Research

 

MAGNETIC MONOPOLES

Pictorial representation of a monopole and its string. Physics Today, 69 (2016).

 

I became interested in magnetic monopoles last year. The aesthetic nature of the symmetrized Maxwell’s equations is what initially drove me to the subject and I have been fairly fascinated towards it ever since.  

In the standard literature of magnetic monopoles, there is an open puzzle: Can the Dirac quantization condition be obtained if photons have a finite mass? It is commonly believed that magnetic monopoles and massive photons are two incompatible ideas because one cannot derive the Dirac quantization condition. However, in a paper I recently co-authored with Prof. Alfred Goldhaber, from Stony Brook, we answer this question in the affirmative.

 


NEUTRON STARS

Qualitative behavior of the magnetic field of a newly-born neutron star. Heras (2016).

Neutron stars are the extremely dense remnants of massive stars after they die and explode as supernovae. These amazing compact remnants have the strongest magnetic fields in the universe, super high densities, and very high velocities. What initially drove me to this subject back in high school is the fact that no one has come up with a concise explanation as to why neutron stars receive an intrinsic “kick” at birth, which originates their large space velocities. The research I have done in is centered on this specific problem. 

 


PHYSICS TODAY PAPERS

R. Heras, Phys. Today (March 2017)

I have written three opinion pieces in Physics Today! The first one, back when I was in high school, is an apologia to individualism in physics: “Individualism: the legacy of great physicists.” The second paper is a critique of physics education, written in the form of an essay entitled “How to teach me physics: tradition is not always a virtue.” This was a paper by invitation of Physics Today’s editor. Three professors made comments on this paper and I was invited to reply. 

 


TEACHING: RELATIVITY AND ELECTRODYNAMICS

I have not much to add in this section, but to say that relativity and electrodynamics are two of my most loved topics in physics. I take a great amount of pleasure in studying the details of these theories as well as teaching them every time I got the chance. 


HISTORY OF RELATIVITY

It turns out that in 1887 an unknown physicist named W. Voigt almost (without realizing it) discovered special relativity! He derived a set of space-time transfomrations now known as Voigt transformations by demanding covariance of the wave equation. I got interested on his seminal paper and decided to studied it. My paper on the history of relativity deals with Voigt’s seminal work.