Science: Magnet for Mysteries

Magnetism is one of nature's fundamental forces, but in many respects scientists know little about it. Last week Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced an attack on the elusive mysteries. With $6,000,000 from the U.S. Air Force, M.I.T. will build an ambitious laboratory devoted solely to the study of magnetism. Main feature: the world's most powerful electromagnet—a giant coil that will maintain a continuous magnetic field of 250,000 gauss, some 500,000 times stronger than the earth's magnetic field.

Scientists expect M.I.T.'s great instrument to yield important discoveries in dozens of different fields. A considerable part of the laboratory's work will be in solid-state...