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Check Out These Pumpkins Exploding, Spewing Molten Iron And Levitating


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

3345 Check Out These Pumpkins Exploding, Spewing Molten Iron And Levitating
The Royal Institution/YouTube

Since Halloween is upon us, The Royal Institution has found a pretty novel way of celebrating: exploding pumpkins and the eerie powers of superconductor levitation.

The first video shows a jack-o'-lantern bursting with a thermite reaction between iron oxide and aluminum powder. The reaction needs a lot of energy to get going, so it’s all started by lighting a piece of magnesium ribbon which creates a high temperature. They also stuffed the bottom pumpkin with some gun cotton because, you know, science.




The second Halloween-themed video shows the power of superconductors and their ability to levitate a small pumpkin off a track. It’s all to do with the strong magnets in the track and a curious property of superconductors: magnetic fields don't penetrate them, so you can keep an object in a magnetic force field. Anyway, let Andy Marmery explain it for you.




spaceSpace and Physicsspacechemistry
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