Despite what you may think, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. That little white disc is levitating an inch or so above a magnetic track. In fact, if you switched everything upside down, it would remain in place as it is trapped in a magnetic field which arises due to the funky characteristics of super-conductors. Whichever way you look at it, quantum levitation (or quantum locking), is science at its coolest!
For a live demonstration, check out the following video, in which Tel-Aviv University demonstrates the science of quantum superconductors locked in a magnetic field (“quantum levitation” or “quantum locking”). Credit for the video goes to the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC).
So, what are the potential applications for this technology? Sadly, I can’t envisage Back To The Future style hoverboards any time soon, purely because of the temperatures involved in making the science park. No doubt this will be particularly annoying for anyone who splashed out on a set of Marty McFly’s Nike MAGs.
I think the biggest potential lies in space travel. Space is (a) cold enough and (b) exposed to all sorts of magnetic fields. No doubt some bright spark funded by Sir. Richard Branson will make it happen!
Update: if you’re looking for a more in depth explanation of Quantum Levitation, check out this post.