How To: Levitate thin diamagnetic pencil lead with neodymium magnets

Levitate thin diamagnetic pencil lead with neodymium magnets

In a previous Nurd Rage video (here), Dr. Lithium showed you that pyrolytic graphite was diamagnetic, and that it could be stably levitated over magnets. It was repelled by a magnetic field, and this repulsion was strong enough to levitate it. In this science video tutorial, you'll learn how to levitate plain old pencil lead this time.

Now pyrolytic graphite is expensive so a cheaper alternative is to use very thin pencil lead. Not all pencil lead works so you need to first test it by placing it on a table and approaching it from the side with a magnet. If the lead moves away, then it's diamagnetic, if it moves toward then it's paramagnetic and can't be used.

The pencil lead must also be thin, a very thick pencil lead will be too heavy for the effect to work.

Once you have diamagnetic pencil lead, create a checkerboard array of strong neodymium magnets with alternating north and south magnets. Then carefully place the pencil lead on top. If the array is level, and the force strong enough, the pencil lead will levitate.

The stronger the magnets the better.

To actual levitation height is very small, almost imperceptible. To get a little more height the array can be immersed in water to allow the buoyant effect to lift the pencil lead a little more.

Brought to you by one of WonderHowTo's favorite scientists, NurdRage.

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