Guide Magnetic Monopoles

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Submission history

We're used to magnets coming in two side-by-side flavors; north is always paired with south. If you take a magnet and chop it in half, you don't get an isolated north or south pole. Instead, you get two mini-magnets, each sporting its own pair of poles. There's no superfundamental reason that single, lonesome north or south poles, called magnetic monopoles , should be forbidden in our universe. It just appears to be so. In the s, scientist James Clerk Maxwell was putting the pieces together of our modern theory of electromagnetism, thus uniting magnetism, electricity and light under a single roof.

When he looked around, though, he failed to see any monopoles, and wrote that into the equations: no monopoles, not here.

ATLAS homes in on magnetic monopoles | CERN

But Maxwell's electromagnetism is a classical theory and has been subject to enhancements and upgrades of the quantum variety in the past hundred years, and those upgrades allow for some pretty interesting creatures to roam our cosmos — among them, magnetic monopoles.

To hunt for monopoles, we have to go back to nearly the beginning: the earliest moments of the Big Bang itself.

In those hot, crazy, frenetic days, the physics of the cosmos were radically different from what they are today. Indeed, the density and temperature of the entire universe was so high that some, if not all, of the fundamental forces of nature were melded together into a unified whole. We don't have nearly the complete story, but we do know that the electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces merge together under the right conditions, leaving only three forces of nature at play: gravity, the strong nuclear force and the "electroweak" force.

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Scientists Hunt for A Seeming Paradox: A Magnet With Only One Pole

Go to even higher energies, like those found in the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang, and the strong force joins the unification party, leaving just gravity and what's called a grand unified theory, or GUT. Unifying gravity into the picture is a whole other can of quantum worms, and I'll leave that story for another day. While we only have hints of what a GUT force would look like and how it would behave, we do have some interesting ideas of how it would eventually split into the more modern forces that we know and love today.

Magnetic Monopoles In A Nutshell

The splitting of the GUT force is thought to be violent and sudden, quaking through the infant universe in the tiniest fraction of a second. That dramatic phase transition could have left defects — tiny knots, whorls and lines in the fabric of space-time itself. Imagine a cube of water suddenly freezing over; the resulting ice isn't perfectly uniform, as different regions of the water freeze at different rates and at different times.

Farhan added that the PEEM3 is the only microscope in the world that gives users full temperature control in the sub Kelvin below minus degrees Fahrenheit range, capturing in real time how emergent magnetic monopoles form as artificial frozen ice melts into a liquid, and as liquid evaporates into a gas-like state of magnetic charges - a form of matter known as plasma. The researchers now hope to pattern smaller and smaller nanomagnets for the advancement of smaller yet more powerful spintronics - a sought-after field of microelectronics that taps into particles' magnetic spin properties to store more data in smaller devices such as magnetic hard drives.

Such devices would use magnetic films and superconducting thin films to deploy and manipulate magnetic monopoles to sort and store data based on the north or south direction of their poles - analogous to the ones and zeros in conventional magnetic storage devices.

The work research was supported by the U. Founded in on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe.

Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab's facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.

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Department of Energy's Office of Science. More interesting links: Picture Galleries Videos. Committee History. Photos Videos Auger on flickr.


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