Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Magnetic Monopoles Detected?

Magnetic monopoles, particles that carry a single magnetic pole, have long been hypothesized. Last week, researchers from the Helmholtz Centre Berlin, in cooperation with colleagues from Dresden, St. Andrews, La Plata and Oxford, claimed that they have actually observed magnetic monopoles.

Jonathan Morris, Alan Tennant and colleagues (HZB) undertook a neutron scattering experiment at the Berlin research reactor. The material under investigation was a single crystal of Dysprosium Titanate. This material crystallises in a quite remarkable geometry, the so called pyrochlore-lattice. With the help of neutron scattering Morris and Tennant show that the magnetic moments inside the material had reorganised into so-called „Spin-Spaghetti". This name comes from the ordering of the dipoles themselves, such that a network of contorted tubes (Strings) develops, through which magnetic flux is transported...

During the neutron scattering measurements a magnetic field was applied to the crystal by the researchers. With this field they could influence the symmetry and orientation of the strings. Thereby it was possible to reduce the density of the string networks and promote the monopole dissociation. As a result, at temperatures from 0.6 to 2 Kelvin, the strings are visible and have magnetic monopoles at their ends.


(Magnetic monopole experiment
Neutrons are fired towards the sample, and when a
magnetic field is applied the Dirac strings align against
the field with magnetic monopoles at their ends.
The neutrons scatter from the strings providing data
which show the string properties.)

One caveat that should be attached to this result is a question about the actual observed result. This does not appear to be a discovery of a new, fundamental particle. Instead, it appears describe an exotic state of matter in which the magnetic poles are separated. We'll have to let the physicists sort this one out.

In the meantime, science fiction fans have enjoyed popularizations of the idea of magnetic monopoles, and the possible uses for them. Fans of Larry Niven's Known Space stories, in particular, have been looking for shovels-full of them for space tech.

Nick Sohl was coming home. ...He had gone mining in Saturn's rings, with a singleship around him and a shovel in his hand (for the magnets used to pull monopoles from asteroidal iron did look remarkably like shovels)...

A century ago monopoles had been mere theory and conflicting theory at that. Magnetic theory said that a north magnetic pole could not exist apart from a south magnetic pole, and vice-versa. Quantum theory implied that they might exist independently.

The first permanent settlements had been blooming among the biggest Belt asteroids when an exploring team found monopoles scattered through the nickel-iron core of an asteroid. Today they were not theory, but a thriving Belt industry. A magnetic field generated by monopoles acts in an inverse linear relationship rather than an inverse-square. In practical terms, a monopole-based motor or instrument will reach much further. Monopoles were valuable where weight was a factor, and in the Belt weight was always a factor. But monopole mining was still a one man operation.
(Read more about Niven's monopole mining)

From Nature via Physorg via Futurismic.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/7/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Envisioning Starship Earth Travel - In 1930 By Max Valier
'Why must we travel ever faster in a seemingly insatiable desire to conquer space and time?' - Max Valier, 1930.

Liquid Lenses Adjust Automatically, Not Quite Dune Binoculars
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension... within a viewing tube...' - Frank Herbert, 1965.

The Dune Ornithopter, Movie And Book
'The wings were at full spread-rest, their delicate metal interleavings extended.' Frank Herbert, 1965.

Two Towns Linked By Sculpture Portal In Real Time
'I am the Guardian of Forever.' - Gene Roddenberry, 1967.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Envisioning Starship Earth Travel - In 1930 By Max Valier
'Why must we travel ever faster in a seemingly insatiable desire to conquer space and time?'

Man's Marriage To Hologram Ruined By Software Glitch
Till 'NETWORK ERROR' do us part.

Carbon Robotics: War Of The Worlds As A Metaphor For Weed Control
'It was as if some invisible jet impinged upon them and flashed into white flame.'

Pathways Language Model (PaLM) Is No Joke
'Electronic differentiation of the grotesque, as it says in the specifications - in man, a sense of humor.'

MOOSE: Man Out Of Space Easiest or Manned Orbital Operations Safety Equipment
'And as the ball bulleted downward on a screaming slant, it shrank!'

Liquid Lenses Adjust Automatically, Not Quite Dune Binoculars
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension... within a viewing tube...'

Your Martian Dream Home, Made By Fungi
'... it was the cheapest building material known.'

The Dune Ornithopter, Movie And Book
'The wings were at full spread-rest, their delicate metal interleavings extended.'

100X Improvement In DNA Information Storage
'A record that wouldn't get lost and couldn't be destroyed.'

NASA 'Holoports' Doctor Onto Space Station
Star Trek Voyager Emergency Medical Hologram

Should We Train AIs To Imagine A Future Of Horrific Disasters
'LET ME TELL YOU HOW MUCH I'VE COME TO HATE YOU SINCE I BEGAN TO LIVE.'

Mouth Haptics Invented By Frederik Pohl In 1965, CMU Now Has Prototype
'What he got was indeed a kiss. It was disconcerting. No kissing lips were visible.'

Two Towns Linked By Sculpture Portal In Real Time
'I am the Guardian of Forever.'

3D Printed Robotic Tentacles
'... articulate ropes of steel dangling'

Update: Musk Doubles Down On Optimus Prime Humanoid Robot
'I shall introduce myself. I am R. Daneel Olivaw... I am a robot. Were you not told?'

Elon Musk: Production Of Robotaxis In 2024
'How about the steering wheel... I don't need one.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.