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Video: Scientists lock a disk in air with quantum levitation

If you want to see something strange, you’ve come to the right place. Using a technology called “quantum trapping,” scientists can now make an object levitated in the air above a magnet. More interesting, it’s locked to the magnet so well that its position in the air can be moved and it will stay in place, almost as if it’s sitting on a table or an invisible stand of clay or something.

Discovery explains the technique, which basically involved cooling a ceramic disk until it hits -301 degrees Fahrenheit (-185 Celsius) at which point it turns into a superconductor, meaning it conducts electricity without resistance and with no energy loss. When you put a superconductor near a magnet, it expels the magnetic field out of it (usually a magnetic field travels through something). This is called the Meissner effect. However, since this disk is super thin, small, concentrated beams of magnetic field energy does penetrate the disk and kind of holds it in place. You can turn it upside down, move the object, etc. It just stays in mid air exactly how you place it. (Read more about the science here.)

The first video below demonstrates the concept and the second video shows how it works along with some really cool demonstrations like a disc flying around a track. I think we’ve finally figured out how those pesky UFOs stay up in the air.