Spin is a Quantum-mechanical property of particles, measuring, as you might guess, angular momentum.

Spin is measured in terms of Planck's constant of angular momentum, which is symbolized by h with a diagonal line through it. It is equivalent to Planck's constant h divided by 2*pi (the number of radians in a full circle). That is, 1.05450*10-34 J*s.

One might think that a basic quantum-mechanical measurement might always be an integer multiple of its basic unit, but spin is measured in multiples of one-half Planck's constant of angular momentum. Particles are divided into two types based upon their spins:

Bosons, particles with integer spin, and
Fermions, particles with non-integer spin (some integer plus 1/2)

All Baryons are fermions, since they are made up of three quarks, each with a spin of 1/2.

The alignment or non-alignment of the spins of any given group of three quarks results in two different types of baryon. For example, the spin-aligned version of the proton is the delta+ particle. Both particles consist of two "up" quarks and one "down" quark.

The spin-aligned baryons (with a spin of 1 1/2) have higher energies and masses, and are less stable, than their non-spin-aligned counterparts (with a spin of just 1/2).
Used as a verb to indicate the action of a DJ at a club or rave playing records.

Used as in: "DJ Trey is gonna start spinning at midnight, I wanna make sure not to miss it."

"There are trivial truths and there are great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is clearly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true." -- Niels Bohr

It would seem that Bohr's philosophy has been largely adopted by the public relations industry. It largely ignores the trivial issues in shaping public opinion. Instead, beliefs about key issues are manufactured that are 180 degrees from the real truth.

  • One can see dead chickens being cut up on the front page, and read about the latest bovine hormones and their possible health problems, in a farm industry newspaper. (Fast food chains rely on the fact that most people are unaware of agricultural practices such as factory farming, and the effects of drugs used on livestock.)
  • One can read about when riots are likely to start in a particular nation in an economic journal. (They will have you believe that they're helping these third world nations by opening up their economies to speculation.)
  • And of course, if you want to know just why open source software is superior, read some internal Microsoft documents. (Well, they're running out of arguments. Most sane people are making efforts to break free of the control of this corporate empire lately.)

Basically, if you want to free your mind of public relations propaganda, simply read the internal literature of the industry. This obviously takes a bit more work than laying in front of the television or scanning the headlines of a typical newspaper. But quite often the side effect of large public relations campaigns is that they leave the real truth partially open when they use channels such as the internet to communicate. You do have to be ready to accept the fact that 90% of the time what you once assumed to be true, is not. In fact, the truth is usually the exact opposite of what you are expected to believe.

spike = S = spl

spin vi.

Equivalent to buzz. More common among C and Unix programmers. See the discussion of `spinlock' under busy-wait.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Spin is a media-euphemism for deliberate manipulation of the media. Today, this is mainly done through the use of spin doctors (I will not be looking at how spin is introduced in this write-up, this write-up can be best read in connection with spin doctor, as that writeup will include techniques etc)

What exactly is spin?

Several types of spin exist, and everyone who tries to influence the media use them. PoliticiansPR-consultants are infamous for using spin (see Jo Moore), but in one way or another – everybody who have a particular cause or product to promote will use spin to get their news across.

Spin, in other words, is a particularly sneaky way of advertising, and can be one of two things:

1) Publishing news in a way that is beneficial for an organisation.

If a political party would try to break the news to the people that they are cutting the police force by half, they would hardly send out a press brief with that exact text. Rather, they would probably go on a massive rant on why their politics have been so successful in fighting crime that they have deemed it less necessary to keep full police force police on the streets. After having broken the main news, they are likely to include a few passages on how they have increased spending on health services and roads.

In other words, the political party is in this case the primary source of the news; They will be the only source of the news facts, and the news would be biased (is there really less crime?), buried (why did they include the part about the health service?) and toned down (they were going to cut half of the police force – but did they say that?).

2) Manipulating news to their benefit

Recently, a major abduction case shook the UK; Jessica and Holly were kidnapped from their homes and killed. There was a massive search for the two kids, during which many parties became part of the media. Among others, the police and the support groups for parents with abducted children. During this time, politicians released press releases that promised more money to the police to prevent this from happening again, the police released press releases saying how they needed more money, and the support groups released press releases saying how horrible this all was, and how the politicians didn’t do anything the last time.

This illustrates how current issues will invariably be used to the benefit of whoever sees the opportunity. Note that all these press releases (with widely different messages) are based on the same facts - the abduction of Jessica and Holly - and again illustrates how the media is one of the most powerful institutions in our society today.

Why spin can work

The way the media works, is that a journalist goes to work, often without knowing what to write about. The international and national news agencies might be of help. Another thing that gets read is the press releases from various organisations. When you are part of a large newspaper (say, the NYT), you’ll get a million of these releases every year.

These press releases are more often than not drenched with spin. Why? Because someone writes these press releases, either because they have something they want the world to know, or they will have something they have to inform about. (the latter is often the case in major economical changes in a business)

In today’s tight news world (timewise, moneywise, and otherwise), newspapers will often have to resort to using press releases to make news. The problem is that if the budget and time is tight enough, opposing views of a press release might not be published in a newspaper; The journalist will re-write a press release into something newsworthy, but will only use the press release (and take a few phone calls to get some more quotes), and the spin will have been included.

Further reading

DISCLAIMER - The best way to enter and recover from a spin is detailed in your POH (Aircraft Manual), and further more detailed information can be found in your flight training textbooks. Keep in mind that, in most cases, only flight instructors are legally allowed to enter a spin. The following information is only to be used as a guideline to the theory behind spins. I take no responsibility and yadda yadda yadda. Though a spin is the least dangerous of the dangerous maneuvers of an aircraft, it still causes many fatalities and some spins can NOT be recovered from.

In Fixed-Wing Aviation, a spin is defined as a state of flight where the nose of an aircraft is pointed roughly towards the ground, the aircraft is rolling at a constant speed in one direction, and the airspeed of the aircraft remains stable (you aren't plummeting to the ground faster and faster). To help visualize this, imagine you have a model airplane in your hands. Face the aircraft downwards, now use your Globe Trotter skills and spin the airplane on your finger, but spin it from the tip of one of the wings instead of from the center. It should look roughly like this:

   /\    /
     \  /
As you could observe while this model airplane is spinning on your finger, the cockpit is moving quite a bit, but the tail section of the aircraft and one wing of the aircraft aren't moving through the air too much, they are just rotating in place. The outer wing is whipping through the air quite quickly, however!

What is happening here is that the airflow over the inside wing is less than the airflow over the outer wing. The outer wing is producing a lot of lift, but the inner wing is dragging it down. When the inner wing is dragging the plane down more than it is creating lift, it is said that the wing is stalled. Keep in mind that there is still a lot of air resistance being met by the inner wing - it's just that the air isn't flowing over the wing in such a direction as to provide sufficient lift. This is why your airspeed in a spin remains constant, and does not increase no matter how much time you spend plummeting towards the ground (which is, incidentally, a speed of about 500 feet every 3 seconds, and 1000 feet per 360 degree rotation... therefore 6 seconds per rotation... in the average small aircraft in average conditions, of course).

It is incorrect to say that ailerons are ineffective during a spin; there is still sufficient airflow over the wings to allow all of the control surfaces to work. There is still SOME lift being generated by the stalled inner wing, but the lift is simply so low the plane is falling. The reason why ailerons should NOT be used to counteract a spin is because the harm it does outweighs the good, and by using the ailerons you may only tighten the spin, or worse, enter a spiral. This is because the aileron on the stalled wing, when moved, interrupts the airflow over the wing even more than it currently is, further reducing the lift the wing produces and increasing the drag. This slows the inner wing, but through momentum the outer wing starts to spin faster - tightening the spin and making it all the more uncomfortable for you.

When recovering from a spin it is very important to recognize that you are in a spin (as opposed to a Spiral or a Flat Spin), that one of your wings is stalled, and that you should NOT operate the ailerons. This is a strong urge to fight, and most people will turn the control column without even realizing they are doing so. Heck, after five or six practice runs, I still move the ailerons a little bit.

The correct way to recover from a spin is to extend full rudder opposite the direction of the spin and press forwards on the control column. This "kicks" the airplane from my first diagram above to a straight-down attitude. This should also stop the spin, as the airflow over both wings is now equalized. You may now notice that since there is no more airplane parts resisting your descent, your airspeed is rising quite quickly. Pull back on the control column to ease out of the dive, regain altitude, and bleed off airspeed.

The official "what to do" checklist would look something like this (and don't forget about my disclaimer above):
  • Reduce throttle to idle - This is done as to not pick up any more speed.
  • Retract flaps - During the pull-out phase of recovery, the high airspeed may result in damage to the flaps or the wing structure.
  • Neutralize Ailerons - As described above, use of the ailerons only makes the situation worse.
  • Apply full rudder in the opposite direction of the spin - This kicks the aircraft into a straight-down, non-rotating position.
  • Push forward on the control column - Pulling back on the column at this stage or leaving it neutral *may* result in entering a flat spin or a spiral. Pressing forward on the column ensures the aircraft exits the spin facing the ground, as to pick up airspeed and to break the stall.
  • Gain airspeed - Gain enough airspeed to ensure the aircraft is stable, is no longer spinning, and is no longer stalled.
  • Recover altitude and attitude - Straighten the aircraft out, and use your airspeed to help climb back to the altitude you entered the stall at. Do not apply power until you are sure you will not exceed the maximum structural airspeed.
Spins have no practical application in normal flight. The only reason people would practice spins are to learn the symptoms of a spin to know how to treat it, if one to occur accidentally. And, of course, for aerobatics. Spins would normally occur in situations where the aircraft is travelling slowly and while banking - most commonly during takeoff, usually resulting in fatalities since the aircraft is so low to the ground. Spins can, of course, occur at any time an aircraft is travelling slowly relative to the air around it, so knowing how to avoid them is imperitive.

The easiest way to enter a spin in a Cessna 172 is to, well, first read my disclaimer above. Then, climb at a steep angle with about 10%-20% throttle - a 30 or 40 degree climb works best. As the aircraft approaches stalling speed, press full rudder in the direction you want the spin to start and pull back on the control column simultaneously. These are MAXIMUM inputs - don't pull the control column halfway back, and don't let go of the inputs until you are ready to recover from the stall. If you change your mind halfway through and ease off on the controls, you will almost guaranteed enter a more dangerous Spiral.

Entering a spin is one of the most stomach-upsetting experiences I've ever had, and I love roller coasters and thrill rides slightly more than the average joe. When you are beginning your climb, it feels like you are sitting upright in a chair, nice and relaxed, as if you were watching TV at home. As your airspeed decreases, it feels like you are reclining backwards in a nice comfy La-Z-Boy chair. Then, suddenly, as the controls are yanked around to enter the spin, you feel like you are being pressed into your seat.. You feel like you are rising... Then suddenly the seat falls out from under you (I hope you had your seatbelt on) and twists to the side, dragging you with it. As the aircraft whips around 180 degrees it also begins twisting - kind of like a two-string kite when one of the strings snaps. The aircraft doesn't really "settle," it just sort of slams to a halt once it's facing straight down. Now being pressed into your seat as you are staring at the ground, you think "good thing that's over," until your mind realizes that you are still spinning towards the ground at a decent pace. Then you start to panic again.

I would like to bring up my disclaimer one last time. Some spins cannot be recovered from, and you will spiral straight into the ground. This may be due to the design of the aircraft, the particular attitude of your spin, or the specific balance of weight between you and your passenger.

Commonly mistaken for spins, spirals feel nearly the same but have a rapidly increasing airspeed, and flat spins are harder to recover from but are easier to distinguish. It is best to know the symptoms before you treat the problem, as if you try to use a spiral recovery on a spin, you will make matters worse!

Title: Spin

Author: Robert Charles Wilson

Original Publication Date: April 2005

I was twelve, and the twins were thirteen, the night the stars disappeared from the sky(12).

Three "precociously intelligent" children, bordering on their teen years, hang out in the basement, wander around outside, tease each other, light up a stolen cigarette, gaze at the night sky. Their activities feel familiar; they could be anyone. And all adolescents feel like the world will soon change forever.


A dark membrane embraces the earth, with only an artificial "sun" rising and setting to provide the necessary solar energy. Later that evening, some half-mad cosmonauts make a desperate emergency landing— which they swear they only attempted after a week of deliberation. Artificial satellites occasionally fall to earth, impossibly aged and battered.

Gradually, the human race learns that the end really may be near, or at least, nearer. We witness the events, and their impact on human society, from the perspective of three people who were children on the night the stars went black. Two grow up to be at the center of attempts to deal with the new reality, while the third becomes involved in religious movements which have developed in reaction to the Spin. Robert Charles Wilson's novel features a fantastic scenario, but familiar people react to it. He shortchanges the secondary characters somewhat, failing to round them out as much as he could, but the principals will resonate with most readers. Wilson understands the importance of apt detail to creating believable people and worlds.

"If the world doesn't come to an end in the next thirty or forty years," he said, "we may be facing disaster."

Good writing is less about high points than consistently doing something well. The social reactions to the Spin seem like the sorts of things the human race I know would do when faced with the previously-unimaginable. However bizarrely original the Spin itself may be, the human responses are not forced in a direction to make some point of the writer’s. The approach is refreshing, in a genre given to novels of ideas which, however entertaining and thought-provoking, often fail to engage our feelings.

It's not that Wilson avoids getting political; Spin is not parable, but certain events and characters parallel those found throughout human history, and of which we currently are experiencing no shortage. Religious fanatics, paranoic politicians, manipulative demagogues-- all dot the novel's landscape. Wilson will turn a satiric phrase their way, but when we meet them, they're not caricatures. Jason and Tyler work closely with captains of industry and politicians whose motives and actions, if not always laudable, seem entirely plausible. Diane becomes involved with extremist religious movements with which, it is fairly clear, Wilson has little sympathy, but neither she nor her fanatical husband become parodic.

And this novel certainly has ideas. One plan launched in the post-Spin society concerns Mars as a possible salvation for humanity. The glimpses we receive of that planet's hypothetical future history seem simultaneously fantastic yet-- in the context of this novel-- plausible.

Of course, the concepts with which Wilson deals make it difficult to completely avoid lengthy, expository passages, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying. As with most SF, this novel works best when he explores how his ideas affect his characters and society, and less well on those occasions when he subjects us to Infodump. I suspect some of the explanatory notes on matters astronomical could have been trimmed. Still, at their best, the expository passages can be entertaining and thought-provoking to read. Consider this portion of Jason's response to the question of why so many people do not believe the explanation for the darkening of the sky, years after it has been established:

Consider what we're asking them to believe. We're talking, globally, about a population with an almost pre-Newtonian grasp of astronomy.... To say anything meaningful about the Spin to those people, you have to start a long way back. The Earth, you have to tell them, is a few billion years old, to begin with. Let them wrestle with the concept of 'a billion years,' maybe for the first time. It's a lot to swallow, especially if you've been educated in a Moslem theocracy, an animist village, or a public school in the Bible Belt.... Cosmology 101, right? You picked it up from all those paperbacks you used to read, it's second nature to you, but for most people it's a whole new worldview and probably offensive to a bunch of their core beliefs. So let that sink in. Let that sink in, then deliver the real bad news (52).

More significant spoilers follow.

At its core, Spin has some familiar enough concepts for an SF novel: a potential world-ending scenario, aliens who tool about with earth’s history, life-prolonging drugs, and the colonization of Mars. The ending also relies on a genre cliché-- the Weird DevelopmentTM takes on an apocalyptic significance; a New Heaven and a New EarthTM are upon us. However, this novel’s premise limits the number of possible endings, and Wilson’s choice does not detract from the experience of reading this book.

The initial mystery will engage you, and the novel will continue to hold your attention as levels of explanation unfold. The characters learn what the Spin is, but then must attempt to discover the nature of the forces behind it. The novel also has its Martian plotline, and certain uncertainties about the motivations of the characters.

The novel also creates mystery through a fragmented time-structure in which we see both the events that follow the Spin and the experiences of certain characters some time later. One is extremely ill, both face unknown but clearly human pursuers, and everyone seems focussed on a new development, the Arch. Only gradually, as the two timelines connect, do we learn the significance of these matters.

I wish we had learned more about the novel's future history of Mars-- and the ending leaves us wanting more of the Arch. This novel creates the potential for sequels.

Perhaps these never will be written. Wilson has shown an inclination to spin new tales and follow new directions, and perhaps this novel ends as it should, at the beginning of new things. The reader must imagine what might happen next.

UPDATE: A sequel, Axis, appeared in 2007.

A variation of his review first appears at http://www.bureau42.com

Spin (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Spun (?) (Archaic imp. Span ()); p. pr. & vb. n. Spinning.] [AS. spinnan; akin to D. & G. spinnen, Icel. & Sw. spinna, Dan. spinde, Goth. spinnan, and probably to E. span. &root;170. Cf. Span, v. t., Spider.]


To draw out, and twist into threads, either by the hand or machinery; as, to spin wool, cotton, or flax; to spin goat's hair; to produce by drawing out and twisting a fibrous material.

All the yarn she [Penelope] spun in Ulysses' absence did but fill Ithaca full of moths. Shak.


To draw out tediously; to form by a slow process, or by degrees; to extend to a great length; -- with out; as, to spin out large volumes on a subject.

Do you mean that story is tediously spun out? Sheridan.


To protract; to spend by delays; as, to spin out the day in idleness.

By one delay after another they spin out their whole lives. L'Estrange.


To cause to turn round rapidly; to whirl; to twirl; as, to spin a top.


To form (a web, a cocoon, silk, or the like) from threads produced by the extrusion of a viscid, transparent liquid, which hardens on coming into contact with the air; -- said of the spider, the silkworm, etc.

6. Mech.

To shape, as malleable sheet metal, into a hollow form, by bending or buckling it by pressing against it with a smooth hand tool or roller while the metal revolves, as in a lathe.

To spin a yarn Naut., to tell a story, esp. a long or fabulous tale. -- To spin hay Mil., to twist it into ropes for convenient carriage on an expedition. -- To spin street yarn, to gad about gossiping. [Collog.]


© Webster 1913.

Spin (?), v. i.


To practice spinning; to work at drawing and twisting threads; to make yarn or thread from fiber; as, the woman knows how to spin; a machine or jenny spins with great exactness.

They neither know to spin, nor care to toll. Prior.


To move round rapidly; to whirl; to revolve, as a top or a spindle, about its axis.

Round about him spun the landscape, Sky and forest reeled together. Longfellow.

With a whirligig of jubilant mosquitoes spinning about each head. G. W. Cable.


To stream or issue in a thread or a small current or jet; as, blood spinsfrom a vein.



To move swifty; as, to spin along the road in a carriage, on a bicycle, etc.



© Webster 1913.

Spin, n.


The act of spinning; as, the spin of a top; a spin a bicycle.


2. Kinematics

Velocity of rotation about some specified axis.

<-- go for a spin take a spin, take a trip in a wheeled vehicle, usu. an automobile. -->


© Webster 1913.

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