A quantum wonderland where magnetic particles change identities

Artist’s rendering of an Alice ring that researchers have just observed in nature for the first time. Photo credit: Heikka Valja/Aalto University.

Scientists have made a groundbreaking discovery that looks like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

They have found what is known as an “Alice ring” that proves a theory about magnetic particles, so-called monopoles, that has existed for decades.

Professors Mikko Möttönen of Aalto University and David Hall of Amherst College have long studied monopoly.

That is new find is an important milestone in her work.

What are monopolies?

We all know that magnets have two sides: a north pole and a south pole. But imagine a magnet with only one pole – either north or south.

It’s a monopoly. Scientists have tried to study these unipolar particles, but it’s not easy. Monopolies are really difficult to create and even more difficult to keep as they disappear very quickly.

How did the researchers create a monopoly? They took rubidium gas and cooled it to near absolute zero, which is extremely cold. Then they used a special magnetic field to create a monopole in this icy gas. However, the monopoly did not last long. It decays (disintegrates) into something called the “Alice Ring.”

Möttönen explains it this way: Think of a monopoly as an egg sitting on top of a hill. If you disturb it even a little, it rolls down the hill and breaks. In the same way, with any small disturbance, the monopoly turns into an Alice ring.

The Alice ring is a really interesting thing. From a distance it looks like a monopoly. But seen up close, it is a ring whose center seems like a portal to a world of opposite charges. Put simply, if another monopoly went through this ring, it would turn around and turn into its opposite.

Hall says looking through the center of Alice’s ring is like stepping into a world of antimatter instead of matter. Möttönen adds that the structure of the Alice ring entails such a mode of operation. It’s like it’s built to reverse the charges of other monopolies.

This research was primarily conducted at Amherst College, where Alina Blinova, a Ph.D. Student, played a big role. She said it was “amazing” to make such a big discovery at the end of her PhD. Trip.

Meanwhile, Möttönen’s team ran computer simulations to double-check the experiments. Both teams agree: their results open doors to new research areas in the world of particle physics.

So why is this important? It helps us understand more about the weird and wonderful world of quantum physics. And who knows? Maybe one day, if we learn more about Alice rings and monopolies, we could help to understand the universe much better.

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Source: Aalto University

Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: LauraCoffey@worldtimetodays.com.

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