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Programmable Magnets

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the spooky-action-at-a-distance dept.

Toys 120

Martin Hellman writes "A few weeks ago Popular Mechanics awarded one of its Breakthrough Awards for the invention of 'programmable magnets.' Instead of having a single North or South pole, these clever devices have an array of North and South poles. If a matching device with exactly the same array is aligned with the first one, they will experience strong repulsion, just like two single North poles do when brought near one another. If the matching device has the complementary array (North and South interchanged), with correct alignment the two devices will attract. But a slight misalignment will cancel most of the force. Other configurations are possible as well, allowing frictionless magnetic gears and exploding toys. The inventor, Larry Fullerton, used techniques similar to those from CDMA modulation. (Watch the intro video for a brief explanation. While I don't understand magnetism that well, I do understand CDMA and carrying over those ideas to magnetic arrays does make sense to me.)"

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RARE EARTH !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33984526)

Used to do some music back in the 60s. Can you name their tunes?

Hey kdawson... (0, Troll)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984584)

Please edit your submissions.

There is no need to capitalize north or south in this context. Maybe you didn't make it that far in grammar school (sigh) to know this, but if you didn't, you really need to turn in your editor's badge and give it to someone who knows his stuff. Like me.

MOD PARENT UP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33984900)

Uhhhh.... who modded this troll

Re:Hey kdawson... (3, Informative)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985240)

Hey Tri ...
Please reply to posts you are actually talking about.

Obligatory: (5, Funny)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984530)

Effing magnets - how do they work?

Re:Obligatory: (5, Informative)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984570)

Some people will need to be told about the joke [knowyourmeme.com] .

Re:Obligatory: (2, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984730)

Magnetism is a gift from God. Do not believe the filthy scientists who wish to destroy your faith in God by "explaining" magnetism by science. It is a trick.

Every time you experience magnetism, smile, and know that you are feeling the gifts of the Holy One. And never forget: to use your mind is to go against the will of God.

Re:Obligatory: (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985696)

If using our mind is going against the will of God then why did God give us a mind in the first place?

Re:Obligatory: (2)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985798)

You're doing it!

Re:Obligatory: (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#33986060)

Because he is a narcissistic bastard who wants us to worship him through our own decision. Not much fun in being adored by a puppet.

Re:Obligatory: (0, Troll)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 3 years ago | (#33986154)

Because there is no god. Also, wooosh.

Re:Obligatory: (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 3 years ago | (#33986462)

Don't you know? It's all a test. He also planted fossils and arranged the laws of nature to simulate an approximately 14 billion year old Universe and approximately 4.5 billion year old Earth. In short, everything you see, hear, smell, touch, taste, and think is a lie. Only if you ignore all evidence that comes your way and believe everything that some guy tells you about a book that has been re-translated and re-interpreted a million times over the past two thousand or so years can you find the real truth!

Re:Obligatory: (2, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985514)

Magnetic fields do no work.

Re:Obligatory: (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985540)

Effing magnets - how do they work?

They don't. It's actually all a giant conspiracy to make people believe that Earth has a magnetic field so Electromagnetistists can get funding. Global Warming Conspiracy is an offshoot of it.

Re:Obligatory: (1)

CorrelatedRon (1926942) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985880)

FROM CORRELATED MAGNETICS RESEARCH LLC: The volume of interest generated by this post and the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award has temporarily shut down our web server. Upgrading the server today to bring it back online. Please check website later today for more information on programmable magnets. "The nation that controls magnetism, will control the universe!" -Diet Smith 1947

Re:Obligatory: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33986376)

Serious question: Does magnetism deteriorate in "permanent" magnets, i.e. is their magnetism "consumed" when they repel or attract things?

Re:Obligatory: (1)

xenn (148389) | more than 3 years ago | (#33987352)

Good question.

I've often wondered, and tried to find out.

Anyone?

Re:Obligatory: (2, Informative)

tomkost (944194) | more than 3 years ago | (#33988402)

They do deteriorate, but not generally due to interactions with other magnets. They deteriorate mostly due to molecular vibration (from heat or shock waves). This vibration can cause the domains to become unaligned.

fucking magnets (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33984532)

how do they work?

One small step... (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984548)

If my theories are ultimately correct, this is but one small step toward realizing long-distance space travel. Using huge magnets to repel a craft long distances is the answer. It's crazy, I know.

Re:One small step... (4, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984588)

I don't think so. I think huge magnets will increase the mass of the spacecraft needlessly - and you'll still be using around the same amount of energy which you could use if you use fuel or whatever. Unless of course we put a ton of magnets around the solar system and we launch spacecraft in a manner similar to railguns.

Re:One small step... (2, Interesting)

Tildedot (137711) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984826)

Railguns are nice, and would work for materials that could stand the strain of a Super-G acceleration.
Sadly, most people don't fit into that category.

I know! How about a maglev loop and a high mountain?

Evacuate most of the atmosphere from a track built as giant loop of pipe with a tail, something like the figure 6 (or 9, in Australia :^), except very, very large. Point the tail up the side of a tall mountain. Magnetically suspend the craft in the pipe, accelerate past escape velocity at a rate of 1-2Gs, then send it "up the tail" into space.

Possible? Could be!
Safe? Who knows!
Fun? You bet!

Re:One small step... (2, Insightful)

HertzaHaeon (1164143) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985078)

The acceleration from speeding up in the loop wouldn't be the only acceleration in the system. A circular track would create centripetal acceleration as well. If I remember physics correctly, the radius of the loop is given by R = v^2 / a. If v is the escape velocity (11.2 km/s) and a is 20 m/s^2 (about 2G), we get a loop with a radius of 6272 kilometers.

Then again, I'm no physicist, so feel free to correct me.

Re:One small step... (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985770)

while that is correct for the surface - escape velocity is a lot lower the higher you get - if you could use something like this to get into LEO then burn your way to an escape velocity.. think of sling-shotting a bottle rocket.

my big question would if you are going to accelerate it in a vacuum - somehow you have to avoid the bug on a windshield effect once you let go and put it in the air..

Re:One small step... (1)

HertzaHaeon (1164143) | more than 3 years ago | (#33986114)

If you're going to build a tube thousands of kilometers in radius, why not just keep going and extend it towards orbit while you're at it? We're only talking another few hundreds of kilometers of tubing.

Re:One small step... (1)

shish (588640) | more than 3 years ago | (#33988700)

And then if you're going to build a structure where the end of the pipe is outside the atmosphere, why not just build an elevator?

Re:One small step... (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985906)

You are correct.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_circular_motion [wikipedia.org]

Of course, we don't need to limit ourselves to 2G. 9G is doable for decent periods of time.
And we don't need to reach 11.2 km.s - we can use traditional engines after launching to continue upward.

Of course, it's still completely pointless. Even if we wanted to reach only 1km/s, and were willing to go with 10G, we'd have a track over 10 km in radius, and the vast majority of energy would be spent accelerating the ship in directions we ultimately didn't give a shit about going.

Straight up is the way to go. Initial acceleration is pointless.

Re:One small step... (1)

enjerth (892959) | more than 3 years ago | (#33986602)

Tether. Think of a swing. It transfers momentum pretty efficiently.

Re:One small step... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33986898)

The radius of earth is about 6300 km. What a cool coincidence! No, wait, it's not. If you orbit mother Earth just above the equator, what's your velocity? 11.2 km/s. Right, it's escape velocity, by the very definition of it. Your centripetal acceleration exactly cancels gravity, so you experience weightlessness in orbit. If you can double your velocity while staying on the same orbit, you will have twice as much centripetal acceleration, and experience acceleration of precisely 1G, only in the opposite direction (away from the Earth).

Re:One small step... (2, Interesting)

AaxelB (1034884) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985168)

Or, combining the two ideas (and having more fun with the less realistic scale), have a ton of magnets around the solar system to form a maglev loop! You can start near the sun, then spiral out as you get faster, and then you have essentially a railgun (as the tail of the 6) to aim you out of the solar system.

Of course, we could probably just do the railgun the size of the solar system... when it's that large, you don't need to accelerate very quickly, since you have plenty of time to get to top speed. Also, then we could totally declare war on Alpha Centauri.

Re:One small step... (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985302)

First - we should use some sneaky diplomacy to convince them to build a rail-decelerator - otherwise we might be able to shoot them hard, but our invasion force will be part of the kinetic payload.

Re:One small step... (1)

AaxelB (1034884) | more than 3 years ago | (#33986818)

I was assuming we'd just bombard them at range... you know, use the railgun as a railgun. I have to imagine it wouldn't be *that* hard to destroy a star (I have to imagine it because it would just be so awesome).

Re:One small step... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985868)

Don't be stupid. That's why you would use a lot of a little magnets. Moron~

Survey says... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33984596)

YOU'RE AN IDIOT!

Re:One small step... (3, Funny)

Wireless Joe (604314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984720)

I've already created this, but in reverse; I have a spaceship with two magnets; one weaker one in the nose cone, and one stronger one that hangs out in front of the ship on a pole and a string. The stronger magnet pulls the weaker one up toward it, generating lift, which moves the rocket through space. Limitless free propulsion!

Re:One small step... (1)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985160)

Alan Dean Foster wants his KK drive back.

Re:One small step... (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985272)

Hopefully someone with deeper knowledge can answer.

I don't believe it has good application for space travel, in of itself. But doesn't this open the door for dramatic electric motor efficiency improvements? With many traditional motor designs, you wind up with a stagged NSNSNS design. And when the stator is half way between poles, resistance is naturally introduced, requiring an electrical impulse to offset the natural repulsion imposed by like poles. With these magnets, can you minimize the repulsion as the like poles close and maximize the attraction created by the electric pulse feed into the system? Seems like with the right arrangement of these magnets and a complimentary impulse controller, efficiencies can potentially be dramatically improved for brushless motors?

Crazy talk or viable?

Re:One small step... (1)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 3 years ago | (#33987750)

I don't think you can change or fix any of that stuff with a special spatial arrangement, but the different force/distance curve exhibited by these arrangements probably has implications for efficiency.

This is the break through I've been waiting for (2, Funny)

AttillaTheNun (618721) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984592)

I can finally complete my perpetual motion machine!

Re:This is the break through I've been waiting for (3, Funny)

Combatso (1793216) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984890)

on this site, we obey the laws of THERMODYNAMICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Re:This is the break through I've been waiting for (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985050)

Obey them? We USE them.

Re:This is the break through I've been waiting for (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985260)

Laws are only there to make you think before you break them ;)

Re:This is the break through I've been waiting for (1)

Combatso (1793216) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985304)

i thought they were there to serve as the muse for crappy prime-time TV shows?

Re:This is the break through I've been waiting for (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 3 years ago | (#33986516)

An absolute law without hope of appeal? That's despotism! Somebody outta - Hey! That's it! I know what we're gonna do today! Hey! Where's Perry? (Obligatory Phineas and Ferb.)

Re:This is the break through I've been waiting for (1)

Combatso (1793216) | more than 3 years ago | (#33987496)

we really shoul repeal the laws of thermodynamics... this war on perpetual motion has gone on long enough. all those people rotting in jail becuase of their net-zero energy use.. not cool

Super useful (2, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984606)

Before becoming the standard critical slashdotter, I'd like to start positive: I think it's really cool - I believe that, as the video says, there are many applications for these magnets.
The youtube video is worth the time too...

That said, I wonder if the magnets are stable in time. some of the applications described do not allow for failures after a few months/years.
Hope that the costs of the magnets will drop soon too...

Re:Super useful (1)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985592)

These materials tend to be stable as long as their temperature is controlled and they are not subjected to an external (extremely) intense magnetic field. They aren't strong enough to demagnetize another smaller magnet of the same type (which is a reason why you have to heat them to program them).

It's nice to see some smarter applications for magnets being thought about. It's hardly ground-breaking research, but so many times there is such a deep chasm between the throbbing brains of research laboratories and the product development community.

(BTW, another interesting application is a magnetic planetary gearset [infolytica.com] which uses two magnet arrays and and array of ferromagnetic studs on the middle ring.)

Re:Super useful (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985946)

I can answer that for you:

Yes, they are stable in time, so NO, you can't use them for your time travel machine.

Re:Super useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33989694)

Hope that the costs of the magnets will drop soon too...

that may be a problem. [slashdot.org]

magnetic gears (3, Funny)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984612)

Sounds like a research goal in Alpha Centauri. I am pleased.

Exploding toys? (2, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984618)

Weren't those called firecrackers and fireworks?

Or are we talking more like filling a bag with hydrogen and throwing matches at it?

Re:Exploding toys? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984712)

I think we're talking more like "Buckaroo" and "Pop Up Pirate" level of violence rather than incendiaries, ie this would be like spring loaded toys but without the springs.

Re:Exploding toys? (3, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984752)

It's more of a spring loaded type of effect. The "correlated" magnetic field, instead of being completely attractive, or completely repulsive, is repulsive up to a certain distance, at which point it becomes attractive. So to arm the toy, you press the magnets together until they reach the attractive distance. This holds them together. To "explode" the toy, you separate the magnets (either by physical means, or by another magnet that cancels the attractive field), and the repulsive fields cause the parts to "explode".

Imagine a magnetic bowl with the rim being the north pole, and the bottom being the south. Now, imagine lowering the north end of a bar magnet down into the center of the bowl. At first, it will be repulsed by the north field along the rim of the bowl. However, once the end of the bar magnet is lower than the rim of the bowl, the field will force the bar magnet down, and it will be attracted to the bottom of the bowl. At this point, an upward blow large enough to knock the bar magnet loose, and past the lip of the bowl, will cause it to enter the repulsive area of the field, and it will "explode".

Bah... Boring. (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#33989238)

Unless it explodes it is neither fun nor scientific.

Mythbusters taught me that.

Spider-Man! (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984646)

"The applications appear limitless and include a diverse array of fields: from pick-proof locks and easy on/off snowboard bindings to frictionless gears and robots that can scale walls without touching them."

These programmable magnest will be great for making robots that clean windows and do repairs in highly-dangerous altitudes and situations. Plus, we can finally build a suit with magnets in it to let us climb like Spider-Man!

How programmable though. (3, Informative)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984676)

A decade or so back, I created something called "Super Magnet", and the whole idea was to create a system of atoms/magnets with completely customizable forces - a bit like an infinitely extendable version of what Nature does.

Yes, I know this is in software, but the results can be pretty cool:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTW09McfCjA [youtube.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdfSWsTBtyE [youtube.com]
http://www.skytopia.com/project/magnet/magnet.html [skytopia.com]

Bear in mind these animations are about 10 years old - modern hardware and algorithms would use many more magnets (though creativity counts for quite a bit too).

Re:How programmable though. (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985606)

I like those, nice work. I wouldn't be so quick to downplay the quality :)

Like folding proteins (3, Interesting)

tchdab1 (164848) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984688)

Having objects, linear or otherwise, with a differing array of N/S, or plusses and minusses, that can attract or repel allows one to create objects that can interact in ways similar to proteins that fold - objects will be able to configure or reconfigure in very interesting ways.
And we can see it in our space, without microscopes, and play with them.

Re:Like folding proteins (2, Insightful)

EdZ (755139) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984782)

And more importantly, use them to create self-assembling flat packed furniture. No more will people be confused by blindingly simply diagrammatic instructions in their attempts to assemble a shelf!

Re:Like folding proteins (1)

tchdab1 (164848) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985042)

Or self-assembling cars, or factories.

Re:Like folding proteins (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985396)

Great idea, now the furniture can incorrectly assemble itself~

Critical analysis (2, Insightful)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984738)

Impressive, but how do the modified magnets handle the constant stress of other magnetic fields? Magnets naturally have a general north/south pole because that's the tendency of magnetism. Aren't these magnets likely to "wear off" sooner? Used as gears, wouldn't the exertion of magnetic-kinetic force tear up the "programmed" array of magnetic fields? As gears I'm skeptical they could even be reliable without being staggeringly large. You'd never have to worry about stripped teeth but the weight of the gears is an important factor in energy transference.

Re:Critical analysis (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33984866)

The concept that wearing off or charging of magnets isn't a correct concept. Unless a magnet is driven past a certian energy level it simply remains. The problem of AlNiCo magnets and similar early on was that they were not of a stable crystal design. They were pretty stable but not completely. The NiB magnets are extremely stable.

I really appreciate a good question person. Good science is so rare today. We see on /. so many people who chose to heckle rather than to see. I have handled and seen in person the CMR demos. Their stuff works. The fundamental understanding here is that a magnetic field is (Shockingly) a magnetic field. Their lead guy noticed that magnetic fields worked exactly like EM Fields from RF. I know it is obvious once said but the discovery is that an EM Field (Electromagnetic Field) is well an EM Field. This allows all of the mix and match you see in standard RF stuff. The principal difference here is that a magnetic field operates like DC rather than RF as AC. Both the same otherwise.

One demo device they showed me (No disclosure of details because I am under NDA) would slide to attract just as if it were a standard magnet and then it would break away just upon being pushed past the lock point. Think of this one. Ponder it for a while. You mean I could have a motor pole that attracted in just like normal and then actually got repelled away as soon as it passed without any added energy? (no coils or electricity????) Thought you might like to think a long time on this one. This is much more of a discovery set than you might think. No CMR isn't publically proposing to use it for this. Just study on this for a while.

Re:Critical analysis (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984970)

The concept that wearing off or charging of magnets isn't a correct concept. Unless a magnet is driven past a certian energy level it simply remains. The problem of AlNiCo magnets and similar early on was that they were not of a stable crystal design. They were pretty stable but not completely. The NiB magnets are extremely stable.

I really appreciate a good question person. Good science is so rare today. We see on /. so many people who chose to heckle rather than to see. I have handled and seen in person the CMR demos. Their stuff works. The fundamental understanding here is that a magnetic field is (Shockingly) a magnetic field. Their lead guy noticed that magnetic fields worked exactly like EM Fields from RF. I know it is obvious once said but the discovery is that an EM Field (Electromagnetic Field) is well an EM Field. This allows all of the mix and match you see in standard RF stuff. The principal difference here is that a magnetic field operates like DC rather than RF as AC. Both the same otherwise.

One demo device they showed me (No disclosure of details because I am under NDA) would slide to attract just as if it were a standard magnet and then it would break away just upon being pushed past the lock point. Think of this one. Ponder it for a while. You mean I could have a motor pole that attracted in just like normal and then actually got repelled away as soon as it passed without any added energy? (no coils or electricity????) Thought you might like to think a long time on this one. This is much more of a discovery set than you might think. No CMR isn't publically proposing to use it for this. Just study on this for a while.

I appreciate your comments, I was in the belief that magnets in general could be very strong yet their fields were somewhat malleable to the stress of ferrous metals and other magnets.

In that case, I'm excited about the applications of these modified magnets and hope to see incredible uses for them. Magnetism is a natural force that is used often but poorly understood and it seems little imagination was put into them until this.

Few new ideas are genuinely patentable anymore... maybe this one is.

Re:Critical analysis (1)

jeffstar (134407) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985030)

i assumed there was electricity or coils to change the poles of the magnets according to the 'code' of the cdma signal.

Re:Critical analysis (1)

ccool (628215) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985424)

Just to point out that most likely, these magnets will probably be less tolerant to high temperature. If you look at the B/H curve of Neo Magnets, when they are under the influence of strong magnetic field, their demagnetization temperature point gets lower.

Re:Critical analysis (1)

Tsaot (859424) | more than 3 years ago | (#33989124)

One demo device they showed me (No disclosure of details because I am under NDA) would slide to attract just as if it were a standard magnet and then it would break away just upon being pushed past the lock point. Think of this one. Ponder it for a while. You mean I could have a motor pole that attracted in just like normal and then actually got repelled away as soon as it passed without any added energy? (no coils or electricity????) Thought you might like to think a long time on this one. This is much more of a discovery set than you might think. No CMR isn't publically proposing to use it for this. Just study on this for a while.

So they created a magnetic spring that will pull as well as push. I can see how that would be an improvement over metal springs that will break over time, but I can see a whole slew of other problems arising from the need to properly shield the darn things to keep particulates from sticking and creating friction.

Magnetic array logic? (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984740)

How small can you make these thingys and how fast can you make them flip?

Re:Magnetic array logic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33984792)

Your first thought was magnetic frogs, too?

Yawn. (4, Funny)

lxs (131946) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984744)

Wake me up when they invent magnets with east and west poles.

Re:Yawn. (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985336)

They already exist, but it requires some manual input to make it happen.

Magnetic gears? (4, Informative)

reg106 (256893) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984770)

The "frictionless" magnetic gear shown will still have friction in the bearing. The magnetic "teeth" will introduce a huge amount of backlash into the gear system. And you would run into problems if you tried to stack gears beside each other in a gearbox. The high pull-off force/low twist-and-pull force application is neat though. One limitation is that rare earth magnets tend to be brittle, and make a mess when they break.

To be clear though, magnets have been made with multiple poles for a long time, for example those flexible fridge magnets will often have alternating poles across their surface. Also, the pull off application is in many ways similar to the "switchable magnetic bases" [edmundoptics.com] . In these devices, the orientation of the magnetic is changed to force the field lines to go through the surface underneath, or to be contained within the base. The innovation in the present work is the use of coding theory to design the patterns.

Re:Magnetic gears? (1)

Big_Breaker (190457) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985498)

They won't have backlash but they will have a certain amount of compliance. High speed low torque situation would be perfect for magnetic gears but traction situations? not so much. I think dozens of people have had the idea of magnetic gears - I know I did. Isn't it a children's toy already?

I hope this isn't worthy of a patent b/c anyone who has seen a Halbach array will immediately appreciate patterns of poles can generate interesting fields. Halbach arrays Manufacturing of the magnets is non-trivial and a bit more worthy of IP.

Re:Magnetic gears? (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 3 years ago | (#33986606)

The huge problem with their magnetic gears is that above a certain torque they will lose all grip. It's the same with stepper motors.

Cool as this is, what they are basically doing is embedding a set of small magnets into one piece of magnet. For example, the same "frictionless magnetic gear" could be easily created by sticking a lot of alternating N/S magnets on the outside of some wheels. It's pretty much exactly the same thing.

Still cool though.

Re:Magnetic gears? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#33990148)

You are correct, magnets with multiple poles have been around for a long time. What may be new here, however, is the ability to do have multiple poles on NdFeB magnets, which traditionally, by my understanding, have only ever been able to be magnetized in a single direction.

slashdotted :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33984790)

I might be able to see those exploding toys if you'd all quit clicking on it, jerks.

Extremely interesting properties (3, Interesting)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984808)

The main pattern shown in the video is stronger than standard NIB magnets at close range. But die out quickly with distance. That makes them much safer to handle. The strongest NIB magnets could seriously injure you.

I'm curious though about how the pattern used affects how they attract ferrous objects. My hope would be that it has a very similar effect with ferrous objects as with the corresponding magnet, namely that it has greater attraction at short range, but dies out quickly with distance. That also seems logical based on my understanding of induced magnetic dipoles, but I'm no magnetism expert. If so, this also helps to mitigate the other main danger of powerful magnets. (Flying paperclips, etc)

The pattern they show also has minimal net force if one of the magnets is rotated out of alignment, and provides relatively small resistance to such rotation. That has lots of obvious uses for quick- connect quick-disconnect cables, especially those that need to need to withstand high normal forces, but not rotational forces. I'm not clear how the magnets they show handle shearing forces, but either way would have uses for various connectors.

Re:Extremely interesting properties (1)

paulgrant (592593) | more than 3 years ago | (#33988150)

Its a halbach array thats been set to be unidirectional. not exactly rocket science but interesting.

Professor John Searl was first with this, no? (1)

carlhaagen (1021273) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984810)

I believe indeed he was - about 50 years earlier.

Re:Professor John Searl was first with this, no? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985564)

I can't decide between funny and troll, and there's no mod for kook, so no points for you!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Searl

Re:Professor John Searl was first with this, no? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33986608)

after reading up on searl, my personal guess is that *you* didn't read up on him and his work at all, but instead just swallowed a wikipedia blurb as solid facts. since there is no mod for jackass, i can't give you any points.

Re:Professor John Searl was first with this, no? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33986752)

Maybe you should have studied this before opening your mouth by just citing a DAMNED WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE. I wish I could mod you as "moron". The link below contains further reading related to various other organizations who have reviewed and sponsored his projects, incl. GE who appears to have placed his research within their top 100 candidates for projects being worthwhile their time. Do you often get yourself into awkward situations after saying stupid things about topics you have no idea about?

http://www.swallowcommand.com/

Plastic used to visualize the fields- (1)

BubbaDave (1352535) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984846)

What the heck was that green plastic that showed the fields/domains?

Dave

fucking google, HOW DOES IT WORK?!! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985508)

Re:fucking google, HOW DOES IT WORK?!! (1)

BubbaDave (1352535) | more than 3 years ago | (#33986108)

Gee, fucking thanks, fucking smartass.

Dave

building toys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33984950)

I envisioned a flying device that can build with this magnet. Only a small detail is unknown. (hope it works) :-)

I'm sorry, I need to point this out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33984978)

The guy in the video, Larry Fullerton, looks EXACTLY like the road commissions guy in SimCity 3000. "YOU CAN'T CUT FUNDING TO ROADS! YOU WILL REGRET THIS!"

I'm picturing a train (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985212)

I'm picturing a train with the 'track' being rails of these magnetic gears, and the underside of the train itself being likewise. It floats above the track, and to cause it to move, you turn the gears on the rails. Seems like not requiring the propulsion on the train itself would make it considerably lighter, would it not?

Re:I'm picturing a train (1)

grnbrg (140964) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985386)

1985 called. They want their maglev back [wikipedia.org] .

Re:I'm picturing a train (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985416)

I'm not seeing the frictionless gears.

Re:I'm picturing a train (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33987538)

Not really gears, but think magnetic conveyor belt. Essentially a gear that happens to be long and flat rather than round.

Re:I'm picturing a train (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33987602)

Plus, isn't some form of electricity involved?

Re:I'm picturing a train (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33986004)

Moronville called, they wan't their village idiot back.

Re:I'm picturing a train (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33986736)

You are probably more interested in Halbach Arrays. [wikipedia.org] than magnetic gears.

Pretty cool; When do the 2nd law deniers get in? (1)

karlandtanya (601084) | more than 3 years ago | (#33985426)

I sincerely enjoy reading about new technologies and techniques as presented by the free-energy charlatans.
Good entertainment and exercise.

Run your car on water!
Generate free electricity; get off the grid!

Re:Pretty cool; When do the 2nd law deniers get in (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33986024)

Ironically both things you list are possbile.

The car oner isn't practical, and the 'off the grid' requires a certain amount of space to use. But they are possible.

Emergency follow up (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33986076)

I understand that people doing those ads are selling things that aren't really practical. I also understand for all internets and porpoises, it's a scam.

I don't recommend any of them.

Re:Pretty cool; When do the 2nd law deniers get in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33986066)

Off-topic, the magnets are stronger, but the attraction distance is reduced. This doesn't make it possible to generate "free" energy

Friction (1)

z-j-y (1056250) | more than 3 years ago | (#33986324)

two interacting magnets still have energy lost and converted to heat.

all frictions are electromagnetic on microscopic level anyway.

This is great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33988252)

I was attempting to solve a problem in a device that I was developing and this would be great. My item is a device to align two objects so as they approach each other they can connect together, in a proper alignment without the aid of a computer or person to oversee the operation.

Something that might assist in space station docking.

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