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The Enduring Mystery Of Detecting The Universe’s Only Magnetic Monopole

14 Feb 2019, 15:01 UTC
The Enduring Mystery Of Detecting The Universe’s Only Magnetic Monopole
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Electromagnetic fields as they would be generated by positive and negative electric charges, both at rest and in motion (top), as well as those that would theoretically be created by magnetic monopoles (bottom), were they to exist. (WIKIMEDIA COMMONS USER MASCHEN)Scientific discovery often happens when you least expect it. But no one could’ve expected this.Imagine that you’re a scientist, going out on a limb to design and build an experiment that everyone expects will see absolutely nothing. You’re invested in physics at the fringes: looking for a sign of an unlikely, but theoretically not impossible, particle that’s never been seen before. A few scientists have speculated, over many decades, that such a particle could potentially exist, but all attempts to detect its existence — both direct and indirect — have come up empty.One weekend, you set up your long-running experiment and decide not to come into the lab on that Sunday. When you return on Monday, you find that the unthinkable has occurred: your detector registered a signal unlike any you’ve ever seen before. For the first (and only) time, you saw evidence for a brand new particle. This isn’t just a dream scenario; this happened, for real, back on ...

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