Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Andre Geim First in History to Win Both the Nobel and the IgNobel Prizes

The folks at Improbable Research (on blogroll at left) must be saying "We're so proud".
They recognized Mr. Geim's genius back in 2000 for his pioneering work in in the field of frog levitataion.
The awards celebrate achievements that "cannot or should not be reproduced."
Here is the ref. for other scholars who wish to follow his path:
Andre Geim of the University of Nijmegen (the Netherlands) and Sir Michael Berry of Bristol University (UK), for using magnets to levitate a frog. [REFERENCE: "Of Flying Frogs and Levitrons" by M.V. Berry and A.K. Geim, European Journal of Physics, v. 18, 1997, p. 307-13.] 
Radboud University Nijmegen's High Field Magnet Laboratory devotes a page of their website to the subject:

The Frog That Learned to Fly

(Molecular Magnetism and Levitation)

Seeing is believing:

A little frog (alive !) and a water ball levitate inside a Ø32mm vertical bore of a Bitter solenoid in a magnetic field of about 16 Tesla at the Nijmegen High Field Magnet Laboratory.

Click to ENLARGE Click to ENLARGE
See the MOVIES of levitating objects at the right.

The image of a high-temperature superconductor levitating above a magnet in fog of liquid nitrogen can hardly surprise anyone these days – it has become common knowledge that superconductors are ideal diamagnetics and magnetic field must expel them. On the other hand, the enclosed photographs of water and a frog hovering inside a magnet (not on board a spacecraft) are somewhat counterintuitive and will probably take many people (even physicists) by surprise. This is the first observation of magnetic levitation of living organisms as well as the first images of diamagnetics levitated in a normal, room-temperature environment (if we disregard the tale about Flying Coffin of Mohammed as such evidence, of course). In fact, it is possible to levitate magnetically every material and every living creature on the earth due to the always present molecular magnetism. The molecular magnetism is very weak (millions times weaker than ferromagnetism) and usually remains unnoticed in everyday life, thereby producing the wrong impression that materials around us are mainly nonmagnetic. But they are all magnetic. It is just that magnetic fields required to levitate all these "nonmagnetic" materials have to be approximately 100 times larger than for the case of, say, superconductors....