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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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  • nobel (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tritonman ( 998572 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:43PM (#26667705)
    I think this would be a no-brainer for the nobel prize if they can really make something equivalent to a magnetic monopole.
  • Re:nobel (Score:3, Interesting)

    by digitrev ( 989335 ) <digitrev@hotmail.com> on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:46PM (#26667739) Homepage
    Absolutely. The better part is what this would mean for Maxwell's equations. If it turns out that you can create something indistinguishable from a magnetic monopole, then we have to start some very serious research into the implications.
  • by mpoon ( 1382749 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:36PM (#26668437)
    I was reading TFA that was linked, and the author said something about the monopole inducing a current "without dying out." So I presume that he is using some sort of metal in a device to test this current. If the current doesn't die out, isn't there constant heat loss in the metal due to resistance from the current? Where is that heat loss made up, concerning conservation of energy?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:45PM (#26668577)

    Most notably, if even a single magnetic monopole exists in the universe, electric charge quantization is the result [wikipedia.org], as shown by Dirac in 1931. We currently don't really actually know why the hell things are quantized, so that would be ...interesting. If anything, it's a bit peculiar that electric charge is quantized given that we haven't seen magnetic monopoles to date (of course if electric charge wasn't quantized we wouldn't exist... but anyway...)

    Quantization in general is weird and inelegant and ugly (the maths is just horrible and shitty compared to the pure background-independent elegance of general relativity or einstein-cartan (general relativity with spin, basically)), but demonstration of the existence of magnetic monopoles would go some way to making it less ugly.

  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @02:24PM (#26669175)

    Back when I was designing magnetic bubble memory we used to use monopole equations to represent the bubbles.

    No violation of physics here because they were always paired. But the pairs in the media are well separated so it's a btter approximation to use two monopoles than a dipole.

    That is to say, each bubble is really a cyllinder running from the bottom of the thin film to the top just like it is in vertical recording HD. You can treat the top as a monopole and the bottom as an opposite monopole and get a very good model of bubble-to-bubble interactions.

  • by Giant Electronic Bra ( 1229876 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @02:46PM (#26669519)

    I mean it is true we do not OBSERVE much antimatter in this universe, but that doesn't mean it is not present in some sense:

    A) It could be in some other part of the universe beyond our effective observational horizon. Granted there are some reasons to think not, but it is a possibility.

    B) It could be that the antimatter simply exists in some 'other place'. Given that we haven't at all settled the actual architecture of spacetime, it could be that the antimatter is in a location which is either topologically distant/inaccessible or in dimensions not readily visible to us.

    C) Antimatter could be segregated in a different part of time itself. If we imagined that the arrow of time in our universe reverses every now and then, some form of oscillating universe, then perhaps we would find that when time runs backwards, matter looks like antimatter and that may balance the books.

    Not being a cosmologist or high energy physicist I don't have the wherewithal to analyze these various possibilities, maybe some of them are ridiculous on the face of them or there may be other more obvious or simple solutions, but it seems there are probably ample unknowns out of which to construct hypotheses along these lines.

    Given that we could answer the 'where's the antimatter' question, then how would it even be meaningful to say there is 'more than one electron' in the universe vs 'there is one electron/antielectron with a very convolved history'? It would likely be a case of 6 of one and half a dozen of the other.

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