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Record-Setting 100+ T Magnetic Field Achieved At Los Alamos 166

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
New submitter schrodingersGato writes "Researchers at the Los Alamos campus of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory achieved a record-setting 100.75 Tesla magnetic field. To do this, scientists placed a resistive magnet (a sophisticated electromagnet) coupled to massive bank of capacitors within another magnet fixed at a 'lower' magnetic field. A short-lived pulse two million times stronger than the Earth's magnetic field was generated. The magnet itself made an eerie sound as it was energized (video). Prepare for the birth of Magneto!"
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Record-Setting 100+ T Magnetic Field Achieved At Los Alamos

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  • by gcnaddict (841664) on Friday March 23, 2012 @03:32PM (#39455139)
    How much stronger would a field have to be to protect a hypothetical ship the size of the space shuttle from solar winds and other non-EM ionizing radiation in interplanetary space?

    If 100 tesla is achievable now, then I can imagine it wouldn't take long before a field can be generated which would be powerful enough to provide a buffer against most ionizing radiation a la Earth's own magnetic field, but I could be way in the realm of science fiction with this thought.
    • by durrr (1316311) on Friday March 23, 2012 @03:35PM (#39455179)

      The earths magnetic field is not strong, it's just huge. You're probably more burdned by power and weight and size contraints if you want to shield a shuttle than field strenght.

      What I find interesting with this is that some "magic physics" theories postulates funny things to be possible at some ~50 tesla strenght. Probably won't show up anything, but testing them to falsify is always a noble goal.

      • by c0lo (1497653) on Friday March 23, 2012 @06:24PM (#39456991)

        What I find interesting with this is that some "magic physics" theories postulates funny things to be possible at some ~50 tesla strenght. Probably won't show up anything, but testing them to falsify is always a noble goal.

        They went to pulsed 200T in 1950-ies [wikipedia.org] (see the MK2 in 1956).

        • by durrr (1316311)

          Yes, but only with destructive pulsing and you can probably agree that there's a bit of problems with running tests where the magnet pulse is accompanied by a HE shockwave.

          • by c0lo (1497653)

            theories that some "magic physics" theories postulates funny things to be possible at some ~50 tesla strenght

            They went to pulsed 200T in 1950-ies [wikipedia.org] (see the MK2 in 1956).

            Yes, but only with destructive pulsing and you can probably agree that there's a bit of problems with running tests where the magnet pulse is accompanied by a HE shockwave.

            I was answering to the "funny things happen over ~50T", not diminishing the merit of the non-destructive 100+T.

    • by demonbug (309515)

      How much stronger would a field have to be to protect a hypothetical ship the size of the space shuttle from solar winds and other non-EM ionizing radiation in interplanetary space?

      A hypothetical ship is the easiest kind to protect from all sorts of dangers; the size doesn't even matter!

      Or were you asking, hypothetically, what the field strength needed to protect a space-shuttle size ship would be?

      (Pedants hide their ignorance and inability to answer the question by making fun of the grammar of the parent)

    • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Friday March 23, 2012 @04:05PM (#39455571) Journal

      How much stronger would a field have to be to protect a hypothetical ship the size of the space shuttle from solar winds

      The deflection of charged particles in a magnetic field is roughly proportional to the strength of the field and the "thickness" of the field i.e. the distance that the charged particle travels through it. So (ignoring important complexities like varying field strength, ship geomtery etc.) a 100T field 1 m around the craft would be roughly as effective as a 1T field extending 100m around the craft.

    • by XiaoMing (1574363) on Friday March 23, 2012 @04:17PM (#39455673)

      It's great that you can quote a few numbers you recall being important and draw inferences from them, but please leave the science to people who didn't just read the summary of an article, and go "hey that number I just read is bigger than another one I remember reading about somewhere else, so I'm close to discovering a solution!"

      This is like if you find out that if you place a 50lb bag on a 100 foot lever, you can generate 5000ft-lb of torque, and holy crap how far away are we from sandbag-lever arm car engines!?

      First off:
      This is a transient field generated by an electric current that was created through the discharge of capacitor banks. The banks themselves probably took a few minutes to charge up, at a power draw unsustainable for any space vehicle, and discharged a "short lived" pulse, which from the video, was order of seconds. Regardless, the point of mentioning "short-lived" is obviously that this cannot run in steady state, which wouldn't do much for protection.

      Second (and you and whoever modded you up have probably heard of this exciting term too):
      The physics behind an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) is exactly what this magnet would create: a large magnetic flux change through closed conducting circuits. That means that if you can't generate this type of magnetic field in steady state (remember the words "short-lived"?), you'd end up frying more components than whatever charged particles you want to protect against.

      Third:
      Does anyone know how standard magnetic fields are generated, or at least bother to take a look at the pretty pictures in the article? The 100T that was quoted was undoubtedly in the center of the giant metal solenoid (new buzzword for the pseudoscientists out there!). To "protect" a space vehicle from more science words using this specific methodology basically means building a giant metal sewer pipe around every space shuttle to begin with. The technology required to be useful in stellar flight requires small modular field generators that can create magnetic fields external to itself (and anything it wants to protect), not internal (where once again dFlux/dt would fry your circuits).

      Finally:
      "Non-EM ionizing radiation" is a cute and exciting phrase, but really that just means other "ions". And yes, if a magnetic field can stop a proton (a hydrogen ion) from that "non-EM" solar wind, it'll stop other forms of ions as well, as they all follow the same physics of being a massive (i.e. having mass) charged particle.

      +3 interesting?? What the fuck, mods.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 23, 2012 @04:38PM (#39455911)

        + 5 Informative, -6 for being a snarky asshole.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 23, 2012 @05:05PM (#39456251)
        FYI: your reply would have been more interesting without the snobbery and generally superior attitude. You may be technically correct, but you sound like an ass.
      • by Xiterion (809456) on Friday March 23, 2012 @05:20PM (#39456433)

        This is a transient field generated by an electric current that was created through the discharge of capacitor banks.

        If you're going to pour on the snark, you could at least read enough of the article to understand that, while a capacitor bank is used in establishing the magnetic field, the primary energy storage was from a motor-generator that stores 1.2 GJ of energy for the experiments. So, while I agree that it's frustrating to hear half baked ideas for applications of exciting new science to pet science fiction dreams, doing so in a confrontational manner does little to actually enhance the knowledge of the folks making those sorts of suggestions.

        • by XiaoMing (1574363) on Friday March 23, 2012 @06:32PM (#39457037)

          Good point.

          But the snark is there for a reason. He posed a silly thought, and was instantly modded to +3 with worthless comments otherwise. I post something factual with a shit attitude, and everyone spends additional effort trying their best to prove me wrong. Which one got the general public to do more thinking? Even the other (non AC) response to mine tried to at least mention some high school physics and bring up regimes where my EMP example might not completely hold.

          The real problem isn't that comments are misleading, but that too many people blindly eat up whatever sounds important or right without doing their own due diligence, as OP demonstrated first hand.

          There was a link on ./ a week ago regarding online comment sections being completely worthless. It was almost ironic that it was posted in ./, probably best known for its comments sections, and I refuse to let the same thing happen here without a fight.

          Ming

          • There was a link on ./ a week ago regarding online comment sections being completely worthless. It was almost ironic that it was posted in ./, probably best known for its comments sections, and I refuse to let the same thing happen here without a fight.

            Obligatory.

            You're obviously new here.

            /. comments are famous for being completely worthless. Or you just don't read enough of them. That's why there's a rating system. So you can easily see the really worthless ones, and ignore the worthwhile ones.

        • Also, if he hadn't been so snarky and actually had any creativity, he might have found some engineering that could be done on the apparatus to make it steady state. I haven't read the article, and not sure I'd want to be inside a space vehicle generating a 100T magnetic steady state or not.

          A little engineering knowledge might have helped him see beyond his theoretical physics knowledge, which itself is lacking, as has been pointed out.

          The fact the field is transient doesn't mean it needs to be that way.

        • This is a transient field generated by an electric current that was created through the discharge of capacitor banks.

          If you're going to pour on the snark, you could at least read enough of the article to understand that, while a capacitor bank is used in establishing the magnetic field, the primary energy storage was from a motor-generator that stores 1.2 GJ of energy for the experiments. So, while I agree that it's frustrating to hear half baked ideas for applications of exciting new science to pet science fiction dreams, doing so in a confrontational manner does little to actually enhance the knowledge of the folks making those sorts of suggestions.

          ...but it does enhance the entertainment value of the thread for those of us who don't expect, let alone *require*, that every slashdot post have a high signal-to-noise ratio. Frankly, I *love* browsing at -1. People are too funny, really...

      • by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday March 23, 2012 @05:52PM (#39456729)

        Does anyone know how standard magnetic fields are generated, or at least bother to take a look at the pretty pictures in the article? The 100T that was quoted was undoubtedly in the center of the giant metal solenoid (new buzzword for the pseudoscientists out there!). To "protect" a space vehicle from more science words using this specific methodology basically means building a giant metal sewer pipe around every space shuttle to begin with.

        This in itself shows a clear lack of understanding of how magnetic fields work. Magnetic fields are closed loops: what that means is, if there is a 100T flux through the middle of the magnet, there will also be an intense magnetic field curving back around the outside of the magnet (this is middle-school physics here). So if you ran the magnet through the center of the ship (and had sufficient power to leave it on, or hell a permanent magnet would also work), it would create a magnetic field that would extend around the entirety of the ship, which would deflect and charged particles stream that got near the ship (except at the ends, where like the Earth's north pole, the field would be parallel to incoming particles and wouldn't be deflected). Indeed, that design would be exactly identical to the Earth's magnetic field.

        Also, the EMP effect would be non-existent if you could keep the magnet charged (assuming you built up slowly), so that point is... well, not relevant to the posters question (he didn't say this design would work, only asked how strong the field would need to be in general). And your third point is just being snarky. He asked an interesting hypothetical question, and you answered snarkily and, ironically, in a way that revealed your own ignorance.

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by XiaoMing (1574363)

          And it's pretty clear that high school physics was where your understanding ended.

          Re: closed loops
          Grab a plasma physics text (which is highly applicable in the regime of astrphysical charged particles) and learn about the conservation of magnetic moment. This was the basis for Z-pinch style devices attempting fusion towards the end of the cold war, and it's also the basis for why charged particles stuck in the earth's magnetic field DON'T just completely fry the northern and southern poles, but rather boun

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward
            He might be ignorant, but you're just a dick
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by celtic_hackr (579828)

            Actually, I'm fairly sure you're wrong here. Please explain how these particles are bouncing "back and forth" "inside" a N-S permanent magnet. Sounds like a perpetual motion machine to me and I call BS. Not to mention the fact we have observed a charged particle emission from the poles in black holes. If charged particles continually entered the Earth and get stuck bouncing back and forth the Earth would gain mass, conservation of energy would be violated, and over 4.3 billion years or so, that would be sig

          • by Coren22 (1625475)

            Um, Tokamak? As in 1950s modern?

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokamak [wikipedia.org]

            Experimental research of tokamak systems started in 1956 in Kurchatov Institute, Moscow by a group of Soviet scientists led by Lev Artsimovich. The group constructed the first tokamaks, the most successful being T-3 and its larger version T-4. T-4 was tested in 1968 in Novosibirsk, conducting the first ever quasistationary thermonuclear fusion reaction.

      • by hexagonc (1986422)

        Why be a douche about it? For one thing, you didn't even address the question. He did not ask: "Wow, this is neato! How can we apply this methodology to protecting starships?!!" He was asking about the use of magnetism in general to protect spacecraft from radiation. This is by no means a silly question [bbc.co.uk] or one steeped in ignorance. Instead, you went on a long tangent about the unsuitability of transient magnet fields and EM pulses -- relevant to the article but irrelevant to the question. I didn't e

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      100 Tesla is possiblenow as a pulse. A stable 100T is much harder. One big enough to shield a space ship is much harder than that.

      Also, it might not be possible to live in such a strong field. It certainly wouldn't be comfortable.

  • This would make an excellent MRI If it doesn't rip all the blood from your body.
    • by Thud457 (234763)
      This would make an excellent </Mr. Burns> death-ray if it did rip all the blood from someone else's body.
    • The issue is not the magnetic field strength (which only aligns the nuclear spins). Instead, the major hurdle would be that microwave frequency radiation would be needed to image a person at that field strength (rather than radio-frequency) at typical MRI [wikipedia.org] field strengths, thus cooking the person by dielectric heating [wikipedia.org]. Also, the iron in hemoglobin is paramagnetic, not ferromagnetic. It is aligned by the magnetic field, but is not at risk of being torn out of the body. Though if you like iron shavings with yo
      • by jd (1658) <imipak@yaCOLAhoo.com minus caffeine> on Friday March 23, 2012 @04:18PM (#39455687) Homepage Journal

        The strongest MRI currently used on humans is 9.1T and a 13T MRI scanner is being built - might already be finished. Given that the 9.1T is good enough to see individual neurons, the 13T scanner might be good enough to start seeing the fine structure of the synapses. I look forward to seeing the photos that will hopefully be published once the scanner gets going.

        It would be interesting to see how far you could go before the damage becomes excessive. Would it be possible to build an MRI capable of directly observing the proteins that control and form memories? Could you observe the tau protein unpeeling as Alzheimer's begins? (Long before structural changes occur, which in turn is long before symptoms appear.)

        How about archaeological uses? Could a high-power MRI reveal something of the mental state of the various bog bodies that have been found? What about Otzi? If we can directly observe memory structure, could we interrogate his brain to find out what happened to him?

        • by Megahard (1053072)
          Frogs have been levitated [www.ru.nl] in a 10T field. Would these machines levitate humans? Or would there be problems from the machine focusing on one part of the body?
          • by guruevi (827432)

            Frogs and other small, light items levitated at 16T if I remember correctly and humans would probably not levitate because of their mass (gravity still works). I doubt 16T systems have already been approved for human research but either way the side effects would probably be going more towards nausea and dizziness. I don't know enough about how the brain works but it would definitely be interesting to see at what point we can influence the brain itself.

        • MRi is technically just a euphemism for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) imaging. The N was dropped because it of the obvious stigma that word possesses outside of scientific circles. We already have structures [rcsb.org] of these proteins solved by NMR. The next challenge is indeed to view these molecular systems in-vivo [infai.com]. I doubt that these techniques will actually make it out of the research setting. MRi's with fields higher than 3T are having trouble being approved by the FDA for clinical use. This is complicated b
          • by jd (1658)

            Technically, the FDA has already stated that 7.3T MRI is approved for clinical use, so any hold-ups between the 3T and 7.3T range is arguably in violation of their own approval process. Further, scanners for medical research using live patients do not need FDA approval and can go at high as they like, which is why there are 3-4 9.1T scanners already in use. Patients with actual clinical need can also gain access to non-approved systems, subject to all manner of waivers and disclaimers.

            Improving sensitivity

            • The issue is not the magnetic field, its the dielectric heating from the microwave-frequency radiation needed to detect nuclear spins at the higher magnetic fields. Yes, the cell-phone radiation issue has raised the question of whether other (yet undetected) phenomena can occur in cells (like changes in gene regulation/expression) in response to microwave radiation. The issue of cooking a patient is by far a bigger challenge. Patients can get waivers for high field MRIs, but the spectrometers are still not
              • by jd (1658)

                Molecules absorb at very specific frequencies, so provided you don't emit microwave radiation at the hydroxide bond frequency or any other frequencies "reserved" by biochemistry, you should be safe enough. That means that you need to be very selective about microwave frequency components, which in turn means specific sized magnets won't be usable at all. Those not in the automatically excluded list will depend on how good you are at ensuring genuinely harmful frequencies either don't occur or don't reach th

          • by guruevi (827432)

            Not all MRI is NMR. MRI can be purely magnetic using supercooled conductors and lots of power. These are the ones used on humans.

            NMR are usually the higher powered siblings of MRI systems with usually very small bores and really, really strong fields (up to 21T) usually used in spectroscopy.

        • Who's building the 13T? When I got out of diagnostic imaging, 8T was as big as we got, and those things were monsters but the bore hole was only large enough for the leg of a small dog.

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Besides spacial resolution, higher field MRI would allow more chemical information to be probed. At sufficient field strengths it becomes more practical to image nuclei other than hydrogen. You can also study stuff like diffusion and movement of blood/etc. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance has many applications beyond the fairly simple pictures generated by most MRI machines, but the biggest limitation has been the field sizes of magnets large enough to stuff a person into.

          Imaging other nuclei than hydrogen wou

  • by Anonymous Coward

    >> A short-lived pulse two million times stronger than the Earth's magnetic field was generated.

    In unrelated news, government researchers have issued an RFP for 100 new disk drives and data recovery services.

  • by Thud457 (234763) on Friday March 23, 2012 @03:37PM (#39455213) Homepage Journal
    There ain't no SI unit named after Edison. beeeotch!
    • by syphax (189065)

      It's really Gauss who is Tesla's bitch...

      I love that the record is 100 Tesla. No scaling prefixes necessary.

    • by Eponymous Hero (2090636) on Friday March 23, 2012 @03:54PM (#39455437)
      i propose we use Edisons as units of patents trolled
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sadly, there is an award named after Edison and he gets all the attention in schoolbooks. Seems Edison's slow, amateur progress from a telegraph addict to inventing one of the least efficient light sources known to man is preferable to teaching about the 'madman' who repeatedly did the 'impossible' and established the technological foundation for the majority of modern age.

      Probably just a bunch of teachers scared about what the middle-school science fairs would look like if Tesla had been part of the lesso

      • by rilian4 (591569)

        Sadly, there is an award named after Edison and he gets all the attention in schoolbooks. Seems Edison's slow, amateur progress from a telegraph addict to inventing one of the least efficient light sources known to man is preferable to teaching about the 'madman' who repeatedly did the 'impossible' and established the technological foundation for the majority of modern age.

        Probably just a bunch of teachers scared about what the middle-school science fairs would look like if Tesla had been part of the lesson plan...

        Dude did invent quite a few things. He *does* deserve mention as a great inventor. You're right that Tesla is under-appreciated but that's no reason to beat down Edison.

  • the change in my pocket move.
    • ...and I had a hard-drive failure. Damn you, Los Alamos!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That wasn't change.

    • by mmontour (2208)

      Many years ago I had a summer job at the TRIUMF cyclotron. When you stood above the main magnet (on top of a thick layer of concrete shielding blocks) the field was strong enough that you could hold one coin vertically and stick another one onto its bottom edge.

      The stray field was too weak to affect credit cards or hard drives, but it did do interesting things to the CRT monitors in nearby offices.

  • Because they should have sent a poet.
  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Friday March 23, 2012 @03:45PM (#39455299)

    What insights will we gain from this breakthrough? As it stands it sounds as impressive as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Cool, but sort of useless.

    Why did they choose 100 Tesla as a target? Why not 117 Tesla? That is even more!

    • It doesn't go to 111 :(

    • by sloth jr (88200)
      It seems to be evolutionary work that will likely strengthen magnetic containment fusion (eg Tokamak/ITER) research.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      From TFA:

      "Today’s 100.75-tesla performance produced research results for scientific teams from Rutgers University, ÉcoleNationaleSupérieure d’Ingénieurs deCaen (ENSICAEN), McMaster University, University of Puerto Rico, University of Minnesota, Cambridge University, University of British Columbia, and Oxford University. The science that we expect to come out varies with the experiment, but can be summarized as:
      Quantum Phase transitions and new ultra high field magnetic states
      Elect

    • by timeOday (582209)
      The linked article already says what insights they are gaining - they're measuring quantities never measured before. I think your real question is, "how can this be commercialized?" The answer is, nobody knows yet. But do you know how much basic science and engineering must be done before some opportunistic company can swoop in, put it in a shiny box, and become trillionaires selling it? These physicists aren't Exxon pumping oil from the ground. They're chloroplasts slowly producing biomass through pho
      • by ErikZ (55491) *

        Commercialized? It would be great if that was obvious. I'm trying to figure out what you can DO with 100T.

        • by whit3 (318913)

          Oh, there's a good chance there ARE uses for this, and in a surprising way.
          The energy levels in electrons of atoms are perturbed by magnetic fields. So, in addition to temperature, and pressure,
          a magnetic field can change chemical energies (and cause or inhibit reactions, change reaction rates...).
          Douglas Hofstadter did some work (theoretical) on high magnetic fields, before writing _Goedel, Escher, Bach_.

    • Why did they choose 100 Tesla as a target? Why not 117 Tesla? That is even more!

      1.17 Holy Grails [youtube.com]? That's crazy talk!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yes, but what will it do to a marshmallow peep?

  • Wow! Imagine a Beowulf cluster of....wait that makes no sense, nevermind.
  • This is a record for an artificial field. The strongest naturally occurring fields are believed to be about 10^12 Tesla for some pulsars.

  • If the neighborhood still watched tube TV's, you could distort or completely blank everyone's picture within an X mile radius.

  • I used to work next to the french Laboratoire National des Champs Magnétiques Intenses [grenoble.cnrs.fr] (Powerful Magnetic Field National Laboratory) and was lucky enough to visit it once during the yearly Science Day (why don't we have this in the US?).

    They claimed they had the second most powerful magnets in the world, IIRC behind the Fermilab, at about 32T (again, IIRC). Note that this is a sustained magnetic field, not transient as the OP's record. (still, hitting 100T without destroying the magnet is one hell of a

  • IIRC, Heim theory [wikipedia.org] proposes a type of antigravity effect based on magnetic interactions.

    The effect is difficult to test on Earth, because the effect is smaller the closer you get to a gravitational body. I seem to recall an experiment on Earth would require something like 14T to produce a measurable effect.

    Maybe we could set up the Heim propulsion using this system and definitively decide whether Heim was correct?

    Ah - here [hpcc-space.de] is the link. The paper tosses out values of 25T and 60T as needed to do interesting th

  • .... as if millions of Juggalos [urbandictionary.com] suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

  • ... Well done doctors, now can I have my keys back please?
  • Hope there were no lobsters in the vicinity.
  • Researchers celebrated by having their fillings restored after a painful emergency.

    In other news, superhero Dr. Magnet explained to the press that the large bulge in his trunks was merely because he'd flown too close to Los Alamos. His sidekick Alnico Girl shook her head and said "Don't believe a word that horny bastard says."

  • Wait until Livermore powers up the bobble generator they're building in secret.

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