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

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Consider an Owl

I've just published what is possibly the most elegant paper I have ever written. I sent it to various journals who all turned their noses up at it (one sympathetic editor told me that reviewers were refusing to review it en masse) so thank you to Advances in Astrophysics for giving it a home. In it, I derive quantised inertia in eight lines from information theory, just by assuming that information is stored in Planck-length spaces.

Consider the diagram below. This represents, in one-dimension, an object (say, an owl) by the thicker vertical dashed line on the left. Initially the owl is just sitting there so it sees the cosmic horizon on its right, the right-most vertical dashed line. The owl has a lot of information about space. The Planck length is the smallest region of space in which information can be stored and in the diagram (not to scale!) Mr Owl can see 26 bits of space. Then imagine someone rudely moves him abruptly to the left. Suddenly information cannot catch up to him from far to the right and the horizon he sees moves closer - see the middle vertical line. Now the owl can only see nine bits of space.

This is a loss of information, and according to Landauer's principle, it also counts as a loss of entropy, just as deleting a computer memory would. This is a huge no-no from the point of view of thermodynamics - entropy must always go up. In the paper I show that if you calculate how much energy is released to Mr Owl in this case, it is exactly the amount of energy needed to produce, not just inertia, but specifically the form of inertia of quantised inertia, which models galaxy rotation without dark matter and predicts cosmic acceleration.

Now, of course, this example is only one-dimensional but I think it offers a new, simpler and deeper way to understand quantised inertia, and derive it. I hope that information theorists will pay attention. It is a sign that their subject is just about to conquer the rest of physics. Welcome to a new branch of physics. And the owl? Understandably, he's chosen a new branch to sit on. Higher up in the tree.


McCulloch, M.E., 2020. Quantised inertia and galaxy rotation from information theory. Adv. Astrophy., 5, 4. http://www.isaacpub.org/4/2050/5/4/11/2020/AdAp.html


Philosopher Rex said...

Wow! Great stuff. Thank you for your amazing contributions to science. I hope the mainstream community begins thanking you soon too.

Robert said...


Are you saying that there is no dark matter at all or just that it is not required for galactic rotation?


Mike McCulloch said...

Robert: I'm saying dark matter is not required for galaxy rotation. Since that was the reason for it in the first place, that weakens its raison d'etre considerably.

mikenyc said...

How does your approach tie-in/disagree with Eric Verlinde's?

Mike McCulloch said...

Mikenyc: See my blog entry here: https://physicsfromtheedge.blogspot.com/2016/11/critique-of-verlindes-gravity-1.html

Lord Acesco said...


Thank you again for your daring ideas. My intuition ( I can only talk about intuition as I'm a filmmaker ), is that information is definitely related to energy, contributing as a "blueprint" to the structure of matter itself.
It is of course just a metaphor, but it points to another "elephant in the room", which is consciousness itself.
Information is meaningful just for a sentient being; a non-conscious universe wouldn't make the difference.
It's a hot and controversial topic, but I think that physics will inevitably have to take this weird thing into consideration... one day :)
As a side-note, form an epistemological point of view, I believe that your research is scaring the mainstream science precisely because of this: there are too many disturbing consequences.

Simon Derricutt said...

Mike - having 3 ways of deriving the same relationship (Unruh waves, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, and now information theory) seems to make the relationship pretty sound. Though Information Theory implies that *something* is computing using that information, I suspect that there is no such Matrix-like computer doing that, but instead that is a consequence of *something else*, maybe interference between the waves that seem to be the underlying structure of matter itself. That leads to the question of exactly what supports those waves (what exactly is waving?) that is currently unanswerable. I find it somewhat hard to accept that a fundamental particle has the computing power to run the complex equations of where it ought to be at any point in time and to appear or move to that point - I find it easier to accept that the particle position is determined by the cumulative effect of the forces acting on it and the times for which those forces act, and the particle itself is absolutely dumb. Thus information theory ought to reduce to forces and the times for which they act, and since the nodes of those waves are at the horizon there are only certain wavelengths that are allowed, and we end up with quantisation based on the current distance of the horizons. Thus maybe QI is actually the reason Information Theory works.

I can't conceive of a wave with infinite velocity - such a wave should have no nodes at all, and no wave-shape (at all times the "wave" would be flat). However, quantum theory requires that such waves exist (though in the probability space) and experimentally it seems true. Otherwise, how does the information from the horizon reach us at the same instant that it changes? To me, this says that we haven't got the right picture yet, even though the mathematical relationships are correct. It's a bit like the trick of "renormalisation" of equations that have infinities in them, of deleting the bits that are infinite and what's left gives you the right answer that matches what actually happens. The infinities point to something we've got wrong in the picture. Maybe the infinite speed of transmission of data from the horizon is also a bit wrong, too. Possibly there's a Planck time involved for each half-cycle of each wave, instead, which would result in a delay between the actions from the shortest wavelengths from the actions of the longest ones. The Planck time is so short that we don't normally notice that delay, but maybe there would be a predictable effect from that.

As an engineer, I'm happy to take the equations as-is and build something that works, and the experiments in progress do seem to be working. The underlying philosopher, though, wonders why the equations work, given that as far as I can tell infinities cannot actually happen in reality. (Note for others - there's an article on the experiments at https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2020/09/darpa-laser-version-of-emdrive-has-a-test-result-better-than-commercial-ion-drive.html that includes a video of an ANPA discussion with Mike explaining the derivations graphically and some discussions.)

Unknown said...

Fascinated by your work; just to bend my head around it:
Inertia is resistance to loss of information; this constitutes a loss of entropy, which must be neutralised by releasing an appropriate amount of energy to mr owl to counter the acceleration causing the reduction in visibility - and hence loss of entropy - in the first place. This produces the effect we see as inertia.
So how does initial speed and further acceleration affect this. The faster mr owl is accelerated, the closer the horizon comes, the higher the energy to offset loss of entropy grows, the stronger the seeming inertia becomes, until...? Seems to tie in with theory of relativity.
Is the loss of information/visibility tied to relative speed or acceleration? If the latter, does visibility increase again once speed is stable? and what does that mean for entropy and equilibrum?
Not wanting to waste your time, just spending a few moments on procrastination...

Unknown said...

Mike, my understanding is that there are several reasons for it, not just galactic rotation. There is now firm evidence that hydrogen exists in a non-radiative form and is ubiquitous in the universe.

Mike McCulloch said...

Lord Acesco: Indeed, quantised inertia fits with a philosophical view that I read a lot about and liked during my years at university: hylozoism. That nature is alive. I've tried to model it using what I called 'agents'. It models it from a deeper level: you assume entities that are sentient in a minimal degree - they can broadcast, receive and remember. That is all you need. I have not pursued it because it does not seem testable.

Mike McCulloch said...

Unknown: Thank you for your comment. It gives me a chance to say something very important. There is a delusion holding up modern physics and as an analogy it is a bit like a group who have built a massive complex Heath-Robinson-type machine that predicts things like 2+3=5, if they are allowed to twist knobs at random till it gets it right! Really, that is how it is - including their CMB predictions. They get paid to twist the knobs so they are happy, and this setup has survived because the public has not noticed that their taxes are going into this. The machine of quantised inertia is not like that. It is far simpler & there are no knobs! Furthermore, QI has applications.