A Magnet That Blew Off The Doors of a Tokyo Laboratory

Ever seen an electromagnet strong enough to push off anything that came across its way? Well we have one such extraordinary invention now. In central Tokyo, there lies an electromagnet that recently did something that was far beyond the expectations of its inventors.

What happened?

This magnet created magnetic fields that were recorded to be one of the most intense magnetic fields on Earth. Also, it keeps getting powerful. The magnetic fields produced were so strong that it blew off the heavy doors of the container in which the magnet was kept in.

The magnetic field recently reached a strength of 1,200 Teslas. An enormous measurement!


In 2004, Popular Mechanics magazine described a machine as "the world's most powerful magnet" which obviously meant the most powerful magnet that doesn't tear itself to bits whenever it's turned on. It emitted just 45 teslas. Thats actually less than 4 percent of the power emitted by this magnet created by Shojiro Takeyama and his colleagues at Tokyo.

Crossing 1,000-tesla mark is a major milestone in an engineering effort that Takeyama said dated back to the 1970s, which he has led for the last two decades.

"The most similar magnetic-field generation is by chemical explosives," Takeyama said, referring to experiments beginning in the 1960s and continuing until 2001, in which Russian and American researchers detonated explosives around electromagnets in order to squish them, briefly creating very powerful magnetic fields — up to 2,800 teslas.

"They cannot conduct these experiments in indoor laboratories, so they usually conduct everything in the outdoors, like Siberia in a field or somewhere in a very wide place at Los Alamos [New Mexico]," he said. "And they try to make a scientific measurement, but because of these conditions it's very hard to make precise measurements."


The purpose of building a magnet in the 1,000-plus tesla range, as per Takeyama, is to study hidden physical properties of electrons that are absolutely invisible under normal circumstances. He along with his team will put different materials inside their magnet to study and observe how their electrons behave.

In such extreme conditions, he said, conventional models of electrons break down. Takeyama doesn't know exactly what happens to electrons in such extreme situations, but claims that studying them during the instances before the coil's self-destruction, must unravel the properties of electrons that are normally invisible to experimental science.

Self Destructer

But wait, do we have a problem here? The issue with building magnetic fields that powerful like Takeyama's magnet is that, they almost, by definition, destroy themselves within moments of their creation. The field and the process of creating it, inevitably exerts such an huge amount of energy on the device generating it, that a few of thr elements of the device are destined to be burned or get collapsed . Takeyama said that the advantage of his magnetic field is that it's relatively robust compared with fields generated by lasers or explosive devices. It's large enough to contain a substantial amount of material, requires no explosives and has a life span of a few dozen microseconds (millionths of a second).

Everytime the magnet is used, Takeyama and his team must enter the room and start off with the long, laborious process of cleanup and repairs, he said. His research team must fabricate a new magnetic coil to exquisitely precise dimensions for each use. The typical wait time between experiments, he said, is about two to five months.

As of now, the team has placed some stronger doors to their lab.

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