Levitation is thought of as an act of magic. Magicians have used the idea of levitation as their prime act in many shows around the world but most of the time the act has been nothing but a trick of the eye. In most people’s opinions, levitation cannot really be accomplished. However, now it seems that it is quite real, and it can be done without magic. Science shows us how.

The experiment

The act of levitating objects is simple in procedure, but it is necessary to understand the role of physics in the idea. An experiment conducted by Harvard physicist Subir Sachdev shows how levitation can indeed be done with the implementation of three basic tools: magnets, liquid nitrogen and a superconductor.

Basically, a very small magnet is placed on top of a superconductor. Liquid nitrogen is poured onto both the magnet and the superconductor and allowed to cool to extremely low temperatures. As the magnet and superconductor cool, the superconductor pushes the magnet away. This is what creates forced levitation. Although the particular experiment was performed at a small scale, it is very probable that larger projects will soon be completed.

What is a superconductor?

A superconductor can be created using a material called YBCO (yttrium barium copper oxide). This compound is made from copper atoms surrounded by paired electrons. These special electrons can be in multiple places at once, which is called superposition. Thanks to the superposition of paired particles, superconductivity is created.

This is understood as quantum entanglement. During this event, the paired electrons rotate in opposite directions. One travels clockwise and the other counterclockwise. When one electron is measured, the other electron changes direction. According to science, this phenomenon has a direct connection to how a superconductor works.

The basics of quantum mechanics

You may be expecting an explanation of why superconductors only work at very cold temperatures. Scientists are still unsure of why and how this works. They also know that an electron behaves as both a particle and a wave. These basics are just part of the mystery of quantum mechanics.

In this area, humanity has been making giant strides. Levitation is magical in idea and useful in the laboratory. We all hope that levitation will be useful in everyday life as well, while continuing to seem magical to our children in the future. This would be the highest reward for humanity.