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In December 2011 the North Museum of Natural History & Science began presenting its newest demonstration attraction.
It's a circular track of magnets above which a razor-thin disc amazingly levitates, seeming to defy the laws of physics.
Purchased for about $7,000 from Tel-Aviv University, the Levitator is believed to be the only one of its kind in a United States.
The program includes a variety of demonstrations related to magnets, levitation and liquid nitrogen, culminating in the demonstration of the Quantum Levitator. Free with museum admission.
Watch a short demonstration:
How it works:
The key to the levitator is the disc, which is made of superconducting material above layers of gold and sapphire crystal. A piece of foam is placed on top and held in place with household plastic wrap. The disc is then dipped into a brew of liquid nitrogen (temperature: minus-300 degrees Fahrenheit).
This creates a superconductor — an object that conducts electricity without resistance and no energy loss.
When placed atop a powerful magnet, the disc appears to float or be trapped by the magnetic field. The combination of magnetism and superconductivity create the levitation.
The disc doesn't have to remain flat but can be tilted and will maintain the same angle as long as it's above the magnet. You can even flip the magnet over without the disc falling off.