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Elementary Particles & Paper Strips

Elementary Particles & Paper Strips

I was wondering if a spin 1/2 elementary particle could be modeled with an everyday object. After a bit of thought I decided on a Mobius strip (strip of paper joined after applying 1 half turn). I figured 1 half turn = spin 1/2.

Then I made a strip with 4 half turns and discovered something elegant.. it will naturally "flip" into a double thickness Mobius strip.

In other words a strip with 4 half turns (spin 2) naturally flips into a strip with 1 half turn (spin 1/2).

This led me to conjecture Spin Inversion Symmetry. It says every elementary particle in the Standard Model (except for the Higgs) of spin s has a partner of spin 1/s.

So the spin 1 elementary particles in the Standard Model are their own partners, but the spin 1/2 elementary particles in the Standard Model have spin 2 partners.

This implies there is at least one spin 2 particle (graviton) and maybe more. Maybe a family of gravitons!

So there you have it - the quantum mechanics of paper strips. And all you need is paper, scissors, a touch of glue, and a vivid imagination!

Content written and posted by Ken Abbott