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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Turing's Nose - Was That Scent Real Or Artificial?
'Rippling arpeggios of thyme and lavender...' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.
Cost Effective Smart Windows To Replace Curtains?
'The polawindow, which he tuned to clear transmission.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.
Autonomous Tractor Harvest-Ready
'[He] dropped the handles of the plough that was plugged into the robomule...' - Harry Harrison, 1965.
AgileQuad Object Avoidance Drone
Perfect for forest moons.
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.
Ignition Interlock Devices Stopped 1.7 Million Drunken Tries
'Maybe the car was right...'
Man Filmed Sleeping In Tesla On Autopilot
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'
Otto Self-Driving Truck Kits
'Trucks gulped packages and scurried like beetles...'
Humans Help Robots Identify Recyclables
'You give it a good look... then press the right button and in she goes.'
Is This Robotic Hand As Quick As Yours?
'V-Stephen's surgeon-hand, a self-contained robot of precision quality...'
DARPA's XS-1 Spaceplane
'They were more airplane than spaceship...'
Douglas Adams Your Babel Fish Is Ready - The Pilot By Waverly
'You'll need to have this fish in your ear.'
OMG! DIY Arduino Robot Vacuum Cleaner Like Bradbury's Mice
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.'
NASA Culturing ISS Walls For Microbes
'Collect organisms and dust for study...'
Siemens 3D Printing Robot Spiders
'The eight thin metallic legs were pointed downwards, balanced delicately...'
Implants Melt In Your Brain, Not In Your Hands
Implant and forget - they melt in your brain, not in your hands.
Baby Boomers Will LOVE Autonomous Cars (Trust Me!)
'Old people began to cross the continent in their own cars....'
ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet Tests His Suit
'The interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'
DIY Method To Summon Tesla With Amazon Echo
'Thomas focussed the violet beam of a hand flash on a plate...'
AI Lawyer 'Ross' Gets First Job
'Why don't we just feed the bloody thing to LEX...'
MIT's Second Skin Enhances Original Skin
'I must care, or I wouldn't live in this lying skin suit...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories