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Q & A: Magnetic Levitation

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
How would I make a ball levetate using magnents?
- Andrew Cummins (age 12)
Louisville, KY, USA
A:
Andrew -

Great question! We know that magnets always have two different poles (north and south). If you put the opposite poles of two different magnets together, they will stick together. But if you put the same poles together, they will push apart. So you can actually make a magnet levitate by holding it above another magnet with the same poles together. (Like if you had two bar magnets in a tall plastic tube.)

If you want to make a ball levitate, it would be pretty simple to just stick magnets pointing one way onto the ball and put magnets pointing the other way under and around the ball. That is, have all the magnets on the ball so that the positive pole is pointing away from the ball and all the magnets under the ball with the positive pole pointing towards the ball. You will find, however, that it will be impossible to make the ball "stay put" as it levitates; it will tend to "fall off" the magnets on the bottom.

-Tamara(+mw)

(published on 10/22/2007)

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