Maglev on your desk (but it won't take you to Tokyo)

Arrange these magnets just so, and they float in thin air. Forty bucks from Scientifics Online!
Use your knowledge of magnetism and your scientific skills to arrange the magnets on a thin sheet of sheet metal so that alternating poles create a strong magnetic field gradient. This gradient centers the pyrolytic graphite material of the magnets for levitation. Pyrolytic graphite is 10,000X more diamagnetic than most common diamagnetic materials like water, and these thin slices are extremely light and can be made to levitate.
Diamagnetic levitation kit [Scientifics online via RGS]

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5 Responses to Maglev on your desk (but it won't take you to Tokyo)

  1. Anonymous says:

    $40 is a bit steep for this… four neodymium magnets and a sliver of graphite…. you can probably get these cheaper at United Nuclear.

  2. Anonymous says:


    I used to make magnets levitate, just need some old earphones and a tiny plastic pipe (lolipops or something like that), just stack the magnets from the earphones on the pipe with the magnetic poles oriented the same way.

  3. Cowicide says:

    howaboutthisdangit, I like your idea

  4. howaboutthisdangit says:

    Cute trick. If you are on a budget, get a few cheap “donut” magnets and “stack” them on a pencil so that they repel one another. Mount the pencil upright and viola.

  5. pfh says:

    The trick is doing this without the pipe or pencil. This needs either an unreasonably strong magnet or a strongly *diamagnetic* material to levitate.

    (Or an electromagnet and control system like in thinkgeek’s levitating globe — expensive.)

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