Finally, strange loops have been seen in the fabric of reality forming in extremely cold gas, providing physicists with an opportunity to study the behaviors of a strange kind of one-sided magnetism.
Known as “Alice’s loops” after “Alice in Wonderland”, the circular structures are a collaboration between researchers in the US and Finland, which already has a long list of discoveries relating to distortions in quantum fields known as topological monopoles.
The isolated equivalent of a pole on a magnet, monopoles really do look like something Alice might see while chasing the White Rabbit. Cutting a magnet into two halves will not succeed in separating its north from its south, but it is theoretically possible for monopoles to arise in a quantum machine that give rise to different forces and particles.
1 copy A monopole takes the form of an elementary particle, a particle that has defied all attempts to define it and has so far remained purely hypothetical.
However, monopolies can appear elsewhere. The frothing of different quantum fields can give rise to their own style of one-sided magnetism, as they spin, pull and tug on their surroundings to generate short-lived anomalies that pop up for a split moment before disappearing in the throes again.
As a member of the Monopole Collaboration at Aalto University in Finland, physicist Mikko Mutonen is intimately familiar with the whole range of vortices, strings and entanglements that can emerge in the quantum weave.
And in 2015, just a year later Prove the existence of a topological monopolyMoutonen and colleagues He succeeded triumphantly In one observation in isolation for the first time in an extremely cold state of rubidium atoms called Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC).
“We are the only ones who have been able to create topological monads in quantum domains,” Motonen explained to ScienceAlert.
“After they were created, we took some time to study the quantum nodes as well skyrmions Before we take a closer look at what happens to a monopoly of a topological pole immediately after it is created.”
Less than two years after their initial observations, the collaboration made a surprising discovery – monopoles can decompose to other types.
In this latest investigation, the researchers once again watched the topological monopoles dissolve into something else, but this time the end result was like a mini-entrance to Wonderland – named structures. Alice chains.
Alice’s strings are closely associated with monopoles, as they curl into one-sided magnetic poles as they approach the loops. These Alice chains are known as Alice rings.
However, while typical monopoles might last a few milliseconds, Alice loops last for more than 80 milliseconds — about 20 times longer.
“From a distance, Alice’s ring looks like a monopole, but the world takes on a different shape when looking through the center of the ring,” says David Hall, a physicist from Amherst College in the US.
Like Alice’s glass, passing through the strange magnetic ring in a BEC’s quantum field can turn everything upside down. Other monopolies that happen to fall through become mirrored in their mirror image, flipping the ring into its opposite as it slides through.
While the team has yet to observe this inversion experimentally, seeing ring formation during the decay of a topological monopoly is an exciting advance.
On a practical level, we can only speculate as to how these findings will apply. But the more we learn about the unstable nature of quantum fields, the better we can map their waters and understand the deeper truths of reality.
“In the first place, the creation of Alice rings is of fundamental importance,” Motonen tells ScienceAlert.
“It sheds light and inspiration on the search for the deepest components of the universe, matter and information.”
This research has been published in Nature Communications.
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