General Question

richardhenry's avatar

What on earth is going on with this magnet?

Asked by richardhenry (12651points) May 7th, 2008

Can anyone explain? Is that liquid oxygen? What’s with the strange slide type thing at the beginning?

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12 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

The colder magnets are, the stronger they are. It looks to my untrained eye like at room temperature, the magnets were not strong enough to visibly repel each other. The bottom magnet was rapidly cooled with liquid nitrogen (although it could be liquid oxygen or any number of other elements) which made it strong enough to repel the top magnet, suspending it in midair. As long as it remained in the nitrogen (or whatever) bath, it was cool enough and strong enough to repel the other magnet. When it was taken out and placed on the edge of the styrofoam it cooled enough to stop the repulsion.

Unsolved mysteries: the film thing in the beginning and why the magnets stayed together when the guy took them out of the bath (!?!?!?)

richardhenry's avatar

Do you think it could be fake? I’m guessing so. I can’t find anything similar.

robmandu's avatar

(jaw hits floor—cannot fluther fathom this one)

nikipedia's avatar

Maybe. I searched for “supercooled magnets” and got this:

soundedfury's avatar

It’s not fake, it’s science.

It’s called the Meissner Effect. The object in the bowl is some sort of superconductive material, the liquid nitrogen is used to cool it down to the critical temperature at which it’s resistance is zero. The magnet then induces a current in the newly superconductive material. Since there is a current, there is an electoromagnetic field, which repels the magnet. It actually acts as a magnetic mirror and reflects ALL magnetic fields that come near it.

It’s one of the properties of superconducting that broke classical ways of thinking about magnetic fields.

nikipedia's avatar

@soundedfury: Now that you’ve bested me I don’t know whether I should be resentful or swoony.

soundedfury's avatar

A little bit of both, probably.

robmandu's avatar

The whole “picking up both magnets” part was what was new to me. That and the ability to park the floating magnet jauntily at an arrogant angle.

@riser, your 2nd link is awesome just on the strength of that boom chica wah wah intro music alone.

gooch's avatar

Its using a superconductor. I have seen military experiments using them to make things (like flying saucers) fly. The power of rapid propulsion they can deliver is phenominal.

richardhenry's avatar

This is amazing. Thanks for the answers guys.

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