Magnets are the heart and soul of most intelligent machines that we use today and magnets are a gift of nature. Stories say that the first magnet was discovered accidentally by a shepherd in Greece in about 2,000 BC. The first artificial magnet was invented by an English physician Willian Gilbert in 1600, proving that the earth is one big magnet.
The past few centuries have seen so much work being done on the magnet that they now form a crucial element of our everyday electronics like televisions, computers, motors, and what not. Earth is a giant magnet, but its magnetic field measures only 0.00005 Tesla. The most powerful natural magnet known to man in the entire universe is the magnetic neutron star “magnetar” also called Soft Gamma Repeater 1806-20. It has a magnetic field of about a hundred billion teslas, dwarfing earth in comparison.
Learning from nature, humans have been trying to develop magnetic devices to aid the devices that form the basis of our lives today. The strongest artificial magnet on the face of the planet was created by the researchers from the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL) at Florida State University, Tallahassee. The enormous hybrid magnet system went into operation in December of 1999. Standing at 22 feet tall, the magnet weighs 34 tons, with a magnetic field of 25 teslas. This field is half a million times stronger than that of the Earth and is enough to alter conventional electronic and magnetic behavior of many materials.
Further research into the field and the researchers at NHMFL have been able to achieve magnetic strengths of a crazy 100.75 Tesla, which is 2 million times as much as that of the earth. This field is strong enough to make anything float, and this does not only mean metals. The field is capable of levitating objects such as plastic or even strawberries. Reminds you of Magneto from the X-men? Well, that could happen for real, except that it can not be a person with a magnetic field this strong.
Have a look inside the facility that holds the world’s most powerful magnet, and learn more about how it works.