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 16 June 2020

Pushing Off the Vacuum

Of course, some will claim that I have finally taken leave of my senses, but really, all I am doing is following quantised inertia to its logical conclusion. I have just published a paper titled 'Can nano-materials push off the vacuum?' (see references).

Physics already knows that the quantum vacuum can be damped (reduced in one area) by metal conductors. This is the well-known Casimir effect. It is now also well accepted that the quantum vacuum can be enhanced from the point of view of a high acceleration system. This is known as Unruh radiation. Quantised inertia then predicts that if such a system is made, such as a laser fired into a reflecting cavity, and the cavity is made asymmetric then the energised quantum vacuum will be damped more at the narrow end than the wide end and the cavity will be pushed towards its narrow end. It will move without having to expel propellant. In this way quantised inertia predicts the behaviour of the emdrive (see references). Quantised inertia implies that this is what nature has been doing since the dawn of time with inertia, where the quantum vacuum is damped by a relativistic horizons caused by acceleration, pushing objects back against that acceleration. This part of the theory is well backed by astronomical data - it predicts galaxy rotation without dark matter. It is an obvious next step to replace the horizon with a metal plate and make the old inertial process controllable.

So, what's new in this paper? Well, it turns out that you don't need the laser in the cavity or any energy input, if the cavity is small enough (about 129 nm). Then the zero point field itself is made inhomogeneous by the cavity's asymmetry and is strong enough to push the cavity, which is pretty light. Build a array of these nano-cavities and it should push itself, in the same way a boulder will roll down a hill. The hill in this case is the quantum vacuum, so the boulder may in fact be able to roll up a physical hill by 'rolling down' the one in the quantum vacuum. The applications are new launch systems and a way to get to the nearest stars in a human lifetime. A craft with propellant-less propulsion makes such a trip possible within a few years. A bold prediction indeed, but at least it is testable.

All that is needed is some way to build such a nano-cavity or an array of them, and then weigh it. Does anyone out there have a lab with photo-lithography or another technique that can build up a 3d matrix of nano-scale asymmetric metal cavities? If so, please email me and we can apply for funding to test the principle. The downside of failure would be some embarrassment for me, a small price to pay. The upside would be a space-based civilisation in our lifetimes & interstellar travel.

By the way, I have started publishing my sci-fi novel titled 'One Step to Tau Ceti' on patreon. It explains part of the philosophy behind quantised inertia in a, hopefully, amusing and entertaining way: https://www.patreon.com/OneSteptoTauCeti


McCulloch, M.E., 2020. Can nano-materials push off the vacuum? Progress in Physics, Vol 16, 2. http://www.ptep-online.com/2020/PP-60-02.PDF

McCulloch, M.E., 2017. Testing quantised inertia on emdrives with dielectrics. EPL, 118, 34003.


Mark In Mayenne said...


Derek said...

My only issue with this is the thought that if it worked to any useful degree, evolutionary processes would already have produced some examples in Nature.

Of course the same could be said of the wheel, so it may just be that arrays of such tiny cavities are difficult to evolve.

mikenyc said...

Dear Mike,

Non-metallic versions of this structure exist. They are called aerogels.


There are now metallic nanofoams:


I suspect that if you want to do your experiment, it will be on one of those. The caveat is that they are irregular, so that there will be a dispersion of cavity sizes and it will be necessary to work out the integrated effect, via your theory, on the material as a whole.
Good luck.

Mike McCulloch said...

Derek: Good comment. Has nature evolved it..? Some have pointed out to me on twitter the speculations of Viktor Grebennikov, and oddities in the physics of insect flight. There is no direct evidence though, as far as I know.

Mike McCulloch said...

Mikenyc: Thank you for the comment. I'm not sure aerogels will do, as we need a pattern that repeats with each 100nm-sized element having an asymmetry in the same orientation.

Unknown said...

There are a number of companies doing research on photolithography at the nm level. I worked on this about 6 years ago at a Si company with the idea of printing initial designs for RF circuits for engineering validation.

Question: In your paper your example uses spheres. Printing an array will produce circles with some depth. How does this change the efficiency? Also, was wondering if the small circles need to be at the same potential or grounded since a floating set will build up a charge over time.

Unknown said...

Mike - have you seen this?
US Navy Patent:
Craft using an inertial mass reduction device

Dan's Test Blog said...

Even if there was net force wouldn’t that just compress the structure?

Paul Chiusano said...

Could a soup of such cavities be made, perhaps via some chemical process, and then oriented all in the same direction via a magnetic field? I also wondered about large molecules with the right shape to produce an effect.

Andrew said...

Mike, isn't the EmDrive meant to thrust towards the fat end?

Derek, how would evolution have produced a hard vacuum in a very conductive container? Are there any examples of a hard vacuum within a life form? Are there any examples of copper or even steel levels of conductivity in any life form? Also the levels of thrust in the EmDrive are tiny, and of no use on earth. Perhaps Mike's tiny thrusters have a higher thrust to weigh ratio, but if not there would be no use for an earth bound creature to evolve EmDrive thrusters.

Mike McCulloch said...

Andrew: Emdrives thrust towards their narrow ends.

Andrew said...

Reading the paper now, in the second paragraph of the second page it says the thickness of the cavity wall is one millimetre. The cavity length is 129 nanometres. Is the 1 mm a typo?

In equation 4 you have a change in momentum being replaced by a difference in the two uncertainties of momentums. Why is a difference in uncertainties equal to a change in momentum?

Simon Derricutt said...

Mike - would it be possible to etch an array of conical holes in a surface, and then lay a capping surface over the top such as Graphene? Graphene is available on soluble substrates at a pretty high quality now, and etching holes normally produces cones of some sort and it's parallel sides that's difficult. For initial trials, there should be a focussed electron beam or ion beam that could produce this size of hole even though they'd need to be done one by one and so the job could take a while.

The etching process would of course produce a somewhat conical shape rather than the two connected spheres, but that should still do the job. May be worth talking to a chip fab to see what they could do for you. Might cost £5-10k to get the job done for the odd cm², but if it works you'd likely make a fortune from it, and it's probably a valid use of the DARPA funds if you still have any left.

I've been assuming that the walls need to be electrically conductive, but that might not be necessary. If you don't need conductivity,it may be possible to stamp the conical holes in the type of plastic used for DVDs (which takes very fine detail) and cap it with either Graphene or a thin plastic.

I couldn't figure out a way to get the holes you wanted except by using stuff that dissolved or evaporated, but of course if you dissolve/evaporate stuff you're going to need a hole to the outside. Getting a totally-enclosed hole not possible. As such, making it in two halves seems the only reasonable way.

An interesting point would be if you used (uncapped) closely-spaced conical holes of a micron or two diameter, since then air molecules would have a non-specular reflection from the holes and, I think, come out of the holes on average closer to the plane. That would produce a net force perpendicular to the surface since more momentum per second would be coming in than going out in the perpendicular direction - more momentum closer to in-plane direction that would sum to zero. You'd get a force only in atmosphere and not in space, but that could itself be useful. I haven't done any maths or simulations on this, just head-simulation. Seems it could work.

Kieran Latty said...

I think Simon is on the right path.

Another option is to etch a series of grooves which can be capped, creating a series of tunnels with a triangular cross section.

Raoul Duke said...

Sounds kinda out there but I love alternative physics that present themselves as easily falsifiable. Excuse me while I chuck some ideas out there...

I would suggest creating nano particles of two different plastics with a mutual Triboelectric effect, producing them via vapour precipitation and electrostatic grading. Then combine the two populations of plastic nanospheres, of two different diameters, while electrically neutral but heated so that they stick on contact. Once cool, agitate the mixed asymmetric dust in a flat electric cavity so that you have a reverse mould of the cavities you need.

I might be possible to do something similar with oppositely charged oil and water droplets of different graded sizes, which then coat a charged surface and be frozen.

In either of these two situations the matrix of reverse cavities would need to be coated and the liquids later dissolved or boiled off as mentioned above.

Third options, create two different sizes of spheres of a chemical which would react to form a gas in the presence of a second chemical or above a certain temperature. The coat these in a main material and heat, allow the different gas expansions to form the cavities..? Not sure how the alignment would work in that case.

Robert said...

I hope you all realize that such a device would immediately lend itself to energy generation machines. As would the previous generation using LED or laser light most likely.

Mike Warot said...

You can produce something similar to the structure you need in your kitchen. Aluminum when anodized produces a hexagonal honeycomb structure near the size you seek.

It might be possible to use aluminum foil, painted on one side to prevent reaction, and a deep grid of aluminum oxide cavities on the other...

Normally these cells are sealed shut using steam, but you could leave them open and do experiments.


David Pearce said...

Hi Mike. Have you not thought of trying to patent some of your ideas? The ideas you are now coming up with could, if they work, be very valuable. There are ways you can get patent applications on file while not spending much (if any) money. Happy to give you a bit of free advice if you're interested.

Derk_73-11 said...

| How standing without falling into a gravitational field. |
| and without spending energy.

Just, Quantum Mechanics.

The Potential Energy in a Gravitational Field, of any particle, IS QUANTIZED.

If a particle fall down, that is, speaking quantum, make transitions to lower levels of energy, it is because random energy (For instance, termic energy) is bigger than this gap between energy states (That is, between heights in the gravitational field).

¿Do you want a Experimental proof?.

It was achieved years ago (2012):

"Gravitation and quantum interference experiments
with neutrons"


Gravity Energy is ALSO, quantized.

The fall of a particle in a gravity field, is not continuous.

It is step by step.

Still those steps are so little, we see them as continuous.


Best Regards, and let Dreams become True Mike (I have seen your 'dreams' post, I like it, I had it too).

Javier, Madrid.

Philosopher Rex said...

Curious - any way to calculate how large such an "engine" would need to be in order to achieve just over 1g of thrust (enough to escape Earths gravity). If you could accelerate at 1g, one could reach the current edge of the universe in 50 years (from the passengers perspective) ... or so I've heard.

I wonder also about the strength of the material - are conventional materials strong enough to hold vacuum once introduced to 1atm? I'd think they might be crushed - if so maybe such an engine would need to be built in space.

I hope you find a way to test this out ... sounds really really cool!


Ed P said...

Perhaps a combination of semiconductor etching with some organic fillers - after all Covid19 viruses are approx 125nm diameter - could give cavities which, when emptied, would be the right size.
Good luck with it, as it's potentially very promising.

John said...

The following paper suggests, in case propellantless propulsion is real then it should be verifiable through a very simple mechanical construction (Fig.2 Upper), the linear actuator.

Paper: https://vixra.org/abs/2007.0027

What do you think?

Kieran Latty said...

Also have a look at black silicon, which naturally forms small conical spires, and can be etched to produce elaborate structures