back to article Los Alamos fires BLOODY BIG MAGNET

They call it their own “moon shot”, but there isn’t – unfortunately – any “oh wow” visual when you fire a 100-plus Tesla magnet: just a powerful new instrument to use in physics and materials science. At the end of last week, the Los Alamos National Laboratory held its breath and pressed “ok” to see if its planned magnet run, …


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  1. Greem


    Where's my bloody pen? I'm sure I put it down here somewhere...

    1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: Blimey

      Sod your bleeding pen. Where's my fillings?

    2. P. Lee

      Re: Blimey

      You pierced your WHAT?

      1. Arctic fox

        @P. Lee "You pierced your WHAT?" Oh God, my are.......

        .......still watering after having read that!

    3. Graham Marsden

      Re: Blimey

      Why are there all these weird holes in my office wall...???

  2. bazza Silver badge

    Probably still not strong enough to get all those small bolts that disappear into the floor when you take a complex gadget apart...

    1. Anonymous Coward 15

      And that breed, leaving you with spare ones when you put it back together.

  3. VeganVegan

    minor gripe

    100 tesla = 1 million gauss = 10,000 100-gauss frig magnets.

    What is frightening are magnetars, boffins claim that they have gigatesla magnetic fields.

  4. Glen 1
    Thumb Up

    Just goes to show...

    Given that this is 'only' 3-4 times stronger than an MRI, it just goes to show the engineering that goes into MRIs... while joe blogs takes them for granted.

    (assuming its not a log/quadratic scale)

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Take for granted?

      I don't think we take MRI for granted. Those are very expensive machines. Lots and lots of people have done fundraising things for ages and ages to buy one for their favourite large hospital.

      United Kingdom guideline price list for a go in one:

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. DrBobK

      Re: Triple? Why not likely.

      3T isn't at all out of the ordinary for clinical MRI these days (my department got one last year). There are MRI machines used in research with human subjects up to 9.4T in regular operation, although a recent paper suggested that going beyond 14T isn't likely to be practical.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Triple? Why not likely.

        I believe the (very valid) point was that "well over triple" is not a good description of the ratio of this thing and your run-of-the-mill MRI device when a typical (rather modern) clinical device is indeed more like 3T. You would probably have a hard time fitting an adult human being inside your 9.4T research device. Nothing to do with whether it's OK to subject humans to such fields, everything to do with the difficulty of building one that can actually take something larger than a finger inside.

        1. DrBobK

          Re: Triple? Why not likely.

          No. I've seen 7T for humans and know people who worked with it regularly in Western Ontario (it is now being replaced). There are 9.4T systems scanning humans (their brains, not just their fingers) in Chicago, Minnesota, Julich, and Tubingen. If you want a reference read Duyn, J.H., The future of ultra-high field MRI and fMRI for study of the human brain, NeuroImage (2011), doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.10.065. You can, of course also get small-bore systems for imaging hands and hand-sized things at 7T and 9T - maybe these are what you are familiar with?

          I agree entirely that the ratio between the fields in the interesting thing and human imaging systems is well out - I was just pointing out that there are plenty of 3T run of the mill turnkey systems from Siemens and the like out there.

  6. Muckminded

    Cosmic Neighbors

    Will be knocking when this thing is cranked up to 11 playing "Smoke on the Water".

  7. Yag

    Strange flashback from my youth

    “A 2.4 megajoule capacitor bank is used to energize the smaller magnet, inside a much larger magnet, to distribute these huge forces across a very massive magnet system”

    This single sentence remind me of something else...

    "It's a secret lab where they take the brains out of zombies and put them in the heads of other zombies to create a race of super-zombies."

  8. Zetetic

    All energy flows according to the whims of the Great Magnet.

    1. Elmer Phud

      The Great Magnet sukz!

      (but some find it hugely repulsive)

  9. c4m1k4z3

    The complexity of Magnetic Field Homogeneity modelling and electrical shimming of 10T + systems become horrendous, and that is before you take increasing bore diameter into account.

    A supercon and this is like comparing a horseshoe magnet and a supercon

  10. sebacoustic

    Fond memories of working for a stint at the High magnetic field lab in Grenoble during PHD.

    Once I forgot to chain the 200l Nitrogen vessel to the wall... and when I ramped up the field to 30T (all alone in a huge lab, in the middle of the night when the leccy is cheaper) the thing started moving on its coasters and crashed into the apparatus, while my back was turned studying the instrument rack. Fright of my life, but thankfully nothing broke so my supervisors never heard about it...

  11. paulc

    The real fun comes...

    when you collapse the field... the current generated by the collapsing field must be immense...

    1. emmanuel goldstein
      Paris Hilton

      Re: The real fun comes...

      luckily they have all those empty capacitors handy.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The real fun comes...

      Perhaps they shouldn't have short-circuited across the building mains. But more importantly did they get a charge?

  12. Anonymous Coward 15


    How do they work?

    1. Danny 14

      Re: But...

      Magic my son, magic.

  13. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Isn't it more like the Space Shuttle?

    The Space Shuttle was re-usable (approximately), the moon shot hardware wasn't.

  14. drben

    Does anyone know how big the 100T zone is?

    ... or how long they can maintain it?

  15. Nigel 11

    Energy density

    If I've got my sums right

    Energy density of a 100T field in a vacuum = 4 x 10^3 MJ/m^3 (air pretty much the same)

    For comparison, energy density of gasoline = 34 x 10^3 MJ/m^3, less than 9x higher

    Energy density of a magnet field goes as the field strength squared. This may give some insight into the self-destructive tendency!

  16. Langalf

    Can we test the Heim Theory now?

    So, is this magnet powerful enough to generate the field needed to test the validity of the Heim "hyperdrive" theory?

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