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Building a Quantum Levitation device

  1. Dec 7, 2013 #1
    I'm confident that most of us have seen the advancements in quantum levitation recently, and this has aroused questions among the geek community ( us : ) )
    Anyway, if I were to, hypothetically, want to build one... How do I- *cough*- one do such a thing. What equipment and supplies are in play with the fascinating device?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 7, 2013 #2
  4. Dec 8, 2013 #3


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    If you want to make it completely from scratch, you'll need an oven that goes to about 1,000°C and can maintain that temperature for some time. This is needed to "bake" the high temperature superconductor that makes levitation possible.

    Alternatively, there are places you can buy an HTSC. They aren't particularly expensive.

    The next serious barrier is that even the "high temperature" SCs operate at very low temperatures. The only practical way to get these temperatures is with liquid nitrogen.

    The rest is straight forward. You use the liquid nitrogen to cool the HTSC plate to bellow the critical temperature, and it becomes a type II superconductor. The cool thing about that is taht it can lock magnetic fields in place, allowing for leviation. (I don't know why they are calling it quantum levitation. It's a silly name. Yes, superconductivity is a quantum effect, but it's a bit like saying "quantum laser." They're all quantum.)

    Anyways, there are some techniques on getting this to work with a very thin plate of HTSC, which allows for better lockign of the magnetic field, and the main reason we got all these videos floating about. But for basic effect, you just need HTSC, liquid nitrogen, and some magnets.

    If you do manage to get liquid nitrogen, keep in mind that it's a very hazardous substance to work with. I would strongly recommend getting someone who knows what they are doing to actually handle it.
  5. Dec 8, 2013 #4
    Liquid nitrogen safety sprint:
    don't put your hands in it. Not even for a second.
    Point it away from you when you turn it on.
    Sometimes gloves are more dangerous than bare hands! Just be wise.
    Nitrogen, in large quantities, can displace the oxygen that you like using to live. Prop a window.
    Dewars are pressure bombs. And they're heavy. Don't push them, pull them.

    Making a levitating train is a fun exercise. Google something like "levitating superconductor theory" to get material specs.

    Making a full scale train is a serious challenge.
  6. Dec 8, 2013 #5
    Oh... I see.
  7. Dec 8, 2013 #6
    Actually, the leidenfrost effect means that you can put your hand in liquid nitrogen, just for a second :). The rapid boiling insulates your hand in a layer of gas.
  8. Dec 9, 2013 #7
  9. Dec 9, 2013 #8
    We should all just agree to never use the term "Quantum Levitation" and stop contributing to sensationalism and a bunch of Israelis attempt at self-promotion.
  10. Dec 9, 2013 #9


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    That is true. And I'm guilty of having tried that. But it's still really dangerous and stupid.
  11. Dec 9, 2013 #10
    And, if you're quick, you can also roll under a moving train between its wheels.

    Leidenfrost will save you when you spill a bit on your hands. Doing anything else is not safe.
  12. Dec 10, 2013 #11
    As always, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
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