Experiments You Can Do at Home - But Probably Shouldn't

Chapter 6
Natural Wonders » Ignorance = Maglev = Bliss

Levitate just about anything you want by ignoring the fact that it can't be done. If you've ever tried to float one magnet over another (and who hasn't?), you know that the stupid thing just keeps flipping over-an irritation formalized in 1842 when the Rev. Samuel Earnshaw published his famous theorem establishing mathematically that such magnetic levitation just can't be done.

From that point on, any experimenter caught playing with magnets courted the derision of his colleagues: "Ha, ha, look at Fred over there trying to balance magnets! I guess he never heard of Earnshaw's theorem!" Physicists can be so cruel on the playground.

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