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Differential rotation occurs in conducting flows in accretion disks and planetary cores. In such systems, the magnetorotational instability can arise from coupling Lorentz and centrifugal forces to cause large radial angular momentum fluxes. We present the first experimental observation of the magnetorotational instability. Our system consists of liquid sodium between differentially rotating spheres, with an imposed coaxial magnetic field. We characterize the observed patterns, dynamics anddoi:10.1103/physrevlett.93.114502 pmid:15447344 fatcat:rolpdcrufjfidapcs6vjp3sdnm