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6 possibilities & comma; that the magnets are supposed to change our lives
Magnets. You already know what they are and everything about them. Or do you do? Magnets are critical to many more technologies than you might expect. The tried and true magnet will change everything - how we drive and treat cancer, how we do sports.
(1) Maglev trains
Lightning-fast trains that float with the help of magnets, like here in Japan in 2010, are set up for the next major transportation breakthrough. Credit: Getty
Earlier this year Japan broke a world record for a train speed: 366 miles per hour. How would you do it? Magnets, of course.
Japan uses a maglev train: a special type of high-speed train that has wheels for magnets mermaids. How do magnets help trains go faster? It's pretty simple: friction is completely eliminated. The trains float over the rails, wheel-free and are pulled along with electromagnets at nutso speeds.
Here's how Japan's Guinness-worthy train works on the classic principle of magnetic repulsion. The forces repelled from each other are the train on board superconducting magnets and magnetic coils in the sides of the surrounding guide rails. These opposing forces with alternating north and south poles create a push and pull effect that propel it forward.
There are also more coils built into the guide rails, which have become electromagnets, as the superconducting magnets pass through on board the train. This creates a second push and pull force that lifts the train a few inches off the ground. (The guide rails, the cradle of the Japanese maglev, are U-shaped to avoid derailment.)
Thanks to this simple idea, magnets and physics maglev trains are greener, faster, quieter and smoother to deliver than conventional trains.
High-speed rail has been around in the developed world for decades, but these blink-and-you'll-miss-EM Maglev models mark the next level in railroad evolution. In fact, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the US earlier this year on a diplomatic trip, he said he wants the Japanese government to build a magnetic levitation train between Baltimore and Washington, DC. Since magnets mean big infrastructure projects, they mean big business too.
Countries' around the globe have all started pursuing this new transportation tech, as well. Shanghai is running a maglev train in China for more than a decade, and Seoul Incheon Airport will sport a smaller scale maglev train of its own starting this summer.
The Hendo hoverboard from Arx Pax appears here in 2014. It is a commercial hoverboard that uses magnets to hover over an inch from Terra Firma. Credit: AP
As 2015 drew near, people started calling back to the future 2-Style hoverboard - and now companies are actually trying to deliver. Are they bringing a McFly-approved means of transport futuristic to consumers? You have actually taken great strides towards doing this with the help of magnets.
Earlier this month, Lexus debuted its hoverboard slide (which Jalopnik tested), achieving what was considered unreachable: although heavy and unwieldy, it was a wheelable, skateboard-like object that actually floated an inch above the ground. Lexus describes the board as "mounting Maglev technology onto a board." Gizmodo tested another hoverboard with similar Maglev technology called Hendo.
The text of the Lexus board includes superconductors surrounded by liquid hydrogen reservoirs that topple the superconductors -322 degrees Fahrenheit, plus two magnets at each end of the board. The board is on a floor with magnets built into it, and lifts the chamber in a similar fashion to a magnetic levitation train.
Don't get us wrong; There is still far too skeptical about it. These boards are difficult to navigate, can only float under certain conditions, and the battery in what we tried died a lickety split. But, as is the case with the supertrains popping up all over the planet, magnets mean big things for tomorrow's transportation - not to mention tomorrow's toys.
(3) cancer detection pills
Pathologists like these examining biopsy samples may one day be able to harness the power of magnetic fields to fight cancer cells in humans. Credit: Shutterstock
New technologies often act like moonshots to begin with, and Google x Arsenal of Outside Projects is no exception. They mostly use magnets in a really cool, surprising way: stick em in little pills to sniff out deadly diseases in the human body.
How does it work? The answer lies in magnetic nanoparticles - ridiculously small particles that contain a harmless magnetic material that would settle on circulating cancer cells in the patient's blood. Google wants to develop a swallowable tablet full of these nanoparticles that, when consumed, would cruise the user bloodstream in search of cancer cells. These findings would be relayed back to a wearable sensor on the wrist, where the magnetized, cancer-detecting nanoparticles would congregate. This would allow doctors to find cancer in patients early.
Other people have pursued magnets as cancer-busting super weapons, as well. In 2012, South Korean researchers said they actually came up with a magnetic field to destroy Use cancer cells. That is beneficial to chemo, they said, since chemotherapy can also accidentally damage noncancerous cells in the body.
4. Concussion-proof football helmets
Denver Broncos strong security David Bruton for treated suspected concussion late last year in a match against the Oakland Raiders. Credit: Getty
Magnet technology is even sneaking its way into the sport. By using magnets in protective gear in American football, the industry could better prevent concussions and other serious head injuries among its players.
Football used to be deadly, like straight up science reported last November. When those soft leather helmets of yore were swapped for polycarbonate helmet shells, the death toll went away. Yet America's most watched sport has come under intense attack lately, and rightly so: last year, 123 concussions were reported in the NFL, most of them incurred defensive players. Well, soccer helmets might be on the verge of another design revolution.
Hard helmets protect skulls, but leave brains even more vulnerable to injury as they just float in cerebral spinal fluid. But Raymond Colello, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, claims that adding lightweight magnets to the front and sides of all soccer helmets could act as a "brake" in head-to-head collisions Science reported. When two players approach either mid-tackle, the magnetized helmets easily repel each other, reducing the g-forces that would hit each player's head in the collision.
Of course, these only say pear-to-pear protections, not pear-to-knee trauma. But Colello's plan could include technology that could significantly reduce the total number of concussions sustained among players in a very dangerous sport.
5. Control of heat and sound insulation
This year, scientists proved that magnets can process amounts of heat on the move through a semiconductor. Credit: Ohio State University
It sounds like a X-Men -Subsidiary, but scientists recently showed that magnetic fields can be used to manipulate thermal and acoustic insulation.
Researchers at Ohio State University announced earlier this year that they can control heat with magnetic fields. But their discovery concerns sound, too. They studied the magnetic properties of phonons, which are particles that transmit sound and heat protection. With the help of an MRI-sized magnetic field, it controls the behavior of phonons and reduces the amount of heat that flows through a semiconductor by 12 percent. Your work is a big deal because it shows that magnetic fields can manipulate heat in materials that are not traditionally magnetic, such as glass, plastic, or stone. Currently, however, requires such a big butt magnet.
The team also said they could direct sound waves magnetically - again, if the magnetic field was presentable enough.
Until now, phonons have not been studied as extensively as, say, photons. But their thermal and acoustic atoms vibrate - expressions of the same form of mechanical quantum energy involve, the university says. The university admits that this discovery is still largely lab-related. The experiment uses a 7 Tesla magnet, which does not exactly grow on trees, in the real world, and also cool the phonons near absolute zero to slow their movement for study. (Hoverboard and maglev trains need nasty cold magnets to activate potential, as well.)
Still, it's a great discovery that scientists could seriously reevaluate the way they view and study phonons. With the help of magnetic fields to direct heat and noise protection, a lot of doors could be opened when generating energy on the street.
6. Roads for self-driving cars
Volvo announced last year that plans to make Magnets can target self-driving cars on the road. Credit: Volvo
Driverless vehicles are the hottest race among tech companies, auto companies and startups of all stripes right now. And it's always a crowded arena. But given how accident prone these human-free chariots could be, we need to make sure that our highways are ready for their arrival to widespread use. The same applies here: cue the magnets.
Volvo announced last year that it had completed a research project that showed the benefits of implanting magnetic sensors in roads. These could serve as "tracks" to aid the company's self-driving cars. These magnets have an edge over other technologies like GPS, which under certain conditions may be fuzz and sometimes unreliable.
In addition, we still do not understand how self-driving cars perform under adverse conditions such as rain or snow. But Volvo says these magnets can help driverless cars navigate this type of gross weather. Self-driving cars with no magnet embedded can work great on roads, they would provide a nice addition.
Of course they are also a colossal infrastructural challenge: like the slide Hoverboard Volvo's plan includes specially designed tracks that would be ready for the vehicle ahead of time. To completely renew the roads - and rebuild some of them from scratch - may be causing far more trouble for the technology than it is worth.
One can see the challenges of many of these magnet-oriented future technologies: idiosyncratic infrastructure, immensely low temperatures, and other tricky requirements must be met in order for magnets to work this kind of magic.
But like all new technologies, once these projects gradually begin to leave the lab and approach commercialization, we humans see magnets potential in a ton of sectors, from sports to medicine and especially to transportation.
The most popular tools can sometimes produce the most amazing results. The future has big plans for magnets, and they go way beyond your fridge door.
Image by Jim Cooke
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