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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently awarded a $1.3 million contract to an international team of researchers to study quantized inertia, a controversial theory that some physicists dismiss as pseudoscience.

Quantized inertia (QI) is an alternative theory of inertia, a property of matter that describes an object’s resistance to acceleration. QI was first proposed by University of Plymouth physicist Mike McCulloch in 2007, but it is still considered a fringe theory by many, if not most, physicists today. McCulloch has used the theory to explain galactic rotation speeds without the need for dark matter, but he believes it may one day provide the foundation for launching space vehicles without fuel.

The DARPA grant will allow McCulloch and a team of collaborators from Germany and Spain to undertake a series of experiments that will apply QI in a laboratory setting for the first time. This will involve creating experimental QI engines and using incredibly sensitive detectors to see if they can produce thrust—which would open the door for interstellar travel, satellites that never decay in orbit, and other “impossible” applications.

McCulloch told me that QI is “certainly” controversial, but also added that “DARPA is famous for taking chances on things that aren’t widely accepted if there is the potential for a huge payoff.”

The experiments are, in a way, a middle finger to the physicists who have spent the last decade dismissing QI as pseudoscientific or, as one physicist I spoke to on background described it to me, “a concatenation of buzz words and bullshit”.

Waste of tax dollars. To read more, click here.