Magnetic Monopoles that are elastic may be high above us, according to a new study

Magnetic Monopoles that are elastic may be high above us, according to a new study ...

Almost everywhere out in the cosmos, there''s the equivalent of a unicorn in the physique. Even a glimpse of this peculiarity that looks like the isolated tip of a magnet would be like a beacon in the night, pointing the way to huge, unifying theories.

In the early 1980s, no one had seen anything that remotely resembles the infamous particle physics beast, the magneticmonopole.

In all the wrong places, physicists may be looking for them. A new analysis by an international team of researchers has narrowed down areas to look by modeling magnetic monopole creation in the atmosphere''s midst.

Their work utilises the results of highly sensitive experiments, which are already looking for signs of magnetic monopoles in particle collisions in powerful accelerators, presuming they would have identified the same clues that rained below.

By assembling magnetic monopoles in the debris of cosmic rays separated by high-speed, the team may confidently limit the amount of energy it would take to produce one.

It''s not exactly the thrilling announcement we''d like to make about the particle''s existence, but it''s how science works. And frankly, its discovery would be worth the wait.

Magnetic monopoles are unicorns, but electric charges are horses. They''re hard-working and easy to find, and nobody would argue they don''t exist.

In deducing electromagnetism equations in the 19th century, Scottish mathematician James Clerk Maxwell modeled the movement of the electron''s negative charge. From this, we obtain electric currents and the push and pull of a magnetic field.

Thing is, we can also swap out features of this equation and use the magnetic equivalent of a negative charge. A magnetic monopole. These same equations now demonstrate how moving magnetic fields produce electric currents.

Physics is built on the back of symmetries like this, although on its own it may only be a shadow cast by the mathematics, doing little to prove that a magnetic monopole exists.

In a new light, the theorist Paul Dirac reimagined this symmetry, implying that if a single magnetic monopole existed in the Universe, electric charges would have to come in discrete sizes.

The fact that charges are being "quantified" again isn''t evidence of anything. However, as quantum field theories have grown, nothing has yet ruled out the existence of a magnetic monopole.

In the 1970s, as physicists realized quantum fields were indistinguishable at high enough energies, it became clear that a kind of wave would arise that for all purposes would behave like a magnetic monopole.

Half a century later, the search for this cosmopolitan unicorn persists in the hope that if we discover one, we''ll have further clues on how physics might emerge from one unified high-energy theory.

For the most part, this search has come up empty-handed, despite a lot of searching. A single blip in a Stanford experiment briefly provoked debate, but it has since been described as "one of those things" that occurs in science.

Most searches focused on sifting out magnetic monopoles that would have been created in the early Universe''s furnaces. However, models that explain their creation are surprisingly light on detail, so we cannot only hazard a guess on what they''d be.

Particle accelerators may punch one out of the darkness, but only if magnetic monopoles are created from relatively low energies. And even then, only when the accelerator is in operation.

Cosmic rays are causing a host of fat and exotic particles down onto the surface, many at energy colliders aren''t yet reaching.

If one of these happens to spit out a sufficiently plump magnetic monopole in the future, then we''ll need to be on the lookout. According to this study, experiments like the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole might be a reasonable bet for seeing them, for long as they have enough mass.

After all, a massive unicorn can hide in so many areas of physics.

Physical Review Letters publishes this research.

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