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Making Magnetic Monopoles and Other Physics Exotica 104

PhysicsDavid writes "Physicists have been searching for magnetic monopoles pretty much since they knew about magnetism and definitely since Maxwell unified electricity and magnetism. Now some researchers have shown that using some weird mirror materials will allow them to create something indistinguishable from a monopole in a lab experiment. A paper about it was published today in the journal Science as an advance online publication (abstract; full article available only to AAAS members). The technique looks like it could be used to create analog systems of other kinds of exotic particles that haven't yet been observed, such as axions. The theorists who proposed this are working with experimenters to try to create these systems and study them in depth this year."
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Making Magnetic Monopoles and Other Physics Exotica

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  • Re:nobel (Score:5, Informative)

    by MikTheUser ( 761482 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:55PM (#26667899)
    It wouldn't matter much at all to Maxwell's equations. The model is well fit to accommodate magnetic monopoles, if the

    div B = 0

    equation were modified to read, say

    div B = rho_m / mu_0

    in analogy to Gauss' law. The defining qualities of Maxwell's model, such as the compliance with relativity, would remain intact.

    For further reading on this, David J. Griffiths' 'Introduction to Electrodynamics' is many a professor's first recommendation to students.

  • by geckipede ( 1261408 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:13PM (#26668167)
    I think he is referring to the way that Feynmann diagrams allow you to represent an antiparticle as being a particle moving backwards in time. A particle/antiparticle pair then just becomes one particle going forwards and backwards in a loop. There was some talk that this way of looking at it may be physically real and that all particles are one, but taking a really circuitious route through time. It doesn't hold up well because there isn't enough antimatter around to allow it as far as we can see. I'm not sure it was ever supposed to apply to photons in any case.
  • by MikTheUser ( 761482 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:18PM (#26668207)

    I'm not sure it was ever supposed to apply to photons in any case.

    Probably not, since photons, being their own antiparticles, never had arrows attached to them in Feynman graphs to begin with.

  • by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:48PM (#26668625)
    The Superconducting Super-Collider to be built in Texas fifteen years ago used magnetic monopoles in its design. In my physics class in 1991 we received a lecture visit from an SSC representative who casually hand-waved the matter of inventing such a thing.

    Er, wow. Citation? The SSC was pushing the boundaries all right - the clue's in the name, superconducting, and that's difficult to do even now as witness the LHC explosion - but I hadn't heard that it would have used magnetic monopoles. Possibly it might have hoped to create magnetic monopoles in some exotic collision, but not to have them as part of its structure.

  • Re:nobel (Score:4, Informative)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:54PM (#26668707) Journal
    Traveling north or south becomes much cheaper than heading east or west?

    Bigger than that... A real magnetic monopole means real over-unity generators (aka "perpetual motion", aka "free energy"). That alone makes me take this "discovery" with a grain of salt the size of Bonneville.

    If this amounts to more than sloppy science or outright fraud, I would guess that it comes with the same sort of huge disclaimer that quantum teleportation has regarding FTL information transmission - "It just doesn't work that way".

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