Take a Leap Into Hyperspace

Every year, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics awards prizes for the best papers presented at its annual conference. Last year’s winner in the nuclear and future flight category went to a paper calling for experimental tests of an astonishing new type of engine. According to the paper, this hyperdrive motor would propel a craft through another dimension at enormous speeds. It could leave Earth at lunchtime and get to the moon in time for dinner. There’s just one catch: the idea relies on an obscure and largely unrecognised kind of physics. Can they possibly be serious?

For the first time since 1967 this New Scientist feature article introduces the work of the 2001 deceased German physicist Burkhard Heim to an international public. Supporters of Heim theory claim that it is a panacea for the troubles in modern physics. They say it unites quantum mechanics and general relativity, can predict the masses of the building blocks of matter from first principles, and can even explain the state of the universe 13.7 billion years ago. Heim’s work has been extended by Austrian mathematician Walter Dröscher who, with German physicist Jochem Häuser, wrote the prize-winning paper.

In a podcast I discuss the life and work of Burkhard Heim and his theory’s relation to general relativity and quantum mechanics (fast forward 11 minutes).

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