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, 22 May 2015

Emdrive: whence motion?

Imagine an object in empty space accelerating rightwards. Now information from beyond a certain distance to its left, limited to light speed, can't catch up so there is an  information horizon, and the volume to the left of that horizon can never be seen by the object. A radiation like Hawking radiation comes off this horizon (Unruh radiation).

The first new contribution of MiHsC is that it says Unruh radiation is damped between the object and the horizon. Ernst Mach said, 'what can't be seen, can't exist', so from the point of view of the object all fields beyond the horizon must be zero, so they must be zero on the horizon too. Therefore, only waves with nodes at the horizon can be allowed. This cuts out many Unruh waves on the left side but not on the right, so more Unruh radiation hits the object from the right, slowing its acceleration. This correctly models what we call inertia, which has never before been explained. In general the horizon makes the zero point field, hitherto hidden, suddenly vary in space and able to push on real objects (see reference McCulloch, 2013).

The second part of MiHsC is that the Unruh radiation is also damped slightly by the far off Hubble horizon which cuts out some long wavelength Unruh radiation. This weakens the part of MiHsC described above, and so weakens inertia slightly in a new way. This makes more difference for low acceleration objects (which see long Unruh waves) and in this way MiHsC correctly models galaxy rotation without dark matter, and cosmic acceleration without dark energy (McCulloch, 2012).

Now to the emdrive: the photons in the cavity have inertial mass (photons in a mirrored box do) so MiHsC should apply. If we assume that the cavity walls are like the cosmic horizon in MiHsC then they will damp some Unruh radiation and make inertia weaker, but less so at the wider end. So the photons at the wide end have more inertia, and photons gain mass going from the narrow to the wide end. You'll note that mass-energy is not conserved in the usual way here because the horizon causes the zero point field to become real: just as black hole horizons cause virtual particles to become real (Hawking radiation). To conserve momentum the cavity has to move towards the narrow end. This predicts the emdrive results quite well, see here.

The application of MiHsC to the emdrive is summarised and derived properly (mathematically) in the paper below (McCulloch, 2015) and I'm mentioning it here in the hope of stimulating much needed debate.


McCulloch, M.E., 2013. Inertia from an asymmetric Casimir effect, EPL, 101, 59001. Link

McCulloch, M.E., 2012. Testing quantised inertia on galactic scales. Astrophys. and Space Sci., 342, 2, 575- Link

McCulloch, M.E., 2015. Can the emdrive be explained by quantised inertia. Progress in Physics, 11, 1, 78-80. Link

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Re-Open the X-Files

A while ago now I tweeted the following: 'If you want to know how to do creative theoretical physics, then ignore today's mainstream & read about physicists from 1609 to 1930 and hold yourself to their standard'.

Consider the theoretical discoveries before 1930. In 1609 for example. Kepler looked at the new data on weird, sometimes retrograde, planetary orbits collected by Tycho Brahe and adopted the radical Copernican Sun-centred Solar system, ditched the complex epicycles and devised simpler equations to model planetary motions. Newton simplified further in 1687 by stealing orbital data from poor old Flamsteed at the Royal Observatory, and used the data to perfect his radical action-at-a-distance theory of gravity (and told a distraught Flamsteed to go 'bind his head with a garter'). In 1873, Maxwell, in a more kindly way, used Faraday's observations of electro-magnetism, which seemed magical at the time, to write down his new equations for light. In 1905, Einstein used the puzzling null result from the Michelson-Morley experiment and the photoelectric effect to propose the counter-intuitive special relativity and support Planck's bizarre quantum mechanics. In each case, strange new data from what you might call the 'X-files' was accepted & theories were rewritten, fundamentally, but in a way that didn't change the predictions for regimes already well explored.

In contrast, everything in mainstream fundamental physics since 1930 or so has been merely a logical extension of Einstein and his contemporaries. This is not for a lack of strange new data. We have had anomalies in deep space since Fritz Zwicky found in 1933 that galaxies in galaxy clusters were moving far too fast to be bound, as they obviously were. There was a similar finding that stars in galaxies were orbiting too fast by Vera Rubin in 1980. John Anderson found anomalous spacecraft tracks in the 1990s and 2000s and Reiss and Perlmutter discovered cosmic acceleration in the 2000s, and there are many more anomalies from deep space (eg: aligned quasars) and from laboratories (eg: Podkletnov, Tajmar, LENR, emdrive), but all this strange data, anomalies now apparently representing 96% of the mass-energy in the cosmos, have not been allowed to come in from the cold, and complex fixes involving invisible entities have been found to allow the old models to accommodate some of them (an exception is CERN where they are freer to move because no former great has laid down the law for this new high acceleration regime).

With MiHsC I have embraced these physics X-files and written new formulae that agree with the old physics at high accelerations, but, at low accelerations, or if horizons are brought closer, agree with the new data rather than the old physics. This data-driven method is as it should be, but I know that convincing others takes time and care, always has. What is needed is more than a proof that MiHsC predicts more simply, which I have already done, but a crucial experiment or anomaly that is impossible to explain any other way: ideally a controllable laboratory experiment involving extreme spin as suggested in my book (an experiment which is in progress with some encouraging results, but not conclusive yet) or an experiment like the emdrive (see my paper below).

I hear the X-files are coming back to TV. Despite the scientific flaws in those episodes, their scientific attitude was exactly right. As Carl Sagan once pointed out: you need a mix of scepticism (Scully) and curiosity (Mulder). Today, we need more Mulders.


McCulloch, M.E., 2015. Can the emdrive be explained by quantised inertia? Progress in Physics, Vol 11, Issue 1, 78-80. Link to pdf

Sunday, 3 May 2015

MiHsC vs 29 anomalies

Someone pointed out to me this week that I tend to publish papers predicting one anomaly at a time with MiHsC and these are easy for others to discount, but a paper showing how MiHsC predicts all the anomalies would have more impact. MiHsC now predicts 29 anomalies quite well (and doesn't mess up non-anomalies). Of course, I have already published a book which presents most of the results together, but it's good to be succinct, so I have summarised all  my published results, and some as yet unpublished, in this Table (click on it for a closer look):

The second column identifies the anomaly and the units, column 3 shows the size of the observed anomaly, column 4 shows the MiHsC prediction of it, and column 5 is a brief discussion of the degree of success of MiHsC, and also mentions rival hypotheses, and how successful, simple, arbitrary and fudge-able they are. I have arranged the anomalies from the cosmic scale down to the Planck scale. It is always risky putting something like this up, because there may be errors, and some may disagree with my assumed cosmic acceleration for example, but I'm putting it up so people can make comments and correct me if needed.

The main point here is that my confidence in MiHsC is not due to its agreement with any one anomaly, which is rarely perfect, but the generality of all of them together (Introduction to MiHsC).

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Light in a box & the Emdrive

In 2011 I was invited up to St Andrews University to talk about MiHsC (The title of my talk: Can inertia be modified electromagnetically?). Their physics department has a superb reputation so I was a little nervous. I met some of the academics and sat down to have lunch with them and one of them asked incisively: "If MiHsC is true then why don't we see the inertial mass of something in a metal box reduce?". Well, at the time I nearly choked on my tuna sandwich, but in fact this was one of the first questions I asked myself in the early days, and, when I got my voice back, I explained that for the accelerations of objects we are familiar with, the Unruh waves are extremely long. For example, an object with an acceleration of 9.8 m/s^2 will see Unruh waves 7x10^16 m long (a few light years) and Faraday cages do not affect such long EM waves (submarines can receive long EM waves). Also, as some of the lecturers there helpfully pointed out: Unruh waves are not solely EM waves, they're waves in all the fields.

How about light in a box though? If you have photons in a box whose inner sides are mirrored, then they do contribute an inertial mass to the box because if you move the box one way, then the photons bash into the mirror on the backwards side and so contribute to the inertia that opposes the box's motion. So light or photons in a box, have inertial mass. The interesting thing about the photons in a metal box is their fast speed, so that the mirrors are forcing them to accelerate rapidly backwards and forwards. That means the Unruh waves associated with their inertia are now of a similar wavelength to the box's size and they can be damped by its walls, at least  their EM component. So MiHsC predicts a loss of inertial mass for the light in the metal box, just the same as it predicts a much smaller loss of inertia for objects inside the Hubble volume.

Now what if the box is a cone? (EMdrive) The photons are resonating within it so the Unruh waves they see are of a similar size to the cone and typically fewer Unruh waves will fit or 'be allowed' at the narrow end of the box than at the wide end. One way of thinking about this is that the photons going from the narrow to wide end gain inertial mass in a new MiHsCian way. This turns out to be a bit like the old rocket method of blasting hot gas out of the wide end, but now we are blasting 'virtual' mass. To conserve momentum (mass*velocity) the whole system has to move the other way. Hence the typical motion of the Emdrive towards its narrow end. MiHsC predicts the results quite well without any tuning parameters, see earlier blogs or my paper on MiHsC and the Emdrive here (an introduction to MiHsC is here).

Note that, if the EM waves' frequency is tuned so that the Unruh waves fit better within the narrow end, then the Emdrive might actually move the other way, and it would be interesting to know whether this was the case for the recent NASA experiment where it did actually move the other way. I'm now working on a second paper, that takes into account individual Unruh waves, to be submitted..


McCulloch, M.E., 2015. Can the Emdrive be explained by quantised inertia? Progress in Physics, Vol. 11, 1, 78-80 (Pdf).

Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Magnificent Anderson

John D. Anderson has done it again! It seems every few years he discovers a fascinating anomaly, and his papers are great for data-driven theorists like me because he publishes while freely admitting not to know the cause: old-style empiricism.

In 2005 I read the mammoth papers of Anderson et al. (1998, 2002) which first presented the Pioneer anomaly to the world (although most now consider this explained with a complex thermal model, I do not agree). In 2008 I read his (to me) 'mind-bomb' observational paper on the spacecraft flyby anomalies in which he pointed out an intriguing symmetry of these anomalies about the Earth's spin axis, which at the time sent me into a roller coaster of emotions, made me obsessed with applying MiHsC to it, and stimulated me into realising that MiHsC could explain it if I used 'mutual' accelerations (discussion). A crucial step.

Now he's back with a paper in the journal EuroPhysics Letters (Anderson et al., 2015, see refs) looking at the values of Newton's gravitational constant (big G) that have been puzzling alert physicists for years. G can be measured by suspending a dumbbell arrangement of two masses from a wire and then bringing a known mass up to a distance r away from one of them, and measuring the twist in the wire to work out the force (F) of gravitational attraction. Newton's F=GMm/r^2 then gives you G because M, m, r and F are known. Mysteriously, the 13 recent values of G found using this method vary by more than the likely error in the experiments, which suggests the real uncertainty is bigger, because something unexpected is going on.

The new result is that Anderson et al. (2015) have found that most of the 13 values of G vary with a pattern: a sine curve with a period of 5.899+/-0.062 years. Intriguingly they point out that Holme and de Viron (2013) showed that the length of our day varies with the same period. Anderson et al. (2015) argue that the changes in G cannot be causing the length of day changes, since a greater G would shrink the planet, spinning it up and reducing the length of day: the opposite to the correlation seen. It is possible that something else is influencing both G and the length of day, but what?

I've been fascinated by these unexplained variations in G for a while, and I attended a Royal Society workshop about it last year. I have found a 'weak' correlation in values of G with latitude, and I have been trying to investigate links with MiHsC, with no success so far. The new periodic pattern in G shown up by Anderson's paper is a potential clue, and at the limit of science any clue is priceless.


Anderson, J.D., G. Schubert, V. Trimble, M.R. Feldman, 2015. Measurements of Newton's gravitational constant and the length of day. EPL, 110, 10002. Paper

Holme, R. and O. de Viron, 2013. Nature, 499, 202. Paper

End of The Magnificent Amberson's by Orson Welles: Old-style George Amberson wanders around a polluted city, confused and disoriented by the industrial society that has developed around him.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Doubtful to the end

Aristotle said "The mark of an educated mind is to be able to entertain an idea without necessarily accepting it" and I'd say the mark of a health society is to be able to discuss any idea openly without censoring it. This applies to physics too. I developed MiHsC by looking at controversial data like the Pioneer anomaly (even more controversial now!) with an attitude of not necessarily accepting the anomaly, but just seeing whether it was explainable in a new way. As soon as you start either blindly believing in what you are doing, or on the other hand become too wary of what others think, you become sterile and lose the sense of curiosity or fun that is necessary to continue. I remember Feynman once felt he got himself out of a sterile hole by writing 'Disregard (others)' on his blackboard. In science, doubt and data are crucial.
This is a creeping problem in our society, in that avenues of exploration are being closed down and data is being ignored by people who feel they have the final answer. No-one has the final answer, and if someone ever claims to, speak calmly and run quickly! It's best to allow everyone's ideas to be debated openly, because you never know where a useful answer will come from. Look at physics: the first action-at-a-distance theory of gravity was inspired by Newton's obsession with alchemy, back then a dangerous and wrong-headed idea, but nevertheless stimulating. If a problem has been around for awhile, like galaxy rotation today, the answer never comes from an acceptable direction, because those have been tried already.

This is a quote (from Pais, 1982) that has intrigued me for years: 'Einstein wrote this to his old friend M. Besso, one year before his (E's) death: "I consider it quite possible that physics cannot be based on the field concept, ie: on continuous structures. In that case nothing remains of my entire castle in the air, gravitational theory included and the rest of modern physics".'. This shows that although Einstein's main thrust was in the opposite direction to me (from general relativity to quantum mechanics), he had a healthy doubtful attitude to the end, and occasionally considered non-continuum physics, eg: horizons, which MiHsC is based on.


Pais, A., 1982. Subtle is the Lord (see page 467).

Friday, 10 April 2015

Abstract for NAM2015

Here's the abstact I recently submitted to the 'Cosmology Beyond the Standard Model' session of the UK's National Astronomy Meeting 2015 (NAM2015). Hopefully they'll accept it, but, if not, it can have its day in the sun here:

Testing quantised inertia on cosmological scales
Mike McCulloch

The galaxy rotation problem and cosmic acceleration both occur in extremely low acceleration environments. It is shown that these anomalies can be explained by a model that assumes inertial mass is caused by the effect of horizons on Unruh radiation. The wavelengths of this radiation become longer for low accelerations so that a larger proportion of the radiation spectrum does not fit exactly within the Hubble horizon (and partial waves would allow us to infer what lies behind the horizons, which should not be allowed). This model (called Quantised Inertia or MiHsC) leads to a predicted new loss of inertia at very low accelerations and so predicts galaxy rotation and cosmic acceleration, and some other anomalies, without adjustable parameters. It also suggests a reason for the large-scale cosmic microwave background anomaly recently confirmed by the Planck satellite. The model needs to be tested more rigorously on the galactic scale, hence the need to present at NAM 2015 to make contacts to help with this.