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Small Provocative Workshop on Propellantless Propulsion

In what spirit do we pursue experimentation, and with what criteria do we judge the results? Marc Millis has been thinking and writing about such questions in the context of new propulsion concepts for a long time. As head of NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics program, he looked for methodologies by which to push the propulsion envelope in productive ways. As founding architect of the Tau Zero Foundation, he continues the effort through books like Frontiers of Propulsion Science, travel and conferences, and new work for NASA through TZF. Today he reports on a recent event that gathered people who build equipment and test for exotic effects. A key issue: Ways forward that retain scientific rigor and a skeptical but open mind. A quote from Galileo seems appropriate: “I deem it of more value to find out a truth about however light a matter than to engage in long disputes about the greatest questions without achieving any truth.”

by Marc G Millis

A workshop on propellantless propulsion was held at a sprawling YMCA campus of classy rusticity, in Estes Park Colorado, from Sept 10 to 14. These are becoming annual events, with the prior ones being in LA in Nov 2017, and in Estes Park, Sep 2016. This is a fairly small event of only about 30 people.

It was at the 2016 event where three other labs reported the same thrust that Jim Woodward and his team had been reporting for some time – with the “Mach Effect Thruster” (which also goes by the name “Mach Effect Gravity Assist” device). Backed by those independent replications, NASA awarded Woodward’s team NIAC grants. Updates on this work and several other concepts were discussed at this workshop. There will be a proceedings published after all the individual reports are rounded up and edited.

Before I go on to describe these updates, I feel it would be helpful to share a technique that I regularly use to when trying to assess potential breakthrough concepts. I began using this technique when I ran NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics project to help decide which concepts to watch and which to skip.

When faced with research that delves into potential breakthroughs, one faces the challenge of distinguishing which of those crazy ideas might be the seeds of breakthroughs and which are the more generally crazy ideas. In retrospect, it is easy to tell the difference. After years of continued work, the genuine breakthroughs survive, along with infamous quotes from their naysayers. Meanwhile the more numerous crazy ideas are largely forgotten. Making that distinction before the fact, however, is difficult.

So how do I tell that difference? Frankly, I can’t. I’m not clairvoyant nor brilliant enough to tell which idea is right (though it is easy to spot flagrantly wrong ideas). What I can judge and what needs to be judged is the reliability of the research. Regardless if the research is reporting supportive or dismissive evidence of a new concept, those findings mean nothing unless they are trustworthy. The most trustworthy results come from competent, rigorous researchers who are impartial – meaning they are equally open to positive or negative findings. Therefore, I first look for the impartiality of the source – where I will ignore “believers” or pedantic pundits. Next, I look to see if their efforts are focused on the integrity of the findings. If experimenters are systematically checking for false positives, then I have more trust in their findings. If theoreticians go beyond just their theory to consider conflicting viewpoints, then I pay more attention. And lastly, I look to see if they are testing a critical make-break issue or just some less revealing detail. If they won’t focus on a critical issue, then the work is less relevant.

Consider the consequences of that tactic: If a reliable researcher is testing a bad idea, you will end up with a trustworthy refutation of that idea. Null results are progress – knowing which ideas to set aside. Reciprocally, if a sloppy or biased researcher is testing a genuine breakthrough, then you won’t get the information you need to take that idea forward. Sloppy or biased work is useless (even if from otherwise reputable organizations). The ideal situation is to have impartial and reliable researchers studying a span of possibilities, where any latent breakthrough in that suite will eventually reveal itself (the “pony in the pile”).

Now, back to the workshop. I’ll start with the easiest topic, the infamous EmDrive. I use the term “infamous” to remind you that (1) I have a negative bias that can skew my impartiality, and (2) there are a large number of “believers” whose experiments never passed muster (which lead to my negative bias and overt frustration).

Three different tests of the EmDrive were reported of varying degrees of rigor. All of the tests indicated that the claimed thrust is probably attributable to false positives. The most thorough tests were from the Technical University of Dresden, Germany, led by Martin Tajmar, and where his student, Marcel Weikert presented the EmDrive tests, and Matthias Kößling on the details of their thrust stand. They are testing more than one version of the EmDrive, under multiple conditions, and all with alertness for false positives. Their interim results show that thrusts are measured when the device is not in a thrusting mode – meaning that something else is creating the appearance of a thrust. They are not yet fully satisfied with the reliability of their findings and tests continue. They want to trace the apparent thrust its specific cause.

The next big topic was Woodward’s Mach Effect Thruster – determining if the previous positive results are indeed genuine, and then determining if they are scalable to practical levels. In short – it is still not certain if the Mach Effect Thruster is demonstrating a genuine new phenomenon or if it is a case of a common experimental false positive. In addition to work of Woodward’s team, led by Heidi Fearn, the Dresden team also had substantial progress to report, specifically where Maxime Monette covered the Mach Effect thruster details in addition to the thrust stand details from Matthias Kößling. There was also an analytical assessment by based on conventional harmonic oscillators, plus more than one presentation related to the underlying theory.

One of the complications that developed over the years is that the original traceability between Woodward’s theory and the current thruster hardware has thinned. The thruster has become a “back box” where the emphasis is now on the empirical evidence and less on the theory.

Originally, the thruster hardware closely followed the 1994 patent which itself was a direct application of Woodward’s 1990 hypothesized fluctuating inertia. It involved two capacitors at opposite ends of a piezoelectric separator, where the capacitors experience the inertial fluctuations (during charging and discharging cycles) and where the piezoelectric separator cyclically changes length between these capacitors.

Its basic operation is as follows: While the rear capacitor’s inertia is higher and the forward capacitor lower, the piezoelectric separator is extended. The front capacitor moves forward more than the rear one moves rearward. Then, while the rear capacitor’s inertia is lower and the forward capacitor higher, the piezoelectric separator is contracted. The front capacitor moves backward less than the rear one moves forward. Repeating this cycle shifts the center of mass of the system forward – apparently violating conservation of momentum.

The actual conservation of momentum is more difficult to assess. The original conservation laws are anchored to the idea of an immutable connection between inertia and an inertial frame. The theory behind this device deals with open questions in physics about the origins and properties of inertial frames, specifically evoking “Mach’s Principle.” In short, that principle is ‘inertia here because of all the matter out there.’ Another related physics term is “Inertial Induction.” Skipping through all the open issues, the upshot is that variations in inertia would require revisions to the conservation laws. It’s an open question.

Back to the tale of the evolved hardware. Eventually over the years, the hardware configuration changed. While Woodward and his team tried different ways to increase the observed thrust, the ‘fluctuating inertia’ components and the ‘motion’ components were merged. Both the motions and mass fluctuations are now occurring in a stack of piezoelectric disks. Thereafter, the emphasis shifted to the empirical observations. There were no analyses to show how to connect the original theory to this new device. The Dresden team did develop a model to link the theory to the current hardware, but determining its viability is part of the tests that are still unfinished [Tajmar, M. (2017). Mach-Effect thruster model. Acta Astronautica, 141, 8-16.].

Even with the disconnect between the original theory and hardware now under test, there were a couple of presentations about the theory, one by Lance Williams and the other by Jose’ Rodal. Lance, reporting on discussions he had when attending the April 2018 meeting of American Physical Society, Division of Gravitational Physics, suggested how to engage the broader physics community about this theory, such as using the more common term of “Inertial Induction” instead of “Mach’s Principle.” Lance elaborated on the prevailing views (such as the absence of Maxwellian gravitation) that would need to be brought into the discussion – facing the constructive skepticism to make further advances. Jose’ Rodal elaborated on the possible applicability of “dilatons” from the Kaluza–Klein theory of compactified dimensions. Amid these and other presentations, there was lively discussion involving multiple interpretations of well established physics.

An additional provocative model for the Mach Effect Thruster came from an interested software engineer, Jamie Ciomperlik, who dabbles in these topics for recreation. In addition to his null tests of the EmDrive, he created a numerical simulation for the Mach Effect using conventional harmonic oscillators. The resulting complex simulations showed that, with the right parameters, a false positive thrust could result from vibrational effects. After lengthy discussions, it was agreed to examine this more closely, both experimentally and analytically. Though the experimentalists already knew of possible false positives from vibration, they did not previously have an analytical model to help hunt for these effects. One of the next steps is to check how closely the analysis parameters match the actual hardware.

Quantum approaches were also briefly covered, where Raymond Chiao discussed the negative energy densities of Casimir cavities and Jonathan Thompson (a prior student of Chiao’s) gave an update on experiments to demonstrate the “Dynamical Casimir effect” – a method to create a photon rocket using photons extracted from the quantum vacuum.

There were several other presentations too, spanning topics of varying relevance and fidelity. Some of these were very speculative works, whose usefulness can be compared to the thought-provoking effect of good science fiction. They don’t have to be right to be enlightening. One was from retired physicist and science fiction writer, John Cramer, who described the assumptions needed to induce a wormhole using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that could cover 1200 light-years in 59 days.

Representing NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC), Ron Turner gave an overview of the scope and how to propose for NIAC awards.

A closing thought about consequences. By this time next year, we will have definitive results on the Mach Effect Thruster, and the findings of the EmDrive will likely arrive sooner. Depending on if the results are positive or negative, here are my recommendations on how to proceed in a sane and productive manner. These recommendations are based on history repeating itself, using both the good and bad lessons:

If It Does Work:

  • Let the critical reviews and deeper scrutiny run their course. If this is real, a lot of people will need to repeat it for themselves to discover what it’s about. This takes time, and not all of it will be useful or pleasant. Pay more attention to those who are attempting to be impartial, rather than those trying to “prove” or “disprove.” Because divisiveness sells stories, expect press stories focusing on the controversy or hype, rather than reporting the blander facts.
  • Don’t fall for the hype of exaggerated expectations that are sure to follow. If you’ve never heard of the “Gartner Hype Cycle,” then now’s the time to look it up. Be patient, and track the real test results more than the news stories. The next progress will still be slow. It will take a while and a few more iterations before the effects start to get unambiguously interesting.
  • Conversely, don’t fall for the pedantic disdain (typically from those whose ideas are more conventional and less exciting). You’ll likely hear dismissals like, “Ok, so it works, but it’s not useful. ” or “We don’t need it to do the mission.” Those dismissals only have a kernel of truth in a very narrow, near-sighted manner.
  • Look out for the sharks and those riding the coattails of the bandwagon. Sorry to mix metaphors, but it seemed expedient. There will be a lot of people coming out of the woodwork in search of their own piece of the action. Some will be making outrageous claims (hype) and selling how their version is better than the original. Again, let the test results, not the sales pitches, help you decide.

If It Does Not Work:

  • Expect some to dismiss the entire goal of “spacedrives” based on the failure of one or two approaches. This is a “generalization error” which might make some feel better, but serves no useful purpose.
  • Expect others to chime in with their alternative new ideas to fill the void, the weakest of which will be evident by their hyped sales pitches.
  • Follow the advice given earlier: When trying to figure out which idea to listen too, check their impartiality and rigor. Listen to those that are not trying to sell nor dismiss, but rather to honestly investigate and report. When you find those service providers, keep tuned in to them.
  • To seek new approaches toward the breakthrough goals, look for the intersection of open questions in physics to the critical make-break issues of those desired breakthroughs. Those intersections are listed in our book Frontiers of Propulsion Science.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Robert September 28, 2018, 13:25

    Interesting. Could you elaborate a little on what constitutes the false positive effect from purely harmonic oscillator simulations? Is it a mechanical Dean Drive effect? Is the simulation assuming zero-g? Thanks.

    • Marc Millis September 29, 2018, 12:32

      The short answer is a mechanical slip-stick effect, or “sticktion” drive. I am not fully aware of all the assumptions that went into the simulations – and matching those assumptions to the hardware is a next step.

    • Jamie Ciomperlik September 29, 2018, 17:44

      I have placed a copy of my presentation on google drive for everyone to see. Hopefully that helps clear things up. Make sure you download and play from your computer so you can see the movies on slides 6, 38, 40, 42, 45, 48, & 64:


  • Rob Flores September 28, 2018, 18:27

    This is a great bit update on EM device testing/theory.

    As stated before, Mach Effect drive has a veneer of scientific
    cover, the machian view of intertia and mass. This distinguish it
    from the EM cavity thruster designs. There is no viable theory (IMO)
    that accomodates EM cavity thruster effect with global conservation of

    That being said, the effect seems very small, and i have not heard of
    redesigns that increase its thrust output by any high percentage. This
    important as I recall the thrust would have to be increased 300%
    to come near the EM cavity thruster claims. Were are still talking about micronewtons of thrust. And beyond possibily station keeping at Lagrange points, I fail to see a propulsion revolution here.

    I think it is interesting science to find out if MET is a real effect.
    There is no way to be sure on Earth or even in LEO if this thruster
    really works. The smart thing is to test in space (and I mean deep beyond Mars at maybe 2 AU.) You test with container designed to be ( immune magnetic fields and neutralize thermal effects)
    and it’s own power supply, and a simple radio beacon.
    An unambiguous result would cause a scientific reodering though not
    a revolution per se.

    • Marc Millis September 29, 2018, 12:43

      It would be great to test these devices in space!
      But that would require at least 100 times the available funding (or to put that in a different way, imagine how hard it would be simultaneously win over 100 NIAC grants). We do what we can afford.

      • Robert September 29, 2018, 16:16

        I should think there are alternatives such as suspending a device in a small magnetically levitated platform or on a virtually friction free air table or onboard a research aircraft such as the Vomit Comet.

        • Brett Bellmore September 30, 2018, 13:26

          I’d suggest building one to be totally self contained, controlled optically without contact, and then hang it on a silica ribbon torsion pendulum.

          If you turned it off and on at the resonant frequency of the pendulum, you could detect even the tiniest thrust.

      • Jack Woods September 29, 2018, 20:54

        How about a CubeSat version? Still too much, or not big enough to fit everything?

    • AlexT September 30, 2018, 4:51

      If some test in space shows that tested drive can produce thrust , and this thrust can be used for movement in the solar system – I suppose it is not important does this thrust produced by real positve or false psitive effect – in any case tested drive can be used for space exploration, may be real effect standing after false positive can show us way to the new propulsion principles…
      The positive or negative test results of experiments on the Earth surface cannot help in this scenario.

      • Robert October 1, 2018, 13:08

        I think by false positive they mean in free space there would not be any real thrust at all. The thrust measured would just be a misinterpretation of a complex and subtle reaction against the measurement apparatus.

        • AlexT October 2, 2018, 4:16

          I understand this point :-)
          We should exclude “parasitic” interaction between device under test (DUT) and Earth surface through some forces (friction, gravity, magnetic, electrostatic etc.) But we should not exclude that there is always possibilty of “false” thrust, that is not predicted by tested theory (theory is week point of all discussed drives), but in same time this “false” is not related to “parasitic” interaction and can be used for the space travel.
          So the better way to exclude “parasitic” interaction – to put DUT in the conditions where it suppose to be used – i.e. test it in space.

  • Alex Tolley September 28, 2018, 19:26

    One wonders why cold fusion dragged on for so long unless the noise from poor experiments, even from the USN, was the cause.

    While it doesn’t prove there is no phenomenon, experimental results that are so small that they cannot be distinguished from noise should be a warning. Unless there are obvious scaling effects, it seems unlikely that the phenomenon can be turned into some high performance “drive”.

    • Marc Millis September 29, 2018, 12:51

      Most of the cold fusion research failed to follow the advice of impartial rigor. There were too many “believers,” too many “pedantic pundits,” and too few impartially curious, careful researchers. Hence, it’s still unclear what’s going on.

      That is why I adopted different quality thresholds for propulsion physics work. In the short term it is slower and more difficult, but in the long term a quicker path to defensible results, pro or con.

  • Michael C. Fidler September 28, 2018, 22:56

    Of the inherent problems of inertia that the Mach’s Principle attempts to explain away, there is a much more elegant concept in R.C. Jennison’s phase-locked cavity:

    Wave mechanical inertia and the containment of fundamental particles of matter.

    “It is shown that the form of a non-dispersive wave mechanical packet representing a rotating particle of matter has a sharp and finite boundary in the equatorial plane and is entirely consistent with earlier models of phase-locked cavities. The latter have been shown to possess the properties of inertia without the need of Mach’s principle. Hence, it appears that the origin of inertia for all finitely bounded particles of matter lies in the feedback process that is intrinsic to phase-locked particles. The sharp bounding of the wave mechanical packet befits models of some elementary particles and may shed light on the remarkable process whereby the actions of quantum phenomena are concentrated into particular space-time events and are not diluted over large regions of the Universe.”


    A little history of the model of the electron and the phase locked cavity and its relation to inertia from R. C. Jennison.

    What is an electron?
    A new model: the phase-locked cavity


    DARPA funds developing Quantized Inertia into breakthrough space propulsion.

  • Project Studio September 29, 2018, 1:12

    What should aid our objective impartiality is realising the extent to which we do not currently have answers. This can encourage an openness to potential breakthrough approaches that contradict mainstream dogma.
    Interesting observational data of wide binaries supporting quantum inertia over dark matter, with relevance to propellant-less propulsion investigations.

  • Andrei September 29, 2018, 11:53

    I agree with Mr Tolley.
    Measuring things at the limit of what’s possible have a risk of wishful thinking, and these studies are indeed fringe science nearly in the same class as research in paranormal events and abilities.
    (Yes I am mean today, but it’s a perfect example where wishful thinking have affected results – even the subconscious reaction and wish for success of the of the experimenter apparently affected the research.)
    Planets around other stars are often discovered in a lot of noise also. The point is the passage of movement from gravity is repeated before others can confirm it by recording more data.
    The same should apply here, and that’s why the EM drive seem unlikely to me. Whereas the Mach drive might have something to it, it quealify by being repeated, very good that vibrations were mentioned as a possible false positive.
    Several decades ago someone found a ‘magical’ effect in fast rotating flywheels, it did indeed turn out to be vibrations that caused it.
    What worry me is to ask for “impartial” experimenters and reviewers.
    That subconscious wish might still be there.

    A hypothesis that defy established theory should withstand beating with a counter experiments, papers and peer review hard as a sledgehammer before it is accepted.

    So last the Casimir effect, it’s proven have been demonstrated. The effect is very small, the question is if we need a device the size of a planet to get enough energy to power a starship. :)

  • ljk September 29, 2018, 11:58

    So many in the general public want warp drives and hyperdrives who know little to nothing about basic physics, space science, rocketry, etc.

    Worse, they think NASA is secretly working on these science fiction concepts. I wish scientists in the know would bring home to the public one really important fact about warp drives: One needs a key ingredient called negative matter, which *does not exist*, and so far as I know, it cannot be made in the laboratory, either. So it does not matter if they got the amount of required negative matter down from the size of Jupiter to the size of a school bus if it does not exist.

    Instead, we have people thinking that in the undetermined future either some smart lone renegade human will come up with the warp drive, or some altruistic aliens will just give us the secret because, hey, that’s what more advanced ETI do because humanity sincerely believes it is *the* reason for all of existence.

    Antimatter may be expensive as heck, but at least it does exist. The “problem” is that the places who generate antimatter are not in the business of manufacturing it for an interstellar vessel propulsion system, so the amounts will remain small and therefore exceedingly expensive. Other sublight interstellar travel methods may be even slower, but they at least live in the realm of the scientifically and technically plausible, some more than others like Orion.

    • Robert September 29, 2018, 16:23

      I think there is nothing wrong with the public dreaming and hoping such science will someday be real because it may be. It’s usually scientific minded people and science journalists that stoke those imaginations in their quest to drum up support.

      • ljk October 1, 2018, 9:08

        Whenever I bring up these points someone always misinterprets it as I am somehow not “allowing” people to dream. Completely wrong. Why would I do that, especially since it is dreaming and imagination that has made certain events and ideas happen in the first place?

        What I am saying – again – is when the public does not go beyond trying to at least have some understanding of the principles and laws behind such fantastical concepts as moving a vessel faster than the speed of light. If you keep wishing and demanding for a warp driven starship but fail to catch on that a key ingredient DOES NOT EXIST IN REALITY, then it is a waste of everyone’s time and takes away from the real research.

        Scientists need to push science education more. While I agree that the media is bad about promoting this pseudoscience – so few seem to understand science themselves – I don’t think this is the case for most scientists. Even if it is, the public can still find out for themselves if they really want to, especially in this age of instant information access.

        “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

        – Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)


        • Robert October 1, 2018, 13:04

          And neither did I interpret that you literally ‘do not allow’ people to dream but there seemed a certain frustration that some folks dream without knowledge. In their defense, regarding wormholes and warp drives, neither may exist as an exploitable technical reality but both do exist as theoretical possibilities in physics now which naturally would lead to dreamers dreaming.

          • ljk October 2, 2018, 9:54

            See my above Thoreau quote. As for warp drives, I hope these dreamers know how to dream up some negative matter, or Scotty will remain out of a job.

            • Robert October 3, 2018, 13:27

              Cannae plans a Cubesat test in 2019. Interesting that they derived their name from a quote from Scotty “Ye cannae change the laws of physics”.

          • Alex Tolley October 2, 2018, 11:13

            but both do exist as theoretical possibilities in physics

            Primarily due to playing with math. In one sense, we are making the age-old argument of whether negative things can exist. Recall the 2 roots of quadratic equations, when one value is +ve, and the other -ve. Usually, we discard the -ve value when dealing with real-world objects. By allowing -ve mass or energy, we can get warp drives. Other imaginary symmetries allow tachyons. None of these things have been detected and may be as imaginary as those -ve roots.

            By all means look for evidence, but let us not pin our dreams on imaginary things, otherwise we will be doing something akin to hoping for an alchemical solution.

            • Robert October 4, 2018, 18:46

              You could pretty much say the same for Quantum Field Theory, our best theory, where interactions involve ‘virtual’ particles and subtracting infinities. All playing with math.

    • Al Jackson October 3, 2018, 5:11

      Have you read Kip Thorne’s “The Science of Interstellar” ?
      Thorne does discuss the possibility of realizing ‘exotic matter’ since quantum field theory admits negative energy.

      • ljk October 3, 2018, 12:49

        But where and how would one obtain it? And then is it controllable? And then can it be stuck in the back end of a starship and make it go FTL?

        I am reminded of the propulsion concept that would utilize a mini black hole. Imagine what it would take just to find, capture, and handle it, let alone use it in a starship.

        • Al Jackson October 3, 2018, 16:35

          Indeed one has to invoke Clarke-ian or at least Kardashev level 3 technology!
          One thing, some of best propulsion methods have real physics behind them, but their engineering physics realization is probably 200 years in the future! 200 to 300 years of technological advance is , has been, standard operational procedure in prose science fiction since the 1940s, I find it a reasonable hedge.

  • Lance Williams September 29, 2018, 14:03

    I concur with the main points of Marc’s report and think they are very important.

    As the technical co-organizer of the 2016 Estes Park conference, I must disagree with the statement that “It was at the 2016 event where three other labs reported the same thrust that Jim Woodward and his team had been reporting for some time”. I believe no experimental group was willing to go on record as reporting an observation outside of noise, in spite of my interest to establish whether such a consensus could be achieved. The best summary of the situation is in the Summary chapter of the proceedings


    In that chapter, we described the time signature of the measurement. At the recent meeting, we saw how that complex time signature could be reproduced from a Newtonian 3-body system. This, along with the Dresden results, met my threshold of compelling experimental falsification of the Fullerton experiment. It certainly invites discussion about what, exactly, would be required to falsify the Fullerton device and design. Woodward of course disagrees that the threshold has been met, but he allows he can be proven wrong.

    In spite of the apparent falsification of the Fullerton experiment and of the equation Woodward used to design his device, because of the results presented at Estes Park 2018, I still believe an inertial induction effect could be lurking in standard general relativity. A systematic search within the known framework of general relativity, according to the mainstream scientific method as Marc outlined in his report, is yet to be done. Whatever happens with the Fullerton experiment, we have learned a lot from it, and the search for inertial induction continues.

  • Andrew Palfreyman September 29, 2018, 15:18

    Let a cubesat experiment tell us the truth about the existence of thrust.

    • AlexT September 30, 2018, 5:08

      Good point and good methode to get the answer.

    • Alex Tolley September 30, 2018, 11:53

      The problem with a thrust at the measurement noise level is that even a device in space won’t solve the issue. Recall the “Pioneer anomaly” which proved to be probably due to thermal effects.
      Had there been an EmDrive onboard, no doubt the anomaly would be claimed as real thrust from the drive.

      We’ve really been here before. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, when psi powers were being taken seriously, even micro-effects were being claimed as proof of psi powers. At least Gellar’s tricks had impressive physical results.

      It seems to me that some of this “new physics” is just the latest version of being fooled by wishing to believe strange things. That physicists and engineers are using their status and imprimatur to their claims is no different than Taylor’s Superminds claims of psi powers back then. As Richard Feynman said, the easiest person to fool is yourself.
      [As an aside, I had an engineer friend who really believed he had a reactionless drive using flywheels. He thought he had proved it with his demonstrations, yet an observer could easily see that he was just cherrypicking results. Suggestions about how to create test controls were ignored. I suspect believing the delusion was more rewarding than finding the truth which would have been a let down].

      Millis is right in that experiments should be done correctly, if only to shut down unproductive avenues quickly and shift resources to more productive uses. Of course, that also means shifting resources and attention away from those promulgating wrong ideas. I suspect that is the real issue. In Shawyer’s case, I suspect he has become a classic charlatan.

      • Al Jackson October 3, 2018, 16:38

        Alex, there are always more wishes than facts.

  • Gary Wilson September 29, 2018, 15:38

    No offense to anyone but I think time spent on these areas (EM drive, Mach Effect) is not useful. We need to focus on realistic near-term possibilities. Things that we know work but need further development. Light sails, and ion propulsion seem the most likely to yield near-term benefits and things like pulsed fusion, continuous fusion, and thermal fission for longer voyages are surely much more worthwhile to invest time and money in. Reducing payload weight is critical as well. But Mach Effect? How much time will people invest in this. How much money was spent on Cold Fusion?

    • Robert September 29, 2018, 16:28

      The purpose of a diverse research base is to explore all options and the more practical and near term get the bulk of the attention as they should. Somebody has to look ahead or the future will progress quite slowly. It hurts no one that the few investigate these few remote possibilities.

      • Gary Wilson September 30, 2018, 13:00

        Having spent 35 years in research I do actually agree with that Robert. I wish we had more funding to direct at the more well understood possibilities though. There are always a brave few who want to try to establish new scientific paradigms and I take my hat off to them.

    • Marc Millis September 30, 2018, 21:18

      History has repeatedly shown that an ‘exclusive’ focus on the near term is a path to stagnation. Transistors were not invented by improving vacuum tubes. Jet aircraft were not created by improving piston-propeller aircraft. The list goes on and on.

      Consider too, that in 1903, when the Wright brothers had their first successful flight, Tsiolkovsky derived the rocket equation. Both were much smaller efforts than the quest for improved steam trains and further railway expansion – the “near term” goals of that time.

      The 3 conditions for when to look for the next revolution are: 1) The existing methods are reaching the point of diminishing returns (meaning that it costs more and more to get less and less improvement), 2) clues have emerged for alternative research paths, and 3) those new research paths are affordable. For space propulsion, all those conditions have been met since the late 1980’s to mid 1990’s.

      There needs to be a mix of near term and breakthrough pursuits, with the near term meriting the bulk of activity. Without someone looking ahead, we’d have the absolute best steam trains and no flying machines.

  • Eniac September 29, 2018, 17:46

    What is the thrust/power relation for a propellantless drive? If it is not independent of velocity, it violates relativity. If it is independent, you name me a number and I name you a velocity at which more energy is added to the vehicle than is put in the drive.

    The entire idea of a propellantless drive is fundamentally opposed to the most basic principles of physics. Do not waste your time.

    • J. Jason Wentworth September 30, 2018, 9:34

      That assumption (“research on propellantless drives is a waste of time”) rests on another assumption–that relativity is the last word on the physics with which both relativity theories (Special Relativity and General Relativity) are concerned. Not only would it be astonishing if Einstein’s theories ^were^ the last word in those areas of physics, but one claim of General Relativity is actually wrong (which Arthur C. Clarke pointed out in his essay, “Possible, That’s All!” [it’s in his 1972 book, “Report on Planet Three and Other Speculations,” and originally appeared in the October 1968 issue of “Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction,” in response to Isaac Asimov’s article in the February 1967 issue titled, “Impossible, That’s All”]). As well:

      This incorrect claim, as he described, also overthrows the main objection to antigravity and “space drive” propulsion systems, which are propellantless–although not fuelless (they use energy to operate, but don’t eject mass to produce thrust)–by definition. (By “space drive,” Clarke meant a propulsion system that acts simultaneously on all atoms in its domain–just as gravity does on a falling object–such that a “space drive” would produce motion without the vehicle or its occupants feeling any acceleration forces.) Also:

      A leading astrophysicist (whom Clarke didn’t name, in case he had changed his mind, but revealed that his name began with a Z [Fritz Zwicky?]) shook Clarke by remarking casually, as they were going up Palomar Mountain, that he regarded all three “proofs” of General Relativity as disproved. In this connection:

      The Principle of Equivalence in General Relativity, which says that it is impossible to distinguish (by measurement) between gravity and inertial forces (in a spaceship accelerating at 1 g, for example), is flatly wrong–unless the observer and his or her spaceship have zero dimensions. One can always distinguish between a gravitational field and an inertial one, like so:

      With an accelerometer or a spring-balance scale (many accelerometers ^are^ “glorified spring-balance scales”) –or even with just a couple of ball bearings, whose motions in free fall are observed with sufficient precision–one will soon discover that:

      [1] The Earth’s gravitational field varies in intensity from place to place, on or above the ground (but at the same distance from the Earth’s center), due to variations in the mass concentrations in the Earth below us. Equally importantly, because gravity obeys an inverse square law, it becomes weaker as the distance from the Earth’s center increases, and stronger as the center is approached more closely (if one takes measurements in valleys or subterranean mines, for example). This “gravity gradient” effect has long been used to stabilize some satellites (and natural satellites, especially elongated ones–like Amalthea orbiting Jupiter–also orient themselves with their longest axes pointing toward their planets due to the gravity gradient), and:

      [2] The “pseudo-gravitational” force due to acceleration can be made uniform and parallel over volumes of space as large as we like (as large as we can make huge starships, especially worldships, that is). Unlike the situation above, on, and below the Earth’s surface, measuring the “pseudo-gravity” at *any* location aboard (or on the outside of, while holding on!) a mile-long interstellar ark that was accelerating at 1 g would give the same rate of acceleration, and a scale would indicate the same weight for that person (or for a calibrated test mass) as the scale would indicate on the Earth’s surface, and:

      Clarke wrote that the fall of the Principle of Equivalence had several important consequences. As well as overthrowing the argument against the possibility of antigravity and “space drive” propulsion systems, it also “made a hole in the Theory of Relativity through which we should be able to fly a superphotic ship.” Plus:

      Directly from there, he mentioned the “space warp,” a convenient short-cut taken by plenty of writers of interstellar fiction, including himself. After stating his belief in Haldane’s law (“The universe is not only queerer than we imagine; it is queerer than we ^can^ imagine”), he mentioned Dr. John A. Wheeler’s theory of space-time involving wormholes (which, IF they could be found [or perhaps generated, somehow], held open, and traversed, would enable *effectively* faster-than-light travel). In addition:

      Clarke mentioned Dr. Gerald Feinberg’s research and articles on tachyons (hypothetical faster-than-light particles), including the possibly important distinction that Special Relativity does *not* prohibit FTL velocities by material objects, but only optical velocity (c), which might one day be “skipped over” somehow–without going ^through^ c–via a quantum jump, a phenomenon which modern physics is replete with, and:

      He mentioned the tunnel diode, an electronic device in which electrons “tunnel” from one side of an electrical barrier to the other *without* going through it, as an example of how the light barrier might, one day, by bypassed. In this connection, he also included a point made in the last chapter of the book, “Islands in Space,” by Dandridge M. Cole and Donald W. Cox–“all tests of the relativity equations had been carried out by particles accelerated by *external* forces, not self-propelled systems like rockets. It was unwise, they argued, to assume that the same laws applied in this case.” Lastly:

      It is important to keep in mind that some–perhaps many–principles in science are assumptions that are held to be true based on other assumptions “below” them. In fact, some of the bedrock ideas in science are assumptions, which *appear* to be true (and may be true), but which we do not ^know^ to be true. Just two of them are “matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed, but can be converted into each other” and “the total amount of matter and energy in the cosmos is constant.” Even the physical constants, such as the speed of light, the gravitational constant, and the fine-structure constant, have long been found to vary slightly, sometimes cyclically. Now:

      This doesn’t automatically mean that propellantless propulsion systems will work (or if they do, that they will be powerful enough to be useful), but our knowledge of reality is sufficiently incomplete–and provisional–that calling something “impossible” is–as per Clarke’s First and Second laws–premature and unnecessarily peremptory, possibly “cutting us off” from useful inventions by prematurely rejecting their possibility. Such intellectually elegant devices may turn out to be impossible (or impractically feeble), but the care & feeding of theoretical and experimental physicists is inexpensive, and–regardless of what they find to work, or to not work–a good investment.

      • Eniac October 20, 2018, 15:22

        From your first paragraph I deduce that your answer to my question is that thrust/ power varies with velocity, in violation of relativity, which you question. Effectively, you are reintroducing a the ether, I.e. a fixed reference frame agains which it makes sense for physical processes to be velocity dependent.

        Fine, just know what you are postulating, here.

      • Eniac October 20, 2018, 15:41

        That assumption (“research on propellantless drives is a waste of time”) rests on another assumption–that relativity is the last word on the physics …

        “research on propellantless drives is a waste of time” is not an assumption, it is a conclusion. As such it is indeed based on an assumption, that of the validity of relativity. Not that it is the last word, mind you, just that its principles are valid.

    • Robert October 1, 2018, 14:53

      “The entire idea of a propellantless drive is fundamentally opposed to the most basic principles of physics”

      No, it’s not but such concepts do separate those who can’t see beyond just parroting the laws as currently understood from those who understand that the actual laws may be more subtle than we know. The former I like to call ‘physics cops’.

      • Eniac October 20, 2018, 15:17

        You are disputing my conclusion without so much as acknowledging my argument. Read the first paragraph and respond to that, then I will take you seriously.

    • Andrew Palfreyman October 6, 2018, 23:24

      Eniac, I came to precisely the same concise conclusion. And all using just high school physics/maths. Surprising that a couple of lines does not give more people pause!

  • David September 29, 2018, 22:39

    I am interested how Cramer thinks a mini wormhole could be made in the LHC. I didn’t think it was powerful enough. I dont see any of this research diverting from Breakthrough Starshot which is our best near term option.

    • ljk October 1, 2018, 9:14

      One of the first things the LHC staff had to do when they started up their big particle accelerator was inform the public that, no, they would not be creating a black hole that would swallow up Earth, or a wormhole for that matter, or make contact with a parallel universe.


      The LHC makes for great science but a boring Hollywood film plot. Which is how it should be.

    • ljk October 1, 2018, 9:16

      Actually our best near-term option for reaching the stars is not Breakthrough Starshot but Orion, which had been started in the 1950s and was halted for reasons that had nothing to do with either physics or technology:


      • David October 1, 2018, 10:34

        Corrected. Second best but it got start up funding.

        • ljk October 1, 2018, 13:29

          As much as I support breakthrough Starshot, I am concerned that it will not live to see the light of day. Or maybe I am not used to a starship concept ever getting past the really cool idea stage – with the exception of Orion.

          While it is great to see prominent academics and a Russian billionaire supporting Starshot, will they be enough to sustain it? The concept requires a very power laser for one thing and that comes with its own issues, not all of them technical.

          • J. Jason Wentworth October 3, 2018, 2:41

            Starshot’s huge, ground-based laser array (which would combine the relatively puny beams of thousands or even tens of thousands of smaller lasers into one big, collimated “pressor beam” to propel the sail probes) is increasingly looking like it’s well beyond the horizon of what existing technology, or near-term extensions of it, can achieve. (The savage acceleration and thermal loads that the sail probes themselves must endure also makes ^their^ engineering problems “slightly fantastic,” as Arthur C. Clarke might say.) I wonder if maybe, Young Bae’s PLT (Photonic Laser Thruster) concept, which is thought to enable precision formation-flying by groups of satellites, might enable numerous solar powered laser-equipped satellites to produce the “pressor beam” for the probes? But:

            If the design requirements were relaxed somewhat (not insisting on a 0.2 c cruise velocity, and allowing a longer, lower-g acceleration run), and if we used our Sun as the “engine” (via either a “Sun-diver” launch, or by using a spin-rigidized “Sun-beamer” spherical section mirror orbiting the Sun, as Greg Matloff proposed in a paper), we could–if we (as a society) agreed to be more patient regarding the probes’ transit times–begin work on such interstellar probes now, and:

            This would not, and need not, divert attention, resources, and enthusiasm from research into the more speculative–but faster–propellantless propulsion systems. Indeed, once bona fide interstellar missions are underway, even minimalist 1% – 10% of c solar sail probe ones, their very presence out there–and their tolerable if a bit ponderous transit times–would engender a desire for something faster, and this would increase interest in unconventional (including propellantless) propulsion systems. (In a sense, even a solar sail is a propellantless propulsion system; while it ^does^ utilize the action-reaction rocket principle–in a very subtle form, via the recoil from reflected photons–*we* don’t generate or provide the solar photons [and even a Sun-orbiting beamer mirror would just re-direct some of them], so for all practical purposes, from our point of view, they don’t use any propellant.)

            • ljk October 3, 2018, 12:56

              This is why I have a fair degree of skepticism about Starshot’s laser propulsion method. The people who advocate and support it act like such a beast will naturally come along one day to power their starship.

              Perhaps they are confused with Apollo, which had the mighty Saturn 5 to get humans to the Moon so long ago. The Saturn 5 and its brethren only happened because of the Cold War and the willingness of two superpowers to spend tons of money and resources to build them. Note how quickly they ended once the goal was achieved.

              The megalaser is not going to be built by some astronomy department or a bunch of guys in their garage. If it happens at all it will be because some government wants it as a deterrent weapon. Then the Starshot engineers and scientists might get lucky and be allowed to try their lightsail once or twice. But for me, to act like this laser is just a given twenty years from now is not only delusional but even misguided.

              If I were really paranoid, I would almost think they came up with an idea that could not possibly happen in their lifetimes so they wouldn’t have to worry about paying for it but could still look like forward-thinking heroes.

              Kind of like NASA with its current manned Moon and Mars plans. When I see ships being sent into space, then I will say it can happen.

  • Michael C. Fidler September 30, 2018, 11:16

    Reading through the thoughts and ideas I noticed one fundamental problem that underlies the issue. We have very little understanding of the cause and effect of inertia. A prime example of this is gyroscopic precession, we need to understand at the quantum level what and how inertia works. I leave you with the all encompassing number the Fine-structure Constant and its relation to everything plus the all important Phi, how do these relate to inertia.
    and the Golden Ratio

    • Michael Fidler October 4, 2018, 20:19

      There’s a glitch at the edge of the universe that could remake physics.

      “One mysterious number determines how physics, chemistry and biology work. But controversial experimental hints suggest it’s not one number at all”

      “IT IS a well-kept secret, but we know the answer to life, the universe and everything. It’s not 42 – it’s 1/137.

      This immutable number determines how stars burn, how chemistry happens and even whether atoms exist at all. Physicist Richard Feynman, who knew a thing or two about it, called it “one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding”.

      Now its mystery is deepening. Controversial hints suggest this number might not be the universal constant we had assumed, instead varying subtly over time and space. If confirmed, that would have profound consequences for our understanding of physics, forcing us to reconsider basic assumptions about the structure of reality. ”

      So God must have loaded dice…

  • wdk September 30, 2018, 13:29

    Regarding the Equivalence Principle:
    Some of us Newtonian types probably spent some time contemplating the ins and outs of micro-gravity for space processes about orbiting vehicles.
    The notion of zero-g was considered a misnomer since spacecraft were not point masses not experiencing drag, but had volumes about the reference point of the minor body of the two body problem in which their plunging elevator coasted- not to mention a miniscule amount of drag and perturbations from other bodies occupying the universe.
    So for someone in the late 20th century introduced to Einstein’s insight about equivalence after dealing with micro-g accelerations in a micro-g orbital lab – or tidal effects on a moon or a planet, at first blush it would not seem clear what Einstein was talking about. It would just seem another “infathomable” display of genius. But how about this: it was simply the metaphor that Einstein needed circa 1919.

    And I would maintain that although the Equivalence Principle is trotted out as part of the historical derivation of General Relativity, I would maintain that the arguments about “micro-gravity” would invalidate the structure derived, nor more than Newtonian physics would dissolve if we subjected apples and the moon to increased scrutiny.

    Any takers?

    Elsewhere, the concept of inertia in GR: At best I’m a dilettante on this one. But in summary, it looks to me like Einstein considered Mach’s interpretation of inertia for a period and then dropped it. And then with further reading I see GR adherents and then those that do not see it as valid. Furthermore, if you use measures such as acceleration sensed at elements of rotating dumb bells in space, you are faced with the paradox of no reference point to measure sensed acceleration if there is nothing else in the universe. Much like the tree falling unheard in the woods, is there any sound?

    Well, we speak of Mach in terms of Mach numbers suggesting he was quite a physical scientist. But in many cases it seems he was more a philosopher of science. For one, even as he hypothesized such a fundamental concept, he was still skeptical of the existence of atoms.

    If inertia as described by Mach is a resistance to force or acceleration based on density of matter in the universe, then perhaps there is possibility to observe it by looking back in time to a less expanded realm? For example, a billion or two light years out, do the physics of objects observed behave any differently? How about five or ten?
    Is there a Hubble constant related distortion of physical laws?
    I am unaware of it being reported, but on the other hand adherents of inertia argue that detection would be hindered by universe “flatness”.
    Another astrophysical lab that comes to mind vs. the dumb bell spinning in an empty universe is the concept of a spinning (Kerr) black hole. Does its altered contours have anything to say about the Machian nature of inertia as to yes or no?

    Admittedly, I haven’t resolved anything here, but I hope that the examples to consider are not off the track.

    • J. Jason Wentworth October 3, 2018, 3:30

      Wdk, the late Robert Forward discussed the very things (including as hardware)–and uncertainties–that you mentioned above in his books “Future Magic” and “Indistinguishable from Magic” (both of which are available cheap from AbeBooks http://www.abebooks.com and Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com ). He suspected that Einsteinian mechanics, like Newtonian mechanics before it, might be just a more-precise approximation (mathematical model) of what is really going on, and that an as-yet-undeveloped new theory could encompass Relativity *without* superseding it, just as Relativity does to Newton’s laws, and:

      As Arthur C. Clarke eloquently put it in “The Promise of Space,” in a paragraph regarding Newton and Einstein:

      “For the purposes of space travel, it is as if the General Theory had never been formulated; astronauts will always base their calculations on Newton’s law. Any deviations from it are so tiny that they will cause about as much concern as does the curvature of the Earth to an architect when he is planning a house.” (When fast–and even “just” 1% of c–starprobes and [perhaps worldships] starships begin flying, the time dilation and mass increase, even at 0.01 c, will be significant enough to need to be accounted for, and the Relativity formulas will also have to be used, along with Newton’s.)

  • Charley September 30, 2018, 17:35

    According to the big NSF EMdrive thread, recent conference reports are suggesting EMdrive work is in trouble. One report suggested some force reports could be entirely explained due to experimental setup/noise, several drive replication efforts reported null thrust, including an update from Tajmar who was the first big null reporter.

    There is still ongoing concern over experiment design/replication efforts however even from the null report crowd (instrumentation design is difficult to formalize/standardize due to differences in facilities/sensors/budget, and the tiny thrusts they are chasing), so the case isn’t completely closed yet. Also, by some possible scaling ideas, the cost cliff to step up to higher power for a more definitive thrust result is onerous in money/equipment/safety/licensing terms (high power RF is not human friendly).

    But a US Navy team reported a null result at the conference, though is still pursing it. The chinese and those aligned with the chinese drive design concepts are thinking they need to move to frustrum-esque shapes that are more asymmetric and/or easier to make based on their ideas regarding the RF mode and the shape. There’s strange things going on as well, such as positive result holders only willing to lend out their drives to others who report a non-null result from their experiment rig (one could say this is an attempt at quality control of the instrumentation before lending a “known working” drive, but the language used is doing no one any favors).

  • Abelard Lindsey October 1, 2018, 11:45

    The perspective to keep in mind is even if none of this stuff works out (I think the Mach Effect stuff is real but the EMDrive is not) that conventional approaches will open up the solar system to human settlement, once we learn how to build O’neil style space colonies, sometime during the current century. This is more than enough room and resources for everyone to go their own way and create their own societies, which is really what pioneering and space settlement is supposed to be about in the first place. This is no reason for despair.

  • Pat Galea October 1, 2018, 13:08

    From Will Durant’s The Story of Philosophy:

    Bacon gives at this point a word of golden counsel. “In general let every student of nature take this as a rule — that whatever his mind seizes and dwells upon with peculiar satisfaction, is to be held in suspicion; and that so much the more care is to be taken, in dealing with such questions, to keep the understanding even and clear.” “The understanding must not be allowed to jump and fly from particulars to remote axioms and of almost the highest generality… it must not be supplied with wings, but rather hung with weights to keep it from leaping and flying.” The imagination may be the greatest enemy of the intellect, whereas it should be only its tentative and experiment.

    • Alex Tolley October 1, 2018, 14:21

      Or more succinctly:

      The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.
      – Richard P. Feynman

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 1, 2018, 16:30

    J. Jason Wentworth. I am not an expert on Aurther C. Clarke’s ideas, but I think you haven’t studied the Alcubierre warp drive which does not in any way violate general and special relativity since it drags it’s own local space reference frame with it, so it moves slower than the speed of light in it’s own inner reference frame, but space is moving past it on the outside faster than light. Also, it’s occupants are an a free fall geodesic, so they are weightless and don’t feel the intertial forces of acceleration.

    It requires negative energy though and warping space is a propellantless drive. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive


    • J. Jason Wentworth October 3, 2018, 4:47

      Geoffrey, I am very familiar with Miguel Alcubierre’s warp drive, and I find it an elegant concept. I must (reluctantly) keep it in the “gray box,” though, because while it does “pencil out” (it doesn’t violate known laws), its requirement for negative energy (and possibly also exotic matter) may make it a mathematically sound, but not physically meaningful (realizable as hardware) concept, but:

      Rejected, “unrealistic” concepts have sometimes been found, by later researchers with better technology at their disposal, to be workable and even preferable ones. (The turbofan, the most popular, efficient, and quiet jet engine, was once thought to not be worth developing; when the Jet Age began, the future was thought to lie with the turbojet and the turboprop, but history proved the turbofan’s detractors to be dead wrong.) Just this week, a few new types of subatomic particles appear to have been discovered, so it would be unwise to bet against the Alcubierre warp drive in the ^long^ run (although in the near term, it might as well never have been suggested, being beyond our current capabilities), and:

      We already have the knowledge–if not (yet) the purpose-built hardware–to build and launch reasonably fast (0.01 c – 0.05 c [and maybe even 0.1 c]) “Sun-diver” (or “Sun-beamer” mirror propelled) solar sail starprobes, which would be the starflight equivalent to (in aerostation and aviation) the Montgolfiere brothers’ hot-air balloon and the Wright brothers’ Flyer, respectively. As well:

      We can only proceed from where we are now, with what we have; both pairs of brothers knew that great improvements were desirable, but they, like we, had to start somewhere. Had they decided to wait until they could build dirigibles and supersonic airplanes, not only would they never have lived long enough to build them, but the experience-gained knowledge that both inventions required would never have been garnered. As well:

      Apollo 11 would have been impossible–ever–without Goddard’s, Korolev’s, and von Braun’s preliminary, small, and relatively feeble test vehicles and their haltingly tentative flights, from whose experiences the V-2, Soviet and U.S. IRBMs, ICBMs, and satellite launch vehicles, and at last the Saturn V (and its successors) came. Likewise, out first interstellar spacecraft will likely use light sails of some kind (solar- or laser-pushed; either would also enable cheap *interplanetary* travel, with all that this implies for asteroid mining, space colonies, etc.), but later on, faster interstellar propulsion systems will be developed. Once a thing is demonstrated to be possible, others–seeing that the “impossible dream” is no longer impossible–jump in, to develop better (and ultimately, cheaper–like Elon Musk with SpaceX) ways of doing it.

  • Charley October 1, 2018, 16:58

    “The actual conservation of momentum is more difficult to assess. The original conservation laws are anchored to the idea of an immutable connection between inertia and an inertial frame. The theory behind this device deals with open questions in physics about the origins and properties of inertial frames, specifically evoking “Mach’s Principle.” In short, that principle is ‘inertia here because of all the matter out there.’ Another related physics term is “Inertial Induction.” Skipping through all the open issues, the upshot is that variations in inertia would require revisions to the conservation laws. It’s an open question.”

    All questions that I have regarding this are totally directed toward Dr. Marc G Millis. You have written in the above that “…conservation laws are anchored to the idea of an immutable connection between inertia and an inertial frame.” Exactly, can you tell me how, that these particular conservation laws ARE anchored to the connection between inertia and an inertial frame? My understanding, I confess, is that inertial frames (or pseudo-inertial frames, if you will represent a ‘background’ that permits one to major in acceleration within which then permits one to determine the velocity and/or position from said measurements. But I never understood that an inertial frame by itself defined the concept of inertia; could you please elaborate a little further on this? I admit my physics is a little rusty in this area, so any light you can shed on this would be appreciated.
    Secondly, how specifically does ‘Mach’s principal’ state that inertia is here because of all the matter out there; that is, I’m asking what did Mach say in a nuanced manner that permitted the action of inertia due to the physicality of matter in the external universe?
    I may have read about that somewhere, but I’m in need of a bit of refreshing on the concept.

    • Michael C. Fidler October 2, 2018, 10:54

      Well, I found two articles that may muddle the issue:

      Exact Rotational Space-time Transformations, Davies-Jennison Experiments and Limiting Lorentz-Poincar´e Invariance.

      “Jennison deduced from the rotational experiments that a rotating radius rr measured by the rotating observer is contracted by $r_r = r(1-\om^2 r^2/c^2)^{1/2}$, compared with the radius r measured in an inertial frame. This conclusion differs from the result based on Lorentz transformations. Since rotational frames are not equivalent to inertial frames, we analyze the rotational experiments by using the exact rotational space-time transformations rather than the Lorentz transformations. We derive exact rotational transformations on the basis of the principle of limiting Lorentz-Poincar\’e invariance. The exact rotational transformations form a pseudo-group rather than the usual Lie group. They support Jennison’s contraction of a rotating radius and are consistent with two Davies-Jennison experiments. We also suggest new experimental tests for the exact rotational transformations.”
      “Therefore, rather than serving as a test of special relativity, the rotational Davies-Jennison experiments can reveal new principles of physics for non-inertial frames, which are beyond the realm of special relativity.[19] They can also help to develop a new and deeper understanding of physics in non-inertial frames based on the principle of limiting Lorentz-Poincar´e invariance and the weak equivalence of non-inertial frames.”

      Thim’s Experiment and Exact Rotational Space-Time Transformations.

      “Thim measured the transverse Doppler shift using a system consisting of a stationary antenna and pickup, in addition to a number of intermediate antennas mounted on the rim of a rotating disk. No such shift was detected, although the experiment should have had enough sensitivity to measure it, as predicted by the Lorentz transformations. However, using the Lorentz transformations to analyze the results of experiments involving circular motion, while commonly done, is inappropriate because such an analysis involves non-inertial frames, which are outside the range of validity of special relativity. In this paper, we re-analyze Thim’s experiment using exact rotational space-time transformations, finding that his null result is consistent with theoretical predictions.”

      By the same authors; A new theory, “Big Jets model for the beginning of the universe.” Which make sense since stars forming have jets, pulsar have jets, black hole, galaxies (Favorites – Centaurus A and Cygnus A) and maybe galaxy clusters have opposing jets.

      Big Jets Model with CPT Invariance and Dynamics of Expansion with Quantum Yang-Mills Gravity.

      “Based on particle physics, the fundamental CPT invariance suggests a Big Jets model for the beginning of the universe, in which two oppositely directed jets evolved into a gigantic “matter half-universe” and a gigantic “antimatter half-universe” after annihilation and decay processes. In the geometric-optics limit, quantum Yang-Mills gravity with T4 translational gauge symmetry in flat spacetime leads to an effective metric tensor in the Hamilton-Jacobi equation for macroscopic objects. This effective metric tensor does not exist in the wave equations of quantum particles. For cosmological expansion, we assume that an “effective metric tensor” for spacetime geometry based on Yang-Mills gravity corresponds to the usual FLRW form. Dynamical equations of expansion for the matter half-universe are obtained and solved. The time-dependent scale factors and the estimated age of the universes, tYMo≈15.3×109yr, based on Yang-Mills gravity are consistent with experiments. CPT invariance implies that the same evolution process and dynamics of cosmic expansion also hold for the distant `antimatter half-universe.”

      So, how would that distant antimatter antipole jet half-universe effect Mach’s principal…

      • Michael C. Fidler October 2, 2018, 23:49

        And the most beautiful planetary nebula’s are formed by jets…

      • Charley October 4, 2018, 2:34

        I appreciate the papers that you provided as links, however, in looking them over (which just means I scan them, really) I’m not sure how their content in any way directly relates to the question of just WHAT inertia is actually composed of.
        Instead, it seems to get into some kind of questions as to whether or not an accelerated frame on a spinning circular disk bears any kind of relationship to the constant pi as defined by Euclidean geometry.
        What seems to be a little bit better at explaining this idea is explained in this link below:

  • wdk October 2, 2018, 11:14

    Considering international effort in pursuit of the Higgs boson with a large hadron collider, maybe the quest for mass-less propulsion could recast as the search for the nature of inertia. With fundamental research in physics laying foundations over numerous cantons and counties, why be so direct about the objective? For review committees and the public, only as an incidental matter amid the extolling economic spin off benefits of such research would the matter of propulsion be addressed as a possible spin-off application. Better capacitors, Helmholtz cages and vacuum chambers would result for sure. Brochures are already available on the benefits of a world filled with room temperature super-conductors. But in this case devices such as friction-less generator and dynamo rotors would be suspended by means of plugging into a different patch kit. Then there would be one or two references to obscure and clumsy spacecraft doing better station keeping in unstable and inscrutable orbits. Later previous Nobel prize winners could bet cases of premium wines on the outcome of the tax payers’ billion dollar gamble. And finally a scientific team would win a Nobel as well for isolating inertia in a corner or pulling off its mask. “Das schadet Mach nicht?”

    Now how could inertia be tested? Well, let’s see…

  • David Mathes October 2, 2018, 12:50

    I love armchair physics, the comfort furniture for comfort food and uncomfortable reading.

    Let’s go back to Woodward’s basic Mach effects. I’ll start with his book, Making Starships and Stargates…

    Woodward uses GR to calculate an equation resulting in transient mass. In the current experimental implementation, in it’s simplest form, the PZT is an accelerating, resonated capacitor that is zapped by a transient higher voltage producing an internal mass changed, an effective mass change, and in doing so, the all important momentum-change.

    Mach effects only happen when the whole PZT is externally accelerating and the PZT cell then undergoes an internal change resulting a directional acceleration.

    A minor issue most folks don’t talk about is Special Relativity is confined to constant velocity, and General Relativity is confined to slow changes in acceleration where the jerk or jolt approaches zero.

    The effect has been verified by three labs. The present hunt for Mach effects involves careful attention at the world-class level to device design/build, test equipment, facilities and precision timing of signals. To be practical in space, the MEGA device needs to be amplified by orders of magnitude. Then the unit thrust device needs to be scaled by mass-manufactured using arrays and networks of arrays.

    At 100 uN per device, 1 million units would provide 100 N thrust. That’s about the thrust of the largest hobby rocket motor. At 1 mN

    The largest unlicensed rocket motor is the G solid fuel, burns a miniscule 3 seconds and the rocket goes up 100 feet in the air.

    In contrast, to reach the nearest star, the MEGA has to continuously run for 30 years or about 946 million seconds. About 300 million times the G scale hobby motor

    At the midpoint, a space drive powered interstellar probe is going around 44% the speed of light. Half the trip is accelerating; half the trip deaccelerating.

    At least that is the vision and Proxima Centauri is the goal since there is a candidate planet identified in the Goldilocks zone, a planet may be habitable and suitable for colonization.

    So a Mach Effect engine may be useful for long and slow acceleration to relativistic velocities. Getting from 1 uN thrust per unit to 1 millinewton and even further to 1 Newton is an exercise in amplifying the effect and scaling to the mission requirements by array.

    Just as a reminder, the current approach is on four related fronts: theory, model, simulation and experiment. These four fronts are connected in design and development so that iterative improvements can be made in all four. My observation is that all four are in play for Woodward’s NASA NIAC Phase 2 grant. The situation is rather messy as everyone has shifted into a rigorous mode. As the four fronts get aligned, experiment will agree with theory, numerical data may be turned into equations, the modeling with not be perfect but will reflect nature’s responses to a theory, and simulations will be run to reduce the SWaP – size, weight and power – requirements of the device.

    The mass-spring model is complex barely useful since the experimental device uses an accelerating acoustic bulk mass and internal to that, an electrical bulk mass that is accelerated. An electrical equivalent model may be of help. Even so the huge speed difference between the speed of sound in matter and the speed of electric wave in matter may make neither mass-spring model nor electrical model relevant.

    The Estes Park 2018 speaker on simulation has to improve his model, so that is an interesting interim report that needs further thought and reflect the exerpimental device in greater detail.

    Propellentless propulsion development is not near the product R&D stage but is still within the basic R&D stage. In between basic research and product research is applied physics, where the research effect is integrated with other effects to produce a viable system that can be scaled.

    Now everyone (including me) could probably spend some time trying to explain space drives especially the “thrashing, bashing and trashing” stage where everyone is a critic. They have to be a critic and ask questions, lots of questions.

    A caution is that space drives may be more difficult than any final test in Physics or Engineering course. Space drives are challenging even the experts. Eventually, some university will offer a Masters or PhD in Space Drive Engineering.

    So the current mash up in space drives centers around Mach effects because the theory is fairly solid.

    • Michael C. Fidler October 3, 2018, 10:38

      But if the Mach effect is incorrect in the first place have you done what you said is the problem of not thinking beyond the norm?

      “Sixty years ago de Broglie conceived the idea of ascribing wave properties to particulate matter. His original concepts were soon absorbed into the somewhat different treatment by Schrodinger which evolved into the wave mechanics that is used to compute orbitals and other problems concerned with the probability of finding particles in a particular physical situation. Wave mechanics has told us little about the particles themselves although de Broglie has always maintained that his original treatment held the key to the fundamental structure of matter itself. Very recent work, stemming originally from research into the problem of how the units of length and time are preserved in the proper frame despite the effects of acceleration, has shown that the principles of phase-locked cavities may be combined with de Broglie’s wave treatment to provide a unique description of a spinning particle. Various modes of the trapped wave system are available and the properties of rest mass, inertia (independent of Mach’s Principle) and quantisation all appear simply as a result of the phaselocking and feedback process that is intrinsic to phase-locked particles. The sharp bounding of the spinning wave-mechanical packet has interesting relativistic properties which may indicate why the action of quantum phenomena are concentrated into particular space-time events and are not diluted over large regions of the Universe. This approach to the understanding of fundamental matter is radically different to the philosophy of highly energetic collisions where the exotic products of the collisional energy demonstrate the patterns available from ever increasing energies. It may do more to elucidate the fundamental properties of matter upon which the quantum hypothesis, Newton’s laws and the concepts of charge, angular momentum, mass, length and time are based.”

      “The properties of the boundary formed from the rotating transformation are remarkable and probably of some importance to the interpretation of measurements in particle physics. The boundary represents an onset of matter with a tangential velocity at the velocity of light. The formation of a mechanical system with a boundary rotating at this velocity would be quite impossible in macroscopic classical physics but in this case it is simply constructed from the component matter waves so that the usual mechanical constraints are inapplicable, indeed the mechanical system appears to correspond closely with the electromagnetic models discussed in Jennison 1978. In that paper it was shown that the Compton energy and momentum equations could be derived classically for such a system whilst Ashworth and Jennison 1974 showed that the angular scattering could be treated classically. Ashworth (1978) showed that the angular distribution of the scattering could be expressed in a form directly compatible with a specular reflection and with the Jennison 1978 energy and momentum treatment. In these treatments it is usual to transform from the laboratory frame to that of the particle and then back again. It is assumed that a fundamental observer at the particle could apply the usual laws of physics and that Snell’s law and the usual conservation laws apply.

      From the present analysis we now ascertain a number of very remarkable facts relevant to such a particle observer. If the reflection occurs at a surface which is rotating at or very close to the velocity of light then the scale size of the Universe will be vanishingly small. (This effect has been discussed in Ashworth and Jennison 1976.) If this observer receives radiation, then, as the Universe has been reduced to vanishing dimensions, the remainder of the wavefront which strikes him is contained in the encounter at the rotating observer’s point in space-time. We can speculate that it may therefore disappear, or strictly, never appear, as far as all other observers are concerned. Furthermore the apparent specular reflection encountered in the Compton effect may be a simple outcome of the curious rotating geometry at this boundary. If this is the case, the communicating properties of fundamental particles in space-time are out of this world but still amenable to physical understanding.

      No attempt has been made in the paper to discuss wave-mechanical models for the system which embrace the axial dimension and I have ignored the possibility of co-related electromagnetic phenomena, whereas many fundamental particles having rest mass also have electromagnetic properties. This paper has been concerned entirely with the wave-mechanical system but it invites the speculation that the boundary, rotating at the velocity of light, may behave as a ring displacement current, giving rise to an axial dipole magnetic field which may well constrain the polar component of the matter waves. I repeat that this is entirely speculation but the present treatment has taken one so far down the road in providing a wave-mechanical description of a discrete fundamental particle that one suspects that the final axial closure must come about in an equally simple manner.”

      On the fundamental properties of matter.

    • Charley October 4, 2018, 2:30

      With regards to the comments concerning Woodward’s basic Mach effect, I have read his book and I remain considerably skeptical of the basic underlying physics that underlies the reason for WHY this particular propellant less drive should even work.
      His reasoning as to why inertia even exist is almost in the realm of fanciful. He states that any object that is being accelerated sends out displacement waves which emanate from a future time due to the wiggling of distant masses all throughout the universe. By having these displacement waves emanating from these distant masses from a future time he gets around the restriction of the limitation of the velocity of light as your greatest speed.
      Imagine that your argument is that a physical object, which is getting ready to be accelerated at just any arbitrary time should have given sufficient advance notice to allow ALL the distant masses of the universe to be alerted to the fact that acceleration is going to take place and that they should send resistant wiggles back through time to intercept the body that is just starting to be accelerated !!
      This makes spooky action at a distance sound absolutely mundane and every day occurrence. All this is being done to completely preserve Einstein’s ideas that the speed of light is the absolute limiting velocity. These physicists are now days are so caught up in not crossing Einstein even in the slightest bit that they are willing to throw over just any idea that might even slightly contradict his greatness!
      I think it’s time that we start examining Einstein a little bit more critically and not be willing to accept it as an absolute bedrock.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 2, 2018, 17:16

    Rotation is non internal frame so it can’t be used to invalidate Mach’s principle like general relativity. Rotation has fictitious forces and a different orientation which does not matter for inertial frames.

    I think this experiment should be called electromagnetic induction instead of inertial induction. Piezoelectric crystals generate electricity from heat and pressure when compressed. Since two positive electric or negative charges repel each other and opposite charges attract, how do I know the claimed violation of inertia is not caused by electric charge? How this object gets longer and shorter is not explained in detail for me to be able to rule out electromagnetism as a force.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 4, 2018, 18:21

    Charley, the conservation of momentum and inertia is based on general relativity which has never been invalidated and I don’t think it ever will be since it is a first principle. It does not matter who discovered it since the philosophy of science is that it’s rules or or principles are mind independent and objective or work everywhere in the universe. Anyone who takes physics seriously knows that these first principles are based on physical reality itself. I think a red flag appears in the mind of any physicist or physics enthusiast when we are expected to rewrite those laws with a single experiment like Woodward’s who does not give the details of the ordinary physics of how it works, so there is no way to corroborate it.

    Albert Einstein really is very brilliant and it would take a brilliant physicist to come up with special and general relativity the way Einstein did. Every ET intelligent civilization in the entire universe will have to have a physicist or group of them who will come up with the same theory of general relativity and Newton’s law of universal gravitation to explain how gravity works. As physicist Michio Kaku wrote that there are individuals who think they can or have demolished Einstein’s general relativity, but when one reads the theory, it is clear the writer did not take the time to really learn general relativity so their idea does not invalidate GR or is even supported by it.

    The spooky action at a distance is based on and limited to electromagnetism which does not explain inertia or gravity the only force which controls the movement of matter over long distances.

    • Charley October 5, 2018, 13:55

      @Geoffrey Hillend – OK, let’s backtrack here and try to deconstruct this a little bit. It should first be noted that in the case of Einstein, it’s been generally acknowledged that his vaunted Equivalence Principle is not a rigorously true statement. That principle boils down to the idea that one cannot distinguish between a acceleration within a given inertial frame and the pull of gravity, which is not true in any rigorous manner. Note the comment made by another contributor above, who said it more succinctly than myself:

      “The Principle of Equivalence in General Relativity, which says that it is impossible to distinguish (by measurement) between gravity and inertial forces (in a spaceship accelerating at 1 g, for example), is flatly wrong–unless the observer and his or her spaceship have zero dimensions. One can always distinguish between a gravitational field and an inertial one, like so:

      With an accelerometer or a spring-balance scale (many accelerometers ^are^ “glorified spring-balance scales”) –or even with just a couple of ball bearings, whose motions in free fall are observed with sufficient precision–one will soon discover that:

      [1] The Earth’s gravitational field varies in intensity from place to place, on or above the ground (but at the same distance from the Earth’s center), due to variations in the mass concentrations in the Earth below us. Equally importantly, because gravity obeys an inverse square law, it becomes weaker as the distance from the Earth’s center increases, and stronger as the center is approached more closely (if one takes measurements in valleys or subterranean mines, for example). This “gravity gradient” effect has long been used to stabilize some satellites (and natural satellites, especially elongated ones–like Amalthea orbiting Jupiter–also orient themselves with their longest axes pointing toward their planets due to the gravity gradient), and:

      [2] The “pseudo-gravitational” force due to acceleration can be made uniform and parallel over volumes of space as large as we like (as large as we can make huge starships, especially worldships, that is). Unlike the situation above, on, and below the Earth’s surface, measuring the “pseudo-gravity” at *any* location aboard (or on the outside of, while holding on!) a mile-long interstellar ark that was accelerating at 1 g would give the same rate of acceleration, and a scale would indicate the same weight for that person (or for a calibrated test mass) as the scale would indicate on the Earth’s surface, and:

      Clarke wrote that the fall of the Principle of Equivalence had several important consequences. As well as overthrowing the argument against the possibility of antigravity and “space drive” propulsion systems, it also “made a hole in the Theory of Relativity through which we should be able to fly a superphotic ship.” ”

      Acceleration in the absence of gravity and measurements made in the PRESENCE of gravity will only coincide in the limit where the objects size and mass approach zero. The fact that this is true means that Einstein’s equivalence principle is only an approximation and as such could have profound implications for what we consider to be the concept of inertia (although this distinction is often minimized in the written literature). It’s not that all real certain exactly how the concept of inertia is presented within the context of the theory of general relativity. Additionally, you say that the theory has been verified to unprecedented accuracy by experimentalist, and in some cases that is true. However, I have personally read that there have been uncertainties in some measurements that have been as high as plus or minus 20%. Special relativity appears to adhere more closely to experiments, then does general. So it is not necessarily flawless and every and all predictions. Further research well undoubtedly be needed to clarify many situations. As far as I can tell inertia is still an open question as to its origin and if it can be effectively manipulated.

      I don’t think you understood what I was saying concerning the action of spooky action at a distance; I was not using that as an exclamation for inertia or gravity, I was using that the indicate that despite the limitations that special relativity presumably have upon the cosmic speed limit (that of light). There is something in nature that has been experimentally verified that has a propagation velocity that is perhaps millions of times greater than that of light itself. If such an established fact can fly in the face of Albert Einstein, then perhaps other phenomenon as well can do so. Time an experiment will tell the truth.

  • Michael Fidler October 5, 2018, 0:07

    Kowsky-Frost Quartz Levitation – 03/22/01
    Reprinted from the September, 1927 issue of Science and Invention

    “Quartz Crystals Charged by High Frequency Current Lose their Weight.”


  • Geoffrey Hillend October 5, 2018, 16:44

    Principles are the foundation for making accurate predictions of how the forces of our universe work. Scientists and physicists don’t argue first principles or think they are debatable since they allow us to make accurate predictions of observations. I don’t wish to argue those. I am not saying that one shouldn’t argue them, and that was not my point which is a rigid use of principles where one never challenges them.. I find when I stick to them, I can invalidate experiments which don’t. I have to think that most physicist’s would be very skeptical and critical the idea of a “revision” of the conservation of momentum law. It seems to me there are cases of unusual physics like negative energy which violate normal energy conditions, second law of thermodynamics, etc but does that revise those laws? I don’t know what revise means. Unusual physics only violates them or finds a loophole in them. It does not invalidate those first principles or remove them.

    Consequently, Woodward’s inertial induction machine looks to me like ordinary physics, so I don’t see how it could violate the conservation of momentum. Also there is not given to us the actual technical details of this machine that would allow us to corroborate that it works. How do we know it even does what he claims? It also could be an illusion caused by electromagnetic forces, vibration or some other thing which was not found due a lack of rigorous testing or it was not subjected to all the proper type of tests. Scientists want to repeat the experiment or at least see if it has a possibility of working. They don’t just believe something works without any proof which is my point.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 5, 2018, 16:52

    Woodward’s inertial induction machine uses ordinary physics like electromagnetism so how could it violate the conservation of momentum? Maybe it does. Let’s see the technical specs.

  • Charley October 5, 2018, 23:58

    No-No-No ! Now perhaps I misconstruing your particular reply, which I assume is to my missive (and I confess I’m a little confused by what you have written in return), but I believe you are not taking away the proper idea from what I had written in response.
    In no way, shape or form am I dismissing the conservation laws that under grid, the foundations of physics. I completely and totally embrace the conservation of momentum, conservation of energy, and conservation of mass and energy. These laws have been shown in innumerable experiments as being conserved quantities provided you take the proper precautions to account for all dissipative forces and energies that are not considered properly part of the system.
    My beef with the analysis that has been presented so far is that there has been some sort of mysterious tie-in between Einstein’s ideas behind inertia (as I see it) and the concept of his conception of the general relativity idea behind gravitation.
    And I believe Woodward is one of the principal exponents of using general relativity and its tie-in with different distant masses in the universe as the reason and response to resistance to acceleration (i.e. inertia).
    I only pointed out in my above response that the general relativity idea has foundational difficulties which are dismissed out of hand and swept under the rug. Is this handwaving dismissal foundational he sound to build a cohesive theory on ? THAT was what I was attempting to present as my argument. If you look at my comments above concerning Woodward’s experiment you will see that (without repeating myself) that he invokes physical ideas which seems to stretch the limits of credulity. I’m not attacking the foundational conservation laws that physics is known for. I’m simply asking whether or not Einstein’s foundational basis of his THEORY is in fact sound enough to build a space drive on.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 6, 2018, 16:18

    Charley, it’s the testing that makes a theory more than just a theory. Einstein’s special and general relativity have been thoroughly tested and always predict observations. A propulsion physicist would answer your question with an affirmative yes. Space drives use the warping of space, a drive which does not use a propellant or reaction mass.

    Physicists understand how gravity and negative energy works with the help of Einstein, but building device to warp space is difficult due to the high energies required and the physics. We also don’t know how to do artificially create gravity or anti-gravity, but only have some ideas that have yet to be made into actual devices so that experiments can be made.

    It would be nice if we could find some experiments with normal physics like the so called Woodward effect which might have some unusual physics, but I don’t think it will be that simple. There are no technical details and design blueprints for the inertial induction machine shown here so that is where one has to fall back on principles. I’ll admit I am not a propulsion physicist or classical physicist, but I think I know enough to do thought experiments for fit an idea into principles to see if it can be supported by them or not. I am only making a prediction based on those principles and my knowledge, so to get to the point, it is obvious that the inertial induction machine is NOT high energy. Consequently, I predict that it can’t involve the warping of space or any new physics which would violate the conservation of momentum. This is only a prediction, the only judgment I or anyone who sticks to physical principles can make without seeing the technical designs. We agree “that he invokes physical ideas which seems to stretch the limits of credulity.” Also space itself can move much faster than the speed of light, but a lot of energy is needed to get that effect.

  • wdk October 10, 2018, 11:34

    “Also space itself can move much faster than the speed of light, but a lot of energy is needed to get that effect. ”

    Those of us not practicing theorists in GR have come to accept the concept of the Hubble Constant as a measure cosmic expansion. The further out you gaze, the redder the line spectrum shifts. But the notion that the observed “constant” is not constant but shifting higher rather than lower at great depths ( distant supernovae). Expansion observed to be accelerating rather than decelerating. But at a local scale the so-called Dark Energy behind the accelerated expansion must be very diffuse. Hence, I have to wonder if the energy density is high. However, should there be a way to concentrate or focus the underlying mechanism, would it not be worth investigating whether it could cause
    a laboratory observable hiccup – or if some phenomena in the lab
    could be attributable to dark energy?

    Granted, I’m likely a latecomer to this question, but I’ll pose it anyway.
    It looks like this would be the place.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 10, 2018, 16:15

    wdk, the energy density which is assumed to cause cosmic expansion is considered to be positive energy density, not negative energy density.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 10, 2018, 16:18

    Dark energy has positive energy density according to astrophysicists. Dark matter slows the expansion.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 10, 2018, 16:41

    Most of the tests in the laboratory for dark energy are based on the casimir effect or quantum vacuum zero point energy. They are still in the design and experimental stage.

    • Charley October 10, 2018, 20:36

      “Most of the tests in the laboratory for dark energy are based on the casimir effect or quantum vacuum zero point energy.”
      casimir effect or quantum vacuum zero point energy IS negative energy density.

  • Adam Byrne October 10, 2018, 17:00

    Slightly (maybe very) off topic so please accept my apologies and move to another article’s comments or delete if appropriate, but have you seen this interesting idea Paul?


  • Geoffrey Hillend October 10, 2018, 22:00

    I have not seen the article “Is dark energy the key to traveling faster than the speed of light?” before, but I can comment on it briefly.

    The author makes some assumptions based on a lack of understanding of quantum field theory. The Higgs field is only responsible for giving mass to some particles such as those in the electro weak theory or weak nuclear force. Only the electron and W bosons and neutrino get mass from or feel the Higgs field but not baryons, the protons and neutrons which get most of their mass from the kinetic energy of their constituent quarks and gluons and the rest of their mass or ground state comes from the quantum vacuum zero point energy so the Higgs field and dark matter can’t be the same.

    Also the so called event horizon of the universe is an illusion so it is not like a black hole or completely isolates us from the other side. An observer billions of light years from us would not have the same event horizon but could see further into space or have a further event horizon so that person could see stars and galaxies which we couldn’t.

    3) The expansion effect is most noticeable beyond the superclusters of galaxies.

    He is right that dark matter and dark energy have not been proven beyond a doubt, but we know for certain the Higgs field is not a dark matter field or a graviton field which I myself years ago thought so I had to learn to stick to the principles of quantum field theory.

    It’s not a new idea to try and use dark energy as a propulsion to warp space, an idea already thought of by propulsion physicists, but not much is known about it, so the question is open for now.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 10, 2018, 22:06

    The Higgs field only works short range or on the subatomic scale.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 11, 2018, 6:03

    To be more accurate, the Higgs field and boson gives mass to all the leptons, the electron, the muon and the tau particles. From what I recall reading, the chirality is such that the leptons, neutrinos and W bozons zig zag through space to get their mass from the Higgs field which deflects them in proportion to their mass. The heavier the particle the more it is deflected. Cox, Quantum Universe I forgot the page number. Another way of looking at it is the Higgs particles stick to a particle as it moves through the Higgs field which is how a particle acquires mass from the Higgs field. When a particle like a muon spins to the right it dumps a Higgs boson into space along with it’s weak hyper charge. When it spins towards the left it recaptures the Higgs boson and weak hypercharge and then spins towards the right again and dumps it back into space; this process a ziging and zagging through space of the particle is repeated ad infinitum. Source: the book “the God Particle” and PBS video the Higgs Mechanism Explained.

    The Higgs field is also a scalar field so it does not have a sense of direction and is everywhere even in one’s room. The Higgs particle also has no spin and has mass so due to the rules of quantum physics, a particle with high mass can only be exchanged short range, the force of the Higgs field is short range so it’s range of operation is on the sub atomic scale and does not effect matter over long distances like gravity. Source. The Edge of Physics, Scientific American special addition p. 7, Scientific American July, 2005, p. 44 and Hawking, a Brief History in Time. P. 90.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 11, 2018, 6:08

    Oh, I forgot the other sources, the Edge of Physics, how the Higgs field generates mass p. 59 and Penrose, The Road to Reality, I forget the page number.

  • wdk October 11, 2018, 21:13

    Still, the Great Attractor’s pull, noted in the quora article, might actually pose a conundrum if it represents a localized behavior inconsistent with large scale structure.

    Just by coincidence, I discovered that a recent article in Nature that had some bearing on GH’s comment:

    “He is right that dark matter and dark energy have not been proven beyond a doubt,” …

    “A Galaxy Lacking Dark Matter”, van Dokkum et al.
    Nature volume 555, pages 629–632 (29 March 2018)

    From the abstract:

    “Studies of galaxy surveys in the context of the cold dark matter paradigm have shown that the mass of the dark matter halo and the total stellar mass are coupled through a function that varies smoothly with mass. Their average ratio Mhalo/Mstars has a minimum of about 30 for galaxies with stellar masses near that of the Milky Way (approximately 5 × 10 to the 10 solar masses) and increases both towards lower masses and towards higher masses [ 1,2]…

    “Here we report the radial velocities of ten luminous globular-cluster-like objects in the ultra-diffuse galaxy5 NGC1052–DF2, which has a stellar mass of approximately 2 × 10 to the 8 solar masses. We infer that its velocity dispersion is less than 10.5 kilometres per second with 90 per cent confidence, and we determine from this that its total mass within a radius of 7.6 kiloparsecs is less than 3.4 × 108 solar masses.

    “This implies that the ratio Mhalo/Mstars is of order unity (and consistent with zero), a factor of at least 400 lower than expected [2]. NGC1052–DF2 demonstrates that dark matter is not always coupled with baryonic matter on galactic scales.”

    In other words, local absence for dark matter argues for its existence, whatever it is. And in the indirect report I read, it was reported as well that this particular galaxy did not have a detectable black hole nucleus. But given that, we still have the issue of dark energy to contend with, unless it too has a “locality” associated with it.

  • wdk October 11, 2018, 22:58

    In the first Quora discussion of whether dark energy was the solution to travel faster than the speed of light, there is another hypothesis presented which, I believe, bears on the origins of inertia question. It is said:
    3. Then there is the dark energy problem making itself felt only as the unknown force that is causing the accelerating expansion of the universe. It has no observable location or source and we have no idea what form this force would take. Is it some kind of repulsive force embedded throughout the universe or is it an attractive force that is at the edge of the universe? If we let our imagination run wild, we could imagine the universe was inside a giant ball. The ball would represent an enveloping shell of dense matter that has a strong gravitational pull on everything inside the ball but it pulls outward evenly throughout the interior universe. If this shell was dense enough and had enough gravitational pull, it would do exactly what we observe that our universe is doing. The obvious question would be what is beyond this shell and where did it come from. But, then what scientist in his right mind would ever propose such a ridiculous idea without at least some plausible concept of what the ball is made of or where it came from.
    A problem with this idea of uniform attraction outward within a surrounding spherical shell is that it runs counter to a Newtonian spherical shell. The attraction at all points within the hollow shell
    is zero. Whether you find them in nature or not, the analysis of fluid concentric stars of planets and stars is based on this idea.

    So would that not apply as well to the cosmic mass posited as the origin of inertia?

    • Charley October 12, 2018, 15:39

      wdk – are you familiar with this new idea about inertia?
      “How quantised inertia gets rid of dark matter | Mike McCulloch |”

      • wdk October 13, 2018, 10:37

        Thanks, Charley. I’m taking a look.


  • Geoffrey Hillend October 12, 2018, 16:18

    I assume like Einstein that inertia like gravity caused by the warping of space time by matter and energy and these are emergent and frame independent so no distant masses are needed to give something inertia.

    • Charley October 12, 2018, 17:35

      Einstein assumed that inertia is caused by the warping of space time by matter and energy ?

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 12, 2018, 18:10

    I don’t wish to comment on anything that moves to far off the topic of this thread but only that use your scientific intuition and principles before you accept something as fact.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 13, 2018, 17:49

    I don’t know Einstein assumed, however it’s hard for me not to assume that we need energy and mass to have inertia based on general relativity if “gravitational and internal forces produce effects that are indistinguishable.” Here is another one of my assumptions about “How quantised inertia gets rid of dark matter. Quantised gravity does not get rid of gravity. Quantised inertia does not get rid of gravity or dark matter.

    • Charley October 14, 2018, 19:21

      OK, I’m beginning to see what may be the problem here…
      You write the following: ” …however it’s hard for me not to assume that we need energy and mass to have inertia based on general relativity if “gravitational and internal forces produce effects that are indistinguishable.” ”
      You state that ‘gravitational and internal forces produce effects that are indistinguishable’; gravitational and internal (I assume you mean here inertial) are indistinguishable. General relativity DOESN’T, I believe, make the statement that the non-distinguished ability of the two phenomena are due to some aspect of the theory being the GENESIS of both the phenomena.
      Rather, and this is important, it knowledge is there exist an equivalence between the two but does not state that the origin of both are found within the theory of general relativity itself.
      I think that’s where you are having your confusion; general relativity only acknowledges that they HAVE equivalence not that the theory EXPLAINS their equivalence. Those are TWO different very different ideas. Are you understanding what I’m saying now? You will not find (as far as I understand) the reason for the existence of inertia with the existence of gravitation in GR.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 14, 2018, 15:44

    Wdk, A shell with only gravity would pull everything towards it’s center but we don’t observe that happening. Also since inertia is a property emerging from matter and energy and it does not matter the source of the energy, so no distant masses are needed. There still is the inverse square law of Newton’s universal gravitation and general relativity, so gravitational force attenuates over long distances.

    • wdk October 15, 2018, 16:55

      Maybe I should elaborate for clarity, lest our arguments go right past each other’s. Let’s say that the Earth as a sphere has all its mass tied up in a shell 100 miles thick. Same mass and same outward gravitational potential with respect to its center – for objects outside of its surface radius. Now suppose someone drills a hole and drops or propels an inner space probe into the Earth’s hollow interior. If I understand
      Newton’s argument correctly, the inner space probe would voyage in a region of zero gravity whether it was at the center of the empty sphere or not.

      OK, now if this is so far so good, we were introduced to a line of argument that suggested that our cosmos was surrounded by another
      hollow, but massive sphere. And blog that suggested that model provided it as a possible explanation (or analogous model) for the expanding universe…

      I say that the trouble with that is our understanding of Newton’s laws of gravitation. A spherical shell of mass beyond the observable universe should not be causing the universe to expand, if it behaves like the Newton example. On the other hand, the Great Attractor suggests a local concentration of mass ( assuming a plausible map) beyond the
      bounds of the visible universe. If it isn’t – well I don’t have anything to suggest as a substitute.

      Now considering all that – and to tie things back to issues surrounding the Workshop, there could be a similar problem with the idea that inertia of all the mass in the universe causes the resistance we describe as inertia – if it behaves anything like Newton’s laws of gravitation predict. Admittedly we are dissecting Newton’s laws with GeneralRelativity to take them to a deeper level of understanding. And this gives us an explanation for how there could be action at a distance.
      We get the warp of space time due to the presence of mass and/or energy. But whether the sum of mass dispersed across the universe can provide a resistance to motion, the Newtonian hollow sphere example would argue against – unless there is something else afoot in the propagation of “inertia”.

      • Charley October 18, 2018, 14:30

        “If I understand
        Newton’s argument correctly, the inner space probe would voyage in a region of zero gravity whether it was at the center of the empty sphere or not.”
        Bad news-I’m afraid your understanding of Newton’s argument is in the realm of NOT correct. Without getting too extensive into the physics, should there exist some distribution of matter in the shell region, there CAN exist a nonzero potential as well as attractive force.
        You should look a little further into Newtonian gravitational potential theory (I suggest you turn to Dover publications) and you can obtain some insight there.

        • Charley October 18, 2018, 14:38

          I forgot to add further with regards to your comment given below:
          “We get the warp of space time due to the presence of mass and/or energy. But whether the sum of mass dispersed across the universe can provide a resistance to motion, the Newtonian hollow sphere example would argue against – unless there is something else afoot in the propagation of “inertia”.”
          Again, I perhaps have now said this about three times; the entire premise behind the beginning of this article was based on Woodward’s work on the use of time varying mass within the framework of a general relativity based explanation behind inertia.
          I suggest with regards to this idea behind Woodward’s work, you get a copy of his (this far as I know) one-time publication behind the foundation of his Relativity-Machian theory of the influence of distant masses in the universe. That may help you understand.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 16, 2018, 22:14

    My reference on how the Higgs boson gets absorbed, emitted and reabsorbed and re emitted etc. by a muon flipping its spin back and forth left right left right while traveling through the Higgs field was not correct. The name of the book is called “Beyond the God Particle” Hill and Lederman, p. 146.

  • wdk October 21, 2018, 12:38

    As you suggested, I took another look at the Newtonian derivation of net force on a particle within a hollow shell. The net force as described in the Shell theorem is zero.


    Granted I might be missing something and I am also not aware of any physical examples to demonstrate, but I still think it well worth considering when invoking an external spherical shell around our cosmos – or extrapolating how a bank of cosmic inertia would act on
    a particle here. This does not necessarily negate the hypothesis, but does indicate more elaboration might be needed or another line of test might be required.

    In fact, Making Starships and Stargates is a few feet away from this desk. It is a challenging read for me, but association with Professor Woodward and colleagues has been an incentive to learn what little I know about General Relativity. And what’s more I’ve enjoyed sharing their hunt from the bleachers. And wish I could do more to help.
    But the association also demonstrates that there are schools of thought within the GR community and questions regarding inertia is very illustrative of their existence. If there weren’t such schools of thought, then why trouble ourselves with large scale GR experimental tests?

    But like any scientific or engineering inquiry, when you see something such as described ( or more broadly, something in a test run in a lab or a theoretical assumption), there is no alternative but to examine the ins and outs. Should it have been a suggestion of outside disturbance in a laboratory run, then there would be measures to remove or take it into account in subsequent measurement of observed thrust.

    • Charley October 22, 2018, 18:01

      I genuinely appreciate the fact that you responded back, and I can understand your frustration with what I was saying concerning
      ” Newtonian derivation of net force on a particle within a hollow shell. The net force as described in the Shell theorem is zero.”
      If you take my word for it has to do with the understanding of the wording, but to settle it would be belaboring the point and quite frankly, it’s not that important that we hash it out endlessly, so I’ll go on to your other comment.

      I STRONGLY suggest that you reread (if you wish) the book “Making Starships and Stargates “. I totally concur with you that it is a complicated and difficult subject, and I’m no expert in any fashion on the general theory of relativity. My Achilles’ heel in this area is the fact that I have not been exposed to the type of calculus that is the foundation of the theory, and quite frankly, at this point and at my age, I’m not going to attempt to get into it, simply because it doesn’t have any detailed relevance to my interests.
      I only suggest that you look at it in detail because as I said before his theory as to why inertial forces exist (chapter 4, if memory serves me) seems pretty far out there and I was looking to see if there was any agreement with that particular stance. That’s why I put the emphasis on looking at the book again.
      I do admire one fact about Woodward is that he was willing to go beyond what others considered ‘normal’ physics and look at the potential to possibly tap the presumed ‘fields’ that might arise from GR. I did read the book and I too found it ponderous, but I’m glad that I read it, although I have to admit if the question is, is it new or not, why not simply send the whole crazy thing up into outer space and perform a test. With care one could make a determination as to the reality or not behind all this.
      But Woodward better hurry up! He’s in his late eighties!

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 21, 2018, 18:37

    I don’t think there any physicists or astro physicists who believe our universe has solid shell as it’s boundary

  • Michael C. Fidler October 21, 2018, 20:10

    Thought experiment:
    If you have an electron gas, which consist of just electrons, and you would control the axis of the spin of all the electrons, would the amount of inertia needed change. Some of the old vacuum tubes I believe had electron gas, plus a high magnetic field like in a MRI would be needed to control the spin of the axis of the electrons. So if this could all be put together and rotate the electrons gas through 360 degrees from pole to pole and back would the amount of inertia needed vary???

    • Charley October 22, 2018, 18:05

      Mister Fidler, I saw somewhere else that somebody spoke about the electrons is been the source of inertia. That is completely and totally new to me, since it seems to discount (on the surface). The rest of the particles that make up the nucleus. That’s just a superficial comment. I find that a little hard to believe that electrons, and only electrons, make up the concept of inertia.
      As far as I know very little is known about what inertia actually is, and it would be a very rich and new type of environment of physics to delve into this topic. But, as far as I can see there’s no examining the issue.

      • Michael C. Fidler October 23, 2018, 10:50

        I was just looking at it from the easiest and simplest way to see if the spinning electron inertia was effected by it orientation. Since the electron or cathode ray was the first atomic particle to be discovered it would also be the easiest to try this experiment on. The atoms nucleus is a much more complicated beast.

        • Michael C. Fidler October 23, 2018, 11:01

          Gyroscope’s unexplained acceleration may be due to modified inertia.

          When a spinning laser gyroscope is placed near a super-cooled rotating ring, the gyroscope accelerates a bit in the same direction as the ring, and scientists aren’t sure why.

          Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2011-07-gyroscope-unexplained-due-inertia.html

          • Michael C. Fidler October 23, 2018, 23:12

            The Tajmar effect.
            Martin Tajmar – Gravitomagnetism Research | Wiki

            Following the work of Podkletnov, physicist Martin Tajmar, a professor of space propulsion studies at Dresden University of Technology, produced anomalous inertial effects (generation of small amounts of thrust or momentum) by spinning superconductive tori, as well as spinning superfluid helium. In the experiments performed by Tajmar and his research team, spinning superconductive rings and superfluid helium (both at a temperature of 4 kelvins), produced an acceleration in a laser gyroscope positioned above the apparatus (but not in direct contact with the apparatus). That is to say, the laser gyroscope itself experienced a minute acceleration in the same direction of rotation of the spinning superconductive discs (gyroscopes are used to detect accelerations and changes in orientation)

            Interestingly, the effect only occurred when the superconductors and liquid helium were spinning in a clockwise direction, but not counter-clockwise. Tajmar has theorized that in the Southern hemisphere the counter-clockwise direction should produce an acceleration in the laser gyroscope in the direction of rotation of the apparatus while no similar acceleration will be observed for the clockwise direction of rotation, as occurs in the Northern Hemisphere. This is an important detail, as it is absolutely consistent with Haramein’s amendment of Einstein’s field equations where torque and Coriolis effects are considered. Tajmar’s experiment therefore confirms that the structure of spacetime has Coriolis dynamics present due to fundamental torque as the result of a gradient in the vacuum energy density producing the gyroscopic rotational effects of a body, such as the earth.

            Although the effect is small — with an acceleration on the order of 3 +/- 1.2 x 10-8 times the acceleration of the ring in the clockwise direction — it is pointing to effects beyond Newtonian-based thrust production that can potentially be utilized for advanced propulsion and inertial modulation technologies. Moreover, Tajmar has shown the same anomalous acceleration effects not only in niobium rings, but aluminum and stainless steel as well, leading him to posit that the effect may be a result primarily of the spinning superfluid helium used to cool the materials to 4 kelvins. Further testing may result in a mechanism for advanced space propulsion using propellant-less drives.

            The Tajmar experiments and positive results therein can be regarded, indirectly, as an independent verification of Podkletnov’s experiments demonstrating that gravitational modulation and inertial effects can be achieved by spinning toroidal magnetic and electric fields.

  • wdk October 23, 2018, 13:34


    For me some elements of “Making Starships and Stargates” are easier than others. I will try to review the book again as you suggest. But what I am saying is a result of either looking at material in chapters 3 or 4 or else the similar discussions about such topics over the years. Were it not for Woodward pointing out the implications of Mach in GR, I wouldn’t be aware of any of it in the first place. Ditto for several other facets of this current discussion.

    Outside of the book regarding inertia discussions and Newton’s shell theorem, I could give another illustration of where it is applied and why it is pertinent here.

    Models of the physical state of stars and their evolution are often based on models with concentric spherical shells. For an element at a given radius within the star, the gravitational force acting on the element is based on concentric shells of matter below it, not above. If there were no concentric shells below the particle at a given radius, then there would be no net gravitational force. The other outward shell attractive forces are assumed (actually derived in the Shell theorem) to cancel out. In Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth”, the deeper the explorers went the lighter they should have been on their feet.

    So, in the link mentioned above where it was suggested that there was a concentric sphere of mass around the universe ( for illustration, analogy or whatever underlying reason) driving expansion, from the standpoint of Newtonian physics it would not ring true. Rather, the concentric sphere would be pulled inward by the mass we are familiar with.

    But then when we turn to address the nature of inertia, it seems as though a similar role is assigned to the universe’s mass – and perhaps its energy.

    Newton’s laws as we apply them for most astrodynamic applications are an adequate approximation of the more general relativistic laws of bodies in motion. But if we are to split out inertia from GR, the argument for the “concentric hollow sphere” of universal mass takes on a similar role to that supposed concentric hollow sphere that would drive acceleration of universal expansion. …There’s a perceived problem.

    • Charley October 24, 2018, 13:34

      “So, in the link mentioned above where it was suggested that there was a concentric sphere of mass around the universe ( for illustration, analogy or whatever underlying reason) driving expansion, from the standpoint of Newtonian physics it would not ring true. Rather, the concentric sphere would be pulled inward by the mass we are familiar with. ”
      Newton himself was confronted with just such an argument while he was alive, and he performed a dodge (so to speak) around the argument by maintaining that the universe was infinite in extent.
      You see if the universe is infinite, there is no ‘center’ (by definition) to represent a place that a spherical shell could be defined around that point. Problem was solved, at least according to Newton. Putting that aside, the question of inertia, which is completely unanswered seemingly by anyone is tackled as I understand it, in general relativity (and especially by Woodward’s hypothesis) as having to deal with ‘advanced’ propagations that emanate from distant masses throughout the universe from the action of acceleration by a body at the present time. I know I’m not explaining myself well and therein lies the difficulty with Woodward’s hypothesis (in my mind) since accelerations performed on a mass ‘right now’ are affected by all the masses in the universe that were alerted to the accelerations in the past.
      Again, read chapter 4 in his (Woodward’s) book and I think you will get a little bit more clarity. But to be honest, I found his explanation to be along the same line as unicorns and pixie dust; but let’s not forget that he’s trying to reconcile the finite velocity of all propagations so that they remain less than the velocity of light and still explained inertia due to distant masses.
      That’s really the best I can do here and I hope you will cut me some slack upon my explanation because I find it pretty far out to be honest.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 23, 2018, 18:06

    In general relativity, the force of gravity is the result of the warping of space time by matter and energy, not from electron shells in atoms.

    Also the flat surface of an expanding balloon idea is only an analogy of flat space which represents the cosmic inflation our 4D universe. There is no actual solid shell or flat surface and hollow sphere. The expansion is driven by dark energy with positive energy density and negative pressure.

  • Frank LaTella November 10, 2018, 5:03

    The greatest impediment to progress in the space drive problem is our collective obsession with theory. If Michael Faraday had succumbed to this paranoia the development of the DC motor might have taken substantially longer to come to pass. What is required is meticulous testing by willing and experienced scientists & engineers who have an intact and healthy sense of curiosity, and a love of truth above all else. These individuals must be allowed the intellectual and economic freedom and leeway to fail, and fail quickly without academic or political retribution.