Diamagnetic Levitation -Ig Nobel prize (2000)
In the previous post we took a look at how combinatorics and paramagnetism gel together. In today’s post we will talk about levitating frogs and diamagnetism.
A diamagnetic material is one which would rather ‘die’ than be attracted to a magnetic field (it opposes the magnetic field).
Paramagnetic materials on the other hand are those which love to align themselves paralled to the magnetic field.
The opposition of this magnetic field sets up a restoring force that pushes it away from the field. For example take a look at this diamagnetic tomato which is being a baby about a strong magnetic field and keeps moving away.
Why does the frog levitate?
Frogs and most living creatures on earth contain high concentrations of water and water is a weakly diamagnetic material.
Here is the diamagnetic levitation of a tomato which, as you know is flush with water:
Gif source credit: Radboud Universigy
In order to accomplish this a very large electric current is made to pass through a ‘bitter electromagnet’.
This generates a high magnetic field around the frog. The frog being diamagnetic opposes this field generating a opposing force.
Now since the frog is light in weight, the diamagnetic force generated is sufficient to overcome the effects of gravity enabling the frog to levitate.
Can Humans be levitated like this ?
Well, for levitating a frog that weighed around 25 gms one had to use a 15 Tesla coil. A typical MRI machine uses only a 3 Tesla coil and this took 5 times that.
The magnetic fields required to levitate a human is too crazy to be achieved at the moment but as research in superconductors advances maybe we will be able to get to a high enough magnetic field to at the least test it out.
Have a great day!
** BONUS: A follower of this blog pointed us to this video by The Action Lab who performed this crazy demonstration using a large Neodymium Magnet and a mouse.
It should be of no surprise to you that this works since most living creatures on earth contain high concentrations of water and water is a weakly diamagnetic material.
Have a great day!