August 2, 2010

‘Magnetricity’ discoverer to give lecture at Homewood

Steven Bramwell, the University College London physicist who discovered the concept of “magnetricity,” will give a lecture on Thursday, Aug. 5, on the Homewood campus. It will take place at 5 p.m. in Schafler Auditorium in the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy.

The lecture is part of an international conference, Highly Frustrated Magnetism 2010, which is being hosted by Johns Hopkins’ Henry A. Rowland Department of Physics and Astronomy and taking place from today, Aug. 1, through Friday, Aug. 6.

Most people are familiar with electricity as a flow of electrically charged particles. Until now, it has been thought that there is no equivalent “flow” for magnetic currents, primarily because even at the atomic scale, magnets consist of dipoles with north and south poles and no net “magnetic charge.” In his lecture, Bramwell will report on the discovery of magnetic monopoles—atom-sized pockets of magnetic charge that can form currents and move—within a curious material called “spin ice.”

Though aimed at a scientifically literate audience, the lecture should be accessible to the general public.