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Dirac's Dream - the Continuing Quest for the Magnetic Monopole

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Leona Hope-Coles.

I will first quickly summarize the history of the Magnetic Monopole leading to the quantum theory of magnetic charge that started with a 1931 paper by Paul Dirac who showed that the existence of magnetic monopoles was consistent with Maxwell’s equations only if electric charges are quantized. Modern interest in the magnetic monopole stems from particle theories, notably the grand unification theory and superstring theories, which predict their existence. Also, the “monopole problem” was one of the prime motivations for Guth’s inflationary model. Joseph Polchinski, a prominent string-theorist, described the existence of monopoles as “one of the safest bets that one can make about physics not yet seen”.

Next I will briefly review the status of monopole searches, including the induction experiments in 1975 and 1982 that produced candidate events that were initially interpreted as monopoles, as well as possible evidence from cosmic rays experiments, However, Magnetic Monopole detection is still an open problem in experimental physics. In some models magnetic monopoles are unlikely to be observed, because they are too massive to be created in particle accelerators and too rare in the universe to enter a particle detector.

Last, but not least I will discuss in more detail the MoEDAL experiment – the latest accelerator experiment designed to search for direct production of magnetic monopoles or dyons (particles with electric and magnetic charge) and other highly ionizing particles – such as heavy (pseudo-) stable particles with conventional electric charge – at the LHC . The MoEDAL experiment employs nuclear track-etch detectors deployed in the VELO vertex region of the LHCb experiment.

This talk is part of the Cavendish Physical Society series.

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