Mike Griffin's Big Secret Revealed

Take a leap into hyperspace, New Scientist

Welcome to Mars express: only a three hour trip, The Scotsman

"An extraordinary "hyperspace" engine that could make interstellar space travel a reality by flying into other dimensions is being investigated by the United States government. The hypothetical device, which has been outlined in principle but is based on a controversial theory about the fabric of the universe, could potentially allow a spacecraft to travel to Mars in three hours and journey to a star 11 light years away in just 80 days, according to a report in today's New Scientist magazine."

Heim Quantum Theory for Space Propulsion Physics (PDF)

"This paper describes a novel space propulsion technique, based on an extension of a unified field theory in a quantized, higher-dimensional space, developed by the late B. Heim (1977) in the 50s and 60s of the last century, termed Heim Quantum Theory (HQT)."

Reader comment: Marc G. Millis, from NASA GRC Notes: "I have recently been barraged with requests to comment about the Heim theory and its "hyperspace" propulsive implications as posted in New Scientist, 7-Jan-2006. The New Scientist article is online, but only for subscribers: http://www.newscientist.com/

Please note:

My assessments below are only a cursory response rather than the result of a full technical review. If I had done a full technical review, I would have submitted it to a journal. Given the level of interest, however, and the habit that many of us have to jump to conclusions (pro or con), I thought I should comment.

First, there are many different approaches in the literature related to breakthrough propulsion, not just this one. Each are at a very early stage of inquiry. As much as we'd like the final answer NOW if any of these will lead to a real interstellar craft, that question cannot yet be reliably answered. Instead, we should be asking: "What do we work on next; what is the next step?" This is the context in which I've framed my comments.

On this particular approach, where Drscher and Huser build on the theories of Heim to suggest propulsive effects, the next logical step is to verify the assertion that the Heim theory correctly predicts the masses of subatomic particles, and that this assessment be carried out in the open peer-reviewed literature so that the results and its verification are traceable (instead of by anecdote). A confirmation of this assertion, by itself, would be significant. Since this task only requires analysis, instead of experiment, this should not be too costly for the advocates to support themselves.

For those advocating the Heim theory, it would also be very useful to have a more tutorial version of Heim's derivations (and in English) to help the greater community understand precisely what is being done. From the German 1977 paper and other text I read, I only found the assertions without the step-by-step explanations for how these were developed. The existing publications are insufficient to convey the theory.

Also, it should not be forgotten that the Heim theory and its propulsive implications are two separate issues. It seems that Drscher and Huser reintroduced dimensions into the Heim theory that Heim had dismissed, so even if the mass prediction claims of Heim are confirmed, there is no guarantee that the modified theory would, itself, be valid. Having this conversion step explained, and in the form of a peer-reviewed paper, would be quite helpful. As itis, I could not follow the details myself in my quick scans of the papers.

Regarding experimental tests: As much as I am a strong advocate for experimental tests, there is the issue of relative cost. Again, there are other options out there that might be worthy of support. With the Drscher-Huser experiments, I could not tell if their experiment was the least-expensive approach to validate (or falsify) their theory. When competing with lesser-cost options, this will be an issue. I strongly recommend that any experimental proposal be designed to be the lowest-cost experiment sufficient to clearly falsify or support the theory.

And this brings me back to the issue of the other options and research funding. Although I still track such developments in my discretionary time, the NASA Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project is no longer funded and I know of no other group within NASA that is authorized, qualified, and funded to support such on-the-edge propulsion physics. There are pockets of activity scattered across government, industry, and academia, but these are typically small discretionary efforts. If it turns out that there are any funding sources interested in such breakthroughs, I'd recommend having a competitive research solicitation to help identify the best prospects.

For those who do not already know, I recently published overviews of the approaches that I know about, including the work that NASA and others supported. But even these papers do not encompass all the possibilities. I also published a paper on the management methods for dealing with such visionary and provocative prospects in a constructive manner, including the criteria for competitive solicitations. I hope your find these useful:

(1) Summary of options:

Marc G. Millis, Prospects for Breakthrough Propulsion From Physics, NASA TM-2004-213082 (2004 May) http://gltrs.grc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/GLTRS/browse.pl?2004/TM-2004-213082.html

(2) Management methods:

Marc G. Millis, Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project: Project Management Methods, NASA TM-2004-213406 (2004 Dec.) http://gltrs.grc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/GLTRS/browse.pl?2004/TM-2004-213406.html

(3) Options, methods, and estimating benefits:

Marc G. Millis, "Assessing Potential Propulsion Breakthroughs", Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, (due out early 2005).

In closing:

This Drscher-Huser-Heim approach is in such an early stage of development that it is premature to judge its viability. Fortunately, relatively low-cost next-stepscould be taken by its proponents to help others assess the prospects, such as confirming (in the open literature) the ability of the Heim theory to predict the masses of subatomic particles, and showing the derivations and equations necessary to comprehend the other assertions.

Also, it is important to remember that there are many other approaches out there. The best way to determine which of these might merit support is to conduct a competitive research solicitation. There is no NASA funding planned for such an assessment in the foreseeable future.

Thank you for your attention,


Marc G. Millis
Propulsion Physics
NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field
21000 Brookpark Rd., MS 86-2
Cleveland, OH 44135-3191

Breakthrough Propulsion Physics PROJECT site:

PUBLIC EDUCATION "Warp Drive, When?" site:

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on January 17, 2006 8:38 AM.

Mars Community Holds Out Hope While NASA HQ Backs Off From Mars was the previous entry in this blog.

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