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Q & A: Magnetic Levitation

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
can a donut shaped magnet "levitate" or keep a smaller magnet inside from touching the inside of a surrounding donut magnet??

i am thinking about making a like circular shock absorber and wonder if its possible.
- Darnell (age 19)
aurora il
A:
The answer to your question is "sort of".

Yes, the magnet can float another magnet directly above it. However, this is not a stable position. The magnet you have above it will want to flip upsidedown so that it is attracted to the lower magnet. The magnet in the middle would also have a tendency to move to the side to get away from the field. If you were to fix the position of the magnets so they donít drift or rotate, then you could get some small shock suppression, but the force you get is very small when compared to a spring. So this is not very efficient.

If you decide to experiment with this idea, I have a small suggestion. Insted of your doughnut magnet, try an electromagnet. They are lighter, more stable, and can be just as strong if you build them correctly.


Adam

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-Up #1: "floating" magnets

Q:
regarding magnetic levitation and the above question: I have a simple experiment I conducted that will allow you to observe a magnet levitate, but itís not levitating, itís just suspended. Tie the magnet to a string and float another magnet above it The tied-dowm magnet will rise and induce tension on the sting holding it down. Spin the controlling magnet and the tied-dowm magnet spins and stores energy in the string so when you stop spinning, the floating magnet unwinds "mirroring" the energy you put into it. Kinda spooky actually.
This is not a question but I just wanted to share my thoughts. I hope it helps somehow. Thanks =)
- joseph (age 42)
Rano, NV USA
A:
 Thanks for the nice example.

LeeH

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-up on this answer.