers in 2008 and 2013 (see below) I proposed that one could use the recently discovered metamaterials (regular arrays of metal shapes) to make artificial information horizons and thereby interfere with the Unruh radiation that is assumed to cause inertia in MiHsC, and by this means cause anomalous motion. Therefore, the asymmetric metal structure used by Shawyer is of interest to me. Nevertheless the proof is in predicting the right numbers and I haven't worked out how to model Unruh waves in a cavity, in my usual simplified manner yet. Anyway, thanks to the engineer Roger Shawyer, the Chinese and NASA for providing an interesting anomaly to think about.

It is common for engineers to accept the reality of phenomena that are not yet understood, and it is common for physicists to disbelieve the reality of phenomena that seem to contradict contemporary physics - H. Bauer.


Brady, D., et al., 2014. Anomalous thrust production from an RF test device measured on a low-thrust torsion pendulum. Conference proceedings. Abstract

Juan W., 2012. Net thrust measurement of propellantless microwave thrusters. Pdf

Shawyer, R., 2014. SPR Ltd. Website

Shawyer, R., 2008. Microwave propulsion - progress in the emdrive programme. Pdf

McCulloch, 2008. J. Brit. Interplanet. Soc., 61, 373. Can the flyby anomalies be explained by a modification of inertia?

McCulloch, 2013. Inertia from an asymmetric Casimir effect. Europhys. Lett., 101, 59001. Preprint