Return to the clickable list of items

162) Torsion effect: does it explain cold fusion?

Ludwik Kowalski (7/23/04)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

In searching for cold-fusion-related topics I often encounter claims about “torsion field” and about “excess energy from vacuum.” The term “zero-point energy” is often used in this context, as one can check by browsing the Internet. An e-mail message from China, received on July 16, made me think about this topic again. The author wrote:

Dear Dr. Kowalski:
. . . A model called "Vortex Dynamics" is proposed by us to give an explanation for cold fusion. This model was mentioned by Thomas Dolan, IAEA Officer(1995-2001) for fusion in his speech as five majoring models for CF mechanism, in the summary session at ICCF-9, Tsinghua Univ. May,2002, Beijing. I would like to introduce this model to you for your reference. Thank you for your attention, and awaiting your comments. With best regards.

Prof. Xingliu Jiang, Physics Department of
Bejing University of Aeron. and Astron.


The attached file (shown at the end of this unit) did not convince me that the authors found an “explanation of cold fusion.” The impression was the opposite; it added to confusion in my mind. What do Zero-Point Energy and Vortex Dynamics speculations have to do with cold fusion? Did they develop a “theory of everything?” Can that theory be used to “explain” burning of wood, reality of quarks and the assassination of Julius Caesar? I did not reply because I do not like to express opinion about topics belonging to unfamiliar areas of physics. My reaction to Zero-Point Energy claims (seen on the Internet) and to Hydrinos (explained in an earlier unit) are essentially the same -- wait till somebody else helps me to accept them.

This unit was prompted by the ongoing thread on Phys-L, an Internet list for physics teachers. The name of the thread is “Teaching science on the edge of knowledge.” An astronomy teacher asked: “How do we handle alternative theories and gaps in our understanding of the universe?” A physics teacher responded “mostly ‘alternative theories’ is a codeword for crackpot.” Then he elaborated on “the gaps in our understanding.” In doing this he made a reference to John Baez's website:

At that site (see ) I found the following description. How does the Vortex Dynamics theory of Xing-liu Jiang differ from the topic described by Baez? Unable to answer this question let me turn to what Baez wrote about the energy of the vacuum.

What's the Energy Density of the Vacuum?

John Baez

August 25, 1999
People talk a lot about "vacuum energy" or "zero-point energy" - that is, the energy density of empty space. In cosmology, people also call this quantity the "cosmological constant", or "dark energy". Sometimes kooky people get really excited about the idea that if we could only use this energy somehow, all our problems would be solved. But first things first! Does this energy really exist? And if so, how much of it is there?

Once upon a time, someone named Amw wrote:

>I have heard widely varying numbers for so called "zero point
>energy", some as low as practically zero and some as high as
>astronomical. It gets to the point I am not sure what to think.

To which I replied:

Yes, one hears lots of conflicting stuff about this. However, you've come to the right place to get to the bottom of it all.

Here's the deal. We have two fundamental theories of physics: quantum field theory and general relativity. Quantum field theory takes quantum mechanics and special relativity into account, and it's a great theory of all the forces and particles except gravity, but it ignores gravity. General relativity is a great theory of gravity, but it ignores quantum mechanics. Nobody knows how to reconcile these theories yet. That's what people working on "quantum gravity" are trying to do.

Now, the reason I'm telling you this is that quantum field theory and general relativity have really different attitudes towards the energy density of the vacuum. The reason is that quantum field theory only cares about energy differences. If you can only measure energy differences, you can't determine the energy density of the vacuum - it's just a matter of convention. As far as we know, you can only determine the energy density of the vacuum by experiments that involve general relativity - namely, by measuring the curvature of spacetime.

So, when you ask about the energy density of the vacuum, you get different answers, depending on whether the person answering you is basing their answer on general relativity or quantum field theory. Let me run through the 5 most common answers, explaining how people reach these different answers:

1. We can measure the energy density of the vacuum through astronomical observations that determine the curvature of spacetime. These measurements say the energy density is VERY CLOSE TO ZERO. We're not really sure if it's positive, negative or zero. Some recent observations suggest that it's positive, but this is not yet certain. All we really know is an upper bound: in terms of mass density, its absolute value is less than 10-29 grams per cubic centimeter. In terms of energy density, this is about 10-9 joules per cubic meter.

To believe these measurements are right, one must have some faith in general relativity, because that's the theory which we use to relate spacetime curvature to energy density. The more accurate measurements attempt to determine an actual value for the energy density of spacetime, or at least its sign. These require more faith in general relativity, and also other assumptions about cosmology. However, the basic fact that the energy density of spacetime is very close to zero is almost inarguable: for it to be false, general relativity would have to be very wrong.

2. We can try to calculate the energy density of the vacuum using quantum field theory. If we calculate the lowest possible energy of a harmonic oscillator, we get a bigger answer when we use quantum mechanics than when we use classical mechanics. The difference is called the "zero-point energy". The zero-point energy of a harmonic oscillator is 1/2 Planck's constant times its frequency. Naively we can try calculating the energy density of the vacuum by simply summing up the zero-point energies of all the vibrational modes of the quantum fields we are considering (e.g. the electromagnetic field and various other fields for other forces and particles). Vibrational modes with shorter wavelengths have higher frequencies and contribute more vacuum energy density. If we assume spacetime is a continuum, we have modes with arbitrarily short wavelengths, so we get INFINITY as the vacuum energy density. But there are problems with this calculation....

3. A slightly less naive way to calculate the vacuum energy in quantum field theory is to admit that we don't know spacetime is a continuum, and only sum the zero-point energies for vibrational modes having wavelengths bigger than, say, the Planck length (about 10-35 meters). This gives an ENORMOUS BUT FINITE vacuum energy density: about 1093 grams per cubic centimeter! But there are problems with this calculation, too....

One problem is that treating the vibrational modes of our fields as harmonic oscillators is only valid for "free field theories" - those in which there are no interactions between modes. This is not physically realistic. However, while taking interactions into account changes the precise answer, we are still left with an enormous energy density. And there's an even bigger problem, too....

4. Quantum field theory as it is ordinarily done ignores gravity. But as long as one is ignoring gravity, one can add any constant to ones definition of energy density without changing the predictions for anything you can experimentally measure. The reason is that without measuring the curvature of spacetime, one can only measure energy differences. The big problem with calculations 2 and 3 is that they ignore this fact. If we take advantage of this fact we are free to redefine energy density by subtracting off the zero-point energy, leaving an energy density of ZERO. In fact this is what is ordinarily done in quantum field theory.

5. An even less naive way to think about the vacuum energy density in quantum field theory is the following. In quantum field theory we are neglecting gravity. This means we are free to add any constant whatsoever to our definition of energy density. As long as we are free to do this, we can't really say what the vacuum energy density "really is". In other words, if we only consider quantum field theory and not general relativity, the vacuum energy density is NOT DETERMINED.

So, I've given you 5 answers to the same question:


Which should you believe? I believe 1) because it is based on experiment and fairly conservative assumptions about general relativity and astronomy. Answers 2)-4) are based on somewhat naive theoretical calculations. Answer 5) is the best that quantum field theory can do right now. Reconciling answers 1) and 5) is one of the big tasks of any good theory of quantum gravity.

The moral is: for a question like this, you need to know not just the answer but also the assumptions and reasoning that went into the answer. Otherwise you can't make sense of why different people give different answers. For more on the zero-point energy of the harmonic oscillator try this and this. These require more mathematical sophistication.


What follows is a description the dark energy found on the Internet. It is an interesting but I see no refernce to cold fusion in it. Is dark energy the same thing as zero-point energy of vacuum? It seems to be the same. The author is a theretical astrophysicist; his paper has been published in June of 2004. It was published in a very prestigeous journal, Physical Review Letters (Phys.rev.Lett. 93 92004) 011301). The paper can be downloaded from:

Unfortunately, the best I can do is to read sentences between equations. That is not a critical comment; Salisury is addressing other experts.


Public release date: 1- Jul-2004

Contact: David F. Salisbury
Vanderbilt University

Dark matter and dark energy may be different aspects of a single unknown force

In the last few decades, scientists have discovered that there is a lot more to the universe than meets the eye: the cosmos appears to be filled with not just one, but two invisible constituents –dark matter and dark energy – whose existence has been proposed based solely on their gravitational effects on ordinary matter and energy.

Now, theoretical physicist Robert J. Scherrer has come up with a model that could cut the mystery in half by explaining dark matter and dark energy as two aspects of a single unknown force. His model is described in a paper titled "Purely Kinetic k Essence as Unified Dark Matter" published online by Physical Review Letters on June 30 and available online at .

"One way to think of this is that the universe is filled with an invisible fluid that exerts pressure on ordinary matter and changes the way that the universe expands," says the professor of physics at Vanderbilt University.

According to Scherrer, his model is extremely simple and avoids the major problems that have characterized previous efforts to unify dark matter and dark energy.

In the 1970's, astrophysicists postulated the existence of invisible particles called dark matter in order to explain the motion of galaxies. Based on these observations, they estimate that there must be about 10 times as much dark matter in the universe as ordinary matter. One possible explanation for dark matter is that it is made up of a new type of particle – dubbed Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, or WIMPs) – that don't emit light and barely interact with ordinary matter. A number of experiments are searching for evidence of these particles.

As if that weren't enough, in the 1990's along came dark energy, which produces a repulsive force that appears to be ripping the universe apart. Scientists invoked dark energy to explain the surprise discovery that the rate at which the universe is expanding is not slowing, as most cosmologists had thought, but is accelerating instead. According to the latest estimates, dark energy makes up 75 percent of the universe and dark matter accounts for another 23 percent, leaving ordinary matter and energy with a distinctly minority role of only 2 percent.

Scherrer's unifying idea is an exotic form of energy with well-defined but complicated properties called a scalar field. In this context, a field is a physical quantity possessing energy and pressure that is spread throughout space. Cosmologists first invoked scalar fields to explain cosmic inflation, a period shortly after the Big Bang when the universe appears to have undergone an episode of hyper-expansion, inflating billions upon billions of times in less than a second.

Specifically, Scherrer uses a second-generation scalar field, known as k-essence, in his model. K-essence fields have been advanced by Paul Steinhardt at Princeton University and others as an explanation for dark energy, but Scherrer is the first to point out that one simple type of k-essence field can also produce the effects attributed to dark matter.

Scientists differentiate between dark matter and dark energy because they seem to behave differently. Dark matter appears to have mass and to form giant clumps. In fact, cosmologists calculate that the gravitational attraction of these clumps played a key role in causing ordinary matter to form galaxies. Dark energy, by contrast, appears to be massless and spread uniformly throughout space where it acts as a kind of anti-gravity, a repulsive force that is pushing the universe apart.

K-essence fields can change their behavior over time. When investigating a very simple type of k-essence field – one in which potential energy is a constant – Scherrer discovered that as the field evolves it passes through a phase where it can clump and mimic the effect of invisible particles, followed by a phase when it spreads uniformly throughout space and takes on the characteristics of dark energy.

"The model naturally evolves into a state where it looks like dark matter for a while and then it looks like dark energy," Scherrer says. "When I realized this, I thought, 'This is compelling, let's see what we can do with it.'"

When he examined the model in more detail, Scherrer found that it avoids many of the problems that have plagued previous theories that attempt to unify dark matter and dark energy.

The earliest model for dark energy was made by modifying the general theory of relativity to include a term called the cosmological constant. This was a term that Einstein originally included to balance the force of gravity in order to form a static universe. But he dropped the constant cheerfully when astronomical observations of the day found it was not needed. Recent models reintroducing the cosmological constant do a good job of reproducing the effects of dark energy, but do not explain dark matter.

One attempt to unify dark matter and dark energy, called the Chaplygin gas model, is based on work by a Russian physicist in the 1930's. It produces an initial dark-matter-like stage followed by a dark-energy-like evolution, but it has trouble explaining the process of galaxy formation.

Scherrer's formulation has some similarities to a unified theory proposed earlier this year by Nima Arkani-Hamed at Harvard University and his colleagues, who attempt to explain dark matter and dark energy as arising from the behavior of an invisible and omnipresent fluid that they call a "ghost condensate."

Although Scherrer's model has a number of positive features, it also has some drawbacks. For one thing, it requires some extreme "fine-tuning" to work. The physicist also cautions that more study will be required to determine if the model's behavior is consistent with other observations. In addition, it cannot answer the coincidence problem: Why we live at the only time in the history of the universe when the densities calculated for dark matter and dark energy are comparable. Scientists are suspicious of this because it suggests that there is something special about the present era.


What follows is an example of another difficult to accept claim. The quoted fragment was found in an article published at:

“Independent inventors have put together electrical generators based mostly on the rotating magnet concept. What is highly interesting is that their experimental data is showing efficiencies exceeding 100 percent, and some show output energy exceeding input energy by a factor of two or more times ! These machines are known as 'Free-Energy' generators.

Nobody is quite sure just where this excess energy is coming from, but theories abound from the idea that this is a safe, radiation-free conversion of nuclear forces directly into electrical energy, to the concept that this type of device taps the so-called 'zero-point-energy' of the space-fabric itself.”

What is the evidence that zero-point energy contributs to the operation of motors based on rotating magnets?


The content of the file sent to me by Xing-liu Jiang is essentially the same as in their paper entitled “Torsion Technologies.” That paper, published in New Energy Technologies, (September - December 2003, Issue #5-6, pages 14-15) and earlier papers, can be downloaded from:



Journal of Theoretics, Volume 5-6, Dec 2003/Jan 2004

Torsion Field Effect and Zero-Point Energy in Electrical Discharge Systems

Xiong-wei Wen
Mechanical Engineering Department, Tsinghua Univ. Beijing 100084, China
Xing-liu Jiang
Science School, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics,
Beijing 100083, China
Li-jun Han
Department of Materials Science and Engineering,
Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Beijing 100083,

Many laboratories in world have observed nuclear reactions and excess
heat in electrochemical systems. The mechanism of such anomalous
phenomena is not being well understood according to normally accepted
physics. Nuclear products with high concentration and tracks with
highly collimated lines of low energy nuclear reactions in the
electrochemical systems were recorded by CR-39 solid detectors and
films at our laboratory [1,2]. These facts suggest that quasar model
with spiral structure and extremely high enrage cosmic rays in the
center could be used for explanation of the mechanism. It is supposed
to use the concept of torsion field to interpret the observed
phenomena, typically, the properties of axial acceleration, memory
effect, and the polarized nuclear reactions with torsion effect [3].

The vortex and spiral structures are the archetype that appears at all
levels of nature and laboratories, for example, atom structure, vortex
lattice in superconductors, dense plasma focus, lightning, quasar etc.
Recent report of dark matter annihilation at the galactic center
describes that the cold dark matter near the galactic center is
accreted by the central black hole into a dense spike [4]. Particle
dark matter annihilation makes the spike to be a compact source of
photons, electrons, positrons, protons, antiprotons, and neutrinos. It
remind us for that there is a similarity among pitting corrosion with
electrochemical noise, laboratory plasma pinching (dense plasma focus,
for example), fast laser induced ion beams[5],and quasar spiral model
with high-energy cosmic rays in spiral center in spite of large
dimension difference.

Comparing the experimental results of electrochemical cells with excess
heat and nuclear transmutation to astrophysics phenomena, it is
supposed that the investigation of vortex dynamics of torsion coherence
with the zero-point energy is essential for tapping the zeropoint
energy. As it is predicted by quantum mechanics that the vacuum is
seething with active energy, even at temperature of zero point Kelvin.
This zero-point energy (ZPE) can be thought as an infinite number of
virtual photons that popping out of the vacuum and going back in, but
should a measurable effect en masse. To exam the origin of ZPE
background, the interaction of matter with the ZPE can be treated on
the basis of charged point particles interaction with a background of
electromagnetic zero-point radiation with spectral-energy density.

Based on observation in the experiments, the following features are
considered in order to understand the experimental results with
electrical discharge systems.

In an electrolytic cell, the electrolysis with high conductivity and
the electrochemical double layer with large layer-capacitance lead to a
typical structure of the cathode potential distribution similar to the
cathode drop of glow discharge in low gas pressure. For a compact layer
the thickness of the double layer is equal to one ionic layer, across
which there is a linear fall of potential. Thus, high electric field
exists in some regions on the surface of the cathode. The local
enhancement of the electric field on the cathode surface with the
double layer is related to the protrusions and cracks similar to the
tip discharge in air or in a vacuum. The current distribution depends
strongly on the surface roughness and the work function of the electron
emission. A high transient current density (> 10^8 A/cm^2) could be
expected due to enhanced field.

On the cathode surface, the high persistent electrical fields (>10^7
V/cm) and large equivalent capacitance (>250µF/cm^2) lead to a high
energy concentration in the double layer [6]. The concentrated field on
the tips of the protrusions or cracks after a longloading period with
deuterium on the palladium cathode surface creates a high transient
electron flux because of the large distributed capacitance and the
negligible inductance in a localized discharge mini-network. The
experimental data show that the reactions take place only in some
restricted areas that have specific properties. The idea of micro
fusion due to the results of energy concentration and the high deuteron
flux could be used to explain the nuclear transmutation.

Elementary particles have the moment of quantity of motion, i.e. spin.
If in any substance the spins of particle have a preferable direction,
then is interpreted as spin polarization of the substance. Every
substance creates a torsion-field (or called spin-field or axion field)
in the space surrounding it when polarized by spins [7]. The
superposition of torsion field, generated by the atomic and nuclear
spins of each molecule, determines the intensity of torsion field in
the space surrounding each molecule. Torsion field has strong
penetration ability and does not interact with the crystal lattice of
substances. The torsion field created by rotation of some sort of
matter is concentrated in two opposite beams propagating along the
rotation axis. The intensity of torsion-field with some lower constant
value can be retained for several weeks after the rotation is stopped.
Such the property of vortex mater has been observed recently in type II
superconductors with magnetic flux line lattice [8]. The studies of
vortex matter of type II superconductors have shown a number puzzling
phenomena associated with vortex motion, including: lowfrequency noise
and slow voltage oscillations; a history-dependent dynamic response,
and memory of the direction, amplitude duration and frequency of the
previously applied current.

Some behaviors of the torsion-field effect have been observed in the
experiments of electrolysis regarding to so-called cold fusion, such as
the gas bubble chains come out from the protrusions of the cathode
surface for long time after switching off the electrolysis potential.
The more surprising thing is the heat after death, which has been
recorded by many labs. This phenomenon could be explained by the
persistence effect of torsion-field produced by vortex dynamics of tip

CR-39 plastic films possessing with a high degree of optical clarity
and isotope in track response, and been sensitive to neutron, proton,
tritium, alpha, and other charged particles, were used to detect the
products of nuclear reactions. The films of CR-39 were immersed in the
NaOH electrolyte of heavy water and placed adjacent to the tips of the
cathode [9]. [The rest of this section is skipped. It contains figures
which are not at all convincing. L.K.]

Some scientists of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in America reported
their articles of bubbles experiments in Science. Experimental results
show that the radiation lights of sonoluminescence possess three
characters: short duration with picoseconds; wide continual spectrum;
highly oriented thin beams. Based on those characters, vortex dynamics
with axial acceleration of bubble collapse could be inferred. [The
rest of this section is skipped. L.K.]

Researchers of new energy study of ?cold fusion? type should pay great
attention to the general processes of electrolysis to find the key
points, which could play major role in the transit form the
electrochemical processes to processes of torsion and the nuclear
processes. From the authors? point of view, the evolution of double
layers is of importance to understand the anomalous effect, typically
on the protrusions of cathode. The change of space-time near the tips
due to torsion field generated is expected to delivery the zero-point
energy, and dynamic Casimir effect for the evolution of gas bubbles on
the tips are expected to generate photons and excess heat [1].

The yields of transmutation products are related to the current
distribution on the cathode surface. The cathodes of thin wire were
benefit to the generation of nuclear reactions and excess heat for
electrochemical systems. Careful examination of the evolution of
electrochemical double layer will lead to a good understanding of
pitting corrosion with electrochemical noise, and further to recognize
the anomalous excess heat and nuclear reactions. Heat after death was
observed in many laboratories. It is believed that the persistence
behaviors of torsion field could be used to explain such anomalous
phenomena. The contact between beads coated with a thin metallic layer
or multilayered film and palladium black particles could be regarded as
point-contact similar to the tip-effect [13]. We may say that, it is
expected to reveal the puzzles of the mechanisms of high-Tc
superconductivity with pinning vortices by torsion field theory [14,15].

[1] Xing-liu Jiang, Jin-zhi Lei, Li-jun Han, Dynamic Casimir Effect in
an Electrochemical System, J. New Energy, Vol.3, No. 4, 47 (1999).
[2] Xing-liu Jiang, Chang-ye Chen, Li-jun Han, Tip Effect and Nuclear
Active Sites, Proc. of the 7th Intern. Conf. on Cold Fusion, Vancouver,
April, 1998, pp.175.
[3] Don Read, Excitation and Extraction of Vacuum Energy Via EM-Torsion
Field Coupling Theoretical Model, J. New Energy, Vol. 3, No. 2/3, p.130
[4] P.Gondolo, J.Silk, Dark matter annihilation at galactic center,
Phys. Rev. Lett. 83, 1719 (1999).
[5] BPS,Laser light in ,stream of protons out, Physics Today, Jan.2000,
[6] G.Korluem and J.OM. Bookris, Textbook of Electrochemistry Vol. II.
Elsevier Publishing company Amstorsan , 1951, p.364
[7] A.E.Akimov, G.I.shipov, Torsion fields and their Experimental
Manifestations, Journal of New Energy, 2(2), 67(1999).
[8] Y.Paltiel, E.Zeldov Y.N.Myasoedov el. al. Dynamic instabilities and
memory effects in vortex matter, Nature 403, 398 (2000).
[9] X.L.Jiang, L.J.Han and W.Kang. Concentrated energy and Micro
Nuclear Fusion, ICCF6, Oct 1996, Japan p.580.
[10] R.L.Matlock, F.E.Collins, G.R.Bancher, Anomalous tritium found in
the recombined off gasses during electrolysis using crystal cathodes.
Elem. Energy(cold fusion), 26, 28(1998).
[11] Taleyarkhan R P, West C D, Cho J S, Lahey Jr R T, Nigmatulin R I,
Block R C. Evidence for Nuclear Emissions During Acoustic Cavitation,
Science, 2002 295: 1850-1862.
[12] Claudia Eberlein. Theory of quantum radiation observed as
sonoluminescence, Phy.Rev.Lett.53,2772(1996).
[13] G.H. Miley, G.Narne, M.J.Williams, J.A.Patterson, J.Nix,
D.Cravens, and H. Hora, Quantitative Observation of Transmutation
Products Occurring in Thin-Film Coated Microspheres During
Electrolysis, Proceedings of ICCF-6, OCT. 1996, Japan, p. 629.
[14] T. Matsuda, K. Harada, H. Kasai, O. Kamimura and A. Tomomura,
Observation of Dynamic Interaction of Vortices with Pinning by Lorentz
Microscopy, Science, 271, 1393(1996).
[15] G.W. Crabtree and D.R. Nelson, Vortex Physics in High Temperature
Superconductors, Physics Today, April 1997, p.32. Received March 16, 2003.

Return to the clickable list of items