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FSU Sets 7 World Records In High Magnetics Research 178

spence calder writes "FSU's High Magnetic Field Lab, more specifically my Kenpo teacher, just broke 7 world records, and brought the record for a superconducting magnet to 25 Tesla. Check it out at FSView and a more detailed article here. Now if only our football team was that cool." And if you'd like your magnetic toys to shoot metal bits, Jason Rollette points to his railgun project, which looks like good, clean, high-voltage fun.
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FSU Sets 7 World Records In High Magnetics Research

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  • by l810c ( 551591 ) * on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:19AM (#6897867)
    Jason's Blog has tons of cool pictures And video. I doubt it holds up.
  • 25 Tesla? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Read Icculus ( 606527 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:21AM (#6897873)
    That'll keep those damn Americans off my base.

    • To the mods who are about to mod parent post down, it's a C&C joke. A funny one at that.
      • it's a C&C joke. A funny one at that.

        Could you explain it for us poor ingorant saps?

        - Peter
        • well funny is a stretch, but in c&c red alert, it was the russians vs the americans in an alternate universe where russia had conquered europe in world war 2.

          The americans had normal weapons, the russians had cool stuff like tesla coils and mind control weapons. tesla coils were the best defensive weapon in the game
      • Cool. Oh, and what the hell is C & C?
        Canadian and Coke?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:26AM (#6897887)
    Yep, Alfred Nobel probably said a similar thing when inventing dynamite.
    • Hey.. you ripped that idea from my post in the previous story, thereby violating my IP. You owe me $699. This offer is good until October 13, 2003.

  • now where's that frog ...
  • A powerful superconducting magnet at higer temperatures is always welcome. MRI and NMR people can now rejoice! more powerful magnetic fields mean better instruments right?
    • Re:Congratulations (Score:5, Informative)

      by DrLudicrous ( 607375 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:41AM (#6897928) Homepage
      Yes and no. Most MRI systems for humans operate at about 1.5 Tesla. I know of at least one 8 Tesla system, but that is experimental. The higher the static field (i.e. the 25 Tesla), the better the resolution of your system can be.

      No one knows the effects of an 25 Tesla magnet on biological tissues. In addition, in order to get useable information out of an MRI system, one must hit it with radiofrequency (RF) waves. The higher the static field is, the higher these frequencies are going to be. A 7-tesla magnet uses frequences around 300 MHz. Therefore, by extrapolation (which I believe is right, since I know that a 9T system uses about 383 MHz), a 25 Hz system would need about 1.1 GHz. This might very well be extremely detrimental to biological tissue. In other words, to do MRI, you'd have to cook your sample.

      Finally, to truly achieve a resolution advantage, you will need very powerful gradients. The gradients one would need to take advantage of such a system would be gigantic, at least tens if not hundreds of Tesla per meter. This would be very difficult to design for samples as large as a human body, if not impossible with today's technology, and at the very least extremely expensive.

      Personally, I can see a 25 Tesla magnet being useful, just not for MRI. Perhaps for NMR being using not for imaging purposes, but in the study of non-soft condensed matter systems (i.e. not biological or organic, but solid state). It would be useful for examining superconductivity also.

      • But imagine how FLOATY a frog could be at 25 tesla!

        They ought to give up on MRI's and just concentrate on implementing the EXTREME SPORT of magnetic field weightless floating. If a frog can do it, so can I! It would be such a *gnarly* diamagnetic buzz!


    • yes this will also change the fridge magnet industry beyond recognition.
    • The problem for making a good NMR magnet is not the high field but sufficient homogeneity over the sample volume. Also, 25 Tesla is not that far off what currently used magnets can do, 21 Tesla magnets for NMR are hideously expensive, and not exactly standard, but there are quite a few of them around in the world...

      Still, you're right of course, any advances in magnet technology will be welcome :), i just don't think this is a particularly big breakthrough.

      As for MRI people. They generally work at much lo
      • The problem for making a good NMR magnet is not the high field but sufficient homogeneity over the sample volume.

        And at fields of 25T, you have to take the relative permeability of the sample tube, RF coil and whatnot into account.

        OTOH, this magnet could be nice for doing NMR of quadrupolar nuclei - the linewidth due to qudrupolar interactions stay the same, but the chemical shift will increase.

  • Football? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jonas the Bold ( 701271 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:29AM (#6897896)
    Now if only our football team was that cool Are you sure you're a geek?
    • Yes he is! He hates the football jocks, and wants them to freeze to death! They're always beating up on the geeks!
    • "Now if only our football team was that cool"

      "Are you sure you're a geek?"

      I know that was (partially) a joke, but I'm sick and tired of the idea that geeks can't like sports, or they're not real geeks. Where is it written that we can't like football or baseball or basketball or auto racing? Are we THAT FUCKING PATHETIC? Are we REALLY going to limit ourselves to basement D&D sessions with other geeks, or writing software for our only means of fun?(You porn mavens shut up now.......)

      Good God, who said
    • I'm a geek and I love FSU Seminole football. Of course, I partially attribute it to the brainwashing that took place during orientation.

      (mindlessly raises hand and makes chopping gesture)


  • Another railgun link (Score:3, Informative)

    by DarenN ( 411219 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:30AM (#6897899) Homepage
    is []

    They have a detailed overview of the physics involved, too.
  • by kmac06 ( 608921 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:31AM (#6897901)
    Neither article got into any detail, but I get the impression this is just a "bigger better" thing, not any particular breakthrough. Just put a few more coils and you get something big surprise? Or is there something I'm not seeing here?
    • by hbackert ( 45117 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:53AM (#6897965) Homepage

      It is a bit more tricky than just 'add more coils' or 'use more current'.

      Back at university we had a 14T He cooled magnet. Reaching 12T was standard. No issues. But having 2 more Teslas out of that thing took many tricks: pumping off the Helium to make it even colder, increasing current near the limit. The thick copper cables got pretty warm. And heat and superconducting coils and Helium don't mix well, so for us, 15T was unreachable.

      It's not unsimilar to the 10s/100m in athletics: Everyone get's close, but it took some time until someone finally was faster than 10s.

      20T was the limit for 'usual' magnets. Getting more needed a new trick. But I admit that for people not using this stuff, it looks very much like no particular breakthrough. Like I never cared if I can run 100m in 10.1 or 9.9s. It's just 2% difference after all, isn't it?

      • Explosions? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by A55M0NKEY ( 554964 )
        Ok, so you're pumping the electrical output of a medium sized hydroelectric plant through thick copper cables into freezing superconducting contacts. All is fine as your magnet draws millions of amps - for a while, until your copper wires start getting a little too hot. Soon you are using all your helium to cool them so that they don't heat up your superconducting contacts, but you are running out of helium! You want to shut off the power, but that can not be done with a switch because of the danger of a
    • This is not just "bigger is better." Here's why.

      The wire used for helium-cooled supercon magnets (Nb-Sn or Nb-Bi alloys) has performance envelope that limits the conditions under which it will superconduct. The factors describing this envelope are

      • the temperature
      • the current
      • the magnetic field

      Getting to 20T was accomplished by

      • better alloys -- mainly higher Nb content iirc
      • lower temperature -- achieved by cryopumping the liquid helium (LHe)
      • more turns in the winding, allows higher magnetic
  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:33AM (#6897905)
    Is that no material can take the EM pulse AND the physical abrasion. I guess levitating the object and magnetically containing it during its travel might work but no one has done that so far AFAIK. Every rail gun experiment I have seen needs to replace the rails every couple of shots if they try very high pulse energies.
    • by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @04:17AM (#6898034)
      The problem is that you cant levitate your object because you need it touching the rail to conduct the drive current.

      Thats the main problem. Else you could just throw a bagload of teflon on the slug and fire away.

      The main problem is not physical abrasion, but the fact that even if the projectile fits perfectly, the current density creates arc discharges between rail and slug, vaporizing the top layers
  • by PD ( 9577 ) *
    1 Tesla is the same as 1 weber per square meter. The dictionary says

    The unit of magnetic flux density in the International System of Units, equal to the magnitude of the magnetic field vector necessary to produce a force of one newton on a charge of one coulomb moving perpendicular to the direction of the magnetic field vector with a velocity of one meter per second. It is equivalent to one weber per square meter.

    question: Is that charge spoken of a static charge? If it is, how big is that charge compar

    • Re:25 Tesla (Score:5, Informative)

      by DrLudicrous ( 607375 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:49AM (#6897951) Homepage
      The charge is not static. It says "velocity of one meter per second". That means it's moving- if it wasn't moving, there would be no force on it, despite the magnetic field.

      One electron has a charge of 1.6E-19 Coloumbs, so you are talking about the equivalent of 6.7E18 electrons moving at 1m/s. One coulomb is the amount of charge that passes through a point in a wire in one second which is carrying one Amp of current.

      The instantaneous force being described would be perpendicular to both the motion of the particle and that of the magnetic field. Make a gun with your right hand, let your index finger point in the direction of the charge, let the field point in the direction of your thumb. Stick out your middle finger so it makes a right angle with both digits, and that is the direction of the force.

      • If the velocity is constant, then its derivative would be 0, likewise its force would be the same.

        If you are referring:

        F = k (|q1|*|q2|)/r^2

        Then it doesn't really have to do with motion.

        Who knows, I'm just getting started with E&M physics.
        • Re:25 Tesla (Score:5, Informative)

          by DrLudicrous ( 607375 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @04:40AM (#6898078) Homepage
          Well, that is a good try. The equation you have is one of the first taught in electroSTATICS. We are talking about electroDYNAMICS, ie moving charged particles, versus arrangements of particles that aren't moving.

          In that case, the equivalent of Coulomb's Law becomes

          F=q(E+v x B)

          Here, F is force, q is the charge that is moving, E is the electric field (if present, you may remember something like E=kq/|r|, which is basically the force law you listed divided by a charge, giving units of Newtons/Coulomb), v is the velocity of the moving particle. All quantities in bold refer to vectors, so they not only have magnitude, but direction. In the case of the weber definition above, there is no electric field, so that part has no contribution. We are then left with:

          F=q(v x B)

          Here, the x does not just mean normal scalar multiplication but vector multiplication. All this means is to take into account the angles between the directions of the velocity and the magnetic field. Either way, the force will be perpendicular to both, so if you can imagine drawing lines indicating the velocity and magnetic field lying in a plane, the force the particle experiences points straight out of that plane. The more in line the velocity and field are (i.e. the smaller the angle they make relative to one another in that plane) than the smaller the force will be. If the particle is moving in the direction that the magnetic field points in, then it will experience no force- again, this is a result of the vector multiplication (better known as the cross product, where A x B=|A||B|Cos[theta], where theta is the angle between A and B.

          Make sense? If you have questions, post them here.

          • Re:25 Tesla (Score:1, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Is this gonna be on the final?
          • Re:25 Tesla (Score:2, Insightful)

            by gunnarE ( 251760 )
            Your explanation of the cross product is sligtly wrong. I think you mean

            | A x B | = |A| |B| sin[theta]

            i.e. you forgot the magnitde on the left hand side and it's sin instead of cos
            • Yes I did mean Sin, sorry for the mental fart. It was like 5 AM. Also, it should be r^2, but for some reason, /. didn't like the way I typed in my "^2" with ASCII code, and it didn't show up.

              How do you know it's sin? Because when theta is 0 degrees, you will reach a minimimum (i.e. the velocity and field vectors line up, so no force), and when it's 90, you get a max (i.e. they are perpendicular). Of course, we are also considering only constant fields and velocity that are not position-dependent.

    • Think of metal.
      You get a carrier density of 10^23 cm^3 with a charge of e =1.602*10^-19 each.
      so you have around 10000 coulomb per cm^3.

      Compared to capacitors, a coulomb is a lot, but in metallic conductors a lot of charge is moving, which results in very low carrier speeds (typically around 1cm/s under normal circumstances).

      But with those magnets, you have much higher current densitys and those forces become one of the main problems designing them. They are heavily reenforced with aluminium structures bec
    • question: Is that charge spoken of a static charge? If it is, how big is that charge compared to typical static charges?

      A coulomb is just a certain number of electrons []. Magnetic forces act on any charged particle in motion, so the units for the strength of a magnetic field are the amount of force on a certain number of charged particles moving at a certain speed.

      How much is a coulomb? Besides saying that it's 16 billion billion (1.6e19) electrons, it's easier to think about what that amount of electrons
    • 1 weber per square meter

      My that's a lot of BBQs.
      Reminds me of Australia in the Summer.
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:38AM (#6897925)
    Metalstorm ( is a company possibly within projectile distance of where I live that are working on railguns.

    Since they are working on a system called "Repeatable Access Denial System" they just have to be mentioned on slashdot!

  • Huh? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    > The previous records, held by a group of Japanese industrial scientists,
    > rated a superconducting magnet at 20 Tesla, which is 400,000 times
    > the magnetic field of the earth. The new record is now 25 Tesla,
    > which has a generated magnetic field of 500,000 times that of the earth.

    I only hope they deactivated the first before turning on the second!
    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

      by DrLudicrous ( 607375 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:58AM (#6897983) Homepage
      The magentic field in these magnets is very localized. They have tiny "bores", i.e. the area inside the magnet where there is actually high field. The earth on the other hand, has a much larger volume of magnetic field, even though it is smaller in magntiude.

      So it is kind of a matter of concentration. Your keys aren't going to flying out of your pocket b/c these magnets get turned on, nor will they affect your compass because you are too far away from the space that they affect. The earth on the other hand will affect your compass, because you are in its (fields) area of affect.

  • The health benefits of magnet therapy [], useful in the treatment of everything from carpal tunnel syndrome to back pain, are well known.

    It is great that such breakthroughs in magentic technology are being made, and I hope that these gains can be put to use in the medical field, especially now with so much of the poplulation entering old age.
    • The health benefits of magnet therapy, useful in the treatment of everything from carpal tunnel syndrome to back pain, are well known.

      That is entirely true - those that sell the things to the credulous can afford a high standard of health care.

      If you are old enough to read this and comprehend words such as "carpal" you are most likely older than the whole magnetic scam - unless you include the last time this was done by discredited folks such as Mesmer well over a century back (yes - it was a joke then to

    • Yeah, my grandpa sleeps with a magnet-studded blanket under him. I'm gonna have to buy him one of these babies for Christmas.

      No more arthritis Grandpa?
  • by soliaus ( 626912 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:56AM (#6897976) Homepage Journal
    The high tech lab offers researchers specialized equipment that is not available anywhere else in the country Image&article_id=3f56a1ad62845&image_num=1 []

    Thats one hell of a soldering iron.

  • by questamor ( 653018 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:59AM (#6897986)
    Just curiously, if these fields are being generated as 500,000 times stronger than tha earth's own... are they detectable from space?
  • World record? Where? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by earthy ( 11491 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @04:06AM (#6898008)
    Now, I may be just stupid, but I'd say the people at the
    High Field Magnet Laboratory [] in Nijmegen have a much stronger claim
    to world records... (33T continuous, 60T pulsed).

    Where is the world record?
    • I think FSU are only claiming the record for a *superconducting* magnet, not for the highest continuous magnetic field generated using a hybrid magnet.

      So yes... relatively speaking, I'm not so sure the FSU's world record is so impressive. Guess this advance could lead to advances in hydrid magnets though...?
    • oh yes... this was the Dutch lab that made headlines a few years ago by levitating frogs :-)

      frog movies []

    • This story is about the highest magnetic field generated by a purely superconducting magnet.

      NHMFL also holds the records in other areas: (45 T continuous, 70 T pulsed) [] Before NHMFL, I believe the records were held by the Bitter Lab in Massachusetts.

      I used to work with some of the NHMFL guys. Go 'Noles!
  • by insane8 ( 563668 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @04:08AM (#6898013)
    None of my credit cards seem to be working anymore...
    • This is a constant worry/annoyance to those of us that work with high-field magnets. I never can tell if my credit card is not working because the machine is flaky, or because I forgot to take my wallet out before I started working around the magnet. And you can't remagnetize the cards, which means you have to go get all new stuff.

      On the bright side of things, this is a great way to circumvent those drivers license scanners bouncers use at bars to record who has stepped in to drink- a sign of Big Brothe

    • Coming from someone who works right next door [] to the FSU Mag Lab, It's funny that you mention that... I've heard that if the Mag Lab didn't contain their magnetic field, everyone in Tallahassee would have their floppies and credit cards erased.
  • by wakaranai ( 87059 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @04:11AM (#6898019)
    It's possible to go to generate higher continuous (i.e. as opposed to pulsed) magnetic fields, using hydrids of superconducting and electromagnets.

    I saw a hybrid magnet in the Insitutue of Materials Research (KINKEN) in Tohoku University (Sendai, Japan) with a maximum field of 31 T.

    I got the impression that there are other devices (worldwide) with even higher continuous fields.
  • Why don't they just spike the football and turn this on at one end of the stadium?
  • What the hell? Colleges are supposed to be where you develop your intellect! This achievement is several orders of magnitude greater that winning some dinky college league!

    (Ok - we also develop our beerguts and identities in college, but the College itself does not sponsor that)
    • Re:College Sports (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pii ( 1955 )
      And, praytell, what do you think they use to pay for all of these academic endeavors?

      At FSU, Seminole Football pays the bills. This is the Magnet that Bobby Bowden built. Even if none of the revenue paid for this research directly, it paid for a lot of other programs that would have been competing for those dollars at budget time.

      • I'm not sure if this is the case at Florida State, but I believe at many universities most of the money that the football program brings in stays within the football program, so the argument that football funds the rest of the university is pretty flimsy. In any case, I'm pretty sure that most of the funding for the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory comes primarily from grants from the National Science Foundation and other grant-awarding institutions, not from FSU football. :-p
  • You maybe some of you can think of something clever.

    He sounds like one of the Cosby kids: "You said for to not for to drink your dreeeenk!"
  • by adeyadey ( 678765 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @05:37AM (#6898168) Journal
    By holding a piece of paper over it and sprinkling some iron filings?
  • I am bit of a dummy here but... I have always wondered if it is possible to use MRI to 'scan' trucks, cars even people at ports - to check for contraband? does the ability to generate such large fields bring such application closer or am i talking hogwash?
    • by n0mad6 ( 668307 )
      Perhaps if you were only in the business of scanning plastic containers for contraband...and sort of ferromagnetic material that you would "scan" using a magnet in the multi-tesla reigon would be subject to becoming deadly projectiles.
    • Hrrmmm.... =/

      First of all, you would have the slight problem of buildinga magnet with a bore large enough to fit a car through... Because the magnetic field strength is proportional to the inverse of the square of the distance, that would have to be a freakin powerfull magnet to fit a truck through.

      Assuming that you could build a magnet that large, one would then have a slight problem that any and all ferrous-metallic parts in the car or truck would be attracted to the magnet. Essentially, the ma
  • I was thinking of getting a magtron out of a Microwave Oven and making a waveguide to aim it. It would become to bird hunting what nets are to fishing. Or just use them to boost your ability to send things with WiFi. (Microwave Ovens are on the same freqency as WiFi, 2.4ghz, only with 900whatts not 500mw)
  • But just imagine a Beowulf clust.. arrg..
    (sound of gun shot off stage)
  • by adeyadey ( 678765 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @07:24AM (#6898400) Journal

    Perhaps, after the recent power outages in the US, the most important application of supercoducting magnets could be power storage. There seem to be 2 ways they are used - either to make friction-free magnetic bearings for traditional flywheel systems, or (more interesting) direct short-term storage of power. For situations where you need to temporarily store a *lot* of power this is an interesting technology alternative to batteries/hydro/etc.. Current devices seem to cover mainly very short term variations, but what about covering longer term regulation (hours/days) of variable power from a wind-farm, or solar, for example?

    Anyone got more gen on this?

    Try Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage (SMES) Systems []

    This link [] describes a commercial device that stores 3 megawatt-seconds..

    • A rather timely comment.

      At 80T, the energy density of the magnetic field is about the same as gasolene. 25T would have about 1/10th of that energy density, which is nothing to sneeze at. What I see as the big problem with using this for SMES is getting the energy in and out of the magnet fast enough to be useful (magnets can get really unstable when slewed too fast).

      If we had a dozen or so SMES facilities (1 GW, 60 seconds storage time) scattered around the northeast, it is likely that the great blackou

  • clarification (Score:2, Informative)

    This is a record field for the superconducting magnet, not for the whole system. FSU magnet lab does hold the record for hightest DC (constant) magnetic field 50T. This is achieved by putting a resistive magnet inside a superconducting magnet. Resistive magnet burns a lot of energy (10MW), but one cannot use superconducting alone; once the current (magnetic field is proportional to it) reaches a certain value, the superconducting material becomes normal. The record up to now has been something like 14T for
  • That's great news for super-duct-work-activity! :p
  • Tallahassee (Score:2, Funny)

    by rot26 ( 240034 ) *
    Ya gotta love a town where you can buy draft beer by the gallon practically anywhere. BY the way FSU is one of the few universities with a full-time bail bondsman on staff.

    Gay Goaters!!
  • by DirkDaring ( 91233 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @09:02AM (#6898885)
    "FSU's High Magnetic Field Lab, more specifically my Kenpo teacher, just broke 7 world records, and brought the record for a superconducting magnet to 25 Tesla. Check it out at FSView and a more detailed article here. Now if only our football team was that cool."

    What makes you think people here know something about 'football'?
  • So the world was stuck at 20 Tesla for superconducting magnets for years and years till now when they can reach 25 Tesla.

    Does this mean that there are 100 Tesla NON-superconducting magnets in someone's basement? One would think that superconducting magnets would be stronger than regular ones, but maybe not. Maybe someone's got an ultramagnet hooked directly to a nuclear power plant with 3 foot diameter copper cable windings that puts out even stronger fields...

  • by truth_revealed ( 593493 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @10:02AM (#6899360)
    But their plot to take over the world will ultimately be foiled by Jean Luc Picard.... errr..., wrong show, but you get the idea.

    And another thing - where's the radiant electricity that they promised to beam from towers in 1900? Transmission lines and power cords - blech.
  • by Jon Abbott ( 723 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @10:06AM (#6899402) Homepage
    As someone who works next door [] to the FSU Mag Lab, and has taken a tour of the facilities, I have heard a couple things about it that boggle the mind... First, if they didn't contain the magnetic field that they are producing, they claim that it would erase everyone's floppies, hard drives, and credit cards in the entire city of Tallahassee. Second, they consume one quarter of the entire power consumption of Tallahassee to create the fields they are creating. The city of Tallahassee had to install a power generation station nearby just to get power to them easily. They apparently ramp up the magnets while everyone else is sleeping, in order to prevent brownouts during the day.

    Out of curiosity, I just looked up their electric bill online [], but it lumps the Mag Lab's usage with multiple other FSU buildings... The total bill was $500k this month, so it must be an amount less than that.
  • Given the concentration of spammers in Florida, particularly around Boca Raton, perhaps these researchers would do the 'net a favour by pointing their super-whatsit electromagnetic data rearranging device in the general direction of the slimeball's hard drives, backup tapes, and anything else ferrous the spammers may have at home (visions of flying knives, irons, golf clubs, etc...)

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin