What is Torsion?   . . . . . by Richard Hammond
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Torsion: For the non-physicist

Torsion is a field, so let me start with other more familiar fields. Take gravity. It is the field you feel pulling you down, the field you fight against if you try and jump up. Where does it come from? Matter (sometimes I will say mass) creates the gravitational field, and since the Earth is made of matter, we call it the Earth's gravitational field. How does it create a force? The gravitational field attracts all objects that have mass. Since you have mass the Earth tugs on you.

Another field is the electric field. This field is created by charge. It exerts a force on other particles with charge, but not neutral (charge free) objects. You probably heard like charges repel, opposites attract. They do so via the electric field.

Torsion is another field. What creates it? Intrinsic spin. What in the world is intrinsic spin? It is a property of elementary particles, and it is measured in terms of something we call Plank's constant. Think of an electron. It has mass and so it creates a gravitational field. It has charge and so it creates an electric field. It has spin and so it creates a torsion field.

This fields creates a force on other particles that have spin. So for example consider our simplest atom, hydrogen, made of one proton and one electron. The nucleus is a proton which has spin. The electron also has spin and so, there is a force between them, the torsion force. However, the electric force is so much larger it swamps the torsion force, which has not yet been detected.

Torsion has many similarities to the other fields we know about. For example, we create electromagnetic waves, present in everything from cell phones to rainbows, by accelerating (wiggling) electric charge. Torsion waves can be created by accelerating, or flipping, intrinsic spins. Currently I am working on the mathematics behind this to perhaps measure torsion for the first time.

Torsion is predicted to exist from many other theories, for example string theory and something we call local gauge theory. However, to this date, it has not been detected. The first person to detect torsion will probably win the Noble prize. For more amazing physics see: