Ask Ethan: How Does Quantum Physics Make Levitation Possible?
“I am fascinated about superconductivity and its associated Meissner effect it creates. From what I understand, the Meissner effect (when the magnetic field is expelled and levitation occurs) is created when there is zero electrical resistance. […] Is zero electrical resistance free flowing electrons? […] What actually causes the expulsion of the magnetic field that creates levitation?”
Imagine the following science-fiction scenario: you hop into a vehicle and accelerate up to cruising speed. All of a sudden, you push a button and you lift up off the road, levitating over it. You take your foot off the gas and the steering wheel, and instead of slowing down or losing control, you remain moving at a constant speed, following all the twists-and-turns of the road effortlessly.
It sounds like a crazy scenario, but there’s a quantum phenomenon that allows you to do exactly this: superconductivity! With the right type of superconductor and a properly-configured magnetic track, we can already make this a reality at liquid nitrogen temperatures.