Watch the inventor of the maglev train demonstrate magnetics

Originally published at: Watch the inventor of the maglev train demonstrate magnetics | Boing Boing



Some of the coolest things around are the superconducting magnets within NMR and MRI instruments. You charge them up with a current just like in the video, then disconnect the power source, and the electrons zip around forever so long as you keep the wires at superconducting temperatures, which typically requires liquid helium. We have 7 NMRs in our department, the oldest of which has been at field for close to three decades. We use a helium recovery system where we collect all the boiled off helium and re-liquefy it to use over and over, thus saving a valuable non-renewable resource and a good deal of money.


Whoa, that is super cool! Really, not just as a pun.


To be fair, Professor Laithwaite can’t explain how magnets work on an entirely different level than ICP.


Laithwaite was a genius - I remember one of his BBC Royal Institution Christmas lectures when I was a wee kid and being amazed by the sight of aluminium sheets whizzing through the air. He was one of the people working on the UK’s Tracked Hovercraft which became the Hovertrain. A four mile track was built near Cambridge and the prototype was regularly whizzing along at over 100mph powered by linear motors.

The Hovertrain bit the dust as the cash-starved UK rail industry decided to back the tilting Advanced Passenger Train - which went on to become another nightmare and familiar story of UK genius coming up against pennypinching hostile government. The Hovertrain prototype is still around - it is at Railworld near Peterborough:

Laithwaite’s latter years were clouded by his public statements that the behaviour of gyroscopes did not conform to Newton’s laws of motion. Although Laithwaite did eventually concede that Newton still ruled the roost, he kept saying that they could be used to produce reactionless propulsion - and this made him very unpopular in the scientific community many of whom decided to ignore all of this work on linear motors and treat him like a crank.


My fridge has magnets all over it, they protect the occupants of the fridge.


This is why a magnetic levitation trains make sense on the dark side of the planet Mercy where such cold temps are naturally occurring. You know? To keep the space people safe from such close proximity to the sun so they can survive.

I like how he stands at one end to catch the rail gun slug… all you need a power surge right then… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

In respect of gyroscopes, he was a crank. Scientists have good reason to be unhappy about someone who uses their authority to get extensive mainstream media coverage for crackpot claims; especially when the mainstream media only manages to communicate a couple of kilobytes’ worth of decent science in a typical year.

But no one disparages his previous work as an engineer. This came up occasionally when I was at Imperial at the turn of the century, and pretty much everyone I heard complaining about Eric Laithwaite would take pains to acknowledge the value in the rest of his career. It’s the same with Linus Pauling, who became a vitamin C crank in his later years. Scientists are very respectful of reputation, but that’s also why they’re vitriolic when it is abused.


ICP’s lack of understanding might have run deeper, and they way they expressed it was amusing, but it was funny to see so many people acting so superior with their “knowledge” of the secrets of magnetism, which usually amounted to “look at all the little arrows drawn on this picture…when they line up, that’s magnetism. Duh, it’s so simple you clowns” when, if they really understood things, they’d know that ICP were basically right, and as Laithwaite said “if we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t understand them”


Came here for this. Not disappointed

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Time to make a reference to PBS Space Time’s episode about magnetic monopoles. Essentially, they should exist but we haven’t found any concrete evidence for them just yet.


Magnets are voodoo. Simple.



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