Discovery PhD student hunts for magnetic monopoles
Morten Dam Jørgensen from the Discovery Center has next to his work at the ATLAS Experiment been part of a search for Magnetic Monopoles. These elusive particles have been predicted long before the discovery of quantum mechanics, but was made famous by the British theorist Paul Dirac. If just a single magnetic monopole exists somewhere in the universe, then all electric charge would be quantised, he noted. While charge quantisation is known from all elementary particles, no one has so far observed magnetic monopoles. If these magnetic monopoles can be created at the LHC, they are likely to get stuck in the beam-pipes, many of them never reaching the detectors.
Morten has together with a team of physicists from Switzerland, Sweden and CERN published initial studies of a method to find monopoles at the CMS and ATLAS experiments at CERN. The methods involves removing the beam-pipes and scanning them with a special magnetic sensor called a "SQUID". The study was done on pieces of material from CMS and conducted at ETH in Zurich. The study shows that this measurement is indeed possible, the next step is to define a proposal for funding and plan how to do the search on more than 100 meters of beam pipe from both experiments at the next upgrade.