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Making Monopoles

Subatomic particles, these would be
 (+1) [vote for, against]

Most of us know that the "electron" is a subatomic particle that has an electric charge. We can manipulate it with electrical forces. Well, Physics has long hypothesized that there should also exist a subatomic particle that has a magnetic charge, say "North".

For decades we have been able to manufacture electrons out of pure energy. The process does not make ONLY electrons, though; it also makes equal numbers of other particles called "positrons". A positron is just like an electron in every way, except that it has a positive electric charge, while an electron has a negative electric charge.

Physicists think that it should be possible to make magnetic monopoles out of pure energy, also. Part of the problem is that we don't have a good idea of just how much energy it would take to make one. AND we would always have to make two of them, a "North" monopole and a "South" monopole, just like we always have to make a positron when we make an electron. It means we need twice-as-much of an unknown amount of energy, heh.

One of the neat things about having electrons and positrons to play with is that we can bash them together and watch them turn into pure energy (much like the energy that went into making them in the first place). What makes it even more fun is that we can accelerate the two particles to high speed first, before they collide, and the total energy that is released will include all the kinetic energy associated with their high speeds.

That fact has allowed particle physics researchers to discover lots of other particles, because when enough energy is available at some point in space, it can spontaneously convert into something other than pure energy. For example, we could make a proton and an anti-proton if the energy of the collision of the electron and the positron was large enough.

The obvious notion is that if the electron and positron have high-enough energy, then when they collide, a pair of magnetic monopoles might be produced.

Well, experiments along those lines have been done, without any success. This Idea is about adding another factor to the experiment, which might convert failure into success.

Let's approach that factor by considering the original discovery that some pure energy can spontaneously convert into an electron and a positron. It turns out that in actual fact, "spontaneous" is not the best word-choice for the description. What acually happened is that a photon of pure energy (a gamma ray photon) happened to pass near the nucleus of an atom of lead. And the nucleus of a lead atom contains 82 protons, every one of them possessing a significant (at close range, anyway) positive electric charge. This high-intensity electric field interacted with the gamma photon, and influenced it to convert into an electron and a positron.

Therefore I propose adding a suitably high-intensity magnetic field to an experiment in which high-energy electrons and positrons are bashed together. We have the technology to create a kind of "burst" magnetic field that is much MUCH stronger than any ordinary steady magnetic field. Look up "explosive compression"; magnetic fields can be squeezed by such events, and they become enormously intense when so squeezed.

We simply need to time an explosive-field-compression event to coincide with the collision of a high-energy electron and positron. And if we get ENOUGH energy out of that collision, we can hope that that extreme magnetic field will interact with it in such a way as to yield a pair of magnetic monopoles. Then we simply repeat until we have all we want.

 — Vernon, Oct 03 2010

Large Electron Positron Collider http://en.wikipedia...93Positron_Collider
Usually known as LEP, this machine is now dismantled and replaced by the new Large Hadron Collider. I think, though, that there are some other equally powerful machines out there that still collide electrons and positrons (the existence of alternatives would be a good reason physicists didn't scream about dismantling LEP). [Vernon, Oct 03 2010]

Magnetic Monopoles http://en.wikipedia...i/Magnetic_monopole
A whole article on the subject. [Vernon, Oct 03 2010]

Explosive compression of a magnetic field http://en.wikipedia...mpression_generator
As mentioned in the main text. This Idea is Half-Baked because we need a way to keep the explosion from destroying the vacuum tube that contains the colliding electron and positron. [Vernon, Oct 03 2010]

 I hadn't realized that the conversion of a gamma photon to a particle pair was influenced by any external factors - you sure about that?

 But, in any case, the idea of colliding particles in a huge magnetic field is interesting. Not sure what it would do, but interesting.

Question, though - *could* you collide the two particles in such a strong magnetic field? Both particles will be heavily deflected by the field - is a collision still possible?
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 03 2010

This is fine and lovely but I think it'sa wild goose chase and is never going to work. Magnetic field lines goes through the point of origin whereas electric field lines eminate from the point of origin. 'Positive' and 'Negative' describe different charcteristics of electric field but 'North' and 'South' just describe the entrance and exit points of the field.
 — Jinbish, Oct 03 2010

 — jutta, Oct 03 2010

 -Excellent use of layman's terms. -Succinct. -Inspired. -No clue if it would work.

I give it a 9.2
One question though. If you did succeed in creating a positive monopole and an opposing negative monopole, would you be able to keep them apart?
 — 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Oct 03 2010

 [MaxwellBuchanan], there is a thing called "resonance" in the particle-production business, which generally works best if the energy of the gamma is exactly equal to the desired particle masses. When the energy exceeds the resonance value, then the rate of production usually goes down, unless some other factor is introduced (such as the a high intensity electric field near a nucleus). In this case, since we don't know the exact energy needed, it is best to include an appropriate "other factor".

 Next, if the orientation of the field lines, before being compressed, is parallel to the orientation of the vacuum tube that carries the electrons/positrons, and also surrounds that vacuum tube, then the compression of the magnetic field will actually help the particles collide.

 [Jinbish], magnetic monopoles would be sources of magnetic field lines, exactly like electrons/positrons are sources of electric field lines. All the magnetic fields we have today are loops, certainly, but also they are (technically) a relativistic side-effect of electric charges in motion. If we had a monopole, and moved it, there would be, as an equivalent side-effect, electric field lines that were complete loops (and could not be separated, just as we can't separate magnetic loops into magnetic monopoles).

 [jutta], :), I posted this Idea after seeing some other Ideas about monopoles, and wanted to be sure that the most different thing about this one was up-front.

[2 fries], the inverse-square law will apply to the distance between separated magnetic monopoles. We merely need to create them with enough extra energy that they will become separated enough (although, actually, the presence of that compressed magnetic field should also help them get farther apart).
 — Vernon, Oct 03 2010

 Bun for Mr. Tindale, please post as a new idea so I can bury it in pastry. Thanks.

This idea does not really explain how a magnetic force line with an end could exist, or the mechanism by which it could be produced - it just proposes making a massive explosion and watching to see what happens.
 — pocmloc, Oct 03 2010

What do you mean, "just"?
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 03 2010

[pocmloc], it is not necessary for this Idea to explain how magnetic monopoles could exist. They are already well-accepted by theoretical particle physicists, as very likely to be able to exist. Ask THEM your question. This Idea simply assumes they can exist, and then proposes a basic mechanism to try making them.
 — Vernon, Oct 04 2010

 I knew it was a Vernon idea by the end of the third paragraph, and suddenly lost the desire to read further.

 When an electron accelerates, the resulting wave can be computed. The equation has two solutions: one with time before the electron moved, and the other after.

Common sense dictates which solution applies in the actual context. Unfortunately this is something totally lacking in Vernon's ideas.
 — neelandan, Oct 04 2010

// it just proposes making a massive explosion and watching to see what happens//
Trying hard to see the downside of this.
 — coprocephalous, Oct 04 2010

hey cool, I can make a "flashdark" like this... since of course when you create a photon that goes one way, an anti-photon is created that goes the other... nobody's noticed up 'til now but it's only a matter of time...
 — FlyingToaster, Oct 04 2010

 This idea would be slightly more interesting if there was some hypothesis as to *why* magnetic monopoles would be created in large magnetic fields (other than the fact they both contain the word magnet).

To over simplify, electric fields and magnetic fields are essentially the same thing, especially in high energy particle physics. Thus I doubt adding a large magnetic field would create particles that have not already been seen in particle accelerators (assuming the total energy of the two systems were the same).
 — xaviergisz, Oct 04 2010

 // when you create a photon that goes one way, an anti- photon is created that goes the other..//

Errrr....
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 04 2010

what? shine a flashlight forward and... well it's as valid a theory as this is how to make a monopole.
 — FlyingToaster, Oct 04 2010

 [FlyingToaster], unfortunately for what you wrote, a photon is its own anti-particle, and both of them need a source of real energy in order to be able to exist.

 [xaviergisz], to answer your request means delving a bit into Quantum Mechanics and the "virtual particles" that pervade everything, everywhere, even an otherwise perfect vacuum. The Uncertainty Principle of QM allows everything to have an Uncertain energy content. So, a perfect vacuum, which normally might be thought of as holding zero energy, must actually have an Uncertain/varying/nonzero energy value. "virtual particles" are the FORM taken by that nonzero energy. Keep in mind that virtual particles are NEVER directly detectable; they mostly just don't persist long enough for that to be possible.

 Every type of subatomic particle that can exist in actuality can also pop into temporary existence as a virtual particle, courtesy of the Uncertainty Principle. Because of other rules in Physics, like the Law of Conservation of Electric Charge, when a virtual electron pops into temporary existence it MUST be accompanied by a virtual positron. Likewise, if a North magnetic monopole pops into temporary existence, a South monopole must accompany it.

 In the main Idea text it mentions how an appropriate quantity of real energy can spontaneously convert into real particles like, say, a proton and an anti-proton. What is actually going on is that that quantity of real energy gets absorbed by a pair of virtual particles (proton/antiproton in this example), and thereby become real detectable particles.

 The role that an intense electric or magnetic field can play, in all the preceding, is a bit subtle. The key fact is that when a pair of virtual particles pop into temporary existence, they normally don't travel very far apart, because they have to get back together and vanish again. And the distance between them is directly related to something called "the interaction cross section" --basically, the farther apart they are, the more easily they can interact-with/absorb some quantity of real energy.

 An intense electric field encourages any two electrically-charged virtual particles to get farther apart. Likewise, since magnetic monopoles don't have electric charges, we would need an intense magnetic field to encourage a pair of virtual monopoles to get farther apart, which in turn increases their chances of absorbing some real energy, as stated previously.

Whew!
 — Vernon, Oct 05 2010

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