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Q & A: magnetic levitation?

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Most recent answer: 03/04/2014
Q:
Is it possible to float a magnet over another one by facing their like-polar sides while preventing either of them from flipping away from each other?
- Adrian (age 35)
Chicago, IL, USA
A:

No, not if you don't use some sort of mechanical contact. Earnshaw's theorem shows that threre's no stable equilibrium for any combination of ordinary magnetism and gravity. You need some other effects, such as diamagnetism (especially the strong form of superconductivity) or contact forces. Both of those effects have a quantum origin.

Mike W.


(published on 03/04/2014)

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