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 2 November 2021

A Thrust from 'Nothing'.

In a small lab in Plymouth, a new quantum thruster is taking shape. I have been theorising about getting thrust from quantised inertia and trying to work out how best to do it for DARPA (see ref 1). With Prof Perez-Diaz we managed to get a few microNewtons out, and I had considered asymmetric plates, but engineer Frank Becker read my papers, remembered a capacitor-based Biefeld-Brown-type experiment he had done, and with a few discussion with me, he and Ankur Bhatt tried it and produced milliNewtons of thrust (see ref 2). This test made my year. Even DARPA emailed me saying something like "What the heck is this!?". One problem was that they had used a high voltage with a digital balance so there was a potential for glitches. Then Richard Mansell of IVO Ltd tried it with an analogue method and agreed with them. This new Mansell group has also blazed the path in innovation as well.

In its simplest form, anyone, with a little care for safety, can try this experiment. If you have a humble desk and a power socket then the cost is £800. I know because I've just spent that much on it! Not bad for a technology that promises to revolutionise just about every industry we have: satellites, rockets, cars, energy...etc. The trick is to ensure no artefacts, and that we hope to do at Plymouth.

The method is to setup a potential difference of 5kV between the plates of a capacitor, and separate them by about 10 micron with a dielectric. You then allow electrons to quantum tunnel across the gap at a very low current (1 microAmp) but at a massive acceleration. The theory of quantised inertia says that they will see a field of nice hot Unruh radiation everywhere, except between the capacitor plates, as for the old Casimir effect. There will be then a quantum void between the plates that will pull the electrons out of the cathode faster than expected and this will add momentum to the system which will thrust towards the anode. A thrust from 'nothing'. As you can see in the theory paper below (ref 3), QI predicts the results of Becker and Bhatt and Mansell exactly, even the changes as you vary the plate separation.

I'm glad that my openness about QI theory and its possible applications, partly in this blog, encouraged talented engineers to contribute because in my opinion they have shaved years off the path to QI application. This includes the above-mentioned folk, but also many on twitter and many who made comments here. My question is, what is my role now? Of course, I will continue to develop the QI theory, and I have two novels describing it written, and a second text book in the works, but my DARPA funding ends at the end of 2022. I hope to give DARPA a quantum thrust of 10 mN by then. What then?

What I'd like to do is to maintain freedom to continue to develop QI, to write about it, to not starve (!) and not have to be too distracted with business! One possibility would be to setup a Horizon Institute (HÎ)? Perhaps more like a Federation of Labs. The idea would be to use crowd funding or Venture Capital funding to provide support to labs developing QI thrusters, space & interstellar tests and new energy sources based on it, provide advice based on QI, and also a testing facility. In the present era it might be best outside academia? There are already two university labs (In California and Texas) crying out at me for money to start their experiments. As usual, I can see the horizon but not the detailed path to get there! Please make comments below - you might get us to Proxima Centauri quicker!


McCulloch, M.E., 2018. Propellant-less propulsion from quantised inertia. J Space Explo, Volume: 7(3). https://www.tsijournals.com/articles/propellantless-propulsion-from-quantized-inertia-13923.html

Becker, F. and A., Bhatt, 2018. Electrostatic accelerated electrons within symmetric capacitors during field emission condition events exert bidirectional propellant-less thrust. https://arxiv.org/abs/1810.04368

McCulloch, M.E., 2020. Thrust from symmetric capacitors using quantised inertia. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353481953_Thrust_from_Symmetric_Capacitors_using_Quantised_Inertia (Submitted to JPC).

Tuesday 12 October 2021

The Mayflower Institute?

The big change since I last wrote is that I have a new post-doc (Dmitri) who is tasked with testing for QI thrust right here at Plymouth. I'm pleased with him. He has suggested that, since we are dealing with radical new physics, our testing methods should be as conventional as possible. I like to call it the Caesar approach - Julius Caesar was seen to be too flashy by his stolid Roman peers so he made his memoires deliberately dull. Anyway, Dmitri has comprehensively studied the field of small thrust measurement, looking at techniques from the UK's NPL and the US's NIST and other esteemed places and has suggested a torsion balance method, in a soft vacuum, with an electrostatic or electromagnetic force source and capacitor transducers. He has produced a beautiful design which will take five months to build. In the meantime, I have many other labs to keep me occupied and the goal now is to enhance the thrust so it is above the noise. One of my funders said something like:

"We'd like to see it floating over the desk, rather than just over the noise". That goes for everyone I guess.

Dmitri and I have also discussed setting up an more permanent thrust-test program here. I'd like to go further and set up an institute, not just for studying QI thrust, but to go all the way from lurch to launch. An Institute for Horizon Science and Engineering? (IfHSE) pronounced "Ifs". A good word for a testing centre? Or perhaps, alluding to Interstellar Possibilities, the Mayflower Institute as I have been discussing with my friend Bill Smith who visited me last week. Exactly how to do this is not clear yet.

Tuesday 27 July 2021

How to Predict (Almost) Everything

Well, my title is a little cheeky but I think it's fair to say that if physicists and engineers actually knew what quantised inertia predicts, that they just can't, then they'd start work on it tomorrow. So here is a sort of abridged summary:

QI predicts the recently-observed cosmic acceleration perfectly without needing any infusions of invented dark energy. QI explains why the universe is flat (PE=KE) and always has been, so gets rid of the need to imagine our particular era is 'special'. QI predicts the value of the gravity constant G from the cosmic mass and scale and speed of light. This means that physics has lost a free parameter and has become simpler for the first time since 1905. QI predicts galaxy rotation, and specifically why the oddities always begin at a particular acceleration. MoND has to input this acceleration, QI does not - it predicts it itself. QI further predicts the observed variation of this critical acceleration with cosmic time. QI predicts the low-l CMB anomaly in which it looks like the longest waves in the cosmos are smoothed out, and the CMB peaks as well, but not their heights. It predicts a relation between the area of something and its mass. QI predicts the first, and a few others of the quantised redshifts seen by Halton Arp - the others may appear when we look at other electron transitions. It shows why the Magellanic clouds appear to have broken free of the Milky Way but have left a 'stream' behind them that curves around the galaxy implying they are still bound. QI predicts the motion of wide binary stars which show identical anomalies to galaxies when they are far apart, and orbit below the critical acceleration. Dark matter can't explain them because it can't be packed into the small scales of binaries and still predict large galaxies. You can't have it both ways, so dark matter can now hit the road. QI predicts the very beautiful shape of Hoag's object which is almost like a poster child for the theory. It predicts the orbit of our neighbour Proxima Centauri, which is orbiting far too fast, just like those wide binaries and the larger galaxies. QI predicts the bending of light by the Sun, just as general relativity does, but it is successful with galaxies too, which GR is not. QI predicts relativistic jets in galaxies and so gets rid of the contrived & complex, and conveniently invisible, black hole explanation. QI predicts the Casimir effect, the emdrive, Mach effect thrusters and the asymmetric and symmetric capacitor thrusters that half the planet thinks are hoaxes and half think are the saviours of mankind. It predicts some aspects of the Podkletnov gravity shielding effects, which are much maligned but were published in good journals and have not yet been falsified. QI predicts the test results from my lab in Spain who observed thrust from a laser loop, shielded on one side. If this is confirmed then we become an interstellar species, which would be timely! QI predicts the photons seen coming out of the Dynamical Casimir Effect. It provides an explanation for cold fusion, or LENR if you prefer, and for the excess light seen coming out of nanocavities. A new source of energy from the vacuum? Similarly it predicts sonoluminescence. QI provides a new way to understand pair production and it predicts the ratio between the proton and electron mass, and the Planck mass. QI provides the first ever intuitive explanation for inertia which has always been brushed under the carpet in physics.

To finish, QI is conceptually challenging but technically very simple & can be used to predict a massive range of phenomena. I am writing a book to detail all this which might be called 'The Empiricist Strikes Back' or 'How to Predict (Almost) Everything'. Now I should say that of course I do not necessarily believe every anomaly listed here, but I think this list, which has taken me 15 years to present, implies something!

Sunday 6 June 2021

Whose Hand on the Tiller?

Here is a Letter I just emailed to New Scientist. I doubt they will publish it so I am putting it here to avoid having wasted my time:

In 2007, I started to publish peer reviewed papers suggesting a new theory called quantised inertia which predicts disc galaxy rotations without dark matter, simply and without adjustment. I've published 25 peer-reviewed papers on it and I am now funded to test its predictions of propellantless thrust, but I have had difficulty getting the message out. The arXiv publishes preprints of papers before they appear in journals, but its anonymous editors have refused to publish some of my papers even after they were published in good journals. Those it did accept, it hid away in a section called 'general physics' which is a sort of naughty boys' room that few people look at. Anonymous people also wreak havoc on wikipedia & google. When you search for quantised inertia, you find excoriation, whereas in reality there is far more evidence for quantised inertia than for dark matter - though admittedly that is not difficult since dark matter has no evidence at all. Scientists use these public sources for their convenience and make decisions based on them so it is not right that anonymous people, who could be unqualified, or with a conflict or interest, are having such an impact on research that has been through rigorous peer review. We have to reinstate the scientific method or we may be manipulated into making the wrong decisions.

Tuesday 27 April 2021

Response to Tajmar's New Cavity Results

First of all, there is no criticism of Tajmar's team here. Their work ethic & professionalism have always been impressive and their results are useful, as you will see. The problems that have arisen are my fault, and probably caused by not demanding detailed schematics before the experiments.

I employed the Tajmar group, to test quantised inertia as part of my DARPA project. They manufactured several very attractive copper and silver cavities. All of them had asymmetric distributions of metal to asymmetrically damp Unruh waves and hopefully cause thrust. A laser was fired into each and a sensitive double pendulum balance was used to detect very small (nanoNewton) forces.

Unfortunately, and I did not know this until I read their paper last month (mea culpa). On page 7 they say “every copper [and silver] cavity was encapsulated in an aluminium case, similar to the beam trap mentioned earlier to reduce heat radiation to balance components”. The problem is that the addition of a symmetric metal box will cancel the thrust from quantised inertia. Here is a schematic to explain.

Figure (a) shows an incomplete understanding of quantised inertia. The Unruh waves seen by a highly-accelerated object (photon, black circle) in an asymmetric cavity are more energetic (hotter) at the wide end (red), and cooler at the narrow end (blue), so an internal object is pushed left, but the cavity is not: any forces are only internal. A better picture is (b): the Unruh waves seen by the accelerated object also exist outside the cavity which is partially transparent to them and therefore the cavity ‘falls down’ the Unruh gradient. This is how quantised inertia predicts thrust. In case (c), representing Tajmar’s copper or silver cavity tests, the cavity is inside a metal box so there will be a push (see colours) between the cavity & box but friction stops movement. QI predicts that the combined cavity+box must show no or much less thrust: there’s no background gradient.

Tajmar's thrust results indeed show no thrust. It is important to point out that none of the results I'm going to discuss now are significant since the error bars are about the same size as the values, but please look at this graph which I made to summarise Tajmar's thrust data. The x axis shows the expected photon thrust from the laser (F=P/c). The y axis shows the observed thrust minus the expected photon thrust. So dots above the x axis show the thrust we hope to see.

Firstly, most of the points are above the x axis, so there is slightly more than the photon thrust (but not significantly). This might be expected since all of the cavities, no matter what their geometrical shape had a thicker wall in the positive thrust direction, and quantised inertia predicts more Unruh damping in that direction which predicts a positive thrust. This 'wall thickness' effect should be more robust to the addition of the metal box than the variations in the geometry of the cavities which are thin walled, like the metal box.

Second, the silver cavities (labelled Ag) show more ‘thrust’ then the copper (Cu) ones. This is interesting & makes sense because the Q value for Cu was 9 and for the Ag it was 39 (silver is more reflective) so we would expect 4.3 times the energy to be present in the silver cavities and 4.3 times the thrust from them. The average thrust is shown on the plot as the narrow dashed line for copper at .05 nN and 0.16 nN for silver. The factor is 3.2.

Again, these results are all smaller than the errors, so we cannot say anything solid from them. Yes, I know, excruciatingly frustrating, blame me, but given that the cavities were inside a metal box, it's the best we can hope for from this data and on this blog I will give you the real deal, not just the slam-dunk stuff. The next step will be to do the same tests without a metal box while also trying out the capacitor method of Becker & Bhatt which is perhaps 1000 times more powerful.

The true path never did run smooth!

I thank the Tajmar team because these results are very useful.


Neunzig, O., M. Weikert and M. Tajmar, 2021. Thrust measurements and evaluation of asymmetric infrared laser resonators for space propulsion. SP2020+1, March 2021. Link https://www.researchgate.net/publication/350108417_Thrust_Measurements_and_Evaluation_of_Asymmetric_Infrared_Laser_Resonators_for_Space_Propulsion

Saturday 13 March 2021

Bend Light, Not Space

I feel like I am now entering the end game, which probably just means my troubles are just beginning. For a while now I've had a theoretical goal that can be boiled down to two things:

1) Reproduce the bending of light by the Sun, just like general relativity.

2) Retain the ability of quantised inertia to predict MoND-like behaviour in galaxies.

It was Alex Unzicker's books (especially "Einstein's Lost Key") that convinced me that the best way to do this would be to focus on a curious path followed by Einstein in 1911-1912 just before he was persuaded away into untestable geometry by Marcel Grossman. While in Prague Einstein devised a version of GR that treated space as if it had a refractive index. The idea was that the speed of light c=fL reduces close to masses because relativity reduces both f (frequency) and L (wavelength) there, and so light beams bend around the Sun twice as much as Newton would have predicted. Unfortunately, at the time he forgot the reduction in L and predicted only half the correct bending of light. This error was corrected by Dicke in 1957 but by then it was too late and the later geometrical-tensor GR had taken over because it was not stymied by the factor of two error.

To agree with the data on light bending by the Sun (data: the only important consideration), the correct theory must predict this equation for the speed of light c a distance r away from a mass M:

For a lot of last year, on and off, and for several weeks this year I have been trying to get this relation from QI. I did it last year and rejected it for various intuitive reasons. Last week I did it again and realised that it was the right way! The solution is obvious and beautiful in a way that cannot be explained until you actually see it, but it's not published yet so I can't tell you the whole story.

What quantised inertia says is that the zero point field (and its energised version: Unruh radiation) close to matter is damped (reduced) so light bends towards the matter, sliding down the zpf gradient. This gives Newtonian gravity (see my 2013 paper), but in QI we also have to consider the cosmic horizon of the light which reduces the inertial mass of the photons even more than expected so they bend towards the Sun twice as much as expected. It all works out nicely and gives the equation above. The great advantages of the new QI dynamics are that it gets rid of dark matter, it predicts cosmic acceleration and practical thrust and, unlike bent space which cannot be directly tested, it could be directly tested by measuring the zpf in different places with, say, a Casimir probe.

Given the lab results that are starting to come in (see my blog last month) and this latest theoretical result I expect breathless requests for zoom presentations will come flooding in from physics departments all over the globe! (I always like to end on a humorous note).


McCulloch, M.E., 2013. Gravity from the uncertainty principle. Astrophys & Space Science, 349, 957-959. Link to Pdf

Unzicker, A., 2015. Einstein's Lost Key.

Saturday 6 February 2021

Horizon Engineers

In 2017, an electrical engineer called Frank Becker contacted me, saying that he'd read my papers on quantised inertia and the emdrive and he particularly noted my discussion that dielectrics placed inside an emdrive might enhance thrust. It reminded him, he said, of an experiment that he'd done years ago trying to replicate the Biefeld-Brown effect with tin foil capacitors and dielectrics. Indeed he had seen thrust towards the anode just as Biefeld & Brown did.

After he emailed me, we liaised on occasion via skype, and the following year or so he teamed up with an actor called Ankur Bhatt who also has an MSc in engineering and they did some Frank-ly (forgive the pun) brilliant experiments. I advised them as much as I could on QI. A schematic of the experiment is shown in the Figure and you can find the details in the paper below. The capacitor plates are on the right hand side (the grey lines). You can see the electrons accelerating to the right from the cathode to the anode (red arrows).

The electrons accelerate to the right over an inter-plate distance of 10 microns and a potential difference of 5000V, so their acceleration is huge (10^19 m/s^2) so they see a Rindler horizon only about 2 cm to their left (the black line). Normally in QI, when an object accelerates rightwards the Rindler horizon on its left damps the quantum vacuum on that side pulling it back against the acceleration. But, here, this is reversed since the two plates damp the vacuum to the right (a Casimir effect) more than the horizon does. The yellow shading here denotes less vacuum energy than the orange shading. So, here there is an extra push to the right and the electrons accelerate more than you'd expect, pushing the anode more when they get there.

The most crucial component of this experiment is that Becker and Bhatt also played around with  putting metal plates in various positions around the setup (Edmund Blackadder - "It's not what you've got, but where you stick it!") and found that when they placed a metal plate to the right of the horizon it reduced the force (it's like a closer horizon) but when they put the plate behind the horizon (to the left) the effect of it vanished. This may be the first direct observation of a Rindler horizon and backs quantised inertia very strongly. I've just written a paper, soon to be submitted, that shows that QI predicts the thrusts they saw.

Becker & Bhatt deserve a lot of thanks for this experiment. If the thrust can be confirmed, it is one thousand times what I was hoping for from my photon-based experiments. I am now funded to reproduce their experiment at my university, starting in May.


Becker, F. and A. Bhatt. Electrostatic accelerated electrons within symmetric capacitors during field emission condition events exert bidirectional propellant-less thrust. https://arxiv.org/abs/1810.04368