The blogosphere (and science news-cliposphere) is all agog aver the discovery of magnetic monopoles, from Nature to SlashdotNanowerk Physicsworld

Dirac strings
Dirac strings

What’s happened is the publication of some papers and preprints about observation and measurement of monopoles in spin ices, particularly in the complex crystal structures of compounds such as Ho2Ti2O7 and Dy2Ti2O7 at cryogenic temperatures.

Dirac Strings and Magnetic Monopoles in Spin Ice Dy2Ti2O7

Magnetic Charge Transport

Observation of Magnetic Monopoles in Spin Ice

This is really cool stuff, but it needs to be pointed out that these monopoles and connecting Dirac strings are not new fundamental particles that can exist apart from the crystal structures. They are patterns in the spin states of the atoms in the structures, as explained (and predicted) in this paper:

Magnetic monopoles in spin ice (pdf)

So don’t throw away your superconducting electromagnets just yet.

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