The Future Of Transportation Depends On Magnetic Levitation

Magnets are fun to play with, but their potential extends far beyond that. Magnetic levitation (maglev), for example, continues to set records for high-speed travel. The first maglev train began operation in 2004 in Shanghai, and moves up to 267 miles per hour (431 kilometers per hour). For comparison, Amtrak's highest-speed commuter rail only hits 150 mph (241.4 kph).

Maglev means that the train doesn't actually touch the tracks but rather floats above them. The electrically charged magnets repel the train from the tracks to keep the train levitated, and the lack of friction between the train and the track enables the high speeds. By the year 2045, maglev trains are expected to make travel time between Tokyo and Osaka just one hour, about half the time it takes today.

Learn more about magnetic levitation, and how it might transform travel, with these videos.

To learn more about how magnets are helping shape the future, check out our series, Curiosity and Motorola Present: The Power of Magnets.

Shanghai's Transrapid Maglev Guideway

The first fully operational maglev trains.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. The Shanghai Transrapid train literally floats thanks to magnetic levitation. 01:26

  2. The maglev train in Shanghai in engineless. 02:34

  3. The wheel was likely invented around the year 6,500 B.C.E. 02:49

Magnetic Levitation

How and why do magnets cause some materials to levitate?

Hyperloop Vs. High Speed Rail

How does the futuristic hyperloop concept measure up against high speed transportation already in use today?

The Science Of Hyperloop

Learn the fundamental science behind this exciting concept.

Written by Curiosity Staff August 30, 2016

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