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Artificial Magnetic Monopoles Created

Researchers from Cologne, Munich and Dresden have created artificial magnetic monopoles by merging tiny magnetic whirls called "skyrmions". At the point at which they merge, a monopole appears. Physicist Paul Dirac postulated in 1931 that a similar kind of particle would exist.


(An emergent magnetic monopole)
Depiction of the merging of two magnetic vortices,
so-called skyrmions, in the magnetic structure of a material.
The point at the which the vortices merge displays the
properties of an emergent magnetic monopole.
When the monopole moves along the direction of the vortices
a skyrmion is created or destroyed.
(Credit: Ch. Schütte/University of Cologne

When a magnet is divided, a new magnet with north and south poles is always created. However, a monopole, i.e. a north pole without a south pole or a south pole without a north pole has not yet been discovered. In the current edition of the journal Science, researchers from Cologne, Munich and Dresden describe the discovery of new type of artificial monopole in a solid, i.e. particles, which have similar characteristics to monopoles, but which only exist within materials.

Larry Niven introduced science fiction readers to the idea of magnetic monopoles in his 1973 novel Protector. Appropriately, they were found within an exotic material - the nickel-iron core of asteroids.

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.
(Read more about Niven's monopole mining)

Via Science Daily; thanks to Broklynite for the tip and the reference on the story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/24/2013)

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