Scientists blow up their lab after creating strongest magnet ever

It's a record magnetic field, but... yeah. That didn't last long.

  • Scientists knew that it would probably explode, but they did not expect to reach such a record magnetic field.
  • Magnetic fields are measured in teslas, after Nikola Tesla.
  • This one reached a record 1,200 teslas, 400 times stronger than an MRI; watch it explode in the video


"With magnetic fields above 1,000 teslas, you open up some interesting possibilities," lead researcher Takeyama explained. "You can observe the motion of electrons outside the material environments they are normally within. So we can study them in a whole new light and explore new kinds of electronic devices. This research could also be useful to those working on fusion power generation."

The study, published in Review of Scientific Instruments, was released on September 17.

To achieve the record, the team used a technique known as electromagnetic flux-compression (EMFC). The instrument, which generates a low-strength magnetic field of 3.2 teslas, was attached to a row of capacitors that generate 3.2 megajoules, which is a huge amount of energy.

This compresses the magnetic field into a tiny area extremely quickly. But, as the team predicted, it can't be compressed for long, eventually creating a shock wave that rips the instrument apart. They expected this to happen after about 700 teslas, as that's what it was built to withstand. But incredibly, it reached 1,200 before exploding.

Photo: The University of Tokyo.

1,200 teslas later... a huge white light engulfs the lab. Video below!

Another view of the magnetic explosion

This image explains it a bit better, from the IEEE institute. "The University of Tokyo's 1,200-Tesla magnetic field generator is powered by a bank of capacitors [on left, white] capable of storing 5 megajoules. The capacitors' energy flows into the primary coil [bottom left, gray] and induces a counteracting current and magnetic field in the liner [orange]. This implodes the liner in 40 microseconds, compressing the magnetic field [bottom right]."

Image by University of Tokyo.

Graphic illustration of how the scientists hit the record.

Watch it go boom

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less

Understand your own mind and goals via bullet journaling

Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.

Videos
  • Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
  • The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
  • One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
Keep reading Show less