Here at GeekTech, we would probably do anything for a little bit of hover technology just to get our hoverboard, landspeeder, or the Jetsons' flying car hopes up. So I just about fell into my PC's screen when I saw this video of a frozen puck than can hover in place, tilt, go upside-down, or even fly along a track like a ghost with a trail wisping behind it.
Well no, actually. It turns out that this is really a video of Tel-Aviv University demoing “super cooled” superconductors caught in quantum trapping over a magnet at the 2011 Association of Science-Technology Centers's annual conference held at the Maryland Science Center.
Well then, what’s quantum trapping?
It’s complex and I’m no expert--or even a novice--when it comes to this sort of thing. But first off, the super-conductor has to be super-cooled, as most materials must be chilled to extremely low temperatures before they become super conductive. The second thing you have to know is that superconductors will expel any magnetic fields--that is, unless the superconductive layer is extremely thin. If the layer is too thin, then a small amount of the field penetrates through.
The magnetic field comes through as magnetic flux tubes that pinch around the super-conductor and hold it in place. So that’s why the disc in the demo can rotate or even flip upside down because the magnetic field is locking its position.
Be sure to check out Quantum Levitation for a more in-depth look at the physics behind quantum trapping.
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