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I was having a discussion about the tensile strengths of various materials.

Could something like a chain of electromagnets be made to have a tensile strength proportional to the power applied to it?

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  • $\begingroup$ Why proportional to the power? If it's superconducting magnets, then it's zero power and if it is ordinary copper wound magnets it would be closer to $\propto \sqrt P$. And if you want to go zero to hero, just use permanent magnets and save yourself power, cooling and cost. $\endgroup$
    – CuriousOne
    Apr 20, 2016 at 0:51
  • $\begingroup$ My curiousity sprung when I read about the Launch Loop and other orbital elevator concepts. So in this hypothetical case, something like ordinary copper wound magnets. $\endgroup$
    – user589879
    Apr 20, 2016 at 1:02
  • $\begingroup$ I doubt that ordinary conductors are even close to the requirements of magnetic launch assist systems. There is probably a two or three orders of magnitude disadvantage to superconductors there. $\endgroup$
    – CuriousOne
    Apr 20, 2016 at 1:50

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Yes.

Is this a useful method in practice to increase the strength to weight ratio of a cable? No, except possibly with the use of superconductors (copper would melt before contributing as much tensile strength as a cable of the same weight).

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  • $\begingroup$ S0 the power running through the cable/tube would be used to cool the magnets, rather than the magnetic fields themselves. Could a "superconducting tube of magnets" like this be scaled up for something like a space elevator cable? $\endgroup$
    – user589879
    Apr 20, 2016 at 2:07

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