This is Science Today. Railway systems in the future
may have us literally floating on air. Physicist
Richard Post of the Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory has come up with a way to build trains
that levitate above the railway on powerful magnets.
Although this idea - called maglev - has been around
for a many years, Post is the first to use ordinary,
permanent magnets in a simple, efficient way pioneered
by a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory physicist
named Klaus Halbach.
Post: So, on a train car, there would be
a flat panel array underneath the train car - these
permanent magnets in the Holbach arrays.
Narrator: This maglev system would cancel
out magnetic fields above the array panel so passengers
wouldn't feel it, but it would concentrate below
where it's needed. Once the train is moving fast
enough, it will then levitate above a track made
of shorted coils stacked together.
Post: And if the power fails to drive the
train, it would slow down a very slow speed and
settle down onto auxiliary wheels. It's what you
call fail-safe or passively stable.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.