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The moment of activation. Photo: University of Tokyo

The strongest-ever controlled magnetic field was activated in Tokyo earlier this year, showering a containment room with sparks for its brief lifespan: 1/1,000th of a blink of an eye.

Why it matters: Powerful magnetic fields allow scientists to study the movement of electrons, enabling research into fusion, a future source of clean energy.

The field was measured at 1,200 teslas — a unit of magnetic field strength — which is about 400 times the strength of an MRI, according to IEEE Spectrum.

  • It was created by compressing a much weaker field into a tiny space at an extremely fast rate.
  • Shojiro Takeyama, the University of Tokyo professor in charge of the experiment, told IEEE that the iron cupboard that housed the mechanism was built to withstand the effects of a 700-tesla magnetic field — only three-fifths the strength of the field that was actually created.
  • The cupboard’s door was broken, but no one was hurt, he said.

The magnetic field’s 100 microseconds of existence may seem fleeting, but it’s actually a major record, according to a statement from the University of Tokyo.

  • Powerful fields generated by lasers typically last for nanoseconds — or 1/1,000th of a microsecond.
  • A Russian experiment created a stronger magnetic field in 2001, but it couldn’t be controlled. The 2,800-tesla field blew up the lab’s equipment.

Go deeper: Watch the fireworks as the University of Tokyo field is activated (YouTube)

Go deeper

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

9 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.