Scientists blow up their lab after creating strongest magnet ever

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

Magnetic field explosion, a new record of 1,200 teslas
Photo: The University of Tokyo.
  • 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.

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

Photo: The University of Tokyo.

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]."

Graphic illustration of how the scientists hit the record.

Image by University of Tokyo.

Watch it go boom

Every 27.5 million years, the Earth’s heart beats catastrophically

Geologists discover a rhythm to major geologic events.

Credit: desertsolitaire/Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • It appears that Earth has a geologic "pulse," with clusters of major events occurring every 27.5 million years.
  • Working with the most accurate dating methods available, the authors of the study constructed a new history of the last 260 million years.
  • Exactly why these cycles occur remains unknown, but there are some interesting theories.
Keep reading Show less

Which countries are voyaging to Mars this decade?

We are likely to see the first humans walk on Mars this decade.

Mars's Twin Peaks

NASA
Technology & Innovation
  • Space agencies have successfully sent three spacecraft to Mars this year.
  • The independent missions occurred at around the same time because Earth and Mars were particularly close to each other last summer, providing an opportune time to launch.
  • SpaceX says it hopes to send a crewed mission to Mars by 2026, while the U.S. and China aim to land humans on the planet in the 2030s.
Keep reading Show less

How Apple and Nike have branded your brain

A new episode of "Your Brain on Money" illuminates the strange world of consumer behavior and explores how brands can wreak havoc on our ability to make rational decisions.

Apple logo

Vegefox.com via Adobe Stock
popular
  • Effective branding can not only change how you feel about a company, it can actually change how your brain is wired.
  • Our new series "Your Brain on Money," created in partnership with Million Stories, recently explored the surprising ways brands can affect our behavior.
  • Brands aren't going away. But you can make smarter decisions by slowing down and asking yourself why you're making a particular purchase.
Keep reading Show less
Sponsored by Singleton

How Apple and Nike have branded your brain

Powerful branding can not only change how you feel about a company, it can actually change how your brain is wired.

Quantcast