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Levitating magnetism

  1. Mar 23, 2003 #1
    I have seen what I seem to remember a disc made of super conducting material levitating over a substance I seem to remember as some form of liquid gas. Is there anyone who could please clue me into what I was observing and how it operates? Does what I observed somehow relate to opposing forces of magnetic poles or some other aspect of magnetism.

    Also concerning levitation and magnetism, I have seen a scientific documentary with the subject matter of magnetism. It showed how with enough energy anything could be magnetized. A spider, magnetized apparently, levitated and was floating around within a small area that was encased in circle of what appeared to be some type of metallic material. Can anyone please explain to me what it means or how it is so that any object, using enough energy can be essentially turned into a magnet and how it occurred that these normally non-magnetic objects could be floating.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 23, 2003 #2
    You most likely saw a superconducting disk with a small magnet floating above the disk. A superconductor does not have any magnetic field inside of it (well to a good approximation). The magnetic field from the small magnet can't penatrate into the superconductor. There is a force expelling the magnetic field (Pushing the magnet up) if this force is larger than gravity then the magnet floats above the SC disk.

    You can't turn anything into a magnet. I've seen frog and bees levitating, but I can't remember how this was done. Magnetic fields are porduced inside the frogs and other animals. Now if the frog is light enough these fields might be large enough to levitate the frog. Or you might be able to coat the frog with a very thin layer of magnetic material causing it to be levitated. But this method might get you into trouble with animal cruelty people.

  4. Mar 23, 2003 #3


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    Was the "liquid gas" that you saw giving off a great deal of steam or fog? That would make it almost certain that what you saw was, as nbo10 stated, a superconductor. More specifically, a superconducting electromagnet. If that is the case, then the liquid itself was not generating the magnetic field. It was merely being used as a coolant. Superconductors only function at very cold temperatures, and typically use liquid helium to stay frosty.

    You can get some good information, and a diagram that may be of the device you saw http://cseserv.engr.scu.edu/nquinn/ENGR300Winter2001/researchprojects/DRummler/RUMMLER-SUPERCONDUCTING-FINAL.html [Broken]

    I saw the show with the floating frogs, spiders, plastic Mickey Mouse, etc., and I believe the point was not that anything can be made into a magnet, but rather everything has some magnetic potential. All objects that are made of atoms have electrons in them and, given a strong enough magnetic field, anything will levitate.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  5. Mar 23, 2003 #4
    Yeah I saw that one too.

    I read that the magnet both floated and spun around because the super cooled metal generated large EMF's
  6. Mar 23, 2003 #5
    You have to start the magnet spinning and it will continue to spin for quite some time, because the friction is very low. EMF is produced on the surface of the SC but not in interior, to repel the magetic field from the magnet.

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