Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Where's My Hoverboard!!???!!!

Crap!  Here I am in the year 2010, no flying cars, no hoverboards, I am pissed!  Nobody has even levitated anything yet!

J/K!  Levitation exists!

Here is a video of Dutch scientists levitating things like water droplets, cherry tomatoes, and even a frog:

They are able to do this by taking advantage of a property known as diamagnetism, which is possessed by many materials.  Many common things such as wood, plastic, and water are all diamagnetic (frogs are mostly water).  Diamagnetic objects are repelled by magnets.  Diamagnetism can be thought of as the opposite of ferromagnetism, which is the property possessed by objects made of many metals such as iron and nickel.  Ferromagnetic objects are attracted to magnets.  However, this attractive, ferromagnetic force is much stronger than the repulsive, diamagnetic force.  So, in order to manipulate diamagnetic objects, you need STRONG magnets.  The Dutch scientists used a 16 Tesla magnet, which is around a million times more powerful than a pretty strong refrigerator magnet.

For more on this experiment, visit the Radboud Univeristy Nijmegen High Field Magnet Laboratory page.