Using New Physics to get to Alpha Centauri in a Human Lifetime

Author: Mike McCulloch

Background: According to standard physics we cannot travel to the stars in a human lifetime because we need impractical amounts of fuel to get close to light speed. However, a new theory of inertia has been proposed called Quantised Inertia (QI). It predicts standard inertia, as a vacuum effect, at normal accelerations. It also predicts a drop in inertia at low accelerations that predicts disc galaxy rotation without dark matter. Therefore it has solid empirical backing.

Objective: Quantised inertia predicts that a new kind of propulsion can be achieved by energising the vacuum and making gradients in it using synthetic ‘horizons’ (conductive materials). This form of propulsion does not need heavy fuel, only an energy source, so it would allow interstellar travel in a human lifetime. The objective is to demonstrate this prediction unambiguously in the lab.

Method: $1.3M was won from DARPA to test this prediction and a network of, so far, six labs have joined the effort, formerly and informally. The methods used include firing lasers into asymmetric metal cavities, lasers into fibre-optic loops shielded by metal on one side, high-acceleration electrons in capacitors, and other methods.

Results: So far, one experiment has shown no thrust but several others have measured the thrust expected from the theory, with force to power ratios of for example 0.08 N/kW (comparable to ion drives, without needing fuel) and up to 100 N/kW (enough to enable launch).

Conclusion: If these positive results can be replicated and confirmed then interstellar travel within a human lifetime becomes possible. This talk will present the quantised inertia theory, the evidence for it, the experimental thruster results so far (where possible) and an outline of a QI-based interstellar propulsion system (horizon drive).