During the November meeting of the FMBR, Dr. Claude Swanson discussed a candidate for a fifth force of the universe, which he called ‘torsion’. If accepted by the physics mainstream, this force would join electromagnetism, gravity, and the strong and weak nuclear forces as the only recognized means of causing movement and change in the universe. This may sound like a significant step forward in science, but why should we even care? If we are not physicists, what possible relevance could this event have for us?
To address this question, I will turn back the hands of time to the late eighteen-hundreds. Electricity was still just a curiosity of the science labs, and magnetism was useful for locating the North Pole and making children’s toys. Many gentlemen scientists had done experiments with both electricity and with magnetism, and some had even established that there was a relationship between the two. But it wasn’t until James Clerk Maxwell published his celebrated equations of electromagnetism in 1873 that it could be said that this force was well understood. Using these equations, many new realizations and ideas were able to enter human consciousness. Light was an electromagnetic phenomenon. Electromagnetic signals could be created by moving electricity back and forth in a wire. These signals could be sent over very long distances. The signals could be modulated to carry information. And so on, and so forth. In short order (socially speaking), we had radio, television, radar, communication satellites, radio telescopes, walkie-talkies, car phones, cell phones, wi-fi, and iPads. The world changed in ways that would have been unimaginable to Maxwell and his predecessors, but that most of us would find it difficult to imagine living without.
If Dr. Swanson and the other researchers who are studying torsion are really onto something, then we are still in the ‘pre-1873’ era of torsion. A relationship between torsion and gravity has been noted, but it is still unclear what that connection is. Once the equations are found, assuming they exist, a whole new field of technological possibilities will open before us. If we gain control over the force of gravity, we are likely to see revolutions in transportation (levitating George Jetson car anyone?), space travel (time travel?), construction, power generation, commodity distribution (an end to global hunger?), and of course, a million things we can’t even imagine right now.
So, would this discovery be relevant to most of us? My best guess is that a quarter of a century after the ink dries on the experimentally-verifiable equations of torsiogravity, the world will be as unrecognizable to the people of today as our world would be to the average Victorian citizen or wagon train settler. And if, as Dr. Swanson seems to believe, this will also signal the beginning of a health revolution, perhaps most of us will live to see it.