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start:physics:quantum_physics:magnetic_monopoles

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Magnetic monopoles

A magnetic monopole is a (possibly hypothetical) elementary particle in the form of an isolated magnet with only one magnetic pole (a north pole without a south pole or vice versa). Another way of saying a particle with a 'magnetic charge' (somewhat analagous to an electron with its 'electric charge')

In 1931 Paul Dirac showed 1) that if even one single magnetic monopole existed in the universe (and the form of Maxwell's equations is valid) then all electric charges (in the universe) would have to be quantized.

We now know that all electric charges are quantised - that's to say a known fact of nature that is otherwise unexplained - but a magnetic monopole has never been observed in any experiment to date.

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1) P.A.M. Dirac, Proc. Roy. Soc. (London) A123, 60

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