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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Telegraph reports mystery of levitation solved

Researchers at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, have apparently worked out a way of reversing the phenomenon, known as the Casimir force, so that it repels instead of attracts. The Telegraph reports:

"The force is due to neither electrical charge or gravity, for example, but the fluctuations in all-pervasive energy fields in the intervening empty space between the objects and is one reason atoms stick together, also explaining a “dry glue” effect that enables a gecko to walk across a ceiling.

Now, using a special lens of a kind that has already been built, Prof Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin report in the New Journal of Physics they can engineer the Casimir force to repel, rather than attract."

The initial uses are seen as allowing Micro or nano machines, such as those that trigger a car's airbag, to run smoother with less or no friction. A long way from the hover board I'm afraid but a step in the right direction!