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Anti-Magnets

October 26, 2011

Scientists have designed a theoretical anti-magnet. If it works in practice, it could have profound effects on both medicine and industry.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Creating an anti-magnet…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Magnets are important in energy production, medical imaging, and computing, to name just a few applications. But until now, no one has been able to cloak magnetic fields in one region without distorting them elsewhere.

ALVARO SANCHEZ (Autonomous University of Barcelona):

Suppose that you want to have an MRI in you knee, but you have a pacemaker. You need something to protect the pacemaker from the magnetic fields that you have in an MRI, but at the same time you don’t want to distort the magnetic fields because you will spoil the image.

HIRSHON:

That’s physicist Alvaro Sanchez of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. He and his colleagues have designed an antimagnet that could solve this problem, at least in theory. It would feature several layers of magnetic materials that surround a superconductor, which would protect the magnet inside from distortion. Sanchez says antimagnets of the future could also keep credit cards from being erased, or even protect ships’ hulls from being destroyed by mines. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.