Let me preface this by dispelling any thought that you might have that I know anything about the quantum physics that makes all of this possible:
I don't know anything about the Quantum physics that makes this possible.
But I do know something amazing when I see it. And this, my friends, kicks ass.
This demonstration video, courtesy of the Tel-Aviv University and the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), has been making the viral rounds today. In saying that, I mean that I've seen dozens of social media shares of the video and it has been sitting on the front page of Reddit all day. Once you see it, you'll see why.
The demonstration is in something called Quantum Levitation, a phenomenon that results from the fact that superconductors and magnets tend to not like each other.
They start with a crystal "wafer" and coat it with a thin layer of a ceramic material called yttrium barium copper oxide. The thing about that material is that it has no awesome properties on its own - but once you cool it to below -185 degrees Celsius, it becomes a superconductor. So they drop it in liquid nitrogen and there you have it. Here's where I'll let the real scientists take over:
Superconductivity and magnetic field do not like each other. When possible, the superconductor will expel all the magnetic field from inside. This is the Meissner effect. In our case, since the superconductor is extremely thin, the magnetic field DOES penetrates. However, it does that in discrete quantities (this is quantum physics after all! ) called flux tubes.
Inside each magnetic flux tube superconductivity is locally destroyed. The superconductor will try to keep the magnetic tubes pinned in weak areas (e.g. grain boundaries). Any spatial movement of the superconductor will cause the flux tubes to move. In order to prevent that the superconductor remains “trapped” in midair.
The term they keep using is "locked in space." And once you see it move and tilt, you'll see why -
Here's a little more in-depth demonstration of the levitation. Look for the dual-levitation at the end for full mind-blowing effect:
Courtesy of Geekologie, here's a video of what looks to be the same technology, implemented into a hoverboard that can support a human being -
They say that they are "dedicated to making the amazing physics of superconductors accessible and exciting for young adults through the unique and counter-intuitive phenomena of 'quantum trapping' and 'quantum levitation."
Can you say holiday wishlist?