Dropping Science: Quantum Levitation!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ws6AAhTw7RA&w=853&h=480]

I’ve always felt a little bit cheated that we’ve reached 2011 and I still don’t have my personal hoverboard. At the ASTC Annual Conference in Baltimore this year however, that dream moved a step closer to reality. Tel-Aviv University stunned the world (well the internet at least) with its demonstration of a quantum superconductor, locked within a magnetic field. Essentially the object can be placed at any angle within the field and so will remain locked in place with no other means of support, it can even move around given a magnetic track and a push!

The science behind it is (as you’d imagine from something with the word “Quantum” in it, pretty complicated but essentially it boils down to the fact that the material coating the levitating object is a superconductor and superconductors hate magnetic fields. As the superconductor tries to expel the magnetic field and the magnetic field attempts to pass through the superconductor the disk winds up frozen in space above the magnet. For a more detailed (and probably slightly more accurate) description of how it works have a look at their webpage on the subject.

So can we expect to be flying to work tomorrow? Well no. For the effect to work the object has to be extremely thin and extremely cold (like -185ºC ). Still it’s a hover-step closer and that’s exciting enough for me.


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