A floating skateboard? –sign me up for one!
Japanese car manufacturer, Lexus, has invented the hoverboard. This invention is exactly what its name suggests; a board that hovers above the ground that you can travel around on, just like a skateboard. Marty McFly from the 80’s movie, Back to The Future, rode around on a levitating board, making us all want one really, really badly! Although the hoverboard has been attempted many times, the technology has never been mastered.
The Lexus hoverboard named, ‘The Slide’ was revealed to the public with live footage of the hoverboard being made and tested on August 4th 2015. Seeing ‘The Slide’ in action is nothing short of amazing!
How does it work?
The Slide uses magnetic levitation, or maglev, to keep itself (and its rider) hovering above the ground, according to the company’s website. The board relies on ‘liquid nitrogen cooled superconductors and permanent magnets’ to operate.
Because it uses superconductors, which are materials that can conduct electricity with zero resistance below a certain temperature, Lexus’ hoverboard is slightly different from other maglev technologies, such as the super-high-speed maglev trains in Japan, China and other countries. Maglev trains are lifted off their tracks and propelled forward by conventional electromagnets (a magnet created with electricity). This is what allows the train to defy the force of gravity and stay “afloat” in the air. (read more on electromagnets and how to make your own one here)
The superconductors in Lexus’ hoverboard work a bit differently. They produce a powerful electrical current when cooled to a certain temperature, and the strong electrical current that the magnet produces in turn creates a strong magnetic field that repels the magnetic field created by other magnets that might be located nearby. This repelling force is what keeps the hoverboard in the air.
Inquiry – digging deeper
Learn the basics of hover technology by making an electromagnet. Do this fun experiment to understand how electricity can create a magnetic field.