Scientists receive $1.3 million to study new propulsion idea for spacecraft

Posted: September 17, 2018 by oldbrew in innovation, physics, research, Travel

Image credit: Spaceflight now

Light as a power source is only a theory so far, but could have interesting implications if it can be shown to work. Or it could go nowhere…

Spacecraft and satellites could in future be launched into space without the need for fuel, thanks to a revolutionary new theory, says EurekAlert.

Dr Mike McCulloch, from the University of Plymouth, first put forward the idea of quantised inertia (QI) – through which he believes light can be converted into thrust – in 2007.

He has now received $1.3million from the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for a four-year study which aims to make the concept a reality.

The QI theory predicts that objects can be pushed by differences in the intensity of so-called Unruh radiation in space, similar to the way in which a ship can be pushed towards a dock because there are more waves hitting it from the seaward side.

The theory has already predicted galaxy rotation without dark matter, and the fact that if a system is accelerated enough – such as a spinning disc or light bouncing between mirrors – the Unruh waves it sees can be influenced by a shield. Therefore, if a damper is placed above the object, it should produce a new kind of upwards thrust.

Chemical rockets are very expensive because of the explosive propellant they need, so this new kind of thruster would be much cheaper and safer as it would only need a source of electrical power to accelerate the core of a thruster.

Dr McCulloch, Lecturer in Geomatics at the University, believes the study could benefit all forms of propulsion and transport, with a potentially transformative impact on space launch systems, aircraft and cars.

He said: “I believe QI could be a real game changer for space science. I have always thought it could be used to convert light into thrust, but it also suggests ways to enhance that thrust. It is hugely exciting to now have the opportunity to test it.”

Continued here.

Mike McCulloch: How Unruh radiation makes inertia

  1. A C Osborn says:

    Fascinating science, I hope they can do something with it, it appears to be similar in concept to the EM Drive.

    [reply] indeed –

  2. JB says:

    Phasers, light sabers, and plasma canons soon to be off the shelf items.

    “A Rindler horizon forms to separate that space from the known space. Now as far as the mass is concerned, there is no space beyond the horizon and waves need space to wiggle in.”

    “Zero point field”

    Doesn’t anyone else see this as an oxymoron? By definition, a field requires dimension.

    “No space” => “known space”

    My brother had a dream as a kid, that he traveled to the edge of space, cut it with a knife to find out what lay beyond, and saw cowboys and Indians fighting….

    The beautiful thing about mathematics is that it works well with GIGO and facilitates wonderful metaphysical structres.

  3. Phoenix44 says:

    This seems to contradict settled science. It therefore should not be reported, let alone funded.

  4. oldbrew says:

    How Quantised Inertia Gets Rid Of Dark Matter
    by Mike McCulloch
    January 3, 2018

    Most astrophysicists have assumed that what keeps galaxies together is the gravity from vast invisible clouds of so-called dark matter and they have been looking for dark matter for many decades without success.

    However, there is now good evidence that dark matter does not exist at all.
    . . .
    In a paper recently published in Astrophysics and Space Science (McCulloch, 2017), it has been shown that the rotation speed at the edge of galaxies can be predicted by a theory called quantised inertia that has no arbitrariness at all. It correctly predicts the rotation of the 153 galaxies in a well-known dataset from only the visible mass, the speed of light and the cosmic diameter and combines relativity and quantum mechanics, two theories thought to be incompatible, in a beautiful new way.

    Galaxy rotations from quantised inertia and visible matter only (2017)
    M. E. McCulloch
    Open Access Original Article
    First Online: 02 August 2017
    – – –
    EmDrive: UK scientist claims ‘new physics’ explains galaxy rotation and theoretical space propulsion

  5. HM says:

    It goes back at least to the ‘flyby anomalies” (the most famous being the “Pioneer anomaly”)

    “Earth flybys by Galileo, Rosetta, NEAR and Cassini have all experienced a sudden boost in speed. After cancelling out all possible explanations, including leakage of fuel and velocity measurement error, a new study suggests the answer may lie in a bizarre characteristic of universal physics…” and “A recent study by Magic McCulloch suggests that “Unruh radiation” may be the culprit. The Unruh effect, put simply, suggests that accelerating bodies experience a type of electromagnetic radiation.”

  6. oldbrew says:

    HM: no doubt he’s quite a clever chap… but ‘Magic McCulloch’? 🙂
    – – –
    McCulloch: there is now good evidence that dark matter does not exist at all

    Such as: nobody has ever found any?

  7. Damian says:

    They are funding an actual thing, but it is DARPA. This article and the whole Unruh radiation thing looks like a MacGuffin. The actual thing they are building might be a lot more interesting.

  8. Bitter@twisted says:

    I agree, Oldbrew.
    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

  9. Damian says:

    I would recommend “The Execution Channel” by Ken MacLeod
    Secret military tech, Government misinformation and the Pioneer anomaly.

  10. oldbrew says:

    B&T – it’s hard to prove something doesn’t exist e.g. the alleged Loch Ness monster. But when there’s a Nobel prize on offer (for dark matter) and they still can’t find it, there must be at least a suspicion it’s not there.
    – – –
    JB says: “Zero point field”. Doesn’t anyone else see this as an oxymoron? By definition, a field requires dimension

    Zero point = zero mass (AFAIK), which seems strange at least. But then this is the world of quantum theory 😐

  11. pochas94 says:

    Reminds me of light sails, using the pressure of sunlight to accelerate objects away from the sun. If light sales work then this might just work.

  12. dai davies says:

    Zero point field/fluctuations, etc.
    QM says that an oscillator has a minimum/lowest-possible energy level. This is usually “explained” with a hand-wavy reference to the uncertainty principle.

    To me, QM has been stuck in a mess, almost from inception, with the notion of wave-particle duality. I see particles as resonances so no duality – soliton waves/resonances in a stretchy space. Mass = bentness of space. Also strict causality which defies the notion of QM wavefunction as a probability measure of an underlying randomness, implying no causality.

    Here I part company with Mike McCulloch who says in a comment “I am arguing elsewhere (paper submitted) that causality is broken anyway for quantum systems, as is (probably) shown by the EPR-Bell test experiments)“. But then, he may be saying that the standard (Copenhagen) interpretation of QM is broken, in which case I agree, but reference to EPR-Bell suggests not. His “probably” is enigmatic. 🙂

    Causality is not only a fundamental assumption in science, I don’t believe its absence can be meaningfully defined other than in mathematical abstractions. Sadly, too much physics has become bogged down in these abstractions that are confused with reality.

    I agree with comments that this drive/effect is probably not scalable, But any new ideas for interstellar drives interest me. Using virtual vacuum particles for thrust is mentioned in Brindabella 2200 as an idea that’s been around for a long time but never seems to get anywhere.

  13. p.g.sharrow says:

    @dai davies: this is something I have been working on for 30 years. The Standard Model is as full of holes as the Swiss Cheese I just ate. So I created my own Model. The key is the cause of Mass/Inertia. Is it internal or external to Mater? My determination was that Mass/Inertia is an external effect caused by the stress Mater creates in the Aether or Fabric of Space. Gravity is also a result of that stress caused by Mater. Light/EMF is also an energy/signal that travels within this medium. The Duality of Light particle/wave is the result of the characteristics of our test devices that require a unit of energy to create a result indication. When We measure a photon of energy we are measuring the energy content of a unit of Aether. a signal in .

  14. oldbrew says:

    Is there a ‘virtual’ anything in physics that actually works?

  15. dai davies says:

    pg: Your “stress” seems to be equivalent to my “bentness”, so we align here. If the energy needed to bend or stress space is proportional to the stress we get E proportional to mass, equal to mass times some constant, or E = mc^2.

    Solitons and particles used to be fringe physics but now apparently incorporated into standard approach:
    Chiral Quark-Soliton Model:
    Heavy reading.

    This is a visualisation of quark-soliton in a swimming pool – very cool!

    Another demo with some explanation:

    And a natural soliton in river Carron in Scotland:

  16. dai davies says:

    oldbrew: “virtual” is a tricky word, but can be useful. The closest I can think for an intuitive model for virtual particles is waves on a beach. Some break and creat sound, others just roll in silently. From an auditory perspective they are virtual breaking waves.

  17. p.g.sharrow says:

    A soliton wave, a coherent thing of energy in a medium of charge is a good example of something that is there but isn’t. Remove it’s organization and it ceases to exist. Suck the energy out of it and it ceases to exist. But the medium still exists and becomes invisible to us…pg

  18. oldbrew says:

    Asteroids Get Spun By the Sun
    By Kathy A. Svitil|Thursday, February 05, 2004

    William Bottke of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, has shown that solar rays can change an asteroid’s rotation or even nudge it out of its orbit. His discovery explains an old puzzle. Some groups of asteroids spin at nearly the same rate and in similar directions. Bottke says this strange synchronization could be caused by sunlight. Solar rays warm up an asteroid’s surface, just as asphalt cooks on a hot summer day. As the heat is reradiated into space, the escaping energy produces a slight twisting force.

    Over billions of years, this minuscule effect can significantly speed up or slow down an asteroid’s spin, depending on its initial orientation. In some cases, sunlight can cause an asteroid to rotate so quickly that it flies apart, shedding rubble that then orbits like a cloud of tiny moons. Light pressure also influences an asteroid’s path through space. “Sunlight can slowly push it out of the asteroid belt so it becomes planet-crossing,” Bottke says. On rare occasions, the planet an asteroid crosses could be our own. [bold added]

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