Remember Houdini’s tricks of levitation? You asked yourself, “How the heck did he do that?”
Well, Levitation is a ‘trick’ no more and it will be used for diamond mining and exploration.
Levitating heavy objects could help in diamond mining, according to physicists at the University of Nottingham, England. In mining for precious stones, a method for accurately filtering the gems from the surrounding rock and soil is possible. Work by scientists concluded that after using liquid oxygen to levitate diamond and some of the heaviest elements, lead and platinum, and with a specially designed super conducting magnet, they increased buoyancy and could levitate an object with a density 15 times larger than that of the densest known material, osmium.
Writing for the article, Professors Laurence Eaves and Peter King, described how mixtures of oxygen and nitrogen in the liquid and gaseous states provide sufficient buoyancy to levitate a wide variety of objects including diamonds and metals.
Magnetic levitation occurs when the force on such an object is strong enough to balance the weight of the object itself. If the object is immersed in a fluid such as gaseous oxygen, the levitation can be enhanced by the effect of buoyancy caused by the â€œmagneto-Archimedesâ€ effect.
Liquid oxygen, the main component in many rocket fuels, is highly combustible. It is potentially dangerous to use but makes it much easier to float dense objects using commercially available magnets because it boosts the buoyancy effect due to the inherent magnetism of each molecule of oxygen. This allows you to float objects as heavy as gold with relatively low-power magnets. Eaves and King and their co-workers investigated the use of a safer mixture of liquid nitrogen and oxygen, and found the optimal mixture for floating heavy objects safely, making commercial applications of this technology possible.
King said, â€œYou can use this technology to accurately sort minerals. Under vibration you throw crushed ore into the air and in the magnet the different components experience different effective gravity. They therefore tend to land at different times and after a short while the vibration sorts them into bands according to their density. The method can discriminate between components with very small differences in density enabling you to extract the precious parts you require.â€
Who knows…next time you see a magician doing feats of levitation, he just may be using Eaves and Kings method. Just make sure to put out your cigarette.