Why can’t we discover the mysterious ‘magnetic monopole’?

You’ve most likely heard of the Higgs boson. This elusive particle was predicted to exist way back and helped clarify why the universe works the best way it does, nevertheless it took a long time for us to detect.

Nicely, there’s one other elusive particle that has additionally been predicted by quantum physics, and it’s been lacking for an excellent longer time. In reality, we nonetheless haven’t noticed one, and never by lack of making an attempt.

It’s known as the magnetic monopole, and it has a number of distinctive properties that make it fairly particular.


These with an curiosity in physics are most likely already accustomed to an electrical monopole, though you might realize it by its extra frequent identify: electrical cost.

Reverse electrical prices entice and like prices repel by the interplay of electrical fields, that are outlined as working from constructive to unfavorable. These are the considerably arbitrary labels for the 2 opposing electrical prices.

Electrical monopoles exist within the type of particles which have a constructive or unfavorable electrical cost, similar to protons or electrons.

At first look, magnetism appears considerably analogous to electrical energy, as there exists a magnetic discipline with a route outlined as working from north to south.

Nevertheless, the analogy breaks down after we attempt to discover the magnetic counterpart for the electrical cost. Whereas we will discover electrical monopoles within the type of charged particles, we’ve by no means noticed magnetic monopoles.

As an alternative, magnets exist solely within the type of dipoles with a north and a south finish. When a bar magnet is break up into two items, you don’t get a separate north half and a south half. Fairly you get two new, smaller magnets, every with a north and south finish.

Even in the event you break up that magnet down into particular person particles, you continue to get a magnetic dipole.

After we take a look at magnetism on the planet, what we see is fully per Maxwell’s equations, which describe the unification of electrical and magnetic discipline idea into classical electromagnetism.

They had been first revealed by James Maxwell throughout 1861 and 1862 and are nonetheless used day by day on a sensible degree in engineering, telecommunications, and medical functions, to call just some.

However considered one of these equations – Gauss’s legislation for magnetism – states that there are not any magnetic monopoles.

The magnetism we observe on a day-to-day foundation can all be attributed to the motion of electrical prices. When an electrically charged particle strikes alongside a path, similar to an electron transferring down a wire, that is {an electrical} present. This induces a magnetic discipline that wraps across the route of the present.

The second reason for magnetism entails a property from quantum mechanics known as “spin”. This may be considered when it comes to an electrically charged particle rotating on an axis fairly than transferring in a specific route.

This generates an angular momentum within the particle, inflicting the electron to behave as a magnetic dipole (i.e. a tiny bar magnet). This implies we will describe magnetic phenomena with out the necessity for magnetic monopoles.

However simply because our classical electromagnetic theories are per our observations, that doesn’t indicate that there are not any magnetic monopoles. Fairly, this simply signifies that there are not any magnetic monopoles anyplace that we’ve noticed.

As soon as we begin to delve into the murky depths of idea, we start to search out some tempting arguments for his or her presence within the universe.

The lure of duality

In 1894, Nobel Laureate Pierre Curie mentioned the potential of such an undiscovered particle and will discover no cause to low cost its existence.

Later, in 1931, Nobel Laureate Paul Dirac confirmed that when Maxwell’s equations are prolonged to incorporate a magnetic monopole, electrical cost can exist solely in discrete values.

This “quantization” of electrical cost is among the necessities of quantum mechanics. So Dirac’s work went in the direction of exhibiting that classical electromagnetism and quantum electrodynamics had been suitable theories on this sense.

Lastly, there are few physicists who can resist the fantastic thing about symmetry in nature. And since the existence of a magnetic monopole would indicate a duality between electrical energy and magnetism, the idea suggesting magnetic monopoles turns into nearly intoxicating.

Duality, within the bodily sense, is when two completely different theories could be associated in such a method that one system is analogous to the opposite.

If it had been the case that the electrical power was utterly analogous to the magnetic power, then maybe different forces would even be analogous to at least one one other. Maybe then there could be some strategy to relate the sturdy nuclear power to the weak nuclear power, paving the best way to a grand unification of all bodily forces.

In fact, simply because a idea has an interesting symmetry doesn’t make it appropriate.