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Hi, Yoko. Be a bit careful. See my reply and the included link. The observations are not of "isolated particles," but rather of collective behaviour in solid-state systems.
The spin-ice "monopoles" are essentially an example of symmetry-breaking due to frustration -- they represent a point where they required symmetry of the system has a singularity. That point can move about (magnetic current) in the same sort of way that a crystal defect can migrate through the bulk.
In condensed matter physics, spin ices can include flux states which behave like magnetic monopoles. See, for example, a news writeup in Science World with links to the original research.
Quantization of electric charge requires that a magnetic monopole exists, but there only needs to be one in the whole universe to do that job.
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Posted:Aug 23, 2010
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