back to article Monster magnet in my pocket: Boffins' gizmo packs 45.5-tesla punch and weighs just 390g

A group of researchers at Florida State University have said they've crafted the world's strongest superconducting magnet. The gizmo packs a magnetic field strength of 45.5 tesla, making it a tiny bit stronger than the previous record of 45 set by the 45-T. For comparison, most MRI machines operate around 1.5 tesla. The …

  1. alain williams Silver badge

    When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

    was my first thought ... but then I realised that I would need to upgrade my fridge to be able to do so.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

      No need to worry. Just pop your fridge outside on the porch and the next time they turn the magnet on your fridge door will jump up and attach itself if within range [1].

      [1] Range limited to continental US.

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

        And for the gods sake! Remove ALL body piercings before hitting the switch.

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

          "And for the gods sake! Remove ALL body piercings before hitting the switch."

          No need, that's an automatic feature...

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

          Could 45.5T pull the iron from your blood?

          ISTR seeing a frog "floating" in a magnetic field on Youtube.

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

            A bit like the bit it the H2G2 only the chain mail would travel through the hostesses body!

          2. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

            The iron in your blood is in an ionic form and surrounded by polar amino acid residues. CT scanning can turn them into little resonators to reveal blood flow but the energy required to 'pull the iron out' would have to be huge since ions are not magnetic in the same way the solid metal is and those amino acid residues matter and so does the fact it's all floating in a warm ionic fluid.

            It's like 'quantum' consciousness. Not at 37C in an ionic solution, you're chances of decohering under those conditions are essentially nil. And that's before you factor in the dynein arms of transport proteins using the microtubules as a 3D 'railway track' and bridging those tubulin monomers which are supposed to be in a superposition.

            Yes, electrons briefly tunnel in photoreceptors but tunnelling is not a superposition. Also Peter Ulric Tse has a consciousness mechanism using just good neurophysiology. Those slow synapses can be reconfigured on the fly, the first two action potentials in a burst set the system up. Criterial Causation is where it's at. The messy reality is necessary.

            BTW it turns out the space between the axon terminal and the receiving cell membrane is set so the diffusion is fast enough but also so there is enough randomness possible in that diffusion to get variations and might underlie creativity. They would be faster if the gap was smaller, but the chances of variation would be much, much smaller.

            The last thing which impressed me about his book was the revelation that all the activating synapses in the big pyramidal cells are up in the dendrite tree but the inhibitory inputs are on the cell body or right on the axon hillock (the absolute last chance to block saloon). Which means whatever thoughts we have we ALWAYS have a veto.

            Adulthood is all about learning to invoke the veto over thoughts. Those who have problems with that tend to end up incarcerated or electronically tagged. Consciousness is as much about NOT acting on thoughts as it is about choosing to do things.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

              My comment about sucking the iron content from blood was a little tongue in cheek, but thank you for that informative response. I did read it all and think you for making the effort, but I think my brain turned to mush about 1/3rd of the way through it :-)

            2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

              Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

              That is an EPIC response. Thank you for that.

              You say the energy involved would have to be huge; I also wonder if 45.5T qualifies as ‘huge’ - thereby validating the OP’s original question.

        3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

          And for the gods sake! Remove ALL body piercings before hitting the switch.

          What? Ever hear of non-ferrous metals? Or even ceramics? Carbon Fiber?

          Lots of cool materials you can use for body piercings or mods.

          1. Ommerson

            Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

            Mine are all titanium - and in fact, piercers in many areas of London aren't allowed to use surgical grade stainless steel (which is mostly non-magnetic in any case).

            1. CountCadaver

              Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

              My wife has prosthetic jaw joints, which are supposed to be non magnetic either titantium or cobalt alloy....we tried a neodymium 5p diamteter magnet in close proximity to her jaw a few years after the surgery and they are vaguely magnetic, tried a stronger one and she could feel tugging as it passed over.

              1. Muscleguy Silver badge

                Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

                It could be that the plates are titanium but the screws are not and it's the screws which are magnetic.

                1. CountCadaver

                  Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

                  Quite possibly, albeit none of it is *meant* to be magnetic due to MRI etc...(and she could feel that on one side but not the other, suggesting a difference between the 2)

          2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

            Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

            Those can stay in until you visit the giant unshielded magnetron.

        4. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

          Body piecings be damned, at 45 Tesla wouldn't it be tugging on the iron in your blood?

    2. maffski

      Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

      Surely you don't need the fridge anymore? How long does chicken take to defrost from 85K?

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

        Surely you don't need the fridge anymore? How long does chicken take to defrost from 85K?

        Somewhat longer than it would take to freeze methinks.

        I can vouch for LN2 being an excellent way to instantly freeze ice-pops on warm summer days in the lab, from all too long ago back in my PhD student times. Never tried it with LHe, that was reserved for our magnet (a puny 6T one).

        Oh and kudos to Katyanna for correctly knowing Kelvin is an absolute unit and not calling them degrees Kelvin.

    3. JLV Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

      Is your fridge a connected/IoT one? No?

      You want magnetism? You can’t handle the teslas!

    4. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

      Now that's an awesome way to reformat your floppy disks!

      (And the neighbor's video tape collection, that passing dolt with the super loud Ipod, random small furry animals, the migratory habits of birds, etc...)

      Damn it, now I *REALLY* want one to play with!

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

        Reformating random small furry animals? Well it surely would put you apart the usual USB stick crowd, but how big a capacity do they have? I mean, can you save an ISO in a squirrel, or do you need an elk for that, because in this case there is the portability issue: I definitely wouldn't put an elk in my trouser pocket (even a calm one).

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

          Soooo... you'd consider a squirrel then? Calm or not..

          1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

            Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

            You have the following options:

            A rat holds up to 1Gigabyte in a package that can fit in most pockets, purses, or bags.

            A squirrel holds up to 512Gigabytes in a slightly larger form factor that is best into larger pouches or bags.

            A cat holds up to 1Terabyte & fits in a purse, bag, or backpack.

            A poodle holds up to 1PETAbyte & is best into large bags, rucksacks, or wheeled luggage.

            A Shetland pony holds up to 1Exabyte & usually rides on a skateboard, hoverboard, or is worn as a hat.

            An elk holds 512Exabytes & is best if you try to disguise it as your date for the evening.

            A moose holds over 1Googalplexibyte & fits nicely in your wallet if you fold the horns in, retract the hooves, & get it to fall asleep.

            I hope this helps.

            Sanity is overrated! (Pulls a Daffy Duck maneuver, hoots happily, & bounces away like a ping pong ball in a paint shaker)

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

              You have the following options:

              Oh waiter! I'll have what he's having!

              1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

                Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

                *Hands Kiwi a large tanker slick with icey condensation on the sides, a huge head of foam spilling over the top, & obvious snap-crackle-popping sounds emminating from the sparks that zip out the top like escaping fireflies*

                It's caffeinated MindBleach & PopRocks. Enjoy! =-)P

                1. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Pint

                  Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

                  It's caffeinated MindBleach & PopRocks. Enjoy! =-)P

                  So long as it has the appropriate reality-bending effects, I'm sure I will! :)

        2. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

          " I mean, can you save an ISO in a squirrel, or do you need an elk for that"

          I don't know about an elk, but you could try a gnu.

          1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

            Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

            Careful using a Gnu for data storeage, if the data you try to save isn't open source then it deletes it in anger.

            A llama might not hold as much, but at least you don't have to worry about your porn collection going poof!

            *Cough*

            Or so I've been told... by a friend... Ummm, yeah. A Friend.

            *Shifty eyed looks to either side*

            Gotta go, TheVoicesInMyHead are warning me of incomming space lizards wanting to get their claws on my stash...

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

              A llama might not hold as much, but at least you don't have to worry about your porn collection going poof!

              Ah! So THAT is how I learned to swing the other way! Should've used a Llama to hide my 'educational videos' in, then they wouldn't've been swapped for something 'from the other side'!

    5. Paul Floyd
      Headmaster

      Re: When will I be able to put it on my fridge door ?

      You don't want to put it on your door. You want it to run your fridge.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_refrigeration

  2. seven of five

    Uuuhhhh.

    Shiny. Want.

    1. JJKing Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Uuuhhhh.

      I want two just to make myself even slightly attractive to women.

      No, the bulge in the pocket is not the magnets.

      1. Captain Obvious
        Happy

        Re: Uuuhhhh.

        Be careful as they *could* be repulsed instead

      2. ThatOne Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Uuuhhhh.

        And they would need to dig you out of the heap of cars and dumpster before (maybe the odd "eye in the sky" helicopter too)...

  3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    How long before...

    Someone tries to use it to pick up chicks?

    (thought I'm not sure if it would stay still for long enough... Maybe start with an egg and work up from there?)

    Also wonder if you could get that to drive a motor? Or just not bother with the motor and just have it pull you along. Say to the nearest lamppost or street sign. Or other cars. Bridges.... Other continents.. The usual stuff.

    1. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

      Re: How long before...

      So...

      This?

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: How long before...

        Thanks for the Monday laugh. That is a great clip.

      2. DropBear Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: How long before...

        You know you're too old when you can tell which clip it will be before even looking...

    2. Simon Harris Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: How long before...

      "Someone tries to use it to pick up chicks?"

      But is it strong enough to make all the molecules in their undergarments leap simultaneously one foot to the left?

      Sad face because I never get invited to those sorts of parties --->

  4. Draco
    Headmaster

    The numbers are not tautological.

    Given:

    1) 245.3 A of coil current

    2) 0.00945 V of coil voltage

    3) 0.0471 Ω of coil resistance (this is implied, it could be the whole circuit resistance is 47.1mΩ because, while the coil voltage is 9.45 mV, the "tiny resistance" is associated, but not explicitly delcared, as "coil resistance")

    Then Ohm's Law gives us the following numbers:

    1) voltage and current imply a coil resistance of 35.8 μΩ

    2) Voltage and resistance imply a coil current of 200mA

    3) resistance and current imply a coil voltage of 11.6V

    Or do superconducting materials not obey Ohm's Law?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The numbers are not tautological.

      Or do superconducting materials not obey Ohm's Law?

      I don't think they do, but I agree that the numbers are off. 47.1mΩ seems way too high for a superconductor, 47.1µΩ sounds better,

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: The numbers are not tautological.

      Ohm's law rather breaks down for superconductors - they normally don't measure any resistance...

      And of course this being an electromagnet you need to consider inductive (and probably capacitive) effects as well.

      1. Alan Ferris
        Coat

        Re: The numbers are not tautological.

        But surely, resistance is futile?

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: The numbers are not tautological.

          That joke will aways stay current...

          1. Christopher Reeve's Horse

            Re: The numbers are not tautological.

            Watt? A pun? A current pun? Joule have to try harder than that...

      2. swm Bronze badge

        Re: The numbers are not tautological.

        It depends on whether it is a type I superconductor or a type II superconductor. In a type I superconductor the superconductor expels any magnetic field and has no resistance while a type II superconductor a strong magnetic field punches holes of normal material through the superconductor and does have resistance.

    3. TWB

      Re: The numbers are not tautological.

      I'm also confused. I thought in superconductivity there was no resistance? Maybe it is resistance outside the 'superconducting bit'

      I've not worked in the field - in fact when I studied* superconductivity it was all fields round here.

      (*OK 'came across',I've never done anything with it except be scanned in an MRI scanner)

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: The numbers are not tautological.

        But are the figures odd because they include the resistance of the "resistive coil"? Having said that, I have no idea what the resistance of such a conventional coil would be at that temperature so it may be orders of magnitudes different ...

      2. Persona Bronze badge

        Re: The numbers are not tautological.

        The coil is not insulated so where the superconductor doesn't work it conducts through the relatively high resistance underlying substrate.

        A quote from the source .....

        The fundamental problem of REBCO is that it's a single-filament conductor that cannot be made perfectly," said Larbalestier. "So any length of conductor contains a variety of defects whose impact on any future magnet is not yet well understood".

    4. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: The numbers are not tautological.

      "Or do superconducting materials not obey Ohm's Law?"

      Superconducting materials don't generally follow Ohm's law. In the steady state, they obey it in a trivial sense by having zero resistance and zero voltage despite having a current flowing. But the current doesn't just start flowing spontaneously, and they must obviously be non-ohmic when you apply a voltage across them, since otherwise you'd have 0 = V/I which can't be the case when both V and I are non-zero.

      That said, you are actually correct, it's just that the numbers given in the article aren't actually all related to each other. The paper also gives a value of 0.2A for the leakage current, given by the characteristic resistance and the voltage (as in your point 2)). The DC resistance of the superconductor is exactly zero by definition as current flows along it, but since the magnet is made of coils wound on top of each other with no insulation, some current is able to leak between the windings, and the effective resistance from this effect is what gives the characteristic resistance and is Ohmic in character. So the 245.2A is the current flowing with zero resistance along the wire, while 0.2A is effectively escaping out sideways through a small but finite resistance.

    5. Paul Floyd
      FAIL

      Re: The numbers are not tautological.

      It's a coil. An inductor. One of the 3 types of passive circuit element that exhibit electrical impedance.

      Quicky refresher, for ideal components and steady state. A resistance lets current flow through it, proportional to the voltage. A capacitor will have current flow until it is charged and then it will have a voltage across it but 0 current. In inductor will have a voltage across it until the magnetic field builds up when it will have current but 0 voltage across it.

      These numbers for coil voltage and resistance are pretty close to zero are pretty close, which is why there is such a high current and magnetic field.

  5. Mike 125

    At last.

    I knew it. They called me crazy, but now the people will queue for my 245.3A 9.45mV power supply, and I'll be rich!

    Amazing stuff.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: At last.

      I knew it. They called me crazy, but now the people will queue for my 245.3A 9.45mV power supply, and I'll be rich!

      Or heavily regulated. One wouldn't want enterprising scrap thieves to get their mits on those magnets! Come to me, my precious! And making a YT-vid on magnet crushing may seriously affect your health and liberty.. well, add a few risks to being near a 45T magnet at the very least.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: At last.

        Or heavily regulated.

        I've got an LM317 here, will that do?

      2. juice Silver badge

        Re: At last.

        > Or heavily regulated. One wouldn't want enterprising scrap thieves to get their mits on those magnets! Come to me, my precious! And making a YT-vid on magnet crushing may seriously affect your health and liberty.. well, add a few risks to being near a 45T magnet at the very least.

        I'm guessing anyone with pacemakers would need to steer clear as well, in case they do an impromptu reenactment of the Alien chestburster scene...

        On a semi-related note, I've got one of those USB charging cables with a detachable magnetic plug; it's quite nice having a "quick-release" system and it also means I can leave the plug attached to my phone to prevent dust and water getting into the socket.

        However, the cable's also magnetic, and a few times, it's ended up dragging on the floor for a few meters before I noticed.

        Turns out that a lot of the dust on roads and pavements is ferrous, and can be fairly tricky to dislodge from the recesses of a little magnet...

        (it also made me wonder if there's a business case for a magnetic road sweeper...)

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: At last.

          "I've got one of those USB charging cables with a detachable magnetic plug; it's quite nice having a "quick-release" system and it also means I can leave the plug attached to my phone to prevent dust and water getting into the socket"

          I've yet to find one that's compatible with QC2 or QC3 - so you're limited to 5V 0.5A

        2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: At last.

          (it also made me wonder if there's a business case for a magnetic road sweeper...)

          Yup. They already exist, and can be seen trundling along the UK's hard shoulders picking up scrap. I suspect the magnets are considerably weaker, but a magnet like this could be one way to enforce a 'no overtaking' rule. Then again, magnetism's a bit weird, and boffins spend a lot of time & energy making sure it's the right strength, shape and location. As a friend pointed out having just had heart surgery, where magnets were used to steer & spot weld repairs inside his heart.

          1. swm Bronze badge

            Re: At last.

            There is a lignite strip mine in Poland near the German border and a conveyor belt crosses the border where the Germans process the stuff. The Germans mount a large electromagnet over the belt to remove any tools that are accidentally in the lignite. The Germans then sell the recovered tools back to the Poles.

            1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge
              Coat

              Re: At last.

              Do the Germans sell the recovered tools back to the North Poles or the South Poles? (Possibly both, I've heard they are very attracted to each other).

  6. John Robson Silver badge

    Half pint...

    But you need a room's worth of gear to keep it at the right temperature...

  7. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    It's on My Skippy's List...

    The first thing I thought of when reading this story was "I could use it to create a Gauss rifle!"

    It immediately wound up on My Skippy's List of shit I'm never allowed to do.

    *Pout*

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Put lipstick on it

    Even more attractive

  9. Ian Emery Silver badge
    Joke

    Might be of use to the Russians

    After all 85 Kelvin is merely "A bit nippy" to them.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Might be of use to the Russians

      At those temperatures a Geordie might wear a cap

    2. Kiwi Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Might be of use to the Russians

      After all 85 Kelvin is merely "A bit nippy" to them.

      I know from personal experience that 1) I could handle those temps without even thinking about gloves and 2) 'absolute zero' is not the coldest one can get.

      Anyone who's met my ex would understand that.

  10. KarMann
    WTF?

    Is it just me?

    [T]he… magnet contains a stack of 12 superconducting coils wound around a cylinder of copper…. the coil has to be placed inside a liquid helium cryostat, and that in turn sits inside the copper cylinder.

    It sounds as though they're saying the cylinder is inside the coil which is inside the cryostat which is inside the cylinder, and from there it would be cylinders all the way down. Are they talking about two different cylinders here, without distinguishing? Or just misunderstanding something? Or are they really revolutionising physics as we know it?

    1. MiguelC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Is it just me?

      Simple explanation: it's so powerful it bends space around itself.

    2. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: Is it just me?

      a Klein magnet? Could that be used to generate a monopole?

    3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Holmes

      @KarmannRe: Is it just me?

      Sorry, it is just you. :-P

      Seriously... think of it this way... you take a piece of copper pipe.

      You wrap the super conducting material around it.

      You put it in a bigger copper pipe as a sleeve around it. And chill it.

      IMHO this could be very useful if you want to push a jet of hot plasma through the inner pipe...

      Could be handing when it comes to fusion research... but that's just a guess.

  11. Matthew Smith

    Fusion

    The magnets in Iter are rater at 12 tesla and operate at 4K. So these are a good deal more powerful, if somewhat smaller.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Fusion

      ITER isn't even due to start operating for another 6.5 years. It'll be interesting to see how much of the technology used to build it is outdated by the time it fires up. This does, however, bode well for the subsequent demonstrator phase for a commercial fusion power station, if that ever happens.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Fusion

        You can already get 10T in high Tc superconductors. Trade off is that they are much more difficult to manufacture in bulk, much more fragile and they have much poorer "quench" resistance.

        If you were starting ITER today it would still be a coin toss between traditional 4K and 80K materials.

        There is a lot of difference between generating 45T at a single point once for a few seconds and getting something the size of ITER to 12T reliably.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Fusion

      See, you came up with the SAME application for this that I did.

      SO what I want to know (about this magnet)...

      a) what is the effect if a neutron flux on its superconductivity,

      b) If configured as a Tokomak ring [or some other, perhaps more efficient, magnetic confinement design], can it be made SMALL enough for a practical fusion reactor,

      c) does the energy required to keep it cool "break even" with the energy produced by fusion in an appropriate reactor design?

      In any case, these are the *kinds* of obstacles that exist for magnetic confinement of fusion, but _BETTER_ superconducting magnets _SHOULD_ make this work better, right?

      I'm looking forward to fusion electricity. Thing is, the "no nukes" *IDIOTS* will soon discover that fusion produces MORE neutron radiation than fission, and will BITCH about it just because it's "nukular".

      (you watch, they don't want normal people to have cheap electricity)

      And let me point ont one other thing - if you LIKE electric cars, fusion electricity will be the future for THAT sort of thing as well. Am I right? Of COURSE I am!

  12. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "This does, however, bode well for the subsequent demonstrator phase for a commercial fusion power station, if that ever happens."

    If it happens in my great-grandchildrens' lifespan I'd be surprised. (I'd also be surprised to be alive by then)

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      If they ever finish building it, and it becomes operational, and the planned deuterium-tritium experiments take place around the planned time (2035), then I'd estimate that maybe someone will start building a production reactor some time in the 2040s, to be operational maybe some time around 2060.

      There are a lot of ifs there, and something else might come along to knock it out of the water (such as laser-based fusion). However, it's all research that increases human knowledge, and like any other big scientific endeavour, there will be spin-offs. If it pays off, it will pay off big. It likely won't be in my lifetime either. In 2060, I'll be in my mid eighties if I'm still alive.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wolder how long it would take to

    Make a miniature version of this and replicate the infamous boat scene from "Live and let die" ?

  14. JoMe
    FAIL

    So many "look at this cool thing"

    With no application for it... seriously, wtf?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: So many "look at this cool thing"

      Ultra high resolution bench top NMR machines?

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: So many "look at this cool thing"

      See some of the comments above.

      If you want to push a stream of hot plasma, you need this to keep it contained and away from the surface of the tube.

      Could be used in a plasma cannon ...

    3. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: So many "look at this cool thing"

      No application YET.

      Nobody knew what to do with the LASER when they first made one too. It was considered a curiosity/party trick.

      1. JoMe

        Re: So many "look at this cool thing"

        Back then people actually applied things. Nowadays, we have printable batteries, batteries that can charge in moments, power tracks that can be laid down on streets to power battery vehicles, mist-based technologies that can product 3d widgets you can feel - and none are being actually applied.

        Instead all the effort is being put into "look at this cool thing". Waste of time while we're not addressing these inventions and new techniques into applicable uses.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: So many "look at this cool thing"

          Instead all the effort is being put into "look at this cool thing". Waste of time while we're not addressing these inventions and new techniques into applicable uses.

          The first cellphone patent was applied in 1908[*] - coupling a telephone with a radio transmitter. It took almost a century before we got the basics of what we have today. Some 50 years from the early "field telephone" to something a normal person could carry in a pocket.

          Lots of 'look at this cool thing' was needed before we got even a decent flip phone.

          Tracks in roads to power cars - doable but there's safety and environmental issues to overcome. You also have to decently insulate them from the ground, they have to be flush with the road so not to be a hazard to others (pedestrians tripping or traction/direction issues with wheels crossing them), the cars have to be able to move off them without issue (ie cannot be the sole source of power). They have to be "environmentally friendly" - if they take 100,000 tons of CO2 out of the air from the removal of petrol cars but their creation causes 100,000,000,000 tons of CO2 they're not exactly good, nor if they leave behind plastic or other materials that are harmful to the environment. What about when it rains, or someone causes a lot of water to run onto the road?

          We've had fast charging (and discharging) batteries for decades. A practical use for them may not come for a while, but nice to have. Not sure what your "can product 3d widgets you can feel" is supposed to mean. Most of the widgets I encounter in daily life are easily felt and, being physical objects, certainly are 3d in nature.

          Electricity was discovered thousands of years ago. The basic principles of the internal combustion engine - also going back centuries if not millennia. The mechanics of a carburettor were well known before Mr Ford was born (even if not for fuel/air mixing). If none of these things had been around and fairly well known (if poorly understood) 150 years ago, we'd not have the cars we have today. It took a novel combination of known and somewhat developed products to create the internal combustion engine, and from there the first cars.

          It can take time for an invention to have a practical use, but does not make it a waste of time. Every 'failure' increases knowledge. Sometimes those 'failures' can be re-applied to other things later, but sometimes even just the knowledge of someone else's 'wasted time' means I can learn from their mistakes and waste much less of my time.

          The things you listed aren't usable today because there are still bits of the technology missing. When everything is in place, then they'll be used.

          [*] IIRC - Could be earlier or later but not by a lot.

          1. Dagg

            Re: So many "look at this cool thing"

            We've had fast charging (and discharging) batteries for decades. A practical use for them may not come for a while

            They are called capacitors and they are fundamental to things like RFID tags.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: So many "look at this cool thing"

              We've had fast charging (and discharging) batteries for decades. A practical use for them may not come for a while

              They are called capacitors and they are fundamental to things like RFID tags.

              Yup. Built a mosquito repellor that ran at IIRC 22khz when I was a wee lad (something like 8yrs old). Just made a 'buzz' but the key circuit was a cap charging up against transistor, when it reached the transistor's trigger voltage it tripped draining the cap pretty much straight into the speaker.

              I did mention it in my first draft of the post but wondered if caps are truly batteries - I mean some work in basically the same way (eg electrolytic ones) but is there a big enough difference that they're not technically the same? :)

              Dunno how old caps are but I know some that are older than my father, and he was ancient when I was born :)

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Mike 125

          Re: So many "look at this cool thing"

          >Back then people actually applied things. >Waste of time while...

          Part 1: Science => Engineering principles => Application prototypes

          Part 2: Demand => Application development => Stuff to buy and/or (make world better and/or worse)

          Always was, is now, always will be. So, which part is a "waste of time" ?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So many "look at this cool thing"

      Bulk eraser?

  15. Long John Brass Silver badge

    I said open the door!

    Not blow the bloody doors off!

  16. Unep Eurobats
    Go

    El Reg unit?

    The strength of 30 MRI scanners sounds impressive, but is still a little detached from most people's real-world experience.

  17. M7S
    Pirate

    When can I get a Gauss Pistol?

    To keep the sky pirates from hijacking my flying car....

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: When can I get a Gauss Pistol?

      When can I get a Gauss Pistol?

      To keep the sky pirates from hijacking my flying car....

      Come around here on chilli night.

      Trust me. You car will be safe. We won't even need to fit a pipe to you...

      Oh, wait a minute. You said 'gaUSs pistol". Sorry, my bad. Still, if you ever want total protection from anyone ever entering your car you know where to come.. (Although that 'anyone' can include family members, the dog, even yourself......)

  18. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    "We are really opening a new door,"

    Is it really such a good idea to have a door magnet on the Bank of England's vaults?

  19. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    The real story here is it's 390g Vs 35 tonnes.

    That is a step change for magnets of this power (although the mass of the Dewar full of LHe puts that up a bit the small size suggests it'll still be in the 10s of Kg size)

    This is one of those enabling technologies that aren't much use on their own but open lots of possibilities.

    Consider what that would do for that old SF chestnut the magnetically levitated train

    Well done to the whole team..

  20. werdsmith Silver badge

    Very powerful magnets sent in the post come in a big box with the magnet at the centre so its field is mostly within the box.

    How big would a box need to be for this?

    (an yes, I know it won't work like that. Just wondering about the size of the field and the distance it can be felt).

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Joke

    PFY special...

    So they've basically come up with a pocket-sized pinch then?

    ...

    ...

    ...

    Uh-oh...

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