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Skip to main contentDonateLog InThe SocietyScience NewsScience News for StudentsStudent ScienceADVERTISEMENTScience NewsMISSION CRITICALSupport credible science journalism.Subscribe to Science News today.SUBSCRIBE MENUTOPICSBLOGSEDITOR’S PICKSMAGAZINELATESTMOST VIEWEDNEWSEvidence grows that normal childbirth takes longer than we thoughtJANUARY 16, 2018BY AIMEE CUNNINGHAMCONTEXTSpeed of universe’s expansion remains elusiveJANUARY 16, 2018BY TOM SIEGFRIEDNEWSDNA solves the mystery of how these mummies were relatedJANUARY 16, 2018BY BRUCE BOWERNEWSTiny scales in ancient lagoon may be the first fossil evidence of the moth-butterfly lineJANUARY 15, 2018BY SUSAN MILIUSNEWS IN BRIEFSpaceships could use blinking dead stars to chart their wayJANUARY 12, 2018BY EMILY CONOVERSOCIETY UPDATETop 10 Society stories of the yearNEWSTrio of dead stars upholds a key part of Einstein’s theory of gravityJANUARY 12, 2018BY EMILY CONOVERNEWSPollution is endangering the future of astronomyJANUARY 12, 2018BY DAN GARISTOSCIENCE TICKERSee a 360-degree visualization of the center of the Milky WayJANUARY 12, 2018BY EMILY CONOVERINTRODUCING18 new species of pelican spiders discoveredJANUARY 11, 2018BY DAN GARISTONEWSRising CO2 in lakes could keep water fleas from raising their spiky defensesJANUARY 11, 2018BY CAROLYN GRAMLINGSOCIETY UPDATEBroadcom MASTERS 2017 awards $100,000 in prizesNEWSNot all strep infections are alike and it may have nothing to do with youJANUARY 11, 2018BY LAUREL HAMERSNEWS IN BRIEFShallow ice sheets discovered on Mars could aid future astronautsJANUARY 11, 2018BY LISA GROSSMANNEWS IN BRIEFHubble telescope ramps up search for Europa’s watery plumesJANUARY 11, 2018BY LISA GROSSMANNEWS IN BRIEFProtein helps old blood age the brains of young miceJANUARY 11, 2018BY LAURA SANDERSTEASERA new gel could help in the fight against deadly, drug-resistant superbugsJANUARY 10, 2018BY MARIA TEMMINGSOCIETY UPDATECongratulations Broadcom MASTERS 2017 finalists!NEWSFast radio bursts may be from a neutron star orbiting a black holeJANUARY 10, 2018BY LISA GROSSMANLETTERS TO THE EDITORReaders wrangle with definition of ‘species’JANUARY 10, 2018BY SCIENCE NEWS STAFFEDITOR’S NOTEWe’ll be watching the skies, plus a lot more, this yearJANUARY 10, 2018BY ELIZABETH QUILLFEATUREHow to keep humans from ruining the search for life on MarsJANUARY 10, 2018BY LISA GROSSMANNEWSThis artificial cartilage gets its strength from the stuff in bulletproof vestsJANUARY 10, 2018BY MARIA TEMMINGSOCIETY UPDATEConversations with MayaFEATUREHormone replacement makes sense for some menopausal womenJANUARY 09, 2018BY AIMEE CUNNINGHAMNEWSMagnets with a single pole are still giving physicists the slipJANUARY 09, 2018BY EMILY CONOVERSCIENCE VISUALIZEDWhy some birds of paradise have ultrablack feathersJANUARY 09, 2018BY ASHLEY YEAGERSCREENTIMEWebsite invites you to probe a 3-D human brainJANUARY 09, 2018BY TINA HESMAN SAEYNEWS IN BRIEFCRISPR gene editor could spark immune reaction in peopleJANUARY 09, 2018BY TINA HESMAN SAEYSOCIETY UPDATEWhat does it mean to be on the cutting edge of science?NEWS IN BRIEFWarming ocean water is turning 99 percent of these sea turtles femaleJANUARY 08, 2018BY LAUREL HAMERSNEWSNew pill tracks gases through your gutJANUARY 08, 2018BY MARIA TEMMINGNEWSWhite dwarf’s inner makeup is mapped for the first timeJANUARY 08, 2018BY LISA GROSSMANNEWSBlowflies use drool to keep their coolJANUARY 05, 2018BY SUSAN MILIUSNEWSA key virus fighter is implicated in pregnancy woesJANUARY 05, 2018BY AIMEE CUNNINGHAMSCIENCE NEWSGrowth Curve blog highlights science on child development, parenting and pregnancyNEWS’Laid-back’ bonobos take a shine to belligerentsJANUARY 05, 2018BY BRUCE BOWERCONTEXT2018’s Top 10 science anniversariesJANUARY 05, 2018BY TOM SIEGFRIEDSCIENCE TICKERThe largest known prime number has 23 million-plus digitsJANUARY 05, 2018BY LAUREL HAMERSSCIENCE TICKERNASA is headed to Earth’s outermost edgeJANUARY 04, 2018BY CAROLYN GRAMLINGNEWS IN BRIEFCorals are severely bleaching five times as often as in 1980JANUARY 04, 2018BY LAUREL HAMERSSOCIETY UPDATEAttendees selected for 2017 Research Teachers Conference50 YEARS AGOHow the Dead Sea Scrolls survived a war in the 1960sJANUARY 04, 2018BY BRUCE BOWERNEWS IN BRIEFAliens ruled out for why Tabby’s star flickersJANUARY 03, 2018BY LISA GROSSMANNEWSThese disease-fighting bacteria produce echoes detectable by ultrasoundJANUARY 03, 2018BY MARIA TEMMINGTHE LISTAsk AI: How not to kill online conversationsJANUARY 03, 2018BY MARIA TEMMINGIT’S ALIVERobot fish shows how the deepest vertebrate in the sea takes the pressureJANUARY 03, 2018BY SUSAN MILIUSVIEW MORE?NEWSPARTICLE PHYSICSMagnets with a single pole are still giving physicists the slipExperiments are teasing out new details about the unique properties of ‘magnetic monopoles’BY EMILY CONOVER 1:00PM, JANUARY 9, 2018SOLE POLE  Scientists are searching for hypothetical particles called magnetic monopoles, which have a single north or south magnetic pole. Such particles might be created in pairs (red in the lower right corner and blue in the upper left corner, illustrated above) in collisions of proton beams (white) at accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider.MOEDAL COLLABORATIONEmailPrintTwitterFacebookRedditGoogle+SPONSOR MESSAGEMagnetic poles are seemingly inseparable: Slice a magnet in half, and you get two smaller magnets, each with its own north and south poles. But exotic magnetic particles that flout this rule may be lurking undetected, some physicists suspect.The hunt is in full swing for these hypothetical particles known as magnetic monopoles — which possess a lone north or south pole. Now, two groups of researchers have further winnowed down the particles’ possible masses and characteristics, using data from particle accelerators and the corpses of stars.There’s good reason to suspect magnetic monopoles are out there, some physicists suggest. The particles’ existence would explain why electric charge is quantized — why it always seems to come in integer multiples of the charge of an electron instead of a continuous range of values. As a result, magnetic monopoles are popular. “A lot of people think they should exist,” says James Pinfold, a particle physicist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.If even a single magnetic monopole were detected, the discovery would rejigger the foundations of physics. The equations governing electricity and magnetism are mirror images of one another, but there’s one major difference between the two phenomena. Protons and electrons carry positive and negative electric charges, respectively, but no known particle has a magnetic charge. A magnetic monopole would be the first, and if one were discovered, electricity and magnetism would finally be on equal footing.For decades, scientists have searched fruitlessly for magnetic monopoles. Recent work at the Large Hadron Collider, located at the particle physics lab CERN in Geneva, has reinvigorated the search. Magnetic monopoles might be produced there as protons slam together at record-high energies of 13 trillion electron volts.Unfortunately, the latest search by Pinfold and collaborators with the Monopole and Exotics Detector at the LHC, or MoEDAL (pronounced “medal”), found no magnetic monopoles, despite analyzing six times the data as the project’s previous pursuits. Still, the new research has set some of the most stringent constraints yet on how easily the hypothetical particles may interact with matter, the MoEDAL collaboration reports December 28 at continues after imageParted polesAll known magnets have both a north and south pole, as illustrated in the inset image, with lines indicating the direction of the magnetic field. Hypothetical particles called magnetic monopoles, envisioned in the wider illustration, would possess only a north or south pole.CERNMagnetic monopoles may also dwell where magnetic fields are extraordinarily strong and temperatures are high. Under these conditions, pairs of monopoles might form spontaneously. Such extreme environments can be found around a special kind of dead star known as a magnetar, and in the aftermath of collisions of heavy atomic nuclei in particle accelerators. By studying these two scenarios, physicists Arttu Rajantie and Oliver Gould, both of Imperial College London, put new constraints on monopoles’ masses, the researchers report in the Dec. 15 Physical Review Letters.If magnetic monopoles had relatively small masses, the particles would sap the strength of magnetars’ magnetic fields. That fact suggests that the particles must be more massive than about 0.3 billion electron volts — about a third the mass of a proton — the researchers calculate. That estimate depends on another unknown property of monopoles, the strength of their magnetic charge. The particles have a minimum possible magnetic charge. A magnetic charge larger than this baseline value would correspond to a minimum mass greater than 0.3 billion electron volts.For a monopole with twice the minimum charge, Rajantie and Gould determined that magnetic monopoles must be more massive than about 10 billion electron volts, going by data from collisions of lead nuclei in the Super Proton Synchrotron, a smaller accelerator at CERN. Studying similar collisions of lead nuclei in the LHC could improve this estimate, due to the LHC’s higher collision energies.While other experiments have set higher monopole mass limits than the new estimates, those analyses relied on questionable theoretical assumptions, Rajantie says. “These are currently the strongest bounds on the masses of magnetic monopoles that don’t rely on assumptions” about how the particles are created, he says.The results are “very exciting,” says theoretical physicist Kimball Milton of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, who was not involved with the research. Of course, he adds, it’s “not as exciting as if somebody actually found a magnetic monopole.”Even if monopoles do exist, the particles might be so heavy that they can’t be produced by accelerators or cosmic processes. The only magnetic monopoles in the universe might be remnants of the Big Bang. A future incarnation of MoEDAL, located on a mountaintop instead of in an accelerator’s cavern, could look for such magnetic monopoles that sprinkle down on Earth from space, Pinfold says.CitationsO. Gould and A. Rajantie. Magnetic monopole mass bounds from heavy-ion collisions and neutron stars. Physical Review Letters. Vol. 119, December 15, 2017, p. 241601.MoEDAL Collaboration. Search for magnetic monopoles with the MoEDAL forward trapping detector in 2.11 fb?1 of 13 TeV proton-proton collisions at the LHC. arXiv:1712.09849. Posted December 28, 2017.Further ReadingA. Grant. Single-pole magnet emerges in frozen concoction. Science News. Vol. 185, March 8, 2014, p. 8.D. Powell. ‘Magnetricity’ behaves like electricity. Science News. Vol. 179, March 12, 2011, p. 13.Get Science News headlines by e-mail.SUBMITMore from Science NewsEvidence grows that normal childbirth takes longer than we thoughtSpeed of universe’s expansion remains elusiveDNA solves the mystery of how these mummies were relatedTiny scales in ancient lagoon may be the first fossil evidence of the moth-butterfly lineSpaceships could use blinking dead stars to chart their wayTrio of dead stars upholds a key part of Einstein’s theory of gravityPollution is endangering the future of astronomySee a 360-degree visualization of the center of the Milky Way18 new species of pelican spiders discoveredRising CO2 in lakes could keep water fleas from raising their spiky defensesNot all strep infections are alike and it may have nothing to do with youShallow ice sheets discovered on Mars could aid future astronautsHubble telescope ramps up search for Europa’s watery plumesProtein helps old blood age the brains of young miceA new gel could help in the fight against deadly, drug-resistant superbugsFrom the Nature IndexPAID CONTENTScience NewsScience News for StudentsStudent ScienceSociety for Science & the PublicJoin the SocietyGift MembershipsDonateRenewAdvertiseAbout Science NewsFAQCareersContact UsRights and PermissionsLegalPrivacy PolicyScience News on TwitterScience News on FacebookScience News on Google+Comment PolicyRSSMy AccountNewsletter1719 N Street, N.W. , Washington, D.C. 20036|202.785.2255|© Society for Science & the Public 2000 – 2017. 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