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).