Thursday, October 15, 2009

Magnetic monopoles observed for first time


By David Shiga

The magnetic equivalent of electricity, dubbed "magnetricity", has been demonstrated experimentally for the first time. Just as the flow of electrons produces electrical current, individual north and south magnetic poles have been observed to roam freely, generating magnetic "current".

The result could lead to the development of "magnetronics", including nano-scale computer memory.

Magnets normally have two poles, north and south, that are inseparable. Cutting a magnet in half only results in each piece developing its own north and south pole. That is true even if one disassembles a magnet all the way down to its individual atoms, since each behaves as a tiny bar magnet with two poles.

But physicists have theorised that magnetic monopoles – individual north and south poles that are not bound in pairs and can move independently of one another – could form inside a crystalline material called spin ice. …

'Magnetricity' observed for first time

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