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How Does This Hoverboard Work?

How Does This Hoverboard Work?


Everyone’s talking about this crazy new
hoverboard that looks too good to be true. And it sort of is. But trust me, the truth
is super cool! That was a pun. You’ll get it once I explain how- y’know what, just
roll the intro. Hey McFly guys and girls, Julian here for
DNews. It’s 2015, the year Marty went re-back to the future, and Lexus has teased us all
with a short video of a functioning hoverboard being ridden around a skatepark. Is it real?
Is it possible? Yes and qualified yes. I’ll explain: What’s not shown in the video is the hidden
magnetic track Lexus installed in the Barcelona skate park. That may seem like cheating, but
it’s more complicated than just using magnets. If you’ve ever played with magnets and tried
to levitate one above the other, you know it’s not easy. As soon as you let go, the
magnet will just flip around and get sucked to the other one and that’s really the opposite
of what you want. But that problem doesn’t exist with some superconductors. A superconductor is a material that, when
cooled past a critical temperature, lets electrons move freely within it with zero resistance.
Obviously this makes them great for high current wires, but the freely moving electrons do
something else too. They create currents on the surface that screen the superconductor
from magnetic fields. As you cool a superconductor past its critical temperature it expels magnetic
fields, and this is called the Meissner effect. If you put a superconductor by a magnet, it
will repel it. Put one above the other, and it’ll levitate. This is called Quantum Levitation. But not all superconductors are created equal.
Some, called Type-II superconductors, actually have little vortices of current and the center
of each vortex is like an eye of a storm. In the middle, the material behaves normally
and lets some magnetic field lines, or flux, pass through. When I say “some” I should
note it’s still quite a lot. A 3 inch disk can have as many as 100 billion flux lines
passing through it. The superconductor will actually pin the flux lines and will appear
to lock itself in place levitating above a normal magnet. So they don’t just exhibit
Quantum Levitation, but Quantum Locking too. No, not like the weeping angels, Whovians.
Anyway, you can move the magnet around, even put the superconductor underneath it, and
it will still stay locked where it was. Plus with all those flux lines pinned down, a 3
inch disk just half a micron thick can support 70 thousand times its own weight. So it locks in place above a normal magnet,
but if the superconductor is above a circular magnet, it can rotate around the axis of the
magnet. You can expand that circular magnet to a track any size and shape you want and,
say, hide it under a skate park. Put a Type-II superconductor above it, give it a little
push, and it can happily zoom around the track no problem. Mind you, there are limitations.
The superconductor has to be cold. Like, really really cold. Even so-called “High Temperature”
superconductors need to be at least -135 degrees celsius. To hit those temperatures you need
to use liquid nitrogen, which explains the thin wisps of smoke and frost coming from
Lexus’ hoverboard. The superconductor also has to be thin, because the thinner it is
the stronger the flux-pinning effect. And the magnetic field can’t be too dense. Too
much flux per meter squared and the vortexes overwhelm the material, turning it back into
a not-so-superconductor. By the way, the unit for magnetic flux density is the Tesla. that’s
right, Tesla has his own unit of measurement. I thought you’d like that, internet. Type-II superconductors were discovered in
1935, 20 years before the first Back to the Future took place. But Robert Zemeckis wasn’t
around then to show us the way, and now in 2015 his vision is finally realized. So long
as you keep your super thin superconductor supercooled, you too can have a hoverboard.
Provided you don’t mind going around in circles on a magnetic track. Which would still
be really cool, but wouldn’t help you if you’re trying to get away from Biff’s
larcenous grandson. Magnetic levitation can be scaled up too and
because the only friction is from air, that means you can get going pretty fast. Trace
talks about maglev trains here.

100 comments

This just made me think Lexus likes to fuck with little kids and are willing to dump a million to trick them.

Who ever thought "wow you tricked me into believing bullshit… you're awesome!"

So I assume the water is just an illusion with magnets running right under the surface but how does it manage the jump? Surely it would just stop as soon as it reaches the end of the ramp as the semiconductor no longer has a magnetic field to interact with?

Yes people this is all true and also, fun fact, Bioshock's floating city uses this concept also. Check it out @ Game Theory!
Btw, come on DNews, give us an episode on the science behind Video Games' Sci-fi!

HES WEARING A BRAVEST WARRIOR SHIRT. IS THIS HINTING THAT SEASON THREE IS ABOUT TO COME OUT?????????????????????????????????

The Only thing I didn't know about was about type 2 Superconductors , the rest I knew Still very interesting the way you described it 🙂

Do something on perpetual motion.
What if you cooled these super conductors as in this video. Use solar panels to obtain energy to keep them cooled. Or other ideas? This should work in space for sure as you hardly use any power.

My aunt and her husband made the hover board. Its been really cool seeing them on National Geographic and now D News. One think they left out was that the hover board is a step towards hovering buildings to help prevent damages during an earthquake.

Would it be possible to construct an 'endless track'? Such as a device to place pieces of a track as the board moved? Which would place pieces ahead of time and adjusted placement. Or would the size of each section being layed down be too large? Or does the track have to connected without breaks in it? Although, since the board is essentially a magnet does that mean the track sections would have be pinned to the ground? If yes, that would mean the track sections would have to be pinned to the ground for a time as the board passes by. But then be able to be picked up and moved again. Otherwise the deployable 'endless track' could only go as far as the number of sections of track stored in the track deployment device. I suppose if using this technology for hoverboards does not pan out, one could see it used to support weight. Perhaps a shelf of some kind or a table? Hopefully modifications to said technogy or further research could determine a work around.

My friend started freaking out in a chat about this. I jokingly said "Oh so they finally mastered the Earth's magnetic field?" Nope. I looked up the developement video on it. I laughed saying "They laced the park in underground track". The video clearly showed them working with magnetic tacks…

Nikola Tesla worked on what he called 'the new monarch machine', which was a craft that worked on anti-gravitic properties.

Off course, the people that are largely in control of the monopoly of energy businesses (in conjunction with government) won't even dare allow zero emission energy devices to come into general use. God forbid we stop global warming.

Make it like a full-size scalectrix set with hoverboards and we have a winner! I would be up for that big time.

Thanks, I knew there had to be more to it than they were letting on.  Kinda sad though too, I always wanted a hoverboard.

Imagine we travel back to the past and showed them these hoverboard and they be like…………………………………….WOAH WAT R THOSE?!!!

I feel like a nerd when i heard him say the pun and i got it at the first part of the video because of the super conducter.

well that's true, it's not impossible, but expensive, or maybe impossibly expensive, i'm talking about hover cars like in a futuristic movie, imagine that if the government have to make another magnetic road route or replace all the asphalt road into metal or magnet ones for the those things to work…but it's not impossible that maybe someday the scientists can find another, more efficient way…we are humans, destined to rule the world, nothing is impossible…the lexus hoverboard video is made to keep our spirit up and be optimistic about humans' power to shape the future…hopefully. in a positive way…

Hey look at me!!! I know nothing about the technology around this, yet because I am on the internet and I can hide myself without any recourse or consequences I am going to say the dumbest bullshit out there and dog the awesome technology behind this, because I can't have it now.

While true at this point in our era it is a long time before we can see this implemented in a real life situation like (cars, bikes, skateboards).. and so on, it is one of many most amazing things we (as human beings) have accomplished.

is it possible to incorporate the permanent magnet into the hull of the vessel, thus getting rid of the need for a fixed track? I would imagine that some type of mutual induction could keep the flow of negative and positive particles in their respective places.

We wont have a truly mobile hoverboard till true antigravity tech is realized, released for public consumption, scaled down to a board size and the problem of carving is solved. I doubt it will be our lifetime 😥

-135°C… that's basically the same as eight years ago. I thought I'd see some bigger improvement in superconductors, but oh well, things like these have been hard.

Can some answer this question for me? So would the hoverboard move all around the track with a simple push, or do you need to lean into it?

So basically what you're saying, is that mercury is the reason the Aztecs and the Egyptians were able to move those massive boulders around and stack them. I know there is one component that you'd need to use it on a very very large scale. I will share it with you if you write me back.

That might seem like cheating..its bullshit and dependent on magnets…and the tech does not interest its fudge..until genuine anti gravity happens its bullshit

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