Every magnet has two poles—north and south, or positive and negative. Right? Maybe not. As reported in an online article in New Scientist (“Rewriting the textbooks: Magnetic north without south”), researchers have discovered they can create monopoles (magnets with only one pole) by forcing an atom’s polar axes to align, which makes the material itself become magnetic. As soon as I read about this, a few thoughts came to mind about balance and imbalance, duality and oneness, and continual tension.
To create a monopole, a very low temperature is used to force materials known as “spin ices” to exist in a “frustrated” magnetic state. Their atoms desperately want to align magnetically (to create two poles), but they are caught within a tight crystal structure that does not allow them to align (so they end up with only one pole and are monopoles).
My first thoughts re this type of monopole:
- being “stuck” in a place of imbalance, not able to move
- cold, slow, congested energy (low frequency)
However, when the temperature is raised just a little, the atom can flip its poles into the proper alignment. This action then sets off a domino effect that allows other atoms throughout the solid crystal to flip their poles—a moving magnetic charge.
My first thoughts re this type of dual pole:
- balance, movement
- warmer, flowing energy (higher frequency)
- in spintronics, this might be equivalent to bringing misaligned electron spins (due to precession) back to coherence
- Additional thought added on May 30: balance in one area of our lives often brings balance in other areas, like a domino effect
And other thoughts also popped into my head:
- When the atom’s polar axes align and the material itself becomes magnetic, could that represent oneness? When I feel oneness, my entire being feels magnetic, and that seems to be a common experience. But it’s hard to hold that oneness for a long time because we are brought back into the duality of our physical and spiritual world (our two poles).
Additional thought added on May 30: Our two poles are physical/our feet/being grounded and spiritual/our head/connection to the universal. Our bodies are magnets.
- In my February 11 post, “Can you be in two places at once?” we explore the superposition of atoms and electrons which, in microscopic systems, can remain superpositioned in perpetuity. However, superposition in larger systems always collapses, usually in the tiniest fractions of a second. One theory, put forward by Roger Penrose, is that gravity is the culprit in the demise of the superposition in larger objects because the energy needed for them to be in two places at once is much larger than that for a microscopic object.
I’m not sure at this point exactly how superposition relates to dual poles and monopoles; both systems collapse and come together again, and the common link might be gravity. In the superposition of large objects, gravity might be the factor that forces the atoms apart, and in the experiment with the atoms in the crystal, magnetic pull brings the two poles together again (gravity is a form of magnetic energy).
- Is there an ongoing tension between one pole and two poles at all levels, from the microscopic to the macroscopic? We see it at the atomic level in crystals with tension that can last fractions of a second; we see it at the human level in imbalances in our bodies that can last from seconds to lifetimes; and, we can also witness it with our Earth at a much larger time scale in the case of the very slowly reversing poles.
So, what does all this mean? I have no clue. They are just Sunday morning thoughts to ponder as I read and drink my tea.
Sources and more information:
New Scientist online. “Rewriting the textbooks: Magnetic north without south.” By Richard Webb. Published May 27, 2011. Accessed May 29, 2011. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028133.100-rewriting-the-textbooks-magnetic-north-without-south.html? (Note: you must be a registered user to read this article, but registration is free.)
Scientific American online. “Spintronics.” By David D. Awschalom et al. Published May 13, 2002. Accessed January 7, 2011. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=spintronics (Unfortunately, it seems this article can now only be accessed with a subscription.)
Touchy Subjects blog. “Can you be in two places at once?” By Brenda Piquette. Published February 11, 2011. Accessed May 29, 2011. https://touchysubjects.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/can-you-be-in-two-places-at-once/
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Touchy Subjects is owned and operated by Brenda Piquette. All information on the Touchy Subjects blog is copyright Brenda Piquette 2010 / 2011. Note: This information is provided for entertainment purposes only and should be verified for accuracy.