A Magnetic Monopole!

(Left) 3-D diagram of the magnetic wormhole shows how the magnetic field lines (in red) leaving a magnet on the right side of the sphere pass through the wormhole. (Right) As seen by a magnet, the magnetic field seems to disappear on the right side of the sphere only to reappear on the left in the form of a magnetic monopole. Credit: Jordi Prat-Camps/Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Experimental magnetic wormhole. Credit: Jordi Prat-Camps/Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

I appreciate it is something that may not get most people excited, but for those involved in Physics a news that a magnetic monopole has been not just discovered but created experimentally is worth celebrating.

If you take an electron you have a negative charge. This charge creates a field around itself (some physicists would claim that the reality is the field, the electron is just our perception of the field...) and it is a negative pole (by convention, of course). 

If you take a proton you get the same story, but we call it a positive pole and if you take the electron in the vicinity of the proton you will see a field with lines of force (the lines that a charged particle would follow) connecting the positive and negative poles.

In other words the negative and positive poles can be separated in an electric field. Not so in a magnetic field, although from a theoretical point of view there is no reason why it shouldn't be so.

We have never succeeded to separate a North pole from a South pole in a magnet. If you split the magnet in two, you get two smaller magnets, each one with a North and a South pole. No matter how many time you split a magnet you'll never get a monopole, a magnet that only has a North or a South pole. In theory it should be possible (a magnetic monopole was predicted by Paul Dirac over 80 years ago), in practice we never managed to do it.

In the last year there have been a number of announcements of magnetic monopoles detected in the course of experiments, and now scientists from the Barcelona University have announced a way to create a wormhole that results in the appearance of a magnetic monopole at one of its end.

A wormhole is a "passage" connecting two points in space (and in the space time continuum) without having to pass in the space in between, like it find its way in an extra dimension (imagine connecting two points on a plane by a wire that is located in the third dimension so that it only touches the plane on the starting and destination point. Now do the same using a fourth dimension, a fifth actually, two connect to points in a three dimensional space without moving in any space in between them).

The scientists managed to transfer the magnetic field from one point in space to another without a trace of a magnetic field in between them, so that for any practical means what you see at a point is a magnetic monopole.

You may want to click on the link to get all the details (in case you are a physicist buff). 

What is interesting is that now it is possible to experiment on magnetic monopoles. The wormhole created can span as much as 10 cm and this opens the way to several interesting applications.

As an example, this would allow the application of magnetic resonance to some part of the body of patient without affecting the parts around it, hence providing for much better clarity in the imaging (avoiding disturbance generated by the magnetic field in surrounding parts.

So a physician should be happy about this news and its potential, whilst a physicist is happy just to see a theoretical forecast proven by an experiment.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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