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Thursday, October 20. 2011
The magic of (quantumtatively-locked) levitation
Hat tip Theo. Home site is here, although there didn't appear to be any more vids or info on the above. Pretty amazing, though. You know that fun old literary theme of going back in time and appearing real smart compared to everybody else? If I'm going back in time, I'm bringing along one of these babies.
Exit question: How long would it spin in a vacuum with no air resistance to slow it down?
Posted by Dr. Mercury in Hot News & Misc. Short Subjects at 10:00 | Comments (25) | Trackback (1)
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Didn't Abby Hoffman have a bunch of these back in the day? Under the Pentagon?
Yeah, I think he did.
"Yeah, I think he did."
Well, almost. The problem is that they didn't account for the nuclear reactor buried deep beneath it, so it only got up to about 15 feet, rather than the 25 they were shooting for. But I'm sure the Big Brass in the Pentagon didn't take it seriously.
He was crazy. But crazy like a fox.
I saw him speak in 1980, one of his first public speeches as Barry Freed, while I was in college.
Got an autograph with Barry Freed and Abby Hoffman.....
One reason I would prefer to live near a college is the great speaking and film series they tend to have.
Pshaw. Everyone knows that the rumors of the "reactor under the Pentagon" were started by information warfare specialists to divert attention away from the ginormous freezer containing the bodies of JFK and some Roswell visitors.
If you brought one of these babies back in time and displayed it, you would have been dragged out to the meadow and promptly burned at the stake.
Hell, we may have to do that to the inventor now, just to make a good example.
Er, damn good point. The secret is to show up in a big pointy hat and a robe covered with stars and comets and strange arcane writings. Sorcerer for hire, as it were. Kings just ate that stuff up.
1 - When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
2 - The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
3 - Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Clarke's Three Laws.
Cool yes - quantum levitation not so much.
This effect is called flux pinning and has been known to science and industry for a long time. It can only work with Type II superconducters that have sufficient granular defects to allow for the suspension of the Lorenz Force. It isn't new "quantum science".
The technique is used in high temperature superconducting ceramics to prevent the breakdown of the edge binding properties of conducting ceramic materials. Norton Company (yes - the sandpaper/abrasives/safety equipment manufacturer) experimented with this for use in ultra high speed ceramic grinding wheels back in the early '90s with Cincinnati Milacron which no longer exists as a machine tool company. In fact, I don't think it even exists any more - Google Google Google - ah, yes it does, but it is now called Milacron and does plastics injection molding machinery. Huh - how about that. One of the biggest and most sophisticated machine tool companies in the world reduced to making milk jug forming machines. Sad.
I blame Canada.
Anyway, it is cool, has practical applications, but fails in larger scale experiments. We won't be seeing this effect used in anti-gravity engines in the near future. :>)
"Cool yes - quantum levitation not so much."
You mean I was right when I used the word "magic"??
"I blame Canada."
Personally, I blame the San Francisco hippie Boomers for everything these days. That seems like a safe bet.
"We won't be seeing this effect used in anti-gravity engines in the near future."
(snapping fingers) Darn! And we were so close to interstellar space travel! Say, I got an idea. Let's endow NASA with another trillion dollars so they can study this pesky problem and get it solved, once and for all. And, as some commenter named Tim Frankis said just the other day, think of all the jobs it'll create! You can just see all those astrophysicists pounding down the door!
You mean I was right when I used the word "magic"??
See Clarke's Third Law.
And, as some commenter named Tim Frankis said just the other day, think of all the jobs it'll create! You can just see all those astrophysicists pounding down the door!
See Clarke's Second Law.
This reminds me of Doc's Sixth Law:
"All blog commentary goes off-topic after 3.4 comments."
Pretty much set your watch by that one.
I always thought Clarke was 'okay', but I was really more of a Bradbury fan (kinda like that Beatles/Stones thing), with a big side dish of Asimov. And I loved the short stories by Harlan Ellison and Jerry Pournelle. Heck, Pournelle was responsible for actually changing my reading habits. Up to that point, I liked both science fiction (possible stuff, like the great James Blish novel, 'Cities In Flight'), and science fantasy. Then I read some Pournelle novel that took place on the moon Gaea, and the main characters looked like horses except their penises grew out of the middle of their foreheads.
That was the last 'science fantasy' book I ever read. :)
That's right! Even then, I was horsophobic!
Speaking of horses (and stridently adhering to Doc's Sixth Law), have you ever seen a movie called 'Buck', about the real 'horse whisperer' that the Robert Redford movie was based on? I watched it last night. Absolutely uncanny what that guy could do. In one scene, this balky colt is giving people fits, and within minutes he has it trotting around him like an eager puppy. In another scene, whereas it usually takes about nine men to load a horse onto a trailer the first time, he had the horse walk onto the trailer by himself, directing him while standing about ten feet from the trailer. And, as you'd expect, he totally demolishes that whole "breaking" the horse routine. Worthy of a watch.
Wow - I haven't thought about Blish's "Cities in Flight" in a long time. Ever read Harry Harrison's "Stainless Steel Rat" series? Great stuff. I would also recommend John Scalzi's "Forever War" and other novels.
Are you into urban fantasy novels like Jim Butcher's "Dresden Files" or Ilona Andrews "Kate Daniels" series?
I haven't thought about that whole science fantasy thing in years. Used to be that there was a division - science fiction (hard science fiction) and fantasy (both future, alternate universe/reality, etc.) but at some point they blended together as the science fiction genre. I've been of the opinion that this was the result of Omni magazine which never made a distinction between the two and the invasion of women authors into the genre. Chic lit scifi. Chic lit scifi you say? Yes - chic lit scifi.
Now I know you might not believe this, but immediately after the invasion of women writers the rise of LBGT characters and themes in science fiction came along - this was during the late '60s, early '70s which in my opinion was a direct reflection of the female influence in scifi. At this point it was pretty much all either fanzine shorts and novellas and then came 1974 and Pamela Sergeant. Pam did a anthology titled Women of Wonder: Science Fiction Stories by Women, About Women which took all these fanzine shorts and novellas and put them in one book. It was all over after that - "hard" scifi and "fantasy" became one forever changed. We now have significant contributions into the genre by women and various and sundry LBGT authors who write some really good stuff.
I'm sorry - I'm a scifi fan freak - can't help it.
Oh, one last thing. My Dad was very good friends with Clifford Simak and through Simak Issac Asimov. In fact, my Dad collaborated with both of them on some projects in the mid-70's. One of the best ever experiences in my young life was walking into my house after football practice and sitting there in my living room was Simak, Asimov, my Dad and Harry Harrison. I was in awe. Got autographs too.
So I guess your "Sixth Law" actually holds huh?
I'll be darned. :>)
PS: Were you aware that there is a whole lesbian bodice ripper sub-genre in scifi? It's true - based out of Seattle - where else?
#188.8.131.52.1 Tom Francis on 2011-10-20 17:59 (Reply)
No, I've never seen the movie "Buck". I will look it up though.
#184.108.40.206.1.1 Tom Francis on 2011-10-20 18:01 (Reply)
In short, "no" to all your questions. I tuned out of sci-fi around the mid-70's and got into action novels, with a particular penchant for submarine stories. So I had no idea of the invasion by female authors and the way it changed the field. Looks like I got out just in time.
Your story of meeting both Asimov and Harrison was very enviable. I think the only famous person I ever met was Shirley Temple, and that's just because she was a neighbor.
I missed Heinlein in my original list, but I think I've read everything he ever wrote. I remember hearing some story about how he went wacko in later life, but didn't know any details, so thanks for the recap Your knowledge, as always, is impressive.
#220.127.116.11.1.2 Dr. Mercury (Link) on 2011-10-21 09:28 (Reply)
I was going to ask my low-temp ceramics superconductivity* friend about this but you've given me enough to go on. Thanks.
*That was in the 70's and 80's. When IBM shut down a lot of its R&D he went and did other things.
It only appears to spin.
Actually, the rest of the universe spins about it.
It's call quantum hokum.
Next they'll be doing gyroscopes.
Gyroscopes work on an optical illusion, by the way.
It's unusual in that it's an optical illusion that applies to everything except gyroscopes, and so we say gyroscopes behave oddly.
"Gyroscopes work on an optical illusion, by the way."
Gravity is an optical illusion?? Man, what a day! First, Tom convinces me that magic is real, and now this!
On top of that, the other day Mike and Bruce taught me the concept of conceptualizing preconception! Are you aware that if you see a headline reading "Romney Can't Beat Obama in 2012", and you think it means that Romney can't beat Obama in 2012, that, according to Mike and Bruce, it's because your preconceptualizing the words "can't beat"? I didn't know that until they pointed it out, and, I have to admit, I was quite guilty of the charges.
I used to be entranced by gyroscopes as a kid. Probably why I was so enthused when I saw this.
Autogyros have a tendency to decapitate you in hard landings.
I'd recommend an ordinary airplane. After a few hundred hours, it begins to be like you thought it would be instead of something else.
And the Palestinians and their dupes want to wipe out the country where good science like this is done. Hope the barbarians don't win this time, or we all lose.
I was always a Heinlein guy. Cyril Kornbluth, Fred Pohl, Harry Harrison. Asimov didn't hold up for me.
I liked "Chicks In Chainmail" by Esther Friesner.
There's another one "Chicks in Chainmail" - haven't thought of that one in years. I think I still have it in the library that I haven't unpacked.
As I remember it, there were some really funny stories in that collection. Need to read it again.
Speaking of Heinlein - he got really weird later in life. He had become interested in linguistic relativity as presented in Alfred Korzybski's "General Semantics" and a lot of his later works reflected that. He also supported and advised Tim Zell the founder of the Church of All Worlds, a Neopagan religious organization based largely on "Stranger in a Strange Land" with its social libertarianism, polyamory and what not that was part of the fabric of the novel.
For a kid meeting Asimov was a thrill of a lifetime. He was very nice to me, but I've heard stories from other folks in the scifi community that he could be a total ass more often than not.
By the way, I would be remiss if I didn't address your question about this object spinning in a vacuum.
It would eventually stop spinning (or moving or positioning) as the Lorenz Force resumed when the edge effect degraded due to temperature increases (temperature can rise in a vacuum).
Before you ask, the coolest area of interstellar space is a nice comfy 20 Kelvin or -423.4º F with the average being 225/250 K or -54.4º/-9.4 ºF so warming would happen - might take a LONG time for it to warm sufficiently, but it the flux pinning effect would degrade and stop.
Aren't you glad you asked? (Sorry - got sidetracked on the scifi thing and just realized it.)
"Sorry - got sidetracked on the scifi thing and just realized it."
It was pretty shameful, all right. Actually going back on-topic? You've got your nerve, fella.
Anyhoo, thanks for the feedback. The only question left dangling is, what does "eventually" mean? Or, more specifically, is this the closest we've ever come to perpetual motion? Outside of those bobbing toy ducks that dip their bills in a glass of water, of course. What if the temp of the vacuum was controlled?
I haven't read anything on perpetual motion in ages, but from what I remember, there's some force on a molecular level that would eventually slow things down, so in theory it's actually impossible. Damn atoms, getting in the way. They screw up everything!
I saw this over at Maggie's Farm and knew I had to share it. We've all seen pictures and videos of magnets suspended in mid air over some superconducting material bathed in liquid nitrogen. That in itself is pretty neat....
Tracked: Oct 21, 20:26
Newer ones get added to the bottom. The Deafening Silence — My favorite 'airline disaster' episode Men & Women of Film — A Hollywood collage Train Story with a Twist(er) — Kids! RC Madness — Three R/C airplane vids Happy Guy Fawkes D
Tracked: May 06, 09:21