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Monopoles and Magnetricity

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the one-pole-to-rule-them-all dept.

Science 67

szotz writes "Although there was once a hint from a cosmic ray experiment (on Valentine's Day, no less), no one's found any solid evidence of monopoles (unpaired north and south magnets) flying around the cosmos. But physicists did find monopole-like quasiparticles in some exotic crystals in 2009. One of the discoverers has an article this month in IEEE Spectrum that looks at how the particles were found and what's happened since. They might seem like a wacky curiosity, but the author says we shouldn't write them off — they might one day make useful new 'magnetronic' devices."

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I thought... (3, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | about a year ago | (#44462531)

Dr. Sheldon Cooper already explained all this...

Re:I thought... (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about a year ago | (#44462601)

well, yeah, but that doesn't deter /.

Re:I thought... (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#44463069)

Wasn't it that he started to get into it in a phone interview, but that was when Kripke pranked him and filled his office with helium?

So he never got to finish explaining it.

Or is my episodic memory incorrect?

Re:I thought... (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about a year ago | (#44463557)

Wasn't it that he started to get into it in a phone interview, but that was when Kripke pranked him and filled his office with helium?

So he never got to finish explaining it.

Or is my episodic memory incorrect?

I couldn't tell if he stopped talking, or if his voice just shifted up beyond my range...
Was there something about a "nozzle" involved in monopoles?

i know of one (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44462625)

Microsoft is a convicted monopole, aren't they?

Re:i know of one (0)

Gilmoure (18428) | about a year ago | (#44463323)

*golf clap*

Re:i know of one (1)

Slashdot Humor (2996799) | about a year ago | (#44467207)

So funny.

I thought USS Voyager already discovered this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44462627)

as well as massive temporal and gravimetric disturbances inside a Class 5 subspace anomaly???

Re:I thought USS Voyager already discovered this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44463975)

Which Larry Niven novel was that?

Read Niven... (1)

non-e-moose (994576) | about a year ago | (#44462635)

Larry Niven has gone into a great deal of theoretical depth on monopoles. Worth reading

Re:Read Niven... (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44462949)

No, he hasn't. He went into a great deal of fantasy and daydreams.

Re:Read Niven... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44463105)

At least he didn't go into sucking off guys down at the local bath house to get his rocks off, unlike you.

Re:Read Niven... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44463925)

Look, your fantasies and daydreams are fine, you can even get married that way now, but what does that have to do with the price of monopoles on Ceres??

Re:Read Niven... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44468493)

What would a washed up hack writer know about monopoles?

Monopole Magnets (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44462693)

Requires Superstring Theory, Silksteel Alloys
Leads to Nanominiaturization, Unified Field Theory

Re:Monopole Magnets (0)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#44462719)

And quantum theory! [wondermark.com]

Re:Monopole Magnets (1)

syockit (1480393) | about a year ago | (#44463321)

A step closer to singularity laser mounted shark!

Re:Monopole Magnets (4, Informative)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#44463789)

Pierre Curie pointed out the possibility of magnetic monopoles in 1894 based solely on Maxwell's equations which was close to a century before Superstring theory was on the scene. In fact in 1931 Dirac showed they could be used to quantize charge using nothing but relativistic quantum mechanics and Maxwell's equations. So monopoles actually only require Maxwell's equations and would lead to an explanation of why charge is quantized. It may come as a shock but the real world does not play like Alpha Centauri (and considering what happened to Earth in that game that's a good thing!).

Re:Monopole Magnets (4, Informative)

Noughmad (1044096) | about a year ago | (#44463909)

So monopoles actually only require Maxwell's equations and would lead to an explanation of why charge is quantized.

Not, not really. Maxwell's equations, in the known form, do not allow for magnetic monopoles. They are explicitly forbidden by "div B = 0". However, they could very easily be changed (symmetrized - so they would look the same for electric and magnetic fields) to account for them.

So just from Maxwell's equation you can't disprove the existence of monopoles, but you can't prove them either.

Re:Monopole Magnets (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#44493859)

Maxwell's equations, in the known form, do not allow for magnetic monopoles.

Adding the possibility for a non-zero magnetic charge into Maxwell's equations does not stop them being Maxwell's equations anymore than changing the value of the permittivity of free space due to a more accurate measurement would stop them being Maxwell's equations. The zero in 'div B = 0' is an experimentally observed number and not fundamental to the theory in the same way that the CP violating term in QCD is experimentally observed to be zero or the right handed coupling of the weak force is observed to be zero.

None of these are fundamental to the respective models they are determined to be zero be experimental observation...which actually raises the question why are these numbers exactly zero if nothing seems to require it in the model? Indeed the clearest indication of monopoles being naturally part of Maxwell's equations this is that Maxwell's equations directly resulted in the suggestion that monopoles might exist!

Re:Monopole Magnets (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about a year ago | (#44464113)

And permits building magtubes, don't forget that.

Re:Monopole Magnets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465221)

Good times. If only automated artillery didn't crash the game by trying to fire on choppers.

Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (4, Interesting)

AdamHaun (43173) | about a year ago | (#44462711)

Question for any physicists in the audience: I have long heard that magnetic forces can be described as relativistic effects of classical electricity (here, for instance [wikipedia.org] ). How do magnetic monopoles fit into this? Are they are purely quantum mechanics/QFT concept, or is there some way to describe them classically that makes it clear why so many people are expecting to find them?

Re:Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (5, Interesting)

BitterOak (537666) | about a year ago | (#44462795)

According to special relativity, magnetic and electric fields can be "mixed" by Lorentz boosts (i.e. moving from one inertial reference frame to another that is moving with respect to the first one.) As a result, some say that a magnetic field is nothing more than an electric field as viewed by a moving observer. That isn't quite correct. The quantity E^2-B^2 (the square of the electric field minus the square of the magnetic field) is a Lorentz invariant. It is the same according to all observers. That means that if the magnitude of the electric (or magnetic) field is greater than the magnitude of the magnetic (or electric) field in one frame of reference, it is in all frames of reference. So a purely magnetic field can never be described as a purely electric field as seen by a moving observer.

In particular, Maxwell's equations, if valid in one inertial frame of reference, are valid in all frames. One of Maxwell's equations is div B = 0, which says there are no magnetic monopoles. A violation of this equation in one reference frame would be seen as a violation in all frames. That is a magnetic monopole in one frame of reference would be seen as a magnetic monopole in all frames of reference, despite the fact that in frames in which it is moving, it will generate an electric, as well as magnetic field, just as an electric charge, when moving, produces a magnetic field as well as an electric field.

Re:Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44462945)

You sure do make a lot of assumptions in your post to be modded + 4 informative. Why exactly are you sure that div B = 0 ? And you can't just say because Maxwell said so. His original treatsy was 20 quats and 20 unknowns. Lorentz made some more assumptions.

Now downmod me, faggots!

Modswell's Demon (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44462983)

How can you know that downmods are coming from homosexuals? It could be from your observance frame as a mono-sexual [urbandictionary.com] that all higher order sexual behaviors appear different but similar in relation to one another and thus appear to be homogenous when they are, in fact, not.

Re:Modswell's Demon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44463365)

Shut your ass, faggot.

Re:Modswell's Demon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44469843)

Shut your ass, faggot.

I'd tell you to grow up, but it's blindingly obvious to everyone that you lack the mental capacity to even imagine what that means, let alone actually accomplish it.

Re:Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465169)

Of all the posts you could have put such a reply to, you picked one that didn't assume the magnetic field is divergence free. The parent post simply said if Maxwell's equations are valid, they would be valid in all frames, then goes on to say that means if div B = 0, then it would be true in all frames.

And Maxwell's original equations are equivalent to the modern ones, although there were many more equations because he also explicitly included the definition of the vector potential field, continuity equation and Ohm's law. Those are still true today (well, Ohm's law in simplified cases), just usually not included as "The Maxwell Equations" but more of a side definition, or obvious in the case of the continuity equation. He did have a magnetic charge and potential, that would allow for monopoles, but the inclusion or exclusion of monopoles from Maxwell's equations is not what allows them to exist or not exist. The fact they have not been observed yet is what prevents them from being used in such equations except as for a curiosity.

Re:Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (2)

InfiniteLoopCounter (1355173) | about a year ago | (#44463001)

I think the parent was talking about quantum theory applied to electromagnetism (weak nuclear forces are combined too) and what you describe are the classical/relativistic equations of Maxwell.

I seem to remember that there actually is a reason why monopoles should exist with a unified theory of electromagnetism/weak force/quantum menchanics/relativity to describe a particular phenominon to the greatest degree of numerical accuracy, but unfortunately I just can't remember what that is. I seem to remember that possibility of a magnetic monopole, whilst not allowed in "classical" non-discrete physics because the potential at 1/x^2 goes to infinity at x=0, is allowed in quantum field theory because it sets up space as a very fine grid, allowing for different phsyics on the really small scale. Sorry, been out of physics for some years and I suppose it shows.

Re:Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44463011)

Hey doc, so does that mean you can send be back to 1985 again? I blew the Mr Fusion on the way back from the future, so I'm kinda stuck here.

Re:Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44462813)

Dick in the hole, squirt your load, and out comes a baby.

Re:Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464011)

Vile, just vile.

Reproducing? The filthy things were proliferating as maggots upon a piece of rotten meat.

Humans! Ugh.

Re:Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#44464729)

Vile, just vile.

Reproducing? The filthy things were proliferating as maggots upon a piece of rotten meat.

Humans! Ugh.

Loathe them or despise them, you just can't like them.

Re:Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44462823)

According to special relativity, magnetic and electric fields can be "mixed" by Lorentz boosts (i.e. moving from one inertial reference frame to another that is moving with respect to the first one.) As a result, some say that a magnetic field is nothing more than an electric field as viewed by a moving observer. That isn't quite correct. The quantity E^2-B^2 (the square of the electric field minus the square of the magnetic field) is a Lorentz invariant. It is the same according to all observers. That means that if the magnitude of the electric (or magnetic) field is greater than the magnitude of the magnetic (or electric) field in one frame of reference, it is in all frames of reference. So a purely magnetic field can never be described as a purely electric field as seen by a moving observer. In particular, Maxwell's equations, if valid in one inertial frame of reference, are valid in all frames. One of Maxwell's equations is div B = 0, which says there are no magnetic monopoles. A violation of this equation in one reference frame would be seen as a violation in all frames. That is a magnetic monopole in one frame of reference would be seen as a magnetic monopole in all frames of reference, despite the fact that in frames in which it is moving, it will generate an electric, as well as magnetic field, just as an electric charge, when moving, produces a magnetic field as well as an electric field. -- If I can be modded down for being a troll, can I be modded up for being an orc, or a balrog?

Monopoles and quantized charge (3, Interesting)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#44462975)

As a followup to the excellent relativistic answer above...

As one of my professors put it: "if there is one monopole anywhere, then charge is quantized everywhere". This was at the end of a fairly straightforward derivation, first done by Paul Dirac IIRC.

We see by experiment that charge is quantized everywhere, but this doesn't prove the existence of monopoles. It's a tantalizing clue to why things may be the way they are in our universe.

Monopoles are predicted by some of the unified theories, so if they exist how come we don't see any?

Re:Monopoles and quantized charge (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about a year ago | (#44463653)

Because our compasses can't point to them. They just spin and spin...

Re:Monopoles and quantized charge (2)

BitterOak (537666) | about a year ago | (#44463719)

Because our compasses can't point to them. They just spin and spin...

Actually, no. Our compasses would point to them, the same way a water molecule, which has no electric charge but does have an electric dipole moment, tends to align itself to the electric field generated by ions in a solution.

Energy Scale (2)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#44463729)

Monopoles are predicted by some of the unified theories, so if they exist how come we don't see any?

...because there is no constraint on their mass. They could be anywhere up to the Planck scale which is 15 orders of magnitude higher in energy than the LHC. To have a hope of seeing anything at that scale you have to look for processes which the new physics allows but which current physics forbids so you have a chance to see virtual particle exchange but the energy is so staggeringly high that even this is unlikely.

For example proton decay might be possible through hypothesized X and Y bosons which have masses around 100 times less than the Planck scale (so-called GUT scale). The current limit on the proton lifetime is 6.6e33 years (for reference the age of the universe is 1.3e10 years i.e. 23 orders of magnitude less) and it is only possible to get such limits because of the huge numbers of protons we have available (hydrogen nuclei in water). So to really probe monopoles you would need to have a process which is forbidden by Standard Model physics but which is allowed by monopoles and which you can easily search for with a very low background and which has lots of possibilities for it to occur because, if it occurs at all, it will be an incredibly rare process!

Re:Monopoles and quantized charge (1)

amaurea (2900163) | about a year ago | (#44466413)

Monopoles are predicted by some of the unified theories, so if they exist how come we don't see any?

I think the standard explanation for this is cosmic inflation [wikipedia.org] combined with a high monopole mass.

Inflation, which is hypothesized to have happened very early in the history of the universe, makes the universe expand extremely quickly in a very short period of time, which has the effect of diluting all the particle content in the universe prior to inflation into insignificance. At the end of inflation, the energy that drove the expansion is converted into particles, re-populating the universe with matter.

But what particles can be created this way is limited by the temperature of the universe after inflation. Hence, if magnetic monopoles are too massive, they would not be created after inflation, and the only ones present in the universe would be those that were present originally. And those would be so diluted that one would expect less than one of them inside the visible universe. The same mechanism also deals with other exotic structures such as cosmic strings and domain walls, etc.

Re:Monopoles and quantized charge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44479553)

The early universe expanded rapidly because it's parent black hole was busy consuming the matter of the parent star system.
It slowed after the much local matter was consumed. The information that can be stored by a black hole is dictated by it's surface area, not volume. That is why our universe is mostly empty with small areas of stars and gas clouds, the amount of matter/information is dictated by the surface area of the parent black hole. It is also a portion of the why for the slowdown because the surface area expands more slowly than the volume of the black hole.
Hopefully our parent black hole is still consuming matter and slowly growing in surface area (as the current slow expansion would seem to indicate).
If not, or if the parent universe of the black hole is also low in matter our universe will start to shrink due to hawking radiation of the parent black hole.

Or some fuck up shit like that.

Charge Quantization (2)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#44463699)

How do magnetic monopoles fit into this?

Magnetic monopoles could be the mechanism by which charge is quantized. Dirac showed in 1931 that if monopoles exist then charge, quite naturally [wikipedia.org] becomes quantized through the fact that angular momentum is quantized. Unfortunately Dirac's mechanism puts no mass limits on real monopoles (i.e. not the condensed matter faked kind) but there is an experiment (MoEDAL) [web.cern.ch] being run by a colleague of mine which is searching for evidence of monopole production at the LHC. However, if they exist, they could lie anywhere up to the planck scale which is about a quadrillion [10^15] times higher in energy than the LHC so it is probably unlikely that they will find them but if they do it would be an incredible discovery and it was a very cheap experiment to build (if you exclude the cost of the LHC itself!).

Re:Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#44466027)

Electromagnetism as described by Maxwell's equations and special (not general) relativity are equivalent, you can derive one from the other.

Maxwell's equations forbid monopoles, one of the interconnected equations says magnetic fields have no sources or sinks. So classically we expect NOT to find them.

These "quasi-monopoles" found in condensed matter physics are not the same nor are they related to true particle monopoles.the quasi-monopoles really are a type of dipole.

The true monopoles are predicted by various Grand Unified theories, but most predict them as being far too massive to be produced naturally, and far too rare to detect often (maybe as rare as one per volume of the observable universe)

Re:Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44468129)

Maxwell's equations forbid monopoles

Maxwell's equations don't forbid monopoles, instead monopole terms were dropped when none were ever observed. They could easily be re-inserted if there was ever any evidence of their existence or just for curiosity. So it is backwards to say Maxwell's equations forbid it, instead Maxwell's equations are written without them to reflect observations that they don't seem to exist.

I could give you one of many E&M course homework problems about applying Maxwell's equations to a situation with no free charges. Hence the electric field would be divergence free, but you can't turn around and say that the reason the problem has no free charges is because Maxwell's equations say the electric field is divergence free.

Re:Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#44470271)

no, the equations came from direct scientific observations and robust experiments. 150 years later still no exceptions observed to facts that electric charge has sources and sinks, and magnetic field lines in closed loops with no sources and sinks.

Re:Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44471419)

I think that is what I just said... that there have been no observed monopoles hence magnetic field is listed as divergence free in Maxwell's equations. It is easy enough to add in a magnetic charge into the equations (Maxwell had them there originally), but they were removed after no such observations came about. But the point is that it is not the equations which forbid their existence, as mathematically they could easily allow their existence, instead the equations reflect the lack of monopole existence, not the other way around. Otherwise, there is no reason to that "classically we expect not to find them" other than we never did find them, not be cause Maxwell's equations had any predictive power in that regard.

Re:Magnetism = relativistic electricity? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#44481001)

please provide source that maxwell had them there originally. Rather it was Pierre Curie in 1894 that hypothesized them and made modified equations. Dirac with QED showed a monopole solution *consistent* with maxwell's equations with dipole tubes acting as monopoles

It was the can opener. (0)

Moray_Reef (75398) | about a year ago | (#44462755)

No news.

Re:It was the can opener. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44463235)

That's uncanny.

mod 0P (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44463009)

fucking nUmbers, Usenet. In 1995, are the important

Monopoles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44463017)

How would a monopole differ from an electron?

Miracles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44463071)

F#$%ing Monopoles, how do they work?

insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44463145)

fucking magnetronics, how does it work?

Monopole Magnets (0)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | about a year ago | (#44463403)

I maintain nonetheless that yin-yang dualism can be overcome.

With sufficient enlightenment we can give substance to any
distinction: mind without body, north without south, pleasure
without pain. Remember, enlightenment is a function of willpower,
not of physical strength.

—Chairman Sheng-ji Yang,
“Essays on Mind and Matter”

Re:Monopole Magnets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44463541)

Men in their arrogance claim to understand the nature of creation,
and devise elaborate theories to describe its behavior. But always
they discover in the end that God was quite a bit more clever
than they thought.

—Sister Miriam Godwinson
"We must Dissent"

Re:Monopole Magnets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44463545)

Scientific theories are judged by the coherence they lend to our
natural experience and the simplicity with which they do so.
The grand principle of the heavens balances on the razor's edge of truth.

—Commissioner Pravin Lal
"A History of Science"

Re:Monopole Magnets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465247)

I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum.

—Nada
"They Live"

Re:Monopole Magnets (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464093)

Good for you sir, for laying down the SM:AC talk!

Help me out here (-1, Offtopic)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about a year ago | (#44463489)

Why would monopoles have anything to do with " Valentine's Day, no less"?

Is it because 7 people were killed by what would have been a law abiding organization without prohibition? Or because we don't know if St. Valentine is a single person or multiple people?

Or because Valentinus who served a single religion - Christianity - died on the eponymous holiday?

Or because of the mythological attribution to a single person, despite not having a single person to attribute this to, or to that person's alleged habit of marrying Christian couples despite a ban on doing so?

If the last of these, and slashdotters are typically basement dwelling asexuals, then how should I interpret this, exactly? Because I do not understand what in Moses' holy boat fundamental particles have to do with humanity in any fashion.

Men are matter, women are anti-matter, and that's as deep as I get. If the woman measure in anti-mass what the man measures in mass, plus a bit, she dictates the course of the relationship. Otherwise it is the man. Similarly if there is a homosexual relationship with one having more matter than anti-matter, the dominant gender takes the course. Beyond that this makes no sense to me.

Unpaired poles are obviously deviants screwing anyone and anything that comes across them, no pun intended. Or did I misunderstand the relevance? Maybe pun was intended, did I still miss the relevance? Poles need not be paired - they should be left to their own free will. I rather respect the Poles, as a matter of fact. What am I missing?

Oh, sensationalism, shitty editorialisation, adverts, and overall shiteness. Sorry.

Define "useful" (3, Informative)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about a year ago | (#44463751)

I'm sure monopole-like virtual particles are cool and all, but the article is very light on describing what exactly what the ability to produce magnetic current means in practical terms.

Edward Leedskalnin (1)

Macchendra (2919537) | about a year ago | (#44463813)

All theories are useful hallucinations and nothing more. The map is not the territory. Each useful map will only take you to certain limited portions of the territory. I think that what Ed had going for him more than anything was that he had no map to start with.

Falling Up (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44463985)

We must stop this dangerous research before hoards of roaming bandits start falling up! It's unconstitutional and immoral, I'm telling ya.

Two fake monopoles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464361)

And thatâ(TM)s not all. Because each vertex of a tetrahedron is also shared with a neighbor, the spin that violates the ice rule in one tetrahedron would also do so in another, creating a second monopole one tetrahedron away with the opposite polarity.

So there are two virtual monopoles right next to each other. Sounds like a dipole to me. I don't know enough physics to know if that's even slightly interesting.

Electrons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464493)

Electrons are point source charges thus a monopole.

Jeeeish..

But (1)

Slashdot Humor (2996799) | about a year ago | (#44465667)

what happens when there's a magnetic power outage?

What about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44466073)

What about bottomless pits?
If we could find just one, all our garbage disposal problems would be solved!

Tripole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44470785)

Only religion can understand god.
Only god can understand science.
Only science can understand religion.

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