Spin stabilized magnetic levitation

Spin Stabilized Magnetic Levitation

Spin stabilized magnetic levitation

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Spin stabilized magnetic levitation is a phenomenon of magnetic levitation where a magnet is levitated via magnetic repulsion above another magnet or array of magnets, and stabilised by gyroscopic effect due to a spin that is neither too fast, nor too slow.

The phenomenon was originally discovered through invention by Vermont inventor Roy M. Harrigan in the late 1970s. A Delaware inventor named Joseph Chieffo who was not previously aware of Harrigan's invention made the same discovery in 1984 (using a somewhat different device configuration from Harrigan's). Harrigan received a United States patent for his original levitation device based upon this phenomenon on May 3, 1983. A spin stabilized magnetic levitation device entirely based upon Harrigan's discovery is marketed as a science toy under the trademark brand name, 'Levitron'.


Earnshaw's theorem does not allow for a static configuration of permanent magnets to stably levitate another permanent magnet or materials that are paramagnetic or ferromagnetic against gravity. This theorem does not apply to devices consisting of a properly configured magnetic base and corresponding top, however, because the non-static nature of the spinning top acts as a gyroscope to prevent its magnetic field from aligning itself in the same direction as...
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