I've suggested (& published in 21 journal papers) a new theory called quantised inertia (or MiHsC) that assumes that inertia is caused by relativistic horizons damping quantum fields. It predicts galaxy rotation, cosmic acceleration & the emdrive without any dark stuff or adjustment. My Plymouth University webpage is here, I've written a book called Physics from the Edge and I'm on twitter as @memcculloch

Sunday, 30 April 2017

What is an electron?

What is an electron? This is the title of a jem of an article written in Wireless World back in 1979 by Prof Roger C. Jennison (see references). Someone sent me the pdf a year or so ago and I have been dipping into it from time to time, increasingly excited and amazed by it.

Roger Jennison made the fascinating point that electrons look very much like photons locked in a self made trap (somehow). For example, when an electron and a positron collide, they annihilate cleanly and out come two oppositely-polarised photons. Also, if you fire photons of slowly-decreasing wavelength at the vicinity of something like a heavy nucleus, suddenly, when the photon wavelength reaches 2.4x10^-12 metres, out comes a positron and an electron (pair production). Why this particular wavelength? See below!

The obvious conclusion is that electrons are made of photons and Jennison took this further by modelling an electron as a photon trapped in a cavity, as shown in the schematic below.

Imagine the photon bounces around inside (the blue waves) pushing the cavity plates (black lines) outwards, and you charge the plates positively and negatively so they attract electrostatically to balance the outward push. This is now a stable, static system.

Now imagine you push the cavity externally from the left to the right (black arrow). Now the photon that is just bouncing off the left wall (the light blue wave) is given more energy by the wall pushing it, and the super-energetic wave then pushes the right wall, so it moves too. As the photon bounces back (dark blue wave) it has lost energy so it has less energy when it gets back to the left hand wall and so pulls that wall rightwards. Now if you take away the initial push, this process continues so that the cavity continues to move rightwards, and so this predicts inertia: the cavity keeps going at constant speed unless pushed on. Jennison's model predicts a lot of other photon properties as well, for example its half classical spin, and it predicts a new effect: changes in speed occur in discrete jumps and that when you use photons of wavelength 2.4x10^-12m then the size of the jumps is Planck's constant, which may explain why that wavelength is crucial.

The model is not complete however, because it is unclear what the cavity walls are made of. They're not likely to be made of a conductive shell. The new point I'd like to make is that quantised inertia might be able to answer this: the cavity walls might be the relativistic horizons seen by the photon as it orbits. For objects like photons (if they are objects) an acceleration towards a centre causes the creation of a cylindrical relativistic horizon, from the electrons' point of view, rather like a wall outside the orbit. Could this complete Jennison's electron model? This also makes me think of course of the origin of other particles (higher modes?), the emdrive cavity and also ball lightning..


Thanks to Michael C. Fidler who sent me the Jennison paper last year, and to John Dorman and others for online discussions on this matter.


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


Zephir said...

Williamson and van der Mark:
Is the electron a photon with toroidal

“Helical Model of the Electron”

Nigel B. Cook: Mechanism of Renormalization Can Predict Particle Masses

tshort said...

Here's a link to Dennison's paper:


Zephir said...

/* it is unclear what the cavity walls are made of. They're not likely to be made of a conductive shell */

Alternatively you may think about electron like about photon trapped withing gravitational lens of itself. The electron is composed of mutual interference and resonance of standing longitudinal and transverse wave of vacuum. The vacuum is behaving like the elastic foam which gets more thick, when some vibration passes through it. This mechanism makes all waves trapped into itself with total reflection mechanism, once their energy density reaches certain critical limit.

Zephir said...

Note that the confining of EM wave inside the gradient of vacuum density which it creates can be never fully perfect (various evanescent fields, like the gravity and charge manifest outside of it at distance), so that when the intensity of these fields increases, the same process may repeat again and more complex particles of nested structure (baryons) will be formed.

qraal said...

That's cool! I'd actually been looking for that paper online sometime ago.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Greetings from a fellow flute player from Germany! :-)

By accident, I recently came across a whole book on precisely this topic, see:

Simulik, Volodimir (ed.) (2005) What is the Electron?

As I am a cognitive scientist and only a physics amateur (in the best, French sense of the word), I cannot tell how valuable the articles collected in this book are, but there is at least one author who also refers to the work of Roger C. Jennison, namely Prof. Jaime Keller form the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México who wrote about "A Comprehensive Theory of the Electron from START".
"START" refers to his "space–time–action relativity theory (START)". He actually wrote a whole book on the features of the electron and other "particles" and their derivation from simple first principles, see:

Keller, Jaime (2001) Theory of the Electron. A Theory of Matter from START

There is also an overview paper on his theory available online, see:

Keller, Jaime (2002) Unification of Electrodynamics and Gravity from START
Annales de la Fondation Louis de Broglie, Volume 27 no 3

BTW, if the name of his university rings a bell: His faculty is one of the main home bases of "stochastic electrodynamics (SED)" (or their more recent simplification, "linear stochastic electrodynamics (LSED)", i.e. one of the inspirations of your own theory.

So, I thought this information might be interesting for you.

I noted that the book by Volodimir is just one out of many very instesting books published by a group called "Apeiron" (which is the Ancient Greek name for The Unlimited). The authors in this group all seem to share two main features:

(1) They are rather old. Often retired professors with a long career in physics.
(2) They are all in one or the other way affiliated with Germany, i.e. are of German origin or spent a longer time at some German institutes.

Both (1) and (2) might explain the fact that they all seem to have an unusually deep insight into the early, "pre-paradigmatic" phase of relativity and quantum theory, whose discussions were often published in German-speaking journals. They are also aware of alternative approaches to certain theoretical questions which were proposed at this time but then were forgotten in the following decades and most of their publications seem to focus on reviving some of these early ideas which might deserve more attention.
They also had a journal whose articles are availble online.
But unfortunately, (1) also entails that many of them have died in the last years (including Jaime Keller) or have otherwise stopped publishing, so the journal is discontinued and there also seem to be no new recent books.
Nevertheless, you might want to have a look at their website:


Hope some of this was interesting for you,
carry on with your inspiring work,

Simon Derricutt said...

Mike, Tom and Roul - thanks for an interesting bit of theory I'd never seen before. Much food for thought here. One thing to toss into the mix here is that of necessity the size of the "particle" is going to be under or around the Schwartzschild limit, where time has stopped. This gives rise to a paradox, of course - how can you have an oscillation when time is stopped? When we get a paradox, it's always interesting since the resolution (if we can do it) leads to new ideas.

Mike McCulloch said...

Zephir, Tom and Roul: Thank you for the links & I have ordered Volodimir's book.

Roul: Glad 2 meet a fellow flautist: you are uniquely placed to understand quantised inertia then! I share your fondness for the physics made mostly in Germany between 1899 and 1933, sparked as usual by the idea that we should not put unobservables in theories. This bout of Occam's razor was sparked by Ernst Mach. I love reading about that period since everything was in ferment and ideas were flying freely. After WW2 it seems physics locked into one dominant theoretical track (it seems some of the other tracks have been preserved by Apeiron) and got stuck for decades. Recently new astrophysical and other data is pulling this track apart, so we are moving into another exciting time (why should the geneticists have all the fun?). This new shift will, with quantised inertia, move physics closer to information science.

mikenyc said...


Unknown said...

A theory that deserves closer attention is Scale Relativity from Laurent Nottale.
So far, if we try to define electron as trapped electromagnetic wave, we need to take account that this can be a circular argument (because EM radiation is based on electric charge too).

But Scale Relativity defines the very nature of electric charge and its quantization unit e- based on a more fundamentals concept, which is just the raw space itself. No more needed, see this article:


Just by traditional Einstein relativity principle alone, but applied also to resolution, not only to space and time, electric charge emerges as the Noether theorem invariant preserved under resolutions changes or scale transformations.

Laurent Nottale theory is in my opinion the best framework for morphogenesis and physics, and I refer also to Dr. Jaume Gine how states that for sure a fractality theory is needed to understand the universe and the laws of physics:


TeckaCZ said...

So in the end... the "elementary" particles will end up being made from ether, spinning very fast in self-contained, high-accelleration induced epicycles? :-)

Mike McCulloch said...

Michael: Indeed, arbitrary is the mainstream fashion and I'm amazed they get away with it, but as you know I have never used arbitrary elements.

Mike McCulloch said...

Mikenyc: Nice link, but I need to point out that quantised inertia (QI) predicts a violation of equivalence that is independent of mass, and so for example the two masses in Galileo's falling ball experiment would still fall together in QI, but both v. slightly faster, so the test you linked to would not show up QI.

Mike McCulloch said...

Josave: I am intrigued by the philosophy behind Laurent Nottale's work on scale relativity. I wonder if he has heard of quantised inertia (QI)? I have also just read the interesting article by Dr Gine's on the fractal cosmos. I agree that theories should not depend on scale: indeed quantised inertia uses quantum mechanics for the large scale as well as the small. I can't find a published test of Scale Relativity on galaxies though..?

Analytic D said...

The "epicycles" aspect of using horizon mechanics to define particles is ironic, though it certainly has the advantage of being directly calculable through iteration.

I think the basic models will end up being drawn as epicycles of sorts, with an "out-of-bounds errors per time" metric to briefly quantify the stability of the paths. And this will work well enough for most uses.

But actual simulation of the paths created by photon self-interaction can only be done by computers, which should be able to iterate towards stable configurations much faster than humans can.

And then we can take these "fixed points" and test the implications against known particles and their behaviors.

Of course, all of this is dependent on "older" Unruh radiation being revealed instantaneously under acceleration, while also emitting real Unruh radiation towards the observer from its own horizon. At low accelerations, this distant radiation will not directly affect an object in a meaningful way until millions/billions of years later, and by that time, the space will be saturated with similar waves from all other directions and will average the net field to zero. Acceleration inhomogenizes the normally zeroed out Unruh "field" that fits in your Rindler horizon, so the effect of inertia is instantaneous as a result.

However, at very high accelerations, emitting radiation at a close enough distance that it could travel to the "emitter" without being zeroed out by older waves is possible, assuming the emitter is kept in a local orbit and is not simply travelling away. Why is it in an orbit? Because of the particular cycle of the Unruh waves. Why is there that particular cycle/timing of Unruh waves? Because of the orbit. It feels very Zen.


Unknown said...

Scale Relativity as a structuring theory is based on a quantization arising from the irreversibility of processes that are non-differentiable, as most of the nature processes are, especially when you look over a wide interval of scales.

Many predictions were made by Scale Relativity and the most recognized are the positions of the planet orbits in extra-solar systems, but there are many more, and related to galaxies, as Mike asks:

https://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0310036v2.pdf or in full colour in https://luth.obspm.fr/~luthier/nottale/arDRN.pdf

Going back to quantization of exoplanetary orbits, this was first noted by Agnese and Festa:

They found a tendency in the velocity to group around multiples and submultiples of 144 km/s as a main attractor for galaxies, with an upper bound in 2 x 144 = 288 km/s, in fair agreement with the actual data. But no explanations was made by Agenese, is then Nottale who assimilates this results to a Schrodinger equation as a structuring framework, based in the irreversibility of the stars trajectories as a fractal process, modelling their “velocity” as a complex derivative of (fractal) position against time, instead the usual definition of velocity as the derivative of (differentiable) position against time:

And leads him to get rid of dark matter (very interesting result):

I found all this a fruitful framework to consider, because Nottale refused dark matter and dark energy paradigms as soon as 1996, that is 21 years ago!!, based in the structuring tendency found in Scale Relativity. The release of the differentiability leads to a gigantic step in modelling everything in Scale Relativity: all obeys a kind of Schrodinger equations, but, what is the appropriate pseudo-Planck constant to use? From where to deduct it?

There is where I found an interesting way to explore if the 288 km/s speed found experimentally by Agnese and Festa could be consequence of a kind of MiHsC main pole of attraction. Nottale found the structuring framework and the pseudo-Planck constant as to be D = (G x M) / (288km/s). This made me wonder why this structuring D constant, although depending of the mass M of the galaxy or cluster, has always the 288 km/s velocity fixed value as denominator. I believe MiHsC is the key and could offer also have an explanation for this quantization on the velocities. Nottale explanation of the 288 km/s was guessed in


as a connection with LOCAL and GLOBAL scales, but this was not further developed as far as I know. MiHsC in now mature and truly grounds this connection for the first time, in my humble opinion. Any suggestions, Mike, will kindly appreciated...

Unknown said...

Acceleration as a quantized, stepwise phenomenon. Fascinating. Electron positron annihilation as almost an illusion of electrons producing photons when the electromagnetic field is "tuned" properly. And the model of the electron-photon presented here almost demands a "composite" nature to other "fundamental" particles (strongly implied by neutron beta decay IMO), though "composite" isn't quite the proper term since by induction other "fundamental" particles would most likely be "merely" more complex assemblages of photons/ em waves in a "larger" phase-locked cavity (aka rindler horizon) than that which contains and defines the electron.

All of material reality boils down to the photon and/or the background em field that even the photon "precipitates" out of. The ultimate fundamental would be "energy."

Mass becomes a derived secondary phenomenon? The "m" in E=mc2 would seem to be only a modifying coefficient if this line of reasoning holds.

Unknown said...

If NASA's Harold White or someone in the same line of trade produces a warp bubble, would quantised inertia enable you to test whether the Laws of Nature inside the bubble were the same as outside in the universe?