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Amherst Researchers Create Magnetic Monopoles 156

An anonymous reader writes "Nearly 85 years after pioneering theoretical physicist Paul Dirac predicted the possibility of their existence, an international collaboration led by Amherst College Physics Professor David S. Hall '91 and Aalto University (Finland) Academy Research Fellow Mikko Möttönen has created, identified and photographed synthetic magnetic monopoles in Hall's laboratory on the Amherst campus. The groundbreaking accomplishment paves the way for the detection of the particles in nature, which would be a revolutionary development comparable to the discovery of the electron." That's quite a step beyond detecting monopoles; the Nature abstract is online, but the full paper is paywalled.
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Amherst Researchers Create Magnetic Monopoles

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  • Re:This is cool, but (Score:4, Informative)

    by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @12:14PM (#46110967)

    no, these are not monopoles at all, hence the word "synthetic" in front.

    there is no evidence whatsoever that monopoles exist, not for the last 70+ years of searching.

  • by breech1 ( 137095 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @12:15PM (#46110969)

    No it doesn't contradict previous theory. The existence of a magnetic monopole would require adding some extra terms in Maxwell's equations: one for magnetic "charge" (the monopole) and one for magnetic "current" (moving monopole) analogous to electric charge and current. (Adjusting Maxwell's equations this way is a popular exercise in advanced undergrad / grad level E&M courses). If your system happened to have a magnetic monopole in it, then you would need to use the equations with the extra terms. You would see some extra effects due to the monopoles, but they would be accounted for. The extra terms would give a nice symmetry to Maxwell's equations, helping to demonstrate that the electric and magnetic field are manifestations of the same phenomena (which isn't clear until you get to special relativity).

  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @12:21PM (#46111045) Homepage

    But how many slashdot stories about fusion reactors, methanol fuel cells, or flying cars has actually been more than investor fleecing vaporware?

    These are not actually Dirac monopoles. These are magnetic quasiparticles that behave in a way that simulates Dirac monopoles.

    The Ars Technicha article has the best explanation: []
    Emphasis mine:
    "Since we can't seem to find one, though, some researchers decided to emulate monopole behavior using an analogous quantum system. They used a Bose-Einstein condensate: a collection of very cold atoms that behaves like a single quantum system."

  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @12:45PM (#46111313)

    no, that equation still holds with no known exceptions.

    summary is wrong, no monopoles were produced, just a formation that in some ways resembles one but is not a magnetic source or sink.

    really, the sensationalist nonsense of half of slashdot's headings needs to stop

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun