Strange Physics: making “Alice Rings” from quantum monopoles #Physics @PopMech

Down the physics rabbit hole we go…

The literary works of Lewis Carroll and the complex machinations of quantum physics rarely cross paths—but when they do, it’s about as mind-bending as it sounds.

Last month, scientists from Aalto University in Finland and Amherst College in Massachusetts created a bizarre quantum object known as an ‘Alice ring.’ An homage to Carroll’s titular character in Alice in Wonderland, the name is an apt one. This decayed monopole—a particle with only one magnetic pole—opens a “vortex ring” that flips the magnetic charge of any other monopole passing through its center, creating an “anti-monopole.” The results of the study were published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

Alice’s adventure in Wonderland are long enough to the fill the pages of two entire novels, but these quantum defects are incredibly short-lived and only last for a few milliseconds. Möttönen compares topological monopoles to an egg teetering on the top of a hill—any slight disruption, such as sound, can trigger the monopole to start decaying into an Alice ring. But unlike monopoles, Alice rings have the ability to last 80 milliseconds—about 20 times longer than the monopole itself.

Read more in Popular Mechanics.


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