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The Quantum Levitator

See it in action on the following dates:
Friday, April 18, 10:30 to Noon
Monday, April 21, 10:30 to Noon

What's a Quantum Levitator? This mysterious contraption is a circular track of magnets above which a razor-thin disc amazingly levitates, seeming  to defy the laws of physics. But there's more than magic to this trick! Explore the science behind magnets, levitation and liquid nitrogen in these live demonstrations at the North Museum. Demonstrations are free with the purchase of Museum admission. 

The North Museum of Natural History and Science is the only science museum in the nation to own the Quantum Levitator and was demonstrated by Science Guy Steve Spangler on "The Ellen Degeneres Show" on February 21, 2014.  Check out the episode here.

Watch a short demonstration:


 Trailer created by Dylan Adler, Franklin and Marshall College '14

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.