Do you firmly believe that it isn’t the future until there really is a hoverboard? Well, the future is here, baby. That’s right, Lexus made a working hoverboard because they have decided to be the coolest ever car people.
Except not. It’s not quite like the imaginary tech shown in Back to the Future, but before we get into all the nitty-gritty details, tell me this video isn’t tantalizing enough to make you want to go find someone from Lexus and smack ’em around until they show you one in action.
Well fine, Lexus. Tease us with your infinite glory.
So, what has Lexus actually produced? Well, it is a hoverboard and we do now how it works. Lexus is using the Meissner effect – an effect that you may know from the MagLev train that has been setting speed records over in Japan.
Let awesome scientist Eric Palm explain:
“…when you take a magnetic field near a superconductor, it induces a current in that superconductor, and creates essentially an image magnetic field on the other side of the superconductor. You create current, but since it’s a superconductor, the currents don’t die away. You can have a magnet that levitates above a superconductor or vice versa, a superconductor that levitates above a magnet.”
Boaz Almog’s excellent TED talk can also help us to understand quantum levitation.
And, this is where the problem lies. Because the Lexus teaser video implies that we could all be riding around on these things all over the place. But… the Meissner effect relies on two materials: a strong magnetic and a very, very cold superconductor.
And so, Lexus had to come clean. Because they were overwhelmed with 30-somethings freaking out on the internet. Their hoverboard is real, but it will need more than just any concrete skatepark to work. The smoke coming out of the hoverboard in the video? Not for effect: that’s the stupidly cold superconductor. Which means…the hoverboard will need power,1 in the form of a frequent top off of liquid nitrogen. And, embedded in that concrete: something magnetic.
And so, in steps an awesome skatepark being built just outside of Barcelona, where magnetic tracks are being installed to make the hoverboard a reality. Check out these photos from the El Patin website.
So, it’s not quite the same as the Live Funny or Die hoax. Lexus really has made a functional hoverboard, it’s just only useful in one skatepark in Spain. And, it’s being used to sell a car. Why must you tease us with your sophisticated marketing techniques, Lexus?! Why have you hurt us so.
I guess we’re just going to have to wait for the Hendo Board. The Hendo Board had four electromagnets that create a magnetic field, lifting the board and levitating it. Oh wait. Same issue. The board will only work on a copper track, which essentially resists the magnetism, pushing up against the board.
Ah, well. Let’s all start saving for a trip to Barcelona.
if you don’t get this hilarious joke, please see ↩