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Letting the sparks fly

Credits:
Photo / Donna Coveney
Credits:
Photo / Donna Coveney
Credits:
Photo / FRANCIS BITTER MAGNET LAB

Two 84-ton, 10-megawatt motor generators used since 1963 to power the Bitter and hybrid magnets at the Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory are being dismantled to make room for a high-field superconducting NMR magnet and spectrometer. A Victor R1500 oxygen/propane torch (top photos) is used to cut into the 20-inch steel flywheels that stored the energy used to drive the generators. The generators (bottom photo) were used in numerous experiments, including the discovery of the fractional quantum Hall effect, for which the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded in 1998. The spectrometer, part of the MIT/Harvard Center for Magnetic Resonance, will be used for structural studies of proteins, nucleic acids and other biological systems.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 22, 2003.

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