Physicists discover quantum-mechanical monopoles

April 30, 2015, Aalto University
Artistic illustration of a quantum-mechanical monopole. Credit: Heikka Valja

Researchers at Aalto University (Finland) and Amherst College have observed a point-like monopole in a quantum field itself for the first time. This discovery connects to important characteristics of the elusive monopole magnet. The results were just published in Science magazine.

The researchers performed an experiment in which they manipulated a of rubidium atoms prepared in a nonmagnetic state near . Under these extreme conditions they were able to create a in the quantum-mechanical field that describes the gas.

'In this nonmagnetic state, a structure was created in the field describing the gas, resembling the particle as described in grand unified theories of particle physics. Previously, we have used the gas to detect a monopole within a so-called synthetic magnetic field, but there has been no monopole in the describing the gas itself. Now we have finally witnessed the quantum-mechanical monopole!', enthuses Dr. Mikko Möttönen, Aalto University.

'In the nonmagnetic state of the gas, no quantum whirlpools or monopoles are created in the synthetic magnetic field. However, quantum-mechanical magnetic order prevails in the sample, and we were able to manipulate this with adjustments to an externally applied magnetic field', Möttönen continues.

'The control of those magnetic fields must be stable to a small fraction of the size of the Earth's ', adds Prof. David Hall, Amherst College. 'The main experimental challenge we faced is to prepare the ultracold gas under highly sensitive conditions, in which field fluctuations due to the motion of metal objects or power line variations can make observation of the monopoles difficult.', Hall continues.

The result is a remarkable step forward in quantum research. It is important to understand the structure of monopoles and other topological entities, in part because they appear in the models describing the early universe and affect the properties of many different materials, such as metals.

Credit: Aalto University

The discovery of a magnetic monopole particle is still in the future. This new result establishes that the structure of a quantum mechanical monopole does appear in nature, and therefore it further supports the possibility that magnetic monopoles exist.

An image of an experimentally created Bose-Einstein condensate containing the monopole (left) and the corresponding theoretical prediction (right). Brighter area has higher particle density and the different colors denote the internal spin state of the atoms. The monopole is located in the center of the condensate. Credit: monopole collaboration

Explore further: Physicists create synthetic magnetic monopole predicted more than 80 years ago

More information: Observation of isolated monopoles in a quantum field, Science, www.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/ … 1126/science.1258289

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22 comments

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arom
Apr 30, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Steve 200mph Cruiz
4.8 / 5 (4) Apr 30, 2015
Arom,
Are complaining that you need a college education to be a quantum physicist?

Urgelt
5 / 5 (3) May 01, 2015
Steve, believe it or not, some of our cranks here are highly educated.

A degree is no guarantor of sanity.

Urgelt
4.8 / 5 (4) May 01, 2015
Incidentally: the video definitely states they observed quantum monopoles in Bose-Einstein condensates. The Phys.org article, presumably summarizing the Science study, suggests that the discovery of quantum monopoles has not yet occurred. I'm going to go with the latter interpretation. What they saw is a quantum field that resembles a simulation based on theory, which looks as though monopoles could exist in the field. It's sure not a slam dunk showing monopoles *do* exist.
docile
May 01, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Tektrix
5 / 5 (2) May 01, 2015
@docile- ". . . that these black holes also represent a giant magnetic monopoles."
That's an interesting notion and would explain a few things, certainly. Looks like I have some research to do this weekend- thanks!
docile
May 01, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (1) May 01, 2015
@docile: So you are saying that quasi-particle monopoles do not exist (are "violating the entropy laws").

But they were observed a year or so back. And this is another variant. As Urqelt notes, it is probably a more localized field variant (which of course can be quasi-particle too), but one would need to read the paper.

In any case, the researchers are making a hen out of a feather. (Even if they likely did find a larger feather than before.)
mytwocts
5 / 5 (4) May 02, 2015
From e.wikipedia.org:
"A true magnetic monopole would be a new elementary particle, and would violate the law ∇⋅B = 0. A monopole of this kind, which would help to explain the law of charge quantization as formulated by Paul Dirac in 1931 has never been observed in experiments.
The monopoles studied by condensed-matter groups have none of these properties. They are not a new elementary particle, but rather are an emergent phenomenon in systems of everyday particles (protons, neutrons, electrons, photons); in other words, they are quasi-particles. They are not sources for the B-field (i.e., they do not violate ∇⋅B = 0); instead, they are sources for other fields, for example the H-field,[5] or the "B*-field" (related to superfluid vorticity)
rufusgwarren
not rated yet May 03, 2015
I would use QM Mode not pole, juz say/n.
ursiny33
not rated yet May 04, 2015
Entropy laws are missing their quantum particle foundations that hold the construction of energy particles, and mechanical physics geniuses can be found without degrees the Wright brothers were mechanical geniuses
ursiny33
5 / 5 (1) May 04, 2015
Physicists can conceive of the quantum particles making up the majority of matter in space time but they haven't conceived quantum particles being compressed into mass by mechanical physics forces
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) May 04, 2015
@docile: So you are saying that quasi-particle monopoles do not exist (are "violating the entropy laws").

But they were observed a year or so back. And this is another variant. As Urqelt notes, it is probably a more localized field variant (which of course can be quasi-particle too), but one would need to read the paper.

In any case, the researchers are making a hen out of a feather. (Even if they likely did find a larger feather than before.)

Prob'ly a guinea fowl...:-)
rufusgwarren
not rated yet May 05, 2015
Appears like? Does defying known physics appear as a correct interpretation of what it appears!
Mike_Psimple
not rated yet May 05, 2015
First to state I am not by any means a know it all when it comes to physics, I took the course in college. I have experimented and cannot state whether or not what was considered 'visualized' was what is considered monopoles but the point remains. Could these monopoles be seen in ferrofluid? I questioned this during an experiment which more or less parted the fluid entirely and there were no magnetic "poles", the fluid was separated into two opposing fields perpendicular to each other. The thought of parting the seas was the only thing that I could say it resembeled although really looking at it you could see the fluid motion which resembled a ball of fluid at super high speed. I am not sure if this is considered a monopole or not but it did seem the fluid did part and there were fields parallel and perpendicular to each other. Thoughts?
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet May 05, 2015
... the fluid was separated into two opposing fields perpendicular to each other. The thought of parting the seas was the only thing that I could say it resembeled... Thoughts?

Not quite sure you are describing "perpendicular" fields. More like repelling.
Perpendicular would imply orthogonal 90 degrees. "Parting of the seas" sounds more like 180 degrees(parallel)...
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet May 05, 2015
This observation isn't http://www.scient...monopole result from the same mechanism and that these black holes also represent a giant magnetic monopoles.

Asymmetric? Thought they produced jets from both poles, not just one...
docile
May 05, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet May 05, 2015
... I'm saying they do exist and they do violate entropy laws...

Only because our understanding of the "laws of entropy" are incomplete.
docile
May 05, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Mike_Psimple
not rated yet May 06, 2015
Whydening Gyre - the ferro fluid is in a jar and it split at a 45 degree angle. 90 degrees total i suppose. one half of the fluid was rotating and was on the bottom of the jar. the other half was a right angle 90 degrees on the side of the jar and it was visibly split in half parting the seas at 45 degrees. the fluid was definitely spinning, it was hard to tell the direction as the fluid was very uniform. I hope this clears up my initial question of whether or not this fluid acting in this matter is the same as monopoles? the magnetic flux and outward throw are likely why the fluid split but i was under the impresion that this nanofluid was not able to be considered two fields. You cant get any similar reaction sticking magnets to the bottom and side of the jar which was why I posted to see if this is related at all. I will continue my research and experiments whether or not that i can stamp a formula to qhat is actualy going on.
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet May 06, 2015
Whydening Gyre - the ferro fluid is in a jar and it split at a 45 degree angle. 90 degrees total i suppose. one half of the fluid was rotating and was on the bottom of the jar. the other half was a right angle 90 degrees on the side of the jar and it was visibly split in half parting the seas at 45 degrees.

Still having a tuff time visualizing (must have missed that class). How did you get this reaction? Apply a charge? Any ferrous fluid will already be dipolar by nature. As will an electrical charge.
But, it sounds by your description, you must have seen the ferrous material attempting to align along whatever dipolar field lines were being generated, but contained by the jar.
(A 3d version of filings on a piece of paper over a magnet.)

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