Monday, 06 Aug, 2007 Science

Levitation Possible in Real World


According to two British scientists, levitation may become possible not only in fairy-tales and advanced yoga practice but in the real world, too. Sad as it may seem, but this amazing theory so far applies only to tiny objects. At present moment scientists have not revealed the secret of levitation for human beings.

If the theory is borne out, it will most probably cause revolutionary changes in the field of nano-technology as well as the construction of micro-machines.

The theory suggested by the British scientists is based on a quirk of nature that lets particles to pop into existence from actually nowhere. This phenomenon is known in science as the 'Casimir force'. Quantum physicists predicted the 'Casimir force' in 1948. It was measured for the first time in 1997. At present day the Casimir force is the cause of friction in the nano-world, and micro-electromechanical systems in particular.

If two objects, for example mirrors, are positioned very close to each other, the Casimir force can push these objects together. It can cause serious problems in the field of micro-machines, when it makes minute components stick together, thus causing friction in the works.

The scientists from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, claim they have discovered a way how to reverse the Casimir force to make it push tiny objects apart. Their discovery could lead to the development of micro machines that will be free from friction, with levitating moving parts.

Micro-electromechanical systems are of major importance for example in tiny mechanical devices triggering an airbag to inflate it in the car. They are also necessary for providing power to very small 'lab on chip' devices applied in drugs testing and chemical analysis.

If the scientists learn how to manipulate the Casimir force, micro or nano-machines will run smoother and possibly with no friction at all. To reverse the Casimir effect, the researchers used a 'perfect' lens, bending light in the opposite direction from a normal lens.

Unfortunately, the current technology may be applied only to micro-objects, still leaving human beings in anticipation of another miraculous discovery to uncover the secret of levitation.

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