I am a CS student so I don't really understand all the nuances surrounding this subject but I have heard of magnetic monopoles a couple of times and found them to be extremely interesting.

I have heard of their relevance to a unified theory of physics but I never really dug into it (since it got too technical too quickly and I am not a physicist so it wasn't readable for me)

So, in layman terms, how would observing a magnetic monopole affect:

  • Physics
  • Technology (i.e if there are existing propositions to make our technology better that depend on the not-yet observed magnetic monopole)

I guessed I'd also ask if it'd affect technology because I think I read somewhere that they could be used to replace electric charges so I am a bit interested to know if they'd actually offer more to the table than electric charges? (if that makes sense?)

  • $\begingroup$ There are different theories containing monopoles. The impact on physics would be determined by which theory turned out to describe them. The technological impact would probably be zero since monopoles are so scarce to find or hard to produce, if not non-existent. $\endgroup$ – G. Smith Nov 30 '19 at 21:16

The existence of magnetic monopoles would be a pretty huge find. On a theoretical physics side, Paul Dirac proved that if any monopoles existed, then all electric charge in the universe must be quantizied (i.e. in discrete units). This would explain why a seemingly arbitrary yet fundamental property of our universe is that way, which would be big. It would also make Maxwell's equations (the equations that govern classical electromagnetism) more symmetric, but that's not really a big thing; it would just be more aesthetically pleasing.

On a technology side, probably not much. I couldn't find anything about them that would make them superior to electricity, and their rarity would make their usage impractical, I would think.

  • $\begingroup$ Would Magnetic Monopoles have electric poles? $\endgroup$ – Anders Gustafson Dec 1 '19 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ A magnetic monopole would not, but there are hypothesised particles with both electric and magnetic charge called dyons $\endgroup$ – DavidH Dec 1 '19 at 20:12

To add to Tessaract’s answer, if monopoles from a grand unified theory were found, they would be able to catalyse proton decay via the Rubakov-Callan effect. This would have pretty profound consequences: we could get energy from protons using monopoles without using up the monopole itself.

This would be contingent, however, on a large-scale supply of monopoles, which is very unlikely given their observed rarity.


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