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Levitation With Magnets Essay

1077 words - 5 pages

There are a few reasons why I did my science fair project on diamagnetism. The purpose of my experiment was to attempt to get two diamagnetic materials to levitate above an arrangement of magnets. I have seen many videos demonstrating diamagnetic levitation and wanted to find out if it was possible. I also saw several videos on diamagnetic levitation and wanted to see if it was actually possible and wanted to do my project on a topic that I was unfamiliar with. I decided to use pyrolytic graphite and bismuth because they are both known for their diamagnetic properties.
The discovery of magnets starts with the elderly Cretan shepherd named Magnes around 4,000 years ago. The account goes that as he was herding his sheep in an area of Greece called Magnesia when he suddenly discovered that the metal tip of his staff and the nails in his shoes became firmly stuck to the ground. He dug up the the dirt and discovered lodestones which contain magnetite. The rock magnetite was then named after either Magnes or Magnesia. The Greek philosopher Thales also mentioned the magnetic properties of lodestones in around 500 BC.
The history of magnetic levitation starts around 1842 when a British mathematician named Samuel Earnshaw proved that there was no possible way to levitate a magnet solely using other fixed magnets in his theory called Earnshaw’s Theorem. His theory does not, however, apply to diamagnetic materials. So with the addition of diamagnetic materials, however, makes levitation possible. His studies showed that while the suspended magnet was vertically stable, it was not horizontally stable, and would fall off one side.
All materials are diamagnetic, although most of the time they show this property so weakly that they are not considered to be diamagnetic. A material that is diamagnetic is very weakly repelled by magnets. Some materials are paramagnetic, which means they are slightly attracted to magnets. Some materials are ferromagnetic, which means they are regularly attracted to magnets. The paramagnetic effect is much stronger than the diamagnetic effect. Objects that are ferromagnetic were once considered to be very strongly paramagnetic until it was discovered that ferromagnets contained a property that was absent in paramagnets. There are other types of magnetism but these are the main three.
Diamagnetic materials are often very weakly effected by magnets and only some of the more diamagnetic materials can be used for levitation. The effects that the magnets will have on the material depends on the material’s level of diamagnetic properties, the weight of the material, and on the strength of the magnet itself. Only magnets that are extremely powerful will have a noticeable effect on diamagnetic materials. The material must be smaller than the magnets for it to stay in place and the magnets must have their polar end facing toward the material.
I hypothesize, if I place a strongly diamagnetic material over a set of magnets with...

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