To be completely honest I was going to start this with a pun. I did think of one but it doesn’t float…
I am sorry I just had to.
Anyway, this is the second part to the article on super cool ways of making things levitate. Go check the first part out if you haven’t already. Actually, the first part may have become repulsive with all the magnets and stuff, but I promise this will be more attractive. Get it? No? I’ll stop now.
I am just going to jump straight into it.
1. Electrostatic Levitation
I know you are probably sick and tired of magnets but they are the best way you know… This method is somewhat similar.
You remember that cool science experiment you did with two straws attracting or repulsing each other based on their charge? So basically using the same principle we can make a charged object levitate.
But before you try it, let me tell you it won’t be easy. Even impossible according to our Mr. Earnshaw. He even made a law (the law is actually true) stating that you can never find a stable equilibrium point where the charges completely counteract each other, so the levitating effect created my magnets, electrostatic forces (those are somewhat similar) will be “chaotic” unworthy to be called levitation in the eyes of a true physicist. And then he twirled his mustache. Just joking, I made that last part. Just checking if you are still awake.
But the other physicists did not shy away. Any coders here? If yes, then you know what a Feedback Loop is right?
(For the non-coders, a feedback loop is something that sort of fluctuates, giving rapidly changing commands taking into the system’s output into consideration to achieve the desired outcome)
So the scientists basically created a feedback loop to detect the object’s position (if it was too high or too low) and manage the charge accordingly.
Watch the video!
2. Aerodynamic Levitation
This is probably the most intuitive way. Ever seen a floating table tennis ball on a hairdryer? Yup that is a perfect example. If you haven’t ever seen that, get a life dude/dudette. But seriously do it for yourself. Unlike the other things this is not a trap, you can actually do it!
Also just so you know, Gas film Levitation and this are practically the same. There is a little bit of difference but let us avoid going into those details…
3. BUOYANCY LEVITATION
This is sort of a cheaty one. Helium balloons are sort of similar. Helium balloons rise up because helium is lighter than air. So imagine if there was a point where suddenly air stops and helium starts. If you keep a box (Since this is physics, we are allowed to assume that the box has no mass) filled with Helium at that point, it would appear as if the box is floating.
Whoa! I suck at explaining… Let me make this simple. Paper floats on water. Floating and levitation are essentially the same thing. We just don’t call floating as levitation because the object is in contact with the ground via water. Technically when anything levitates it is also in contact with the ground through air… Riddle me that Science!
I googled, I was wrong. Levitation is called such if it is possible in a vacuum. Therefore we can call magnetic and electromagnetic and all other methods as true ways to achieve levitation as vacuum or not, it does not affect them.
Coming to this method, if you have a gas with a different density than that of air, you can achieve levitation (not scientifically though since this won’t work in a vacuum where nothing is between the object and the ground)
This video should help understand. It shows a light open box seemingly “levitating”. The truth is it is floating on xenon (gas with high density) which is heavier than air so it does not leave the transparent container.
Another method that can be used to create levitation is difference in density of air molecules in an area, creating a pressure that could make an object levitate. The only problem is that since it relies on a sort of contained area or some sort of support it is not exactly true levitation. It’s called pseudo levitation (pseudo meaning false). There is something known as a vacuum elevator that could help explain it. Just watch the following video because I realize I did not make a lot of sense.
Just as a side note, this method relies on buoyancy of air. Hence the name.
As usual I have crossed the word limit so I am going to have to leave you here and leave the coolest parts for the next article. I sincerely hope this was more interesting than just magnets and if you don’t agree, nothing you can do about it. #getrektm8