I chose the title Physics from the Edge because the theory of inertia I have suggested (MiHsC) assumes that local inertia is affected by the far-off Hubble-edge. My webpage is here, I've written a book called Physics from the Edge and I'm on twitter here: @memcculloch

Friday, 26 August 2016

Dragonfly 44: a fudge too far.

Yesterday, a few people online kindly sent me the news that a galaxy called Dragonfly 44 has been found apparently containing 99.99% of the so-called 'dark matter' (see reference). Many, for example Sean Carroll, said that this supports the dark matter hypothesis. However, in reality it worsens the outlook for dark matter, which has to be added in different ad hoc amounts to each galaxy, in huge amounts to this one, and so it further supports MiHsC which works for all galaxies without any arbitrary tuning needed...

For each separate galaxy they find, the darkmatterists have to add dark matter in different amounts, 90% for the Milky Way, 99% for dwarf satellite galaxies, 99.99% for this one. This number is arbitrary, they chose it incestuously to make general relativity work for the data, and it has no reason behind it except to save GR. That means that the dark matter hypothesis is not only not falsifiable (you can look for dark matter for ever), it is also not predictive. Given the visible light distribution, dark matter cannot predict the velocity of stars. So dark matter is a bit like Peeves at Hogwarts: useless, but you can't get rid of him.

In contrast MoND and quantised inertia / MiHsC are both predictive. Given the visible mass M (it's best to base theories on visible stuff) MoND says the stellar velocity is v=(GMa0)^1/4 (a0 is a fitting parameter) and MiHsC says v=(2GMc^2/Hubblescale)^1/4 (no fitting parameter, and a slighly higher velocity, see equation below) and both predict the velocity dispersion of Dragonfly 44 within the uncertainty and without the need for any dark matter.

The important advantage of MiHsC over MoND is that MiHsC has no adjustability, at all! MoND was an inspiration for me, but it is not a theory, it is an empirical formula that happens to fit galaxy rotation if you 'tune' the adjustable parameter a0 against the data, so it is not surprising that it fits the data, because it has been fitted to it. The parameter a0 has no 'physical reason'. MoND is a bit like an engineering formula with its tune-able a0. In contrast MiHsC has been derived from first principles, says the velocity has to be one value with no tuning possible, and every parameter in the MiHsC formula below is known from observation and is there for a good physical reason, so it is remarkable that it works on all galaxies including Dragonfly 44:

In this way MiHsC resembles special relativity in that there is no arbitrariness about it, no input numbers, but it will need input from better mathematicians than me to properly describe higher order effects due to the interaction of quantum waves with relativistic horizons or cavities.

A loose analogy to this crisis in astrophysics would be holding a competition to see who can make a shoe to fit a foot they've only seen from a distance (like a theory that must predict galaxy rotation from observed quantities to be useful). Shoemaker 1 comes with his shoe, says 'It fits', but you see nothing. 'It's invisible!' he says (GR and dark matter). Shoemaker 2 comes with a shoe that has an adjustable strap and he adjusts the strap to fit it (MoND). This is better. Then shoemaker 3 comes with one unadjustable shoe, and it fits (MiHsC). Obviously, the third shoemaker is the best one.

I cannot emphasise enough the difference between tunable theories like dark matter, and to a lesser extent MoND, and a non-tunable theory like MiHsC. Only a non-tunable theory gives a real understanding of the physics.


van Dokkum, P., 2016. A High Stellar Velocity Dispersion and ~100 Globular Clusters for the Ultra Diffuse Galaxy Dragonfly 44. http://arxiv.org/abs/1606.06291

McCulloch, M.E., 2012. Testing quantised inertia on galactic scales. Astrophys. & Sp.Sci., 342 (2), 575-578. http://arxiv.org/abs/1207.7007

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Emperor's Naked!

Karl Popper made a statements that should by engraved above the entrance to every proud physics department:

"A theory can never be proven, but it can be falsified, meaning that it can and should be scrutinized by decisive experiments. If the outcome of an experiment contradicts the theory, one should refrain from ad hoc manoeuvres that evade the contradiction merely by making it less falsifiable."

In 1915 Einstein finished general relativity and this theory has been successful in regimes where the acceleration is high (such is in the inner Solar system and close-orbiting binary stars. Then in 1933 (by Fritz Zwicky) and in 1980 (by Vera Rubin) it was found that galaxies were orbiting so fast at their low-acceleration edges that, if they had any decency at all, they should explode centrifugally. Yet they don't: they generally persist in sensible bound/round shapes.

This means that most of the observed cosmos, the bit with a low acceleration, does not agree with general relativity. The theory has been hugely falsified, but tell that to a mainstream physicist at a conference (I have done) and you'll be pigeon-holed in a category somewhere below holocaust denier and they'll walk away in disgust. Speaking objectively, given GR's failure with 90% of the data, you can either claim that general relativity is wrong, and invent a new theory (for example I have suggested MiHsC, which reduces the outward centrifugal force in galaxies) or you can claim that there is a huge amount of invisible matter holding the galaxy together by gravity: dark matter.

There are several reasons why it is obvious that the problem is a failure of theory and not due to dark matter:

1) The galactic problems always start at a radius where the acceleration goes below about 10^-10 m/s^2 which is also the cosmic acceleration, so it is obviously linked (in a way that MiHsC explains simply).

2) Globular clusters and wide binary stars, which are far too small to have any dark matter, also show the same anomaly, starting at the same critical acceleration.

3) Many other well known anomalies, eg: cosmic acceleration, the low-l CMB anomaly, the flyby anomaly, the Pioneer anomaly, Tajmar's spinning disc results, the emdrive and the proton radius puzzle are all consistent with the galactic rotation anomaly if you look within the framework of MiHsC.

4) Dark matter is just a mess. It needs huge amount of new matter to be added in an ad hoc way and it also needs new physics to keep it spread out in a galactic halo.

5) There is no evidence for dark matter even after 40 years of very expensive looking.

6) Philosophically: dark matter defends a theory (GR) that failed to predict galaxy rotation properly, by inventing an ad hoc manoeuvre that makes it less falsifiable (see Popper's warning above). If a theory uses an ad hoc fix that is, even worse: as vague as a bad politician's promises, then beware!

As a result of these points I'm amazed that the rest of physics is spending most of its money (each dark matter detector is on the order of $100 million dollars) to defend general relativity by looking for dark matter and almost no-one is challenging the theory. I agree the dark matter option should have been looked at, a null result, like Michelson and Morley's is useful, but it must be in proportion to other options. Instead dark matter is tacitly assumed in journal papers and magazines articles, and there are even dark matter conferences which are inherently unscientific, since they pre-assume the solution they're looking for!

As Popper suggested, instead of trying to defend the status quo, it has always been more effective to attack the prevailing theory. It is easy to attack general relativity since the counter-evidence is already plentiful (see above), so why don't they?

After ten tears of fighting it, I think the obsession with dark matter is like the age-old story of the Emperor's new clothes. People are told that only the cleverest can see the clothes (dark matter), so everyone of course says that they can see them when the Emperor goes on walkabout awarding post-doc positions, but eventually some idiot comes along and says 'Ho Ho The Emperor's Naked!' and the spell is broken. Well, I'm willing to be the idiot, and I have suggested MiHsC, and, although I say it myself, MiHsC is far more successful than GR, absolutely beautiful and simple in form, joins quantum mechanics and special relativity for the first time, and offers a new way to get energy and propulsion (by learning to put horizons in the zero point field). Since we're talking about invisible fashions, it seems appropriate to quote Coco Chanel:

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Honey, I Shrunk the Proton!

Standard physics is having an increasingly embarrassing time. It failed to predict the galaxy rotation problem, then cosmic acceleration, both just about the biggest anomalies you could imagine, representing 96% of the whole cosmos. These embarrassments have been hidden under the carpet with the fudges of dark matter and dark energy (whereas MiHsC predicts the embarrassments). There have been other anomalies too: the low-l CMB anomaly, the alignment of quasars, the spacecraft flyby anomaly, the Tajmar effect, the emdrive (all of which MiHsC predicts), but these anomalies have mostly been ignored by the mainstream who are focusing on the internal consistency of a standard model ever more at odds with nature (Rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic). However, now comes an anomaly (the proton radius puzzle) that is so central to the standard model that it will be impossible for them to ignore.

The proton radius is well predicted by the standard model as 0.88x10^-15m and has been measured as such for many years. You can measure it by bouncing electrons off the hydrogen nucleus (a proton) or by firing lasers at electrons orbiting the nucleus in their circular train tracks (to use the simplified Bohr model) and seeing how far they jump between tracks, a jump that depends on the proton charge radius because of the Lamb shift (an effect of the quantum vacuum).

In 2010 a group at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland decided to see what would happen if they made a hydrogen atom, replacing the electron with its overweight twin the muon (identical to the electron, except 200 times heavier). The advantage of using a heavier muon was that it orbits much closer to the proton thus allowing a more accurate result when they track the maths back to predict the proton radius. To their surprise the muon jumped a bit more than expected between its orbital levels and the equations leading back to the proton radius implied it was 0.84x10^-15m: 4% smaller than before (this was confirmed in 2013 and 2016, see Pohl et al. below). This is an anomaly seven times larger than the uncertainty in the original proton radius measurement (a so-called 7 sigma anomaly), so it constitutes a significant discovery.

The trouble, or rather the opportunity, here is that there is nothing in the standard model to allow for a proton to shrink in the close presence of a muon. Cue MiHsC? I'm now reveling in the summer research period and I've just submitted two theoretical papers on MiHsC, one of them predicting the electron mass and showing that tight orbits can release mass-energy in a new way, accounting for gravity for example. It is interesting that this proton radius anomaly is wrapped up in the Lamb shift, a quantum vacuum effect. MiHsC is also a quantum vacuum effect.


Accessible report about it by John Timmer, Ars Technica: Report

 A more technical arxiv summary: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1502.05314v1.pdf

Latest paper by Pohl et al., 2016. Science.  http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6300/669

Thursday, 14 July 2016


It would be good to test MiHsC directly with an experiment. One proposal I made in a paper in 2013 (see reference) was to try to damp Unruh waves on one side of an object so that the Unruh waves that impact it on the other side push it along. The problem is that Unruh waves are lightyears long for normal low accelerations, and you'd have to accelerate/spin a disc very fast to make Unruh waves short enough so they can be damped by standard technology. Accelerating heavy discs is problematic.

Since then I've shown that MiHsC seems to predict the emdrive fairly well, and this implies that MiHsC also modifies the collective inertial mass of photons (McCulloch, 2016). The logical conclusion is, instead of using heavy discs, why not rotate light in a similar way? The method would be as follows: put photons into a fibre-optic loop (see the white loop in the diagram) and put a metal baffle on one side (the grey rectangle).

The photons will circle around the loop at light speed so that their acceleration will be huge and the Unruh waves they see will be of a similar size to the loop, and their electromagnetic component might therefore be damped by putting a metal shield on the left of the loop (the grey rectangle). That means there will be more Unruh waves hitting the fibre-optic loop from the right (more orange colour) than from the left (less orange) so the loop should move left. It rolls down a gradient in the Unruh radiation field.

I've done a simple calculation, and shown that if 2 Watts of power is put into the loop as photons, and if the loop has a Q factor of 10^6 then the thrust should be something like 21 mN multiplied by the efficiency of the damper in damping Unruh radiation (which I do not know, but the emdrive suggests might be close to one). This would be a kind of emdrive using light, not microwaves. A LEMdrive?


McCulloch, M.E., 2013. Inertia from a asymmetric Casimir effect, EPL, 101, 59001. Preprint

McCulloch, M.E., 2016. Testing quantised inertia on the emdrive. EPL, 111, 60005. Preprint

Monday, 4 July 2016

MiHsC and Gravity from Uncertainty?

I've always liked Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and a few years back I managed to derive something that looks like gravity from it (see references). This approach is very appealing: it feels somehow like the open channel, and over the weekend I managed to derive something that looks like MiHsC inertia from it (with caveats, see below). I won't go into details before publication, but to explain vaguely: the uncertainty principle says that the uncertainty in momentum of an object (Dp=D(mv)) times the uncertainty in position of it (Dx) is equal to the reduced Planck's constant (hbar), see the equation in the diagram:

This is pure quantum mechanics, but what happens if now we apply it on the macroscale where it is not supposed to be valid, and add relativity? When any object (the blue arrows in the diagram) accelerates, say, to the left (black arrows), a relativistic Rindler horizon forms to the right (the black curves) and blocks a huge chunk of space since information can no longer get from beyond that horizon to the object. With greater acceleration the horizon comes closer (see the diagram). Why not say that this horizon reduces the uncertainty of position, Dx? (the red arrows). It obviously does since the 'knowable space' shrinks. If we assume that and apply the uncertainty principle, then the momentum (or energy/c) uncertainty goes up and this becomes available to produce the inertial force to oppose the original acceleration (blue arrows).

I did the maths over the weekend, and the inertial mass predicted this way looks like that predicted by MiHsC (which explains galaxy rotation without dark matter and cosmic acceleration.. etc) My previous derivations are actually equivalent, but this way is rather elegant. There is a 27% difference though, which can be explained by the crudity of the model I've used so far: I have assumed the horizon is spherical.

What is becoming clearer is that MiHsC is inevitable if you take seriously both relativity and quantum mechanics, and allow an interaction between them on large scales.


McCulloch, M.E., 2014. Gravity from the uncertainty principle. Astrophys. and Space Sci., 349, 957-959.

Friday, 24 June 2016

MiHsC & Interstellar Travel

I've been asked to summarise what MiHsC has to say about the potential for faster than light travel which I discussed towards the end of my recent radio appearance on The Space Show (link). This is of course of great interest scientifically, philosophically and practically for interstellar travel. It is also at the heart of MiHsC, which relies on local dynamics being affected by the far off Hubble edge. I cannot summarise it all in one blog, and the subject is even more on the edge than normal for me, so the tone of this blog will be more like a varied update on work in progress than the surer, didactic blogs I've tended to write recently.

It is well known that special relativity predicts that as an object or spacecraft approaches the speed of light, its inertial mass, as seen by a stationary observer, increases to infinity, forbidding further acceleration and enforcing a constant maximum speed somewhere below light speed (c) dependent on the power of the spacecraft's engine. Now (re: qraals comment below) I realise that faster than light travel is possible for those on the ship due to time dilation, but here I'm looking to resolve larger issues. MiHsC has a tiny correction to make to the usual picture: it says that a constant speed (zero acceleration) cannot be allowed because Unruh waves would then exceed the Hubble scale. So, even as the mass approaches infinity in relativity, and the acceleration reduces towards zero, the inertial mass will start to dissipate due to MiHsC. A tiny relativity-proof acceleration remains: 2c^2/HubbleScale = 6.9x10^-10 m/s^2.

Is there any observational evidence for this prediction? Yes: 2c^2/HubbleScale is close to the cosmic acceleration that was recently found using distant supernovae. Also see galactic jets. This also solves a paradox in that stars just inside the Hubble horizon are moving at just less than c, just beyond it they are moving just above c (relative to us) and so cannot be seen (this is one reason why the night sky is black). In relativity this transition should require infinite energy. Some say this is because space itself is expanding, but I dislike the use of undetectable entities like space in this way. In MiHsC this can be explained naturally by the minimum acceleration.

The huge import of this aspect of MiHsC (a=2c^2/HubbleScale) is that the relativity-proof acceleration is inversely proportional to the size of the Hubble horizon. If we could make a small shell-horizon we might be able to boost this acceleration. I mentioned this in a paper in 2008 and talked about all this at the 100 Year Starship symposium in 2010. I am returning to this subject now, because you can derive the emdrive results from MiHsC by assuming that the emdrive cavity is making such a shell, asymmetrically (see this blog entry) and NASA did detect a change in the speed of light inside the cavity which immediately interested me, but they did not pursue...

One huge problem with all this, also hard to think about, is how might faster than light propagation be reconciled with causality? This is the heart of the problem and so is a good place to start. The diagram below shows space along the x axis, and time (ct) along the y axis for two stationary observers (S1 and S2, light blue lines). It also shows the new skewed spacetime axes (dashed lines) seen by two moving observers (M1 and M2, dark blue lines). With this diagram we can look at the implications of allowing faster than light travel.
Imagine S2 at spacetime point P2 tells a passing M2 that he's just hit his own thumb with a hammer and we allow M2 to send this information to co-moving M1 instantaneously (along their moving x axis: see upper red arrow). M1 just happens to be passing the stationary S1 who he tells about the accident. S1 can now instantaneously tell S2 at the earlier time of P1 about the hammer and S2 can hire handyman Harrison Ford to do it and this changes the future. This paradox arises for instantaneous communication, and also for any communication faster than light speed, but there is something missing from this picture that has forced people like Novikov and Hawking to set up 'Chronology Protection Conjectures' that demand that this sort of thing can't happen. This seems to me a cheat. It should come out of the physics. MiHsC might model this more naturally by bringing in information. Sending information from P2 to P1 destroys a future and there is an energy cost to that, that would preclude this in most macroscopic cases, but maybe not for special quantum cases.

For example, the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paper and Bell's tests have shown that spooky action at a distance or future-past interaction probably does occur for quantum systems and I have written a paper (not accepted yet) showing how this can be allowed for quanta since there are only tiny exchanges of information between future & past. I think that time is porous and allows information through in small doses.

Coming back to more practical matters. How might you design a MiHsC-Shell? It would be an array of metamaterials (metal structures) surrounding a spaceship which damp the em-component of Unruh waves likely to be seen by it, at whatever acceleration it is undergoing. If the ship accelerated at 9.8 m/s^2 for example, the Shell would need to deselect em waves of length 7x10^16 m (forgetting relativistic effects for now). If you could do that then the spaceship would have less inertial mass and would be easier to accelerate, and then you'd need to change your tuning to accommodate that change in acceleration. It could also be done by damping more Unruh waves at the front of the ship than the back, for example.

MiHsC offers a tiny chink of light to those wanting interstellar travel, in helping getting to speeds close to c by inertial control (Tau Ceti in a human lifetime), and maybe more, but thinking about space and time is difficult because they are so fundamental. It is rather like trying to rebuild the floor of a tree house while you're standing on it! It's best done with experiments to light the way and for now, I would like to see the great NASA Eagleworks try some more of those emdrive interferometer experiments and publish the results.


Bennet, G.L., H.B. Knowles, 1993. Boundary conditions on faster than light transportation systems.

McCulloch, M., 2008. Can the flyby anomalies be explained by a modification of inertia? JBIS, 61, 373-378.

Monday, 20 June 2016

The Pull of the Distant Horizon

MiHsC (the first model that explains inertia) works using horizons, which are boundaries in space between areas that can get information to us at light speed, and areas which can't, like black hole event horizons. If you accelerate away from a region of space fast enough it means that information there suddenly cannot get to you and an information horizon forms cutting it off. In MiHsC this horizon damps the zero point field on the side opposite to your acceleration vector, so you roll down a gradient in the zpf towards the horizon, and this models inertial mass. I wrote a twitter-poem to summarise this:

  If you move to the right,
  the left's out of your sight.
  so a 'horizon' appears,
  damps zero point fields,
  pulling u back.
  Inertia is that!

The idea of information horizons may seem abstract, but this model explains a lot (eg: galaxy rotation without dark matter) and there is one big clue that is obviously MiHsC-like. The biggest object we can ever hope to see is the Hubble horizon. Distant stars are moving away from us at faster than the speed of light, so their information is lost to us. This causes the Hubble horizon surrounding the sphere of the visible universe.

The other interesting observation, made by Reiss and Perlmutter in 1999, is that the entire universe is accelerating away from itself. This phrase is easy to say, but the universe is a pretty big thing. You may have tried to push a car which is maybe 1000 kg in weight, and if you're like me, you'll have had difficulty. The cosmos is 10^49 times heavier than that, and yet something is accelerating it! Modern physics just glibly invents this so called 'dark energy' but suggests no origin for it. The amount of energy involved here would be very useful if we could understand and therefore control it.

MiHsC provides the right amount of energy straight away. It can be explained using Unruh waves as I have before, and also in a simplified mechanistic way by the diagram above. The Hubble horizon is shown by the black circle. The red is the zero point field (energy usually unavailable to us, because it is spatially uniform). MiHsC means that the ZPF is damped between the yellow stars and the Hubble edge (see the orange areas) so that more energetic virtual particles hit the stars from the cosmic centre, then from the other direction accelerating the stars outwards towards the Hubble horizon. Note that the acceleration of the stars is due to their apparent vicinity to the Hubble horizon from our point of view. from their point of view it would be us near the horizon, and us accelerating. MiHsC predicts the cosmic acceleration very well.

Can gravity also be modeled this way? Could it be due to objects making sheltered regions in the zero point field (see the narrow orange corridors)? I have not yet managed to show the mathematically.

Cosmic acceleration is the biggest clue (in size and mass-energy) we've ever been given by nature, and it points clearly to MiHsC. What if we could produce such an gradient in the ZPF in a lab? We could get new energy out. In my opinion, this is what the Casimir effect and the emdrive are doing.