Close

World's Most Powerful Magnet Under Construction

One hundred tesla without self-destructing

3 min read

Multiply the magnetic field strength of a refrigerator magnet by 2 million and you'll be in the ballpark of the strength of the magnet that researchers at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, based near Florida State University in Tallahassee, are trying to create. When completed later this year, the pulsed electromagnet, located at the lab's facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico, will reach 100 tesla, the holy grail of magnetic field strength. And in another first, if all goes according to plan it will reach that level--about 67 times as high as a typical MRI--without blowing itself to smithereens.

Why would anyone need a magnet that strong? Greg Boebinger, director of the Magnet Lab, says that this magnetic field strength is the only way to test the properties of newly discovered high-temperature superconductors like iron oxyarsenide, which may improve the performance of MRI machines and high-voltage power lines while lowering their cost. A 100â''T magnet would also let you conduct certain zero-gravity experiments without traveling into space and let you develop magnetic propulsion systems that could eventually replace those that burn rocket fuel.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

Stay ahead of the latest trends in technology. Become an IEEE member.

This article is for IEEE members only. Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Here’s How We Could Brighten Clouds to Cool the Earth

"Ship tracks" over the ocean reveal a new strategy to fight climate change

12 min read
Silver and blue equipment in the bottom left. A large white spray comes from a nozzle at the center end.

An effervescent nozzle sprays tiny droplets of saltwater inside the team's testing tent.

Kate Murphy
Blue

As we confront the enormous challenge of climate change, we should take inspiration from even the most unlikely sources. Take, for example, the tens of thousands of fossil-fueled ships that chug across the ocean, spewing plumes of pollutants that contribute to acid rain, ozone depletion, respiratory ailments, and global warming.

The particles produced by these ship emissions can also create brighter clouds, which in turn can produce a cooling effect via processes that occur naturally in our atmosphere. What if we could achieve this cooling effect without simultaneously releasing the greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants that ships emit? That's the question the Marine Cloud Brightening (MCB) Project intends to answer.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less